A lot of people don’t know this, but when we originally booked our trip to the Virgin Islands this past September we only purchased one way flights.
I thought the island life was a dream. Who wouldn’t want to permanently live on vacation? So what the hell, we were going for it! I could see it now: I’d wake up, do some yoga on my private beach, take a dip in the turquoise waters and spend the rest of my days basking in the glorious sun, finally getting the beautiful bronze I’ve always longed for.
But eventually this thing called reality knocked on my door and we purchased return flights a few weeks before the trip. It was probably a good thing in the long run since I like to live an active, fast-pace life and the islands, as gorgeous as they are, are slow and small (and I’ll never achieve the level of tan I dream of.)
Although I didn’t end up living on St. John, I was fortunate enough to experience the magic of the island before the holidays, which is when the busy season begins. That means we got first dibs at beaches, restaurants and attractions.
Should you ever decide to vacation in St. John (you would be a fool not to!) here’s some travel tips from yours truly:
WHERE TO STAY: The St. John Inn, Cruz Bay.
Originally we booked an AirBNB in St. John, but when we saw the place in person, we quickly ditched the reservation and went to the St. John Inn. It’s located right in the heart of Cruz Bay, making it walking distance from all of the shops and restaurants. The room was perfectly equipped for what we needed: air conditioning and a comfy bed. They provided complimentary breakfast, snorkel gear and beach chairs, and had a pool and grill right outside the door. It was on the cheaper end of the spectrum, but we were literally out and about all day, so we just needed a clean and comfy place to sleep. If you’re traveling on a budget, this is a great option. If not, splurge and stay at some fancy resort where they serve you margaritas upon arrival.
GETTING AROUND: Rent a Jeep.
You really have no other option. The roads in St. John are extremely hilly and sometimes you literally have to drive up an 85 degree angle. Oh, and don’t be surprised if the road suddenly turns into gravel or dirt, or if you cross paths with wandering goats or donkeys.
WHERE TO EAT: The Longboard, Cruz Bay.
The Longboard in Cruz Bay was by far our favorite restaurant. It just opened this year and I can tell it will be highly successful. The vibe is SoCal surf and the food is straight up AMAZING. We ordered the sweet potato fries and the Longboard sandwich. Unfortunately we went on the last night of our trip. I definitely would have gone there for dinner every night if I would have known how great it was. The cocktails were good too. It’s slightly pricier and dishes are served a la carte, but YOLO.
WHERE TO DRINK: Beach Bar, Cruz Bay.
You can walk up to Beach Bar from the sand and watch the boats come in and out of the Harbor as your vision becomes impaired and speech begins to slur due to the massive amount of rum consumed. The island drink of choice is the Painkiller, and Beach Bar always has them on special. It’s basically always happy hour at Beach Bar. They also have cool table games you can play as you let the hours pass. Relaxing, fun and gets the job done.
WHERE TO SNORKEL: Great Lameshur Bay.
Everyone is going to tell you Trunk Bay, but I’m here to tell you that while Trunk Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, the snorkeling isn’t that great. Take your Jeep off the beaten path and cruise out to Great Lameshur Bay. We ended up finding this beach by accident because we were driving around without a map or GPS. We pulled up and there was not a soul in sight. Rock replaced sand at Great Lameshur Bay, making it the perfect habitat for fish to thrive in. We saw the biggest and brightest fishies here!
**Many people will say Water Lemon Cay is an awesome snorkel spot too. You have to walk a trail and then swim to the Cay about ¼ a mile out. When we went there were so many jelly fish they basically formed a wall and blocked us from reaching the Cay, so if you take the trek, be ready to weave through those bitches. You have been warned!
MAKE TIME FOR: Jumbie Bay, Haulover Bay, Peace Hill
Jumbie Bay is one of the first beaches you’ll pass as you drive down the coast towards the east end of the island. You have to walk a ways through the woods to get to it, but if you take the hike, the beach is small and private and is surrounded by big rocks on the side of the island, making it Instagram-worthy.
Haulover Bay is on the south east end of the island- basically the farthest beach from Cruz Bay. It will take a solid 30 minutes to get there, but you’re sure to find some awesome fish (think blowfish) and will probably be one of a few people there.
Peace Hill is the spot for sunset. When hiking up all we heard was crinkling leaves. We weren’t sure what it was at first, but we eventually realized it was hundreds of hermit crabs retreating back into their shells. It was like something out of Harry Potter, but when we got to the top we were the only people there, and we shared the sunset with a deer and her baby. There are also some old war ruins there too. It was awesome and definitely peaceful.
I could go on and on about the Virgin Islands, but this should be enough for now. I hope these travel tips will make your trip to St. John extra enjoyable – and if you aren’t going, I hope this will inspire you to!!