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Have you decided on where to go for your next vacation? This post includes a list of St. John's most fantastic attractions and suggestions on what to do when you get there.

Picture-perfect beaches with crystal blue water and white sandy shores are among the three major islands of St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. The island's history is shrouded in mystery, and there are bars and restaurants where you can experience Caribbean life in the small villages. Ancient people from long ago are buried in the valleys and pools, along with artifacts and petroglyphs.

This guide will provide you with all the information to enjoy Saint John, from the excellent beaches to the best places to drink craft beers.

Before you embark on your trip to St. John, it is crucial to understand that two enormous hurricanes, Irma and Maria, struck the island in 2017, causing irreversible damage. The islanders and the National Park Service did everything to restore the island to its former glory. However, much was lost as a result of these storms. Many pre-2017 pictures are inaccurate, and pictures may no longer show specific locations as they once did. Although the island is still stunning and worthwhile visiting, there are no longer beaches teeming with leaning palms.

Here are 12 exciting things to do in St. John:

1. Virgin Islands National Park

The most popular attraction on the island is Virgin Islands National Park. This national park covers two-thirds of the island and extensive portions of the water surrounding it. There are numerous historical sites within the park, including ancient petroglyphs and the remains of the plantations that were once ubiquitous across the island.

There are also excellent beaches and hiking trails throughout the park, full of interesting historical sites. The national park service maintains the trails and beaches, ensuring they are clean and available to all visitors.

Several ranger-led activities are available in Virgin Islands National Park, including hiking, bird-watching, etc. The park is available to the public and free of charge, except for areas such as Trunk Bay, where a small fee is charged.

2. Trunk Bay

The pristine waters at Trunk Bay make it one of the most well-liked destinations on the island. The fine white sand and dense green foliage create an ambiance that mimics a remote island desert setting. The watercolor is impossibly blue, and the coral reefs and aquatic animals that live under it are magnificent.

Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and many other water sports equipment are available for rent on the shore, allowing you to explore the rocky outcrops that sit just off the shore. An underwater trail takes you through the coral reef and provides information if you want to snorkel. Trunk Bay is a popular spot during peak season. Visitors must pay a small fee to visit the beach and maintain its natural beauty.

3. Maho Bay

There are many breath-taking beaches on St. John, Maho Bay Beach is one of the easiest access beaches. The beach itself is lovely.  Its underwater treasures are what make it unique. The waters are home to different types of turtles, the most commonly seen is the critically endangered Green Sea Turtle.  They are docile creatures, please do NOT touch the turtles- be respectful of their natural habitat and wear reef safe sunscreen in the water.

Maho Bay is one of the many turtle nesting sites on the island and is a peaceful snorkeling spot for fish and rays. Despite having less coral than other beaches on the island, the clear waters here provide a window into the underwater world for kayak rentals. If you don't get snorkeling, you can rent a kayak here and view the underwater world beneath the tranquil waters. Parking is just a short walk from the beach, and you can reach the beach by car. 

4. Petroglyphs Found in Reef Bay Valley

Ancient petroglyphs are found in Reef Bay Valley, one of the island's most precious sites, where Taino people who inhabited the island before European settlers are thought to have been buried. No one is certain what function they served, although they were most likely used as a religious area where people spiritually connected with their ancestors over a thousand years ago.

The petroglyphs are one of the most exciting aspects of the island's history. They are one of the most beautiful areas, with a waterfall pouring down into the valley after some rain and lots of leafy vegetation creating a tropical ambiance. Surprisingly, the carvings are found carved into rocks just above pools of water, which perfectly reflect the images.  Evidence and oral history tell us the Ciboney, Arawak & Kalinago (Carib) Native Americans predated the Taino on St. John.  The Petroglyphs was a sacred place for the spirits of their ancestors.  

Parking is available at Centerline Road, where the hiking trail begins. The petroglyphs of Reef Bay Valley can be found at the end of the hiking trail. In addition to being home to some of the island's oldest and tallest trees, the valley provides a shaded canopy to escape the heat of the Caribbean sun.

St. John's hiking trail is 4.4 miles long and of moderate difficulty. It is more challenging on the return leg, as you must hike for two miles to get back to the starting point. The National Parks Service provides a guided hike that takes you to the trailhead and then back to Cruz Bay (ideal for those who don't want to hike back).

5. Cinnamon Bay Beach

The long Cinnamon Bay Beach helps dissipate the crowds during the high season and offers a more serene experience. Because the waters are calm and warm, snorkeling is ideal. You may spot turtles or many fish while exploring beneath the waves. Upon entering the forest in the early morning and late evening, the deer may be dashing across the pure white sandy shore. Food and drinks and water sports rentals are available at Cinnamon Bay Beach, easily accessible by car.

6. Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins

The Annaberg Sugar Plantation ruins show one of the darker periods in the Virgin Islands' history when sugar cane reigned, and slaves were forced to take care of it.

There are many plantation ruins scattered across the islands, but Annaberg Sugar Plantation is the only well-preserved one. The ruins, situated on the north west side of the island, are well-maintained and have informational signs telling the plantation's history and the layout of the buildings. The remains of rudimentary houses also provide a harrowing and depressing picture of the hard life forced on the enslaved people.

