By Annie Shustrin
The Caribbean Sea is host to some of the best islands in the world for tropical beach travel and water sports. The US Virgin Islands, located only 75 miles west of Puerto Rico, are an easy and beautiful way to explore what the Caribbean has to offer.
Though the larger two islands in the USVI archipelago, St Thomas and St Croix, are amazing destinations unto themselves, St John is the star. Its buzzing coral reefs, sparse development, and miles of US National Park protected beaches make it the best choice for an unadulterated Caribbean experience.
You’ll instantly be impressed to see how many of St John’s beaches remained untouched by construction. Though accommodations are not hard to come by on the island, there are very few resorts that can boast true beachfront property. Beach facilities are sometimes available by each stretch of sand, as are parking lots and camping, but most of St John’s beaches are untouched.
On the North Shore, don’t miss Trunk Bay, Denis Bay, and Maho Bay.
Take a drive to the other side of the island to snorkel the reefs off Waterlemon Bay, enjoy the private sands of Hansen’s Bay, and swim with turtles in remote Salt Pond Bay on the south shore.
Though it’s easiest to stay in the main town of Cruz Bay for transportation and nightlife, St John has a plethora of isolated rental villas and eco-friendly resorts spread around the island. For large groups and quiet independent getaways, renting a villa or an apartment is always a good option. There are plenty of rentals all over the island in varying sizes and price ranges. Alternatively, eco-resorts such as the Concordia Eco- Resort above Salt Pond Bay have plenty of natural luxury while still maintaining an eco-chic style.
If you choose to stay on the less densely populated areas of the island, you’ll most likely meet some of St John’s animal residents. Goats and donkeys seem to own the roads, so be careful driving on sharp curves and at nighttime!
Like most tropical destinations, getting outside is what travel here is all about. Whether you are into water sports like paddle boarding, sailing, diving, or snorkeling, there are countless reefs and protected coves to explore. As St John is mostly National Park, there are hiking trails leading all over the island, with the best ones leading to secluded beaches inaccessible by car. Of course the sand on the island’s beaches is soft and bright white, which is why sun bathing is a favorite activity as well.
Whatever your style, you’ll never get bored on St John.
Annie Shustrin is a travel addict. When she’s not on the road, she’s either thinking about past trips, planning future ones, or fantasizing about where she’d like to be right now. She has visited over 30 countries on both long and short term travels, and is now based in New York City. She writes for her blog TravelShus.com, as well contributing articles to other online travel publications. Though Indonesia and New Zealand are amongst her favorite destinations, her favorite travel memory was in China, where she got to hold a baby panda on her very own lap.