Pack up your suitcases and get ready to come along with me to the beautiful island of St. John! If you followed along on Instagram a few weeks ago, then you probably noticed that I traded in the hustle and bustle of NYC for some serenity in St. John. I was lucky enough to join my family in STJ for a whole week and enjoy time off from work (and even spent less time on social media). This was our family’s second time to the island, and third time in the US Virgin Islands, so we are definitely starting to know our way around there.
One of the best parts about St. John is how friendly everyone is! The people are great and everyone greets you with a smile.. it’s even called Love City. Even after the hurricanes, their spirits are high and the island is so happy to have tourists visiting again. Most of our favorite spots from a few years ago are back up and running since Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but you can still see some remnants of the damage on parts of the island. St. John is one of my favorite places to go because of the laid-back vibe and beautiful scenery. It’s also smaller and less crowded than St. Thomas, if you’re deciding between the two.
Where did we stay?
This was our second time staying at The Westin St. John Villas and we had a wonderful stay. The hotel is located in Great Cruz Bay and is made up of villas that line the hills. It has a private beach which is amazing for relaxing, and the water is extremely calm around the area. It actually just re-opened after the hurricane in February, and it looks even better than before. They also offer a ferry and shuttle from the airport in St. Thomas that’s convenient for arrival and departure. (fun fact: St. John doesn’t have it’s own airport!)
Another popular spot is Gallows Point in Cruz Bay. It’s close to town and has several room options available. We actually had dinner at one of their restaurants and the view was incredible.
Where did we eat/drink?
My family always jokes that we sit at one meal and start planning the next. But what can I say? We like our food! Even though the town is tiny, St. John has several great restaurants! It’s so funny because everything is a very laid back atmosphere even if it’s a “fancy” restaurant.
- Drink STJ: This beachfront bar has a chill atmosphere, tasty drinks, and live music. You could definitely spend hours on island time here. They have the best cocktails made with fresh island juices and their frozen painkillers are a must-try.
- Extra Virgin Bistro: A nicer restaurant that makes you feel like you’re in the jungle. Their homemade pasta is 10/10.
- The Lime Inn: Definitely a STJ classic. They have happy hour all. day. long., amazing seafood, and frozen key lime pie 🙂
- The Longboard: Cute coastal cantina with fresh + Caribbean inspired food. My sister and I both got their bowls and they were so yummy.
- Ocean 362: Island to table cuisine and an amazing sunset view. I had the Mahi and it was wonderful.
- Rhumb Lines: Our OG favorite from 2014 so of course we went back. They’re in a new location (temporary) on the other side of the island, but the Pad Thai makes it worth the trip.
Other spots worth mentioning that we didn’t get to on this trip are Morgan’s Mango, The Banana Deck, The Terrace, and Indigo Grill.
What did we do?
I was shocked to find out that two-thirds of St. John is actually a national park! That’s partially why it’s kept so pristine and hasn’t been truly industrialized. Definitely take advantage of this and visit the parks, go for a Jeep tour, or hike. We’ve done all of those things and I love getting to see different parts of the island. STJ has SO many bays that you can just drive down the coast and pull over to see a beautiful beach. But, keep in mind that it’s pretty rough driving terrain and the hills are not for the weak 🙂 Here are some highlights from our trip.
- Drive to Trunk Bay: You can rent a car and drive along the coast of the island to stop at all of the gorgeous beaches on the way. You can also do guided tours if you don’t want to drive.
- Maho Bay Crossroads: A cute tiki bar, food truck, and beach game area at the foothills along Maho Bay. It’s pretty new to the island and looks like something from a movie. One of my favorite spots!
- Hike the parks: There are a ton of great hiking trails as well. I definitely recommend doing research on the trails… we hiked Ramshead and it was around 5 miles uphill and on rocks.. not ideal, but makes for a funny story!
- Charter Trip with Love City Excursions: Okay, this was hands-down my favorite part of the trip! The whole fam took a half-day charter with Love City Excursions to visit the British Virgin Islands (BVIs). We hopped aboard CatZilla, their powerboat, and filled our cups with rum punch for a beautiful day on the water. We opted to go to Jost Van Dyke and the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, with some other stops along the way. Love City Excursions offers fully customizable trips so they’ll plan the perfect day for your group! I can’t recommend this enough. Our captain was wonderful and the entire family couldn’t stop smiling while we were on the water. Soggy Dollar Bar is also a sight to be seen…their slogan isn’t “Sunny beach, shady people” for nothing. It’s home of the original painkiller drink and such a fun stop to make.
Are you planning a warm weather vacay anytime soon? Have any favorite US Virgin Island spots? I’d love to hear!