It's All About St. John
St. John’s natural beauty is the U.S. Virgin Islands’ most enchanting spot, with sultry beaches, tropical forest trails, historic ruins, exciting water sports, shopping and more.
Docking in Cruz Bay, the ferry lands you in the island’s center of activity. Affectionately known as Love City, Cruz Bay is a charming little town on the water’s edge with a friendly, laid-back attitude and charming tree lined streets filled with unique shops and restaurants. Start your tour at the town’s park, directly across the street from the ferry dock.
To your right visit whimsical Wharfside Village and Galleria Beach Shops, filled with artsy retailers, bars and restaurants overlooking the beach. At the far end of Wharfside Village head left, circle round the park, for more fun shops and restaurants in Raintree Court and Lemon Tree Mall. The road curves back towards the park, with the historic Lutheran Church, established in 1720.
At the far end of the park a small tourist center has information on activities, tours and more. Continue left to explore the Lumberyard’s shops, services and restaurants. Just ahead is Mongoose Junction, a collection of boutiques, galleries, artisans and eateries in a garden setting. Directly across the street is the Virgin Islands National Park’s Visitors Center, and the entrance to the park.
Elaine Ione Sprauve Library and Museum A member of the National Register of Historic Places. built in 1757 serves as Cruz Bay’s library as well as a small museum.
Catherineberg Just off Centerline Road and visible from the road, Catherineberg is an impressive collection of sugar mill ruins. Built in 1718, they include an old sugar factory and rum still, an old stone warehouse and a restored windmill.
Bordeaux Mountain At the very highest point of the island along Centerline Road, Bordeaux Mountain rises 1,277 feet, with a stunning view of Coral Bay and outlying islands.
Ivan Jadan Museum Considered the greatest Russian tenor of the twentieth century, Ivan Jadan was the first major artist to escape Stalin’s regime in 1941. The museum highlights his life and career with recordings, documents, photos and memorabilia.
Fredriksdal Named after Frederick Von Moth, who purchased the property in the 1730s, the Fredriksdal ruins include the remains of an estate house of the owners of the Annaberg Plantation, an oven, a well, a horse mill and more. Across the road is a trail leading to a well-preserved stone bridge.
Far out on the east end of St. John, Coral Bay has a long history. It was named for the Danish kraal, meaning corral. This harbor was the site of the first permanent settlement and livestock keep on St. John. Built in 1717, Coral Bay’s Fort Berg was the site of a slave revolt in 1733, commemorated each November. Note also the orange-roofed historic Emmaus Moravian Church, built in 1782 and still in use today. Today’s casual little community is a collection of sailors, boat builders and artists. There’s only one road, which is traveled as much by donkeys, goats and roosters as it is automobiles. Here you will find a quirky collection of restaurants, bars and shops that embrace the residents’ island attitude, an ideal spot for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle. Be sure to check out the clothing studio of artist Sloop Jones, the Cocoloba shopping complex and Skinny Legs, the restaurant and bar at the center of Coral Bay’s social life, music and activity.
Virgin Islands National Park
The Virgin Islands National Park was the gift of philanthropist Laurence Rockefeller. Realizing the encroachment of development, he sought to preserve the island and it’s natural glory for future generations. He purchased and deeded 5,000 acres to the federal government to be used as a national park in 1956. In the years following, the park has expanded to include two thirds of the island of St. John as well as Hassel Island in St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument with 12,708 acres of submerged land, coral reefs and mangrove habitats. It is the only Biosphere Reserve in the Lesser Antilles.
Today, the volunteer organization Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, has followed Rockefeller’s lead and now carries the torch promoting preservation and protection of the park’s natural and cultural resources. The group has initiated several programs, such as trail maintenance, coral research, historic site restorations, installation of day-use and storm refuge moorings, cultural demonstrations, summer eco-camps and much more. A series of seminars covers a wide range of topics and activities such as tropical gardening, kayak tours, fish identification sails, art classes, archeology tours, cooking, full moon hikes and much more. They also organize beach clean-ups, the Beach-To-Beach Power Swim, an Earth Day fair, the Reef Fest and a Folk Life Festival. Help support their efforts by visiting their gift shop in Mongoose Junction or donating online at www.friendsvinp.org .
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No passport is required for U.S. citizens traveling to the U.S.V.I., if another proof of citizenship, such as driver’s license or birth certificate with picture ID, is available. Non-U.S. visitors need a valid passport and appropriate visa. No immunizations are necessary.
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