Things to Do in St. John: Fun Island Activities and Tours

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by Kristin Young | Updated On: December 3, 2020 | St. John

Although St. John is the smallest of the three main US Virgin Islands, it’s no less enchanting. The whimsical colorful streets, wandering beach donkeys, tropical summer thunderstorms, and the plethora of jungle landscapes make St. John a nature-lovers paradise.

Exploring the natural beauty of the island doesn’t need much preparation. The laid-back atmosphere allows visitors to take things at their own pace and discover the island on their own whim. 

St. John activities are fit for all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re visiting the island for a chance to lounge on the pearly shores under the palm trees or to explore the barrier reef and tropical fish.

Sounds marvelous, right? We think so too, that’s why we’ve put together this list of fantastical adventures to enjoy on the St. Johns Virgin Island.

WHAT TO DO IN ST. JOHN

Outdoor adventures and exploring nature are our go-to activities when we’re hopping from island to island. Below are some of the virgin island’s attractions to inspire your travels.

Snorkeling With Curious Creatures

Trail along Leinster Bay to Watermelon Cay
Leinster Bay near Waterlemon Cay

Naturally, the first activity to make our list is the one we love doing most. And honestly, you’ll be in one of the world’s best destinations for snorkeling, which is precisely why you can’t miss out on a day spent underwater. 

Scattered along the north shore of St. Johns lies the best coves for snorkeling excursions. To get to several of the beaches, you’ll be embarking on a short hike through the tropical vegetation. 

While there are many great snorkeling hubs, Trunk Bay attracts the most visitors. The small cay is protected by the reef, providing a haven for tropical fish and coral. 

Psst… Check out the best snorkeling spots in St. Johns here.

Hike Reef Bay Trail or Rams Head

view from the beginning of the reef bay trail overlooking the mountains with the ocean in the distance
Reef Bay Trail Overlook

Hiking is a major activity on the island, and you’ll find that there are trails designed to build up a sweat, and others providing a gentle ascent in the jungle. 

Our top recommendation is the Reef Bay Trail. The 7 km (4.3 miles) trail journeys through the National Park and opens up to the seafront. It’s no easy walk in the park and it offers a more challenging, exciting hiking experience. 

Don’t worry, it’ll be well worth the effort when you stumble across waterfalls, ancient trees, and hermit crabs strolling along the trail.

Rams Head is another goodie to add to your itinerary, and perfect for those looking for a slightly easier trail. The hike shows off views of the turquoise waters of the South Shore and Salt Pond Beach.

Lime Out in the Coral Harbor

This is probably one of the coolest things to do in St. John. Lime Out is this epic taco boat that floats along the southeast side of the island. Their motto is to combine the simplicity of tasty tacos with the salty experience of the sea. 

The floating vessel has a number of chairs set underwater; with your swimming gear on, you’ll be sitting half-underwater and enjoying handcrafted cocktails and tacos. 

Between snacks and chats, you can pop into the water for some snorkeling to spy on the colorful fish or lounge on the floaties and venture around the bay.

Check Out the Islands Ruins

Annaberg Ruins on St. John, USVI
Annaberg Plantation Ruins

Today, it might seem like history is a little lost with all the current developments. But at St. Johns, you have the chance to step back in time and get an idea as to what life was like during the 1800s. 

In 1780, the island of St. John was said to have around 25 sugar-producing factories. Now, their ruins stand waiting to be explored. 

Annaberg Plantation 

Back in the day, 100,000 tons of sugar were produced each year by enslaved workers. Now, a trail leads you through the plantation, around the old slave quarters, and other ruins on the grounds. 

Travelers can learn about the history of the slave trade that took place on the island, as well as the spectacular views from the site. 

The ruins are open every day from 8:30 a.m – 4:30 p.m and entrance is free. However, taking a tour from Trunk Bay to Annaberg Plantation includes a guide to share the interesting history of the ruins.

Cinnamon Bay Ruins 

Visiting the Cinnamon Bay Ruins gives you a taste of the island’s history. And while the ruins are aging, trees have started to reclaim the surroundings making the grounds look like they’ve come straight out of a fairy-tale. 

There is a nature trail that takes you around the plantation, tropical landscapes, and along a creek. You can expect to wander the trail for about 45-minutes. The park is accessible 24-hours a day.

Catherineberg Sugar Mill Ruins

Catherineberg Sugar Mill Ruins is another well-preserved sugar plantation that is open to the public. The sugar mill is incredibly well-preserved and you can wander inside under the arched walls and through the slave quarters. 

The site is most known for being the site of the massive slave rebellion that took place in 1733. Most of the time, the grounds are relatively quiet, with few crowds, which gives it a rather eerie feeling.

The ruins are open from sunrise to sunset, and entrance is free. 

Feast on a Burger at Skinny Legs

As with most vacations, there’s a lot of great food being eaten. In St. Johns, it’s all about island-styled, hearty-cooking. And nothing beats enjoying a burger from Skinny Legs, right on the shores in Coral Bay proper. 

Coral Bay is a popular hangout spot among water enthusiasts and the locals. You’ll find a vibrant energy surrounding the beach and friendly faces wandering around. 

Besides the great atmosphere, you’ll be feasting at one of the most memorable restaurants on the island. Founded in the 80s by two best friends, the funky bar and grill is all about providing a wholesome experience. 

Come in your flip-flops, watch yachting races shown on the big screen and discover what all the craze is about.

Search for Wild Donkeys

Donkeys on St. John

Barbados is known for pink piggies swimming in crystal clear waters, but St. John has something just as adorable.

Since 1671, when plantation owners let them loose, donkeys have been roaming blissfully along the coastal shores and wooded areas. There are believed to be around 300 donkeys who call St. John home, and you’ll often see them traveling along in groups of 3 or 4. 

