St John - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to St John

St John

The smallest of the islands, two thirds of St John consists of a national park, a peaceful and largely unspoilt paradise for nature lovers that offers pristine forests, secluded white beaches, hidden coves, reefs and miles of hiking trails.

Danish immigrants were the first settlers and became extensive producers of sugarcane. Today the abandoned 18th century plantations scattered about the island provide a reminder of a once-thriving agricultural community. A walk around the ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation, for example, offers a historical glimpse of St John with magnificent views of the British Virgin Islands.

In 1956 the beauty of the island grabbed the attention of the wealthy Laurence Rockefeller who bought a large piece of land to preserve its pristine loveliness and donated it to the government as a national park. Today the Virgin Island National Park offers numerous guided or independent hiking trails into the interior with stunning views from the ridges and a variety of flora and fauna, including wild cats, hummingbirds and iguanas. Of the dozens of beaches the most popular is Trunk Bay, one of the world's most photographed spots, that offers swimming and excellent marine life in the protected reefs. There is also an underwater snorkelling trail with signs identifying the types of coral and its inhabitants.

The centre of activity on St John is Cruz Bay, a small town offering speciality shopping, lively bars and delicious cuisine, as well as jeep rental services and dive centres. There is limited accommodation on the island.

Information & Facts


Most days the weather in St John is perfect. The sun shines all year round and even during the summer months the temperatures are lower in humidity, but the rain is scarce and fleeting. This subtropical climate is a travellers dream.

English is the official language. Spanish, Creole and some French are also spoken.

The official currency is the US Dollar (USD) divided into 100 cents. Most credit cards are accepted, including American Express, Diners Club Mastercard and Visa, and are useful for withdrawing cash at ATMs. Travellers cheques are widely accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants provided they are in US Dollars. Foreign exchange bureaux are available to exchange other currencies, but it is best to arrive with US Dollars as many banks and hotels will not exchange foreign currency.

GMT -4.

There is no better way to experience St John's appreciable natural beauty, than by walking the Ram Head Trail (also called the Ram's Head Trail). This mile-long (about 1.5km) hike starts at Salt Pond Bay beach, and continues along the shoreline, going past the extraordinary Blue Cobblestone beach, before climbing the hillside and ending at a crest, 200 feet above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Along the trail, you'll see all kinds of interesting flora and fauna, including pipe organ cactus, and - if you're lucky - American kestrel, and there are any number of great lookout points to stop and picnic. Visitors are advised to take a lot of water along, and to start out early - as it can get very hot on the trail, very quickly, and there isn't a lot of shade around until you start climbing. Also note that while the hike is gentle, it is rocky, so good shoes are essential.

The Virgin Islands National Park comprises more than 7,000 acres of the island of St John, along with spectacular underwater sites as well. Perhaps the best place to begin a visit to the park is the Cruz Bay Visitors Center, which provides historical, cultural and geographical exhibits as well as guidebooks, maps and other information. There, rangers can assist visitors in planning their stay at the park. While the Annaberg ruins and Trunk Bay beach remain the most popular destinations, the park also offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Taino people, who inhabited the island before Columbus' arrival. Their remarkably well-preserved petroglyphs can be seen carved along the Reef Bay hiking trail, and a wealth of artefacts, some dating back 500 years, have been uncovered at Cinnamon Bay, where visitors can tour the archaeology lab. Cinnamon Bay is also a popular camping spot, with bare campsites, raised tents and cottages. Its beautiful sandy beach has a rental facility for sailing, windsurfing and kayaking in the large bay. The Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument can be reached by land only at Hurricane Hole. This three-mile belt off the southern end of the island contains 12,708 acres of submerged land, the waters of which support a complex system of coral reefs, as well as shoreline ecosystems of mangrove forests and seagrass beds.

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