Travel Postcard: 48 hours in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:45pm EDT
 
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By Chris Michaud

CRUZ BAY, St. John (Reuters) - The tiny island of St. John is the smallest, most pristine of the U.S. Virgin Islands, with two-thirds of its land mass given over to national parkland thanks to a 1956 donation from philanthropist-conservationist Laurance Rockefeller.

The verdant, volcanic isle attracts all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts, from hikers and scuba divers to beach lovers and sun worshippers, while steering clear of major development, fast-food chains and hordes of tourists seeking out raucous bars.

But there is no airport, so visitors must arrive by boat - either ferries, which run hourly, or private charter.

Eco-travelers saddened by the recent announcement that St. John's popular Maho Bay Camps will shutter in May, can still stay at its sister eco-resort, Concordia (www.concordiaeco-resort.com/), on the island's south side.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help you get the most out a short stay on this island paradise - whether it's your first or 40th visit.

FRIDAY

6 p.m. - After flying into St. Thomas, visitors heading to St. John will need to take a taxi to the ferry docks at either Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook, which is more popular because of its hourly departures (www.varlack-ventures.com). Once on St. John, pick up your pre-reserved rental car in Cruz Bay, unless you don't plan to leave the beach. Taxis are pricey and you'll want wheels to see the most of this bucolic isle.

Check in, or get settled at your weekend rental. While the Westin is the lone major resort (www.westinresortstjohn.com/), various short-stay options include condos, guest houses, villas and the luxurious yet rustic favorite of honeymooners, Caneel Bay (here).   Continued...

 
A blue cobblestone beach and trail leading to Ram Head, on the south shore of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, is seen in this handout photo taken in January, 2013. The tiny island of St. John is the smallest, most pristine of the U.S. Virgin Islands, with two-thirds of its land mass given over to national parkland thanks to a 1956 donation from philanthropist-conservationist Laurance Rockefeller. REUTERS/Nicholas Hall/Handout