Travel Guide: Tour White-Sand Beaches and Hidden Reefs in St. John

The gorgeous Caribbean island delivers a heavenly winter getaway.

The bustling waters of Cruz Bay, the island’s main hub. / Photo by Sean Pavone Photo/Getty Images

Though it is the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the unspoiled beauty per square acre you’ll find on St. John just might exceed any other destination in the Caribbean. This pristine and eco-friendly jewel offers white-sand beaches, impossibly clear waters, and the lush Virgin Islands National Park, which covers about two-thirds of the island. Hike along the Peace Hill Trail for spectacular views of Trunk Bay, consistently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world; no visit to St. John is complete without taking a plunge in its warm, turquoise waters. Have a history buff in your crew? Go on a tour of the Reef Bay Trail for a glimpse of the ruins of a Danish sugar plantation, as well as ancient petroglyphs, instead. The rock carvings were a mystery for decades, but archaeologists now believe they were made by the Taíno people more than 1,000 years ago.

Of course, there’s as much to see under the waters of St. John as there is above. World-class snorkeling and scuba opportunities abound. Cruz Bay Watersports provides a five-hour, Lime Out catamaran and snorkeling tour that takes guests to the most breathtaking hidden reefs around the island and visits a floating taco bar for lunch.

After a hearty day on the water, reward yourself with sumptuous seafood at 18° 64° The Restaurant. The new establishment boasts an enticing raw bar and innovative craft cocktails like the mezcal-infused “Smokeshow.” Or, to enjoy one of the region’s best sunset dining experiences, head for the Windmill Bar at Neptune’s Lookout, which hosts a pig roast every Sunday.

Not ready to turn in just yet? For a bit of fun after dark, the Westin St. John Resort Villas offer a Night Kayak/Glow tour. The award-winning excursion features clear-bottomed kayaks for optimal aqua exploration and is ideal for families. If you’re looking for more local fare, try St. John Brewers’ Tap Room, a laid-back brewpub owned by college buddies who quit their day jobs on the mainland to live in paradise. Sounds good to us.

Cozy accommodations at Gallows Point Resort. / Photo by Steve Simonsen, courtesy of Gallows Point Resort


Delta offers a four-hour nonstop flight from Boston to St. Thomas’s Cyril E. King International Airport—no passport needed. From there, take a quick taxi ride to the Red Hook ferry, which will whisk you over to St. John in 20 minutes for just a little more than $16 roundtrip.


Ideally situated on a 5-acre peninsula within walking distance of Cruz Bay’s shops and restaurants, Gallows Point Resort features access to a stunning private beach and spacious suites with ocean views.