Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
U.S. Virgin Islands

St. John Tourist Attractions and Things to Do

Leinster Bay, USVI
Leinster Bay, USVI. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

St. John tourist attractions will keep any vacationer busy when it’s time to get off the beach.

The smallest, most quiet, least populated and most secluded of the three U.S. Virgin Islands has things to do for cruise visitors and adventurers alike.

1) Hike the Caneel Hill Trail

Travelers up for a hike should check out the Caneel Hill Trail. The trail takes hikers through the forest up the 800-foot Caneel Hill, where they can enjoy spectacular panoramic views from the newly reconstructed viewing tower.

The hike gains over 700 feet of elevation in under a mile, so bring something to drink and check out one of the island’s more leisurely trails if members of your party will have trouble with sustained uphill walking.

2) Go Shopping at Mongoose Junction

Whether you’re looking for locally made jewelry, art, designer clothing or simply want to have a drink, Mongoose Junction offers travelers a one-stop destination for just about everything the island has to offer.

The U.S. Virgin Islands’ status as a duty-free territory adds some extra incentive to shoppers.

3) Snorkel in Leinster Bay

Some of the best snorkeling on the island is to be found in Leinster Bay, where a beautifully preserved coral reef abundant with plant and animal life.

Huge brain corals, leafy seaweed and a great variety of fish populate the clear, shallow water. If you find yourself on a different part of the island, though, there are tons of great snorkeling beaches available.

4) Spend a Day on Trunk Bay Beach

A popular destination for cruise ship passengers, Trunk Bay is a great spot for a full-day beach trip.

Bathers can enjoy the day leisurely tanning on the white sand beach, swimming in the blue water or following the famous “Underwater Trail.” Beach equipment and refreshments are available nearby.

Trunk Bay is one of 44 public beaches on the island.

5) Have a Bowl of Callaloo Soup at Miss Lucy’s

Callaloo is a spinach-like vegetable native to the Caribbean, but if you don’t tell the kids they’ll never know.

The soup is a local favorite and tourists are hard-pressed not to go for a second helping of this delicious treat. While many great dishes are available on the island, this might be its best.

6) Go Sailing

While large commercial sailboat tours are available, we’d recommend trying out your sea legs on your very own boat.

Visitors can take a full day tour with a guide, and experienced sailors can rent their own boat at a reasonable rate from many outfitters on the island. With the clear blue waters, abundant fish life and many secluded islands and beaches, renting a boat is a must for those hoping to get the full St. John experience.

7) Visit the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins

Looking to inject a little culture into your trip? Take a quick hike to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins, where you can walk through the old plantation buildings, learn about the old sugar trade and even witness demonstrations of 1780s life such as bread baking, basket weaving and gardening. It is less than a mile away from Leinster Bay.

8) Rent a Car and Explore

One of the best things about St. John is the fact that most of it is protected parkland, meaning there are plenty of secluded spots and beaches to find and enjoy. Renting a car can be a great way to explore the island and find someplace new. There are over a dozen jeep and car rental businesses on the island.

9) Go Fishing

Whether you are an experienced sport fisher looking for Marlin or a novice just looking for a good time, the waters around St. John are renowned for their excellent fishing. Dozens of outfitters take anglers out for full and half-day excursions on the water.

10) Check Out the National Park Visitor’s Center

While not a spectacular destination in itself, the Visitor’s Center can be a great place to learn about some of the island’s unsung treasures. Park rangers can tell you about beaches, trails and destinations to suit your interests.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020