U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS  |  St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Guide
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St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Caneel Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands (cc)
Photo: Fred Hsu
 

St. John

St. John is unique, a rather overused word to be sure, but apt in this case, for over two-thirds of this beautiful island is part of a US National Park. The Virgin Islands National Park, created in 1956 with just under 5,000 acres, has expanded to over 8,000 land acres, plus thousands of offshore acres as well. While this has caused some resentment on the part of entrepreneurs anxious to construct luxury hotels along its stunning beaches, it has been a boon for visitors like us. The park has permitted the island’s considerable natural beauty to remain undeveloped.


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The sights on St. John are natural ones – coral beaches with top-notch snorkeling in clear waters, acres and acres of forest suitable for hiking, and here and there silent ruins of long ago plantations (some restored) that testify to the island’s history.

The Park Service has not merely maintained the status quo. They have developed a wide ranging program to preserve the island and to help visitors explore all aspects of St. John. This includes the marked underwater snorkel trail at Trunk Bay, the guided hikes through Reef Bay, seashore walks and cultural demonstrations at various points on the island. Evening programs include slide presentations about West Indian culture, marine life and history of the islands.

The National Park is just one of the special things about St. John. Another is the people who live here. St. Johnians, many transplanted from surrounding islands and from mainland USA, are warm and welcoming. They exude pride in their island, its tradition and its sense of neighborhood. Much like an extended family, St. Johnians greet each other warmly and seemingly know every island resident (there are about 5,000). Cars often stop mid-street as neighbors hold long conversations. Hitchhiking is a popular mode of transportation for locals and visitors alike. Just point in the direction you are heading and almost immediately a car, jeep or Surrey bus will stop for you.

Last updated November 15, 2011
Posted in   U.S. Virgin Islands  |  St. John
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