5 Great Day Trips from St. John
At Grande Bay Resort, we don’t think size matters. We love that St. John is only 19 square miles and has fewer than 4,000 year-round residents. Our guests are also fine with that. They say St. John is the best and prettiest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, and they love that it’s so easy to come here and get away from it all.
Our guests come to relax on Trunk Bay and the island’s many other pristine beaches, with their soft, white sand and breath-taking views of emerald cays and turquoise waters. Yes, we have incredible beaches, but there’s so much more to do here.
Start with Virgin Islands National Park, which covers about 60% of the island, thanks to Laurence J. Rockefeller, who bought as much land as he could and then donated it to the U.S. government. You can tour the 9,620-acre park by foot, kayak and boat.
The park’s half dozen or so trails pass through mangrove forests and past the remnants of sugar plantations and offer panoramic views of beaches, bays and tree-covered hills and cliffs. While you walk the shady trails, be on the lookout for deer or goats and wild donkeys, which wander wherever they please.
Another big draw on St. John is the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins, an 18th-century hillside plantation, where molasses and rum were also produced. Walk the trail that winds through what’s left of the factory, slave quarters and the Virgin Islands’ oldest windmill.
The hillsides, once cleared and terraced by slaves, are now covered with trees. When you get to the top of the hill, take in the incredible views, then follow the trail back down to the seashore and look out for blue herons and soldier and hermit crabs, among other wildlife.
Cruz Bay, called Love City by the locals, is St. John’s largest city and its unofficial capital. While there, you’ll find gift shops, grocery stores and plenty of places to rent everything from Jeeps to scuba gear.
Scuba divers and snorkelers love the clear waters around St. John. Low Key Water Sports ( 800-835-7718) and Cruz Bay Scuba Diving (340-776-6234), both operating out of Cruz Bay, offer scuba and snorkeling tours for experienced divers and snorkelers as well as for beginners.
If you’re a diver, be sure to check out the well-known sunken Wreck of the Rhone, once a 310-foot-long twin-masted British steamer, now sitting about 80 feet below the surface, west of Salt Island, one of the British Virgin Islands.
For those of you who like to be above the water, Cruz Bay Sailing, the company that operates Cruz Bay Scuba Diving, offers rides on a 60-foot-long by 30-foot-wide catamaran with restrooms and food and beverage service. And Kekoa Sailing (340-244-SAIL) gives rides on the Kekoa, a 50-foot-long by 30-foot wide catamaran, with similar amenities.
After all of this walking, shopping, diving and sailing, you’ll want to return to the beaches or retire to an island spa. The best of the best is Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club (340-693-4668).
Call it heaven on Earth.