Some island excursions stop at the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins. You can drive to the ruins, which are situated near the Annaberg Sugar Plantation. The plantation's trails provide some of the most stunning views on the island. On the St. John Island and Trunk Bay Beach Tour, you will discover the plantation's history before visiting some of the island's finest beaches.

You can visit Harbor Master Villa for tours and packages.

7. Elaine Lone Sprauve Library and Museum

Yellow-walled with white detailing, the Elaine Lone Sprauve Library and Museum is one of the oldest structures on the island. The building's architecture is distinctive, with a bright yellow facade. It was restored in the late 1970s and is now open to the public after being abandoned for many years. Many people throughout its history have owned it.

There are also a lot of historical documents and newspapers saved in the library, which are open to visitors free of charge and can be fully explored in a couple of hours. The building is located on Southside Road in Enighed, St. John, Virgin Islands.

Please note that it is unclear whether the library will be open when you visit St. John. Another reader reported that the library is currently closed!

8. Reef Bay Sugar Factory

The remains of a sugar factory at the end of the Reef Bay Trail are the last remnants of a sugar plantation from the early 19th century. The factory has survived remarkably well and preserved and is open to visitors. The national parks service manages the St. John attraction, and signs are provided to help explain its history and function.

There are still a number of the original machines that were used in sugar production housed in the main factory building. Some other structures and dwellings are located around the factory, but sadly, some have not survived the main factory structure. To reach the factory, one must complete the Reef Bay Trail, which passes by the petroglyphs.

In addition, the return trip may be a bit more complicated since there are a lot of steep ascents. To avoid hiking back, you may join a guided tour provided by the National Park Service, which will return you to Cruz Bay after finishing the Reef Bay Sugar Factory hike.

9. Honeymoon Beach

Take a day trip to Honeymoon Beach, one of the island's most picturesque and idyllic coastal destinations. The St. John beach is home to some of the last surviving leaning palms, which were once common across the island's beaches until Hurricane Irma & Maria destroyed them. Despite being near Cruz Bay, the beach feels more secluded and can only be accessed via a 1-mile hike on the Lind Point Trail.

Bikinis on the Beach Bar and Grill, located right on the beach, is the perfect place to grab a drink or meal. There are also rental stands for stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, deck chairs, and beach amenities. If you're thinking of renting equipment, I suggest purchasing the Honeymoon beach day pass. The day pass will allow you to rent stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and beach furniture and use the amenities such as toilets, showers, and locks.

10. St. John Brewers

Across much of the continental US, craft beer has become a staple, and its reach has extended to the islands. St. John Brewers, a tiny craft brewery, has served island residents with thirst-quenching beers for over two decades. Their beers are inspired by the island's abundant tropical flavors and include various varieties. You can find the brewery's core range and its more seasonal small-batch selections in their taproom.

As well as a great beer selection, St. John Brewers has a classic pub menu, which makes it one of the best places to eat in St. John for craft beer enthusiasts. Stop by for a superb beer selection and authentic sodas made on location. The Juicy Booty Hazy IPA or any other fruity IPA is the kind of beer I prefer. Those looking for a more intense burst of energy should try the Green Flash Energy Drink from St. John Brewers. It is also possible to get nonalcoholic ginger and root beer at the brewery.

11. Lime Out Taco Boat

Few things in life are as satisfying as tacos, and few things are as satisfying as tacos when eaten while floating in the turquoise water of the Caribbean. Sitting in the middle of Coral Bay (formerly Hansen Bay), the lime-green taco boat is one of the island's most unique and enjoyable eating establishments. It can only be accessed by boat and aims to provide a fun and relaxed dining experience.

Lime Out caters to various tastes and dietary needs by offering eight different types of tacos. You can eat the tacos at the bar attached to the pontoon, on your vessel, or an underwater seat, keeping you upright as you eat. They also serve a variety of cocktails and draft beers to wash down the tacos.

Stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, or boats are the only ways to get to Lime Out. Swimming around the bar is fine, but swimming across the harbor channels is not. Because of the fragile marine environment, make sure you don't drop your anchor on coral or seagrass while docking your boat. 

12. Hike Ram Head Trail

You may think of St. John as a tranquil, white-sand beach where the vibrant sea gently laps, but there is a more wild side to the island along the island's southeastern coast.

There is no better path to explore the wild side of things than Ram Head Trail. The 2.3-mile trail leads you through some of Jersey's most unique environments, including a rocky head. The trail begins at Salt Pond Bay, where you can either go for a swim in the inviting, crystal-clear water or stay dry and take in the scenery. On the other side of the beach is the Salt Pond, which is the polar opposite of the bay.

Swimming in the marshy water may not be as appealing, but it is critical to the island's ecosystem. As you journey down, you will find unique rocky beaches. The waves crash more violently on these beaches due to the ocean water crashing in from the North Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

The last part of the hike is through a cactus-lined path to Ram's head, from which you can see beautiful vistas of the island and the sea. Parking is available at Salt Pond Bay, and the journey takes several hours. It is best to start early in the day when the weather is more relaxed and the crowds are lower. Hiking footwear and sensible clothes are required due to the rough terrain.

St. John is the most popular destination for cruise ship passengers visiting the Virgin Islands. But if you're seeking lodging, you may book your tour with Harbor Master Villa and enjoy a worth spending escapade!