All visitors to St. John must fly into Cyril
E. King airport (STT) on St. Thomas. St. John is reached by a 20 minute car or
passenger ferry ride from Red
Hook or a 45 minute passenger ferry ride from downtown Charlotte Amalie.
arriving on St. John at the ferry dock in Cruz Bay, you will travel 9 miles by
car to enjoy the "quieter side" of St. John on Fortsberg Mountain in
Coral Bay. "It's the way St. John used to be", describes one St. Johnian.
Privacy and seclusion abounds, but you must have a 4 wheel drive vehicle to access
Estate Fortsberg. It is 10 minutes from the North Shore beaches; a short walk
to the historic ruins of Fortsberg (420 feet elevation) and the Battery (80 feet
elevation); 3 minutes to the world renowned Skinny Legs Bar & Grill; 5 minutes
to any of the several great restaurants of Coral Bay.
"A few islands labeled Virgin are scattered in Caribbean waters,
but only one has remained pure, resisting mass tourism's corrupting advances.
St. John - the squeaky-clean little sister to busy and glitzy siblings St. Thomas
and St. Croix - has always lured travelers back to nature, without casinos or
sneaker-footed cabana boys offering cucumber-scented spritzes, or even raked sand.
The island appeals to those who care more about seeing a thousand stars in the
night sky than a rating of five for their lodging, vacationers who can make their
own fun with a trail map and a towel." - Conde Nast Traveler
Treasure Trove of Discoveries
Time is something to be ignored
when visiting St. John. Pay no attention to your wristwatch; better yet, don't
even wear one. Adjust yourself to St. John's slower pace. Forget about trying
to cram too many things into your visit. Ignore this advice and you'll depart
less enriched than those who have made a successful transition to "island
Rumor has it that pirates buried fortunes throughout this Caribbean
area. Today's island visitors find treasures of greater value than gold and silver.
Awaiting discovery is a wealth of beaches, coral reefs, plantation ruins, and
diverse plants and animals. The Virgin Island National Park is indeed a treasure
trove filled to the brim. You will be rewarded!
The Island of St.
Throughout history, people seeking paradise on Earth have traveled-or
dreamed of traveling- to a tropical island where they could find beauty, refreshment,
and refuge. Today, two-thirds of the small rugged volcanic island of St. John
is protected as a natural paradise within the Virgin Islands National Park. Among
the earthly delights of this faraway place are tropical forests, wildlife, wildflowers,
and breathtaking views. Just offshore, dazzling natural riches are preserved within
the park's marine areas. Combined, the land and waters of St. John are, in many
ways, a world apart.
St. John's Historical Heritage
nearly five centuries of the Virgin Islands cultural history is as colorful and
enthralling as a carnival parade. Humans inhabited the area long before Columbus'
arrival. Archeological discoveries show that Indians, migrating northward in canoes
from South America, lived on St. John as early as 710 BC. They hunted and gathered
foods primarily from the sea.
Columbus may have named the Islands, but
no lasting settlements were in place until the 1720's. Attracted by the lucrative
prospects of cultivating sugar cane, the Danes took formal possession in 1694
and raised Danish colors in 1718, thereby establishing the first permanent European
settlement on St. John at Estate Carolina in Coral Bay.
followed, and by 1733 virtually all of St. John was taken up by 109 cane and cotton
plantations. As the plantation economy grew, so did the demand for slaves. Many
who were captured in West Africa were of tribal nobility and former slave owners
themselves. In 1733, they revolted against the fortress at Fortsberg (only a short
hike from Estate Fortsberg) and an island-wide massacre of families occurred.
Six months passed before the rebellion was quelled.
The emancipation of
slaves in 1848 was one of several factors which led to the decline of St. John's
plantations. The population plummeted, and by the early 20th century cattle and
subsistence farming and bay rum production were the main industries.
United States purchased the islands in 1917, and by the 1930s the seed of a tourism
industry had sprouted. Word spread quickly of this untouched Caribbean paradise.
In 1956, Rockefeller interests purchased land and transferred it to the Federal
Government to be designated a National Park. In 1962, boundaries were enlarged
to include 5,650 acres of submerged lands.
Today the Park works closely
with local and Caribbean-wide conservation-minded interests to preserve the area's
natural and cultural resources. In recognition of the significance of its natural
resources, the Park also is part of the international network of biosphere reserves.
As the future unfolds, both the Park and the Territory will strive to ensure the
preservation of America's Paradise.
of the 3 main U.S. Virgin Islands has its share of tropical pleasures. St. John,
where Virgin Islands National Park is located, is the most pristine and least
developed. Next door is the bustling tourist Mecca of St. Thomas, with its magnificent
cruise-ship harbor of Charlotte Amalie. On distant St. Croix, life moves at a
leisurely pace amid quaint towns, rolling hills, and pastoral landscapes.
Major airlines fly from the U.S. mainland to St.
Thomas; flights also land in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where connecting flights can
be taken. Many cruise lines visit the islands. Car and Jeep rentals are available
at the airport on St. Thomas and on St. John. Taxis and safari buses operate from
the airport to Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook on St. Thomas. Land, sea, air, and
underwater tours are given, and boats and snorkeling and scuba gear may be rented.
Other major services, including medical care, are available. Lodging ranges from
campgrounds, hotels, to luxury villas; make reservations well in advance. The
peak visitor season is December through April.