St. John, the smallest of the three major U.S. Virgin Islands, is laid-back with a casual, quirky ambience.
The 19-sq-mi/49-sq-km island is considered the most scenic and the most unspoiled of the three main islands. This is largely because two-thirds of St. John was set aside as the Virgin Islands National Park through a gift by Laurance Rockefeller. St. John is wholesome and outdoorsy—hiking shoes and snorkeling gear are musts. It's also dramatically beautiful, with coral reefs, volcanic mountains, deep ravines, tropical greenery, gorgeous cove beaches and an arid east coast dotted with salt ponds and cacti.
Don't overlook Cruz Bay, where many St. John residents live. Once a dusty port, it has blossomed into a charming resort town. Among the mix of elegant malls and tiny wooden houses are classy boutiques, cafes and bars. Its narrow, winding streets, parking problems and intermittent traffic jams prompt a word of caution to strollers and drivers alike. The ferry dock, a small park and the Virgin Islands National Park Visitors Center form the hub of Cruz Bay life.
The town of Coral Bay offers art galleries, boutiques, good snorkeling and bars with salty characters composing a fine blend of island experiences.
Most of St. John was hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and because of its steep topography, recovery efforts have been challenging. The island's stunning beaches and national park lands are back to what they once were, but some major resorts, restaurants and attractions may remain closed until further notice. Investigate current conditions prior to planning a visit.
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