Our Recommendations Of Things To Do, See & Visit On St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Our Recommendations Of Things To Do, See & Visit On St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

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Categories: St. John, USVI, Travel

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Our Recommendations Of Things To Do, See & Visit On St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. John is the most beautiful and pristine island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is a magical place! There are many wonderful things to do there, including beaches, restaurants, trails, excursions, and much more.

Since we manage multiple homes on the island, used to live there full time, and return numerous times each year, people often ask for our recommendations for things to do there and restaurants/bars to try. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who you ask, the island changes every day and every year. Businesses get sold, and beaches change with the tide. In short, things change often. I’ll preface this with these are our suggestions as of April 2024.

Are you considering your first trip to the “Love City”? Check out our 15 Things To Know Before You Visit St. John In The U.S. Virgin Islands article to get the low-down on what to expect before you book your first trip to paradise.

If you need some tips and pointers on booking your travel to the island, our How To Get To St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands from the United States Mainland article covers everything you need to know to make your way like a seasoned pro.

Our favorite bars and restaurants on St. john, USVI

Bars & Restaurants

Our eating habits are simple. We aren’t a fine-dining family. We have a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old. So, we must go to restaurants catering to kids (chicken tenders and pizza). As you’re reading this, keep that in mind.

  • Sun Dog Café – Sun Dog is in Mongoose Junction and partnered with Gecko Gazebo. We love their lunch and dinner menus. They also have open mic nights and local artists (including our daughter and the occasional Kenny Chesney sightings).
  • St. John Brewers – They have good beer, and we love their pizza and burgers. We also like sitting on their outdoor patios. Mongoose Junction also allows people to shop while waiting for food.
  • Cruz Bay Landing – This establishment offers good food, is close to the ferry, and has occasional music. (If you’re a St John regular, it’s owned by the guys who used to own Woody’s Seafood Saloon.) It offers a good breakfast, lunch, dinner, ice cream, and a bar.
  • High Tide Bar & Seafood Grill – Located on the water in Wharfside Village, it is about as upscale as our family gets while on the island. Breakfast and lunch are more laid-back, and dinner is more fine dining. It has a great atmosphere and great food. They even have TVs with games on sometimes.
  • The Beach Bar – Everyone should experience The Beach Bar. It’s on the water in Wharfside Village. It serves typical bar food, great drinks, music, and a laid-back atmosphere.
  • The Windmill Bar – This establishment offers beautiful views and good food. Be ready to pay $5 for parking to the people who own the lot next to the bar. You can’t beat the sunset views from their deck overlooking the valley below and the islands in the distance. As this place gets more popular, finding parking and a table is getting harder and harder. They have a great setup where all the servers help each other, and you put a flag up when you need another drink or more food. But get there early if you want a seat.
  • St. John Scoops – This ice cream parlor in Mongoose Junction is a great stop for a sweet treat for the kids.
  • Shambles Island Bar & Grill – We haven’t been here yet but hear many great things. There is plenty of parking, which is rare on STJ.
  • Ice Cream parlor across from Shambles – There’s a great little ice cream parlor across from Shambles Bar & Grill. It has ample parking and excellent ice cream. It’s definitely worth checking out.
  • Skinny Legs – In Coral Bay. Everyone should experience Skinny’s if they have enough time.
  • Ronnie’s Pizza ‘An ‘ Mo – This is a great, easy pizza place. It’s across from the Dolphin Market and close to the Westin.
  • Lime Out – It’s a floating taco restaurant accessible only by boat. We haven’t been there yet, but it’s an iconic tourist favorite, and we’ve heard great things.
Our favorite bays and beaches on St. john, USVI

Bays & Beaches

We’ll start off by saying that we love all the beaches on the island. Each has its own identity. One trap many unseasoned tourists run into is they may see rain or clouds out their window, so they call it a rainy day and don’t hit the beaches. A seasoned STJ visitor will tell you, “If it’s raining on one part of the island, go to another area, and it’s likely to be beautiful.” If it’s raining on North Shore Beaches, head to Coral Bay or East End, and it’s likely not raining. Cruz Bay and Coral Bay have slightly different climates. We have seen sea turtles at almost every beach. All that said, here are some of our favorites.

