|St. John, in the US Virgin Islands, beckons with beautiful anchorages and beaches. For your first yacht charter to the Virgin Islands, you could happily spend 10 days in only the British Virgin Islands and save St. John for another trip. For a charter departing from St. Thomas, St. John is typically your first anchorage. A one-way charter from the BVI to St. Thomas would typically include the last day in St. John.
St. John is 1.5 miles east of St. Thomas. About 70% National Park, the donation of this land by the Rockefeller family guarantees that the beautiful hillsides will not be developed and the coral reefs will be protected for generations to come.
Cruz Bay on the west is the main city of St. John. Coral Bay on the east end is the other city. Between the two, and the scattered houses around the island, St. John boasts a population of about 5,000. This small population means everyone knows everyone else, and friendships are close and lasting there. In fact, the nickname of Cruz Bay is 'Love City' by its friendly residents.
Coral Bay on the south west side is actually a variation on the old Dutch name for corral, as this is where the main livestock pens were during the plantation days. Despite the actual basis for the name, there are several beautiful reefs nearby.
As you go around St. John, keep an eye out for the Manchioneel Tree - this tree has poisonous fruit, poisonous leaves, poisonous sap, and the leaves cover themselves with a poisonous dusty coating such that if you stand under the tree when it rains, you will likely get a nasty rash! Not to worry though, only 2 are left and both are clearly marked! Aside from this botanical curiosity, St. John also has several non-native species you will undoubtedly see. The wild donkeys of St. John aren't all that wild and present a problem for Park officials to control their numbers. Left over from the Plantation economy, these donkeys wander freely and you are likely to see them munching by the side of the road on tasty vegetation. Also keep a keen eye out for the mongoose, St. John's unofficial mascot. Brought to control the rat population that went along with the large sailing vessels of the 17th and 18th century, they too have flourished in their adopted ecosystem. But as a diurnal (daytime) creature, the mongoose did not do much against the nocturnal rats.
Numerous sites around St. John are under active archeological excavation: the period of European colonialism with its sugar cane economy and slave holding plantations, and pre-Columbian artifacts of the Taino, Arawak and Carib Indian tribes. Annaberg Plantation contains a well-marked tour of the remnants of an old sugar plantation, including Sugar Mill, Boiling Vats, slave houses, and other buildings. The Reef Bay hiking trail, maintained by the Park Service, passes by ancient petroglyphs on its way to more sugar mill ruins and a beach. These ancient symbols were carved into the rocks in the mountainside, and the identity of the authors and an explanation of why and what they mean is still debated to this day.
In the Park, Trunk Bay has an underwater snorkeling trail with signs indicating fish, corals and other critters that you might see as you go along both there, and in your other snorkeling adventures on St. John. There are also several other hiking trails ranging from novice to challenging, especially when you factor in the bright Caribbean sun! There are often park activities going on, such as guided hikes, lectures and tours of the archeological sites, or beach nature walks.