No matter what you plan on doing during your stay, always bring along a few extra snacks. You never know if you might come across a drove of hungry donkeys.

They’re a lot friendlier than you’d expect and they’re not shy when it comes to sticking their heads into your car window to greet you. 

Watersports – Cinnamon Bay, Caneel Bay, and Maho Bay

Cinnamon-Bay-Kayaks

The beaches in St. John are world-renowned, giving it the reputation of being the Crown Jewel of the Virgin Island. Along with snorkeling havens and underwater wonderlands, many of the beach bays offer world-class watersport adventures

Cinnamon Bay is the longest beach on the island, scattered with watersport shops and rental stores. Some of the stores have windsurfing boards, kayaks, water skis, and tubes for rent, along with friendly instructors to teach you the ways of the waves. 

The naturally calm bays of Maho Bay provide you with the ideal conditions for afternoon paddles. Small sea fans and colorful sponges can be seen from above the water, as well as schools of Juvenile Grey and French Angelfish. 

You can even have a go at snuba’ing; a mixture between snorkeling and scuba diving. Strap on a mask, some weights, and a hose connected to air tanks to explore the shallow waters and ocean floor. 

Charter a Boat on the Caribbean Waters

Power-Boat-in-Virgin-Islands

St. Johns provides an incredible destination for floating along the Caribbean waters. With 60% of the island deemed national parks, the rest of the area shows off beach coves and mangrove forests. 

As you sail along the waters, anchor alongside these exquisite shores and cater your trip to suit your interest. For daytime anchorage, Caneel Bay offers a picturesque beach. Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay are just as wonderful.

A private charter means you’re treated with secluded coves to anchor at. With empty waters, you have the freedom for uninterrupted snorkeling experiences with angelfish, rays, snappers, and parrotfish.

Chartering a boat around the island is the best way of seeing every wonder on the island, whether that be to visit Cruz Bay and see downtown or seeing the remains of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation.

Beach Hop in a Taxi Truck

A taxi truck is St. John’s own unique twist on an open-air, island safari. They’re basically these little trucks that have been converted into funky taxis that take you from one town to the other. 

You’ll often find them waiting around the popular beaches like Cruz Bay and Trunk Bay and don’t abide by any travel schedule. Which is all part of the island’s laid-back approach to living. 

Other than being slightly more affordable than renting a car, the taxi’s save you the effort of searching for parking – a common problem on the island. 

Marine Life at the Hurricane Hole

Hurricane-Hole-St-John

Hurricane Hole is surrounded by intricate forests of mangrove trees which play an important role in the coastal ecosystem. With their gigantic roots surrounding the waters, Hurricane Hole is an incredible place for paddleboarding when it’s particularly windy.

Why? Because when the island is windy, Hurricane Hole is almost always calm and flat. Rumour has it that when it’s hurricane season, the area is the only one that remains unaffected by gashing winds. 

As well as being a peaceful paddleboarding destination, Hurricane Hole is an alternative to snorkeling among coral reefs. Here, snorkelers can venture near the mangrove roots, which is a very rich habitat. Along with fish, you’ll notice spaghetti worms and upside-down jellyfish

ST. JOHN ACTIVITIES: TIPS AND TRICKS FOR GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND

We’re here to help and that means sharing our advice on travel tips for your island trip. Take a look at some of the ways you can optimize your time at this beautiful beach destination. 

Renting a Car for St. John USVI Activities

Most of the top things to do in St. John USVI require transportation. And the best way of getting around the island is to rent a car.

It makes it easy to stay on top of your itinerary and see and do as much as your heart desires. Before arriving at St. John, you can easily book a car and collect it once you’ve arrived. 

If you’re renting a car, our top recommendation is to book a Jeep. Jeeps are the most fun way to explore any kind of mountainous, jungly, beachy landscape – which is exactly what St. John is. They’re priced from around $80 – $95 USD a day.

Parking in St. John

cars parked along the road at the entrance to the reef bay trail on St. John
Parking at Reef Bay Trailhead

One downside to the dreamy island is the lack of parking space. Sure, you can rely on taxis and avoid the issue entirely, but sometimes that can be pricey and limiting. 

It might be tempting to rent a small car so that you can easily maneuver into tiny spaces, but low cars aren’t great for traveling on some of the rocky, dirt roads. 

Planning ahead will help you avoid the issue of parking spaces. The night before your next day, plan exactly where you’re keen on heading. This’ll ensure that you grab a parking spot before the crowds of people arrive. 

If You Want to Meet People Head to Trunk Bay

St. John has a bit of a reputation for being a party destination. With cheap drinks, moonlit beaches, and a friendly crowd, it’s easy to understand why. 

If you’re traveling solo and looking to meet like-minded people, head to Trunk Bay – it’s where a lot of the globetrotters and adventure-seekers hang out.

Meeting people is a great way to share an experience with someone. You can score lifts, split taxi fees, and plan excursions together.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ST. JOHN THINGS TO DO

St. Johns is no ordinary island. Being a Caribbean Island makes it spectacular enough, but it’s the little things that make it extraordinary. From donkeys roaming the streets, upside-down jellyfish hiding in the mangroves, and floating taco bars, it’s an adventure like no other. 

You could easily spend all your time on the island marveling at the underwater life. But you could also get lost in history, embark on a thrilling watersport excursion or live in luxury on a charter boat.

Looking for more info on the Virgin Islands?? Check out our full guide HERE!

Hi!  We’re Kristin & Andrew, lovers of everything tropical.  We spend as much time as possible searching for the best beaches, snorkeling, hiking, and fun in the sun!