  • Hawksnest Bay Beach – There is plenty of parking close to the water. If the parking lot is full, keep going to the next beaches. Get there early. We like taking our paddle board and swimming over to Oppenheimer Beach. Bring your snorkel and a throwing ball.
  • Denis Bay – There are 6-8 parking spots by Peace Hill Sugar Mill. It’s roughly a half-mile hike to the beach. It’s a small beach, but it’s a hike that is far enough that you will avoid most crowds.
  • Cinnamon Bay Beach – To us, this beach is hit or miss. We’ve enjoyed it in the past but last visited it years ago. It’s developed some since then, and it sounds like people like the beach. Parking is tough. Sometimes, there’s a lot of wind there, meaning waves can be higher than other beaches.
  • Maho Bay – This bay used to be our favorite. It’s five steps from the parking spots to the beach. It’s beautiful, but it has become overcrowded with development, the addition of a bar and rental equipment shop, and too many parking spots. Get there early if you can.
  • Francis Bay – This bay is excellent! We love it, but the nearby swamp brings little bugs if it’s rained recently. Pack some bug-resistant sunscreen.
  • Salt Pond Bay – It’s a steep hike down the hill, but it’s a great beach day out past Coral Bay. If you get here early and are healthy, try walking to the end of the beach and taking the roughly 1.5- to 2-mile hike to the Rams Head Trail. Rams Head has a cool but sad history for the enslaved people who once inhabited the island.
  • Haulover Beach – This bay is fantastic if you’re looking for a super quiet area and are okay with a 30-minute drive from Cruz Bay. Just pass Skinny Legs and keep going for a while.
  • Trunk Bay Beach – Most tourists like this beach, which has public restrooms, a guided snorkeling trail, and gift shops; however, there is a fee to get in, and you’re not likely to get a parking spot. Get there early or take a taxi.
Parking in Cruz Bay on St. John, USVI.

Parking in Cruz Bay

A quick word on the parking situation in Cruz Bay: finding a parking spot is a headache. Avoid the headaches and park at one of Slim Man’s Lots. He has one across from Woody’s and one across from Wharfside Village. It’s roughly $5 an hour and well worth it. There’s also $5 parking at Lumberyard (Behind the Dolphin Market in Cruz Bay by the circle, once you start going down the hill.) Life’s too short, and your precious vacation time is too valuable to drive around Cruz Bay looking for parking spots. Park for $5 and enjoy the bars and restaurants.

Options for groceries on the island - St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Groceries On The Island

There are a couple of dependable grocery stores on the island, such as Starfish Market and Dolphin Market. Prices and the quality of the produce depend on the season. Dolphin Market has several locations, which I feel has driven their prices down a bit. Due to everything being shipped in, groceries are MUCH more expensive than the stores back in the U.S. mainland. Be prepared to spend a lot on EVERYTHING. DiGiorno pizzas, for example, are usually $20 or more. It’s best not to look at the prices and accept it as part of life on the island.

St. John, USVI is a hiker's paradise. Here are our favorite trails.

St John, USVI Is A Hiker’s Paradise

In short, we like all the trails! We’ve hiked almost all of them on the island, and each trail is different. Some of our favorites are Rams Head, Linde Point Trail (to Solomon Beach or Honeymoon Beach), Reef Bay Trail to the Petroglyphs, and Peace Hill trail and overlook. Try a few different trails if you’re up for it. Each one offers a unique view of the island and will give you a greater connection to the beauty of this incredible place.

Enjoy your time in paradise!

If you are looking for the perfect place to stay while you vacation on St. John, check out our RendeView House located in Rendevous Bay, or our Palmy Daze Condo located a short 5-minute drive from Cruz Bay.

Garet Beane - President, Blue Skies Property Management

About The Author

Garet Beane lived on the island of St. John, USVI with his wife Kelly before moving back to the States to attend grad school and start a family. While living on St. John, Garet served as a Tour Guide in the National Park and worked at Sun Dogs Cafe. Kelly was a bookkeeper for the largest clothing store on St. John, Big Planet in Mongoose Junction as well as a server at Sun Dogs. They now manage properties on the island with their company Blue Skies Property Management, LLC.

Categories: St. John, USVI, Travel