St. John, U.S.V.I.
We want to start this blog post out by saying this was our honeymoon so we definitely splurged on some excursions, but we also considered the fact that we don’t know when we were going to be back. We chose the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) for our honeymoon because we love National Parks, but we also wanted the option to relax on the beach with a drink. St. John and Virgin Islands National Park was the perfect honey moon destination for us!
Additionally, St. John is significantly less crowded than the other two U.S. Virgin Islands which makes it ideal for more intimate trips like honeymoons and the outdoors.
How To Get To There
Virgin Islands National Park is on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are no commercial flights into St. John because there is no airport. You’ll notice St. John is basically a giant mountain with very little flat land. The only way into the island is by ferry, private boat, or seaplane. We flew American Airlines to the airport on St. Thomas, Cyril E. King (STT). On our way there we had a layover in Charlotte and on the way home we had a layover in Miami. The ferry boats run from two main harbors, Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook. Charlotte Amalie is closer to the airport (short taxi) but further from St. John (longer boat ride). Red Hook is the opposite, the taxi ride is longer and the boat ride is shorter.
Make sure you check the ferry schedule because when we arrived the Charlotte Amalie ferry was not running and we had to taxi to the other side of the island to get to Red Hook dock. It was about a 45 minute taxi ride. Bring cash to pay and tip. Ferry tickets are available at the Red Hook harbor. After airline delays we were behind schedule, but we finally made it to Cruz Bay of St. John on the 5pm ferry. However, that was not the end of our travels! We stayed near Coral Bay Harbor on the other side of St. John, but we rented a Jeep. Luckily, the rental place was just a short drive from the harbor. From there we picked up the Jeep and drove 30 minutes to our beautiful stay.
Where We Stayed
We used a travel agent to help us book our stay! There are not a ton of options on St. John. At first we wanted to stay at the Westin, but we couldn’t get ahold of anyone. Our travel agent helped us find an amazing villa at Calichi at Picture Point. It was definitely a lot more than we would normally spend on a trip, but it was our honeymoon and we saved up for this! It was absolutely incredible and we are so happy we stayed there. We will say all of the nicer restaurants are at Cruz Bay Harbor, but there are some more casual and local restaurants at Coral Bay.
National Park Hikes To Do
The National Park Visitor Center is in Cruz Bay. We went there to get souvenirs, our National Parks passport stamp, and to talk to a ranger. We always love talking to rangers! After chatting with the ranger, we went on a hike near the visitor center that he recommended.
Did you know Virgin Islands National Park has an under water trail? It’s a trail that takes you to explore some protected reefs along the shoreline. There are also signs underwater! Unfortunately, during our trip the ocean swell was too large and produced too many rip currents leaving the ocean with low visibility for snorkeling and tougher swimming conditions.
Caneel Hill Trail To Honeymoon Beach To Lind Trail
- Starts near the Visitor Center
- We hiked a little over 3 miles. We did a loop from the Visitor center up to Caneel Hill and then down to Honeymoon Beach back to the Visitor Center
- Honeymoon Beach is beautiful! We only dipped our toes in the water this time
- Restrooms + water at the Visitor Center
- Honeymoon beach used to be part of the resort within the National Park. After the 2016 hurricanes, Irma and Maria destroyed the property, the resort has been closed. We learned the NPS is going to take new applications for the resort and we hope to see it back up and running in a couple years
Reef Bay Trail
- Starts from one of the higher points on the island
- 4.4 miles out and back with over 1,180 ft in elevation gain
- A MUST STOP – the petroglyphs trail leads to some very old petroglyphs, including one that has been adopted as the symbol of St. John.
- You hike down to a sugar mill plant and will have to hike back up
- Street parking only and it is limited
- No restrooms at trailhead, but there are restrooms at the end of the hike
- Reef Bay on AllTrails
- 2.3 miles out and back with 314 ft in elevation gain
- This hike has ZERO shade. Wear sun protection and bring enough water.
- Our best advice is to go in the morning or evening. We mistakenly went mid-day
- Restrooms at trailhead
- There is is a popular beach you walk past in case you want to relax at the beach after the hike
National Park Beaches
There are multiple beaches on St. John within the National Park’s boundaries; some you have to hike or boat up to, others you can drive to. We drove to a few beaches and hiked/kayaked to others. Below are beaches that we were able to drive to and kayak too. We mentioned a few hikes above!
- We visited Cinnamon Bay to walk around the old sugar factory, but there is also a beautiful beach here as well!
- There is no fee for this beach
- Parking is limited and fills up fast
- There is camping near this beach
- Rental equipment available at Cinnamon Bay as well as a very small general store
- On our relaxing days we hung out at Maho Bay. We really liked this beach because you could purchase drinks and food nearby. The Pina Coladas were phenomenal!
- We rented chairs, a kayak, and snorkel gear for the day. Unfortunately, the water was rough so it wasn’t as clear it is usually is. This is normally a great area to spot sea turtles! We still went out on our kayak and we ended up spotting some turtles!
- There is a parking lot and street parking. we recommend arriving earlier in the day to get a parking spot
Honeymoon Beach + Henley Cay
- We did a full day Kayak tour through Arawak Expeditions
- This was a hard kayaking tour and we kayaked over 20 miles
- We stopped at two different spots to snorkel. We snorkeled at Henley Cay and Caneel Bay beach, both a part of the National Park System. We ate lunch at Caneel Bay beach and snorkeled where we saw so many sea turtles! We then kayaked over to Honeymoon beach where we were able to get drinks and relax. From there we kayaked back to Cruz Bay to end the tour
Other Activities We Did
Jost Van Dyke
- We decided to bring our passports so we could island hop and go to the British Virgin Islands. We used Cruz Bay tour company for this trip. There was an open bar and breakfast on the boat
- We went to the famous Soggy Dollar Bar. It is called Soggy Dollar because you normally have to swim ashore because there is no dock on the beach. The waves were too rough so we had to take an island taxi over to the beach instead. It was still a lot of fun!
- Cruz Bay takes off from the Westin Resort
Sunset Cruise with Cruz Bay Water Sports
- We enjoyed the Days End Sunset sail with Cruz Bay that included appetizers and an open bar
- Cruz Bay takes off from the Westin Resort
Where We Ate
It’s smart to make reservations at lot of the nicer restaurants ahead of time! The Long Board does not take reservations but you can put your name on the list in person, and that is what we did. The Long Board reminded us restaurants and food we could get in California.
- Morgan’s Mangos
- The Longboard
- Lime Inn – definitely recommend trying this restaurant! It is one of the most authentic Caribbean places on the island
- Extra Virgin Bistro