If you are looking for a pristine Caribbean vacation destination, it is worth checking out the beautiful St. John Island. Partly because it is the smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands that lie just to the west of their British counterparts, St. John offers the untouched sort of beauty that is no longer commonplace in this tropical zone. With only 20 square miles of land, this fantastic destination is made distinct by its white sandy beaches and clear blue water available to anyone interested in spending some time doing things like fishing, sailing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking or even just lounging about. With easy access by plane from Miami – about a three hour flight – and other major airports, St. John offers its visitors one of the more relaxing and beautiful vacations possible.
In addition to the natural beauty of the island, tourists will find that there is a comfortable downtown scene in Cruz Bay, full of quaint shops and fine dining along with a selection bars to satisfy the vacationer’s thirst for a hint of nightlife. The Virgin Islands got their name from Christopher Columbus, who discovered them on his voyage out to the new world. Since then, the first major settlement on St. John was by the European prospectors who started coming in about 300 years ago. They were looking to take advantage of sugar cane cultivation, and based on this economic resource, a whole society sprang up. Even today, the remains of the old sugar producing plantations can be toured to give interested visitors a look at how St. John once got on the map. Yet despite the aggressive sugar production, there was little damage to the scenery and landscape that give St. John its natural charm.
It was so well persevered, in fact, that families made famous by their wealth looked to St. John as a perfect getaway. In their wake, these families gave away their land to the U.S. National Park Service so that nowadays nearly three fifths of the island is under the auspices of national rangers, and its protection is pretty much guaranteed. What makes this truly wonderful is that there is a wide variety of beautiful plant and animal life – both above and below the water – that is now sure to be able to thrive on the island. To get a closer look at it all, it is a good idea to hike along the trails that connect many of the white-sand beaches around the perimeter of the island. But the tourist will see more than just beaches on one of these hikes. Indeed, the trail will wind through thick patches of forest full of fascinating, semi-dry vegetation, as well as through the remnants of old sugar plantations and open clearings the yield breathtaking views of St. John’s beaches and the deep blue water of the greater Atlantic Ocean. Hikers will also be able to discover first hand the baffling and impressive petroglyphs that are cut into rocks alongside various trails. Although still not fully explained, these make for one of the more intriguing tourist attractions on St. John.
But for those who would rather not walk so much, another great way to tour this small island is by renting a four-by-four from one of the customer-friendly car rental locations in town. Many find that this is a great way to scope out some of the more stunning vistas found just off road all around the island.
See you on the Island,
John & Heidi Walsh
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