St John Travel Guide

St John © anoldent

The smallest of the islands, two thirds of St John consists of a national park, a peaceful and largely unspoilt paradise for nature lovers that offers pristine forests, secluded white beaches, hidden coves, reefs and miles of hiking trails.

Danish immigrants were the first settlers and became extensive producers of sugarcane. Today the abandoned 18th-century plantations scattered about the island provide a reminder of a once-thriving agricultural community. A walk around the ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation, for example, offers a historical glimpse of St John with magnificent views of the British Virgin Islands.

In 1956 the beauty of the island grabbed the attention of the wealthy Laurence Rockefeller who bought a large piece of land to preserve its pristine loveliness and donated it to the government as a national park. Today the Virgin Island National Park offers numerous guided or independent hiking trails into the interior with stunning views from the ridges and a variety of flora and fauna, including wild cats, hummingbirds and iguanas. Of the dozens of beaches the most popular is Trunk Bay, one of the world's most photographed spots, that offers swimming and excellent marine life in the protected reefs. There is also an underwater snorkelling trail with signs identifying the types of coral and its inhabitants.

The centre of activity on St John is Cruz Bay, a small town offering speciality shopping, lively bars and delicious cuisine, as well as jeep rental services and dive centres. There is limited accommodation on the island.

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