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Caneel Bay Resort
P.O. Box 720 St. John,
With over half of the island preserved under the national park system, St. John is the least commercial of the three USVI islands. In the shade of sea grape trees and coconut palms, its white sands conjure the perfect setting for Caribbean destination weddings, island honeymoons, family vacations and unforgettable romantic escapes.
Local Currency: U.S. Dollar
Immigration & Customs: United States citizens traveling to the USVI are not required to have a passport. An original copy of one’s birth certificate and photo ID are sufficient for admittance. Non U.S. natives must have a valid passport.
Time Zone: AST
A 20-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas brings you to the shores of Cruz Bay, the capital of St. John, USVI. Step off the gangplank and feel as though you’ve left the bustle and crowds of Charlotte Amalie bobbing somewhere back in your wake. No mammoth cruise ships mean no throngs of tourists pinballing up and down the avenues; the frame of mind here is decidedly more local. With apologies to U2, Cruz Bay is the original place “where the streets have no name.” Given its size, they were probably never deemed necessary. Instead of streets, St. John is divided into “estates,” which visitors can use to orient themselves. This reluctance to give in to any sort of municipal officialdom gives Cruz Bay an easygoing, live-and-let-live Caribbean spirit that’s becoming harder to find in some of the larger towns in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Even with no street names to guide you, you’ll find Cruz Bay to be an easily walkable grid of surprisingly decent restaurants – ranging from pleasant expat Happy Hour haunts to upscale bistros. You’ll also find no shortage of colorful shops and dive centers. If you happen to be visiting on the last Saturday of each month, you’ll be swept up in “St. John Saturday,” a traditional farmer’s market set to a vibrant Caribbean beat, with local artisans and vendors plying everything from handmade crafts and jewelry to clothing and food.
Despite its smallish size, Cruz Bay has a few attractions with distinctive personalities all their own and each is worth a visit.
Framed by intimate courtyards, shaded back alleys and leafy patios, Wharfside Village offers a little bit of everything right at the entrance to the ferry dock. Lively beach bars and charming waterfront restaurants. Jewelry shops, clothing boutiques and eclectic gifts. Wharfside is also where you can play the slots, rent a motorized dinghy or grab a slice of authentic New York style pizza. All with spectacular Caribbean sunsets bringing each day to a brilliant close.
Just a five-minute stroll from the Cruz Bay ferry dock you’ll find a fabulous selection of chic boutiques, art galleries, eateries, a beauty salon and live music most evenings. Built by local stone masons and artisans, with a design inspired by St. John’s 18th century sugar mills, Mongoose Junction is as much a celebration of St. John heritage as it is a shopping destination.
If you’re looking to stock up on beach snacks or goodies for a family picnic in the Virgin Islands National Park, this newly renovated supermarket is St. John's largest and best purveyor of fine foods. When the bill of fare calls for nibbles and beverages of a more grownup sort, stroll next door to Starfish Gourmet & Wines to browse the great selection of fine wines, spirits and beers, along with specialty cheeses and hors d'oeuvres. The staff here matches its friendly spirit and a deep understanding of what makes eating and drinking in the Caribbean so much fun. They’ll make sure you leave with everything you need.
In typical St. John spirit, shop hours vary by owner, but most are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and sometimes a little later during tourist season.
The museum is located in the beautifully restored Estate Enighed (pronounced EN-nee-high) greathouse, which was originally built in 1757. In addition to book loans and research facilities, there is a children’s library and reading room and a museum exploring the history and culture of St. John and the surrounding Virgin Islands (both American and British). Exhibits include rare antique photographs, newspaper clippings, paintings, Indian pottery and colonial artifacts. The library hosts book discussion groups, Spanish language classes, children's story hours and periodic craft demonstrations.
The library is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. For information, call (340) 776-6359.
Listed in the National Registry of Historic Sites, the battery was originally constructed as a fort in the late 1700’s. It featured a courthouse and dungeon and was armed with cannons designed to fire towards both land and sea. Today, the Cruz Bay Battery houses the majority of St. John’s government offices and is the only government building dating back to the island’s Danish era. The battery’s old prison cells house offices and a small museum, which is open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.
The Cruz Bay tourist office is located near the Battery, an early 18th-century fort a short stroll from the ferry dock. It’s open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at 340/776-6450.
For visitors interested in arranging hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and other adventures in the Virgin Islands National Park, the National Park Visitor Center offers two floors of information and a video presentation about the culture of the Virgin Islands. It's open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at 340/776-6201.
Taxis from the Caneel Bay Resort into Cruz Bay are available at a rate of $5.00 - $10.00 per person. For recommendations or assistance with planning your trip into town, visit the Caneel Bay Concierge.
No discussion of Cruz Bay is complete without a mention of its quirky country cousin down the road: Coral Bay. Put another way, Coral Bay is to Cruz Bay what Cruz Bay is to St. Thomas – a quieter, less traveled place that proudly describes itself as the "other" town on St. John.
A large community of St. John’s more colorful residents call it home, from sailors who live on their boats in Coral Bay Harbor to retired landlubbers dwelling high in the hills overlooking the Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands. The locals are a close-knit bunch, but love chatting up visitors in the town’s small collection of grocery stores, eclectic bars and restaurants and funky shops and galleries. But there’s no gas station, so make sure you top off before you hit town, otherwise you might find yourself stranded in Coral Bay – which really wouldn’t be such a bad thing…
The Moravian Missionaries arrived on St. John and built their first church at Bethany in 1749. The original church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1793. Take a short drive up Centerline Road from Cruz Bay to Estate Bethany. There, behind the present Bethany Moravian Church, you'll see the remains of the large Dutch ovens used by the Missionaries to bake bread for their congregation.
The Emmaus Moravian Church in Coral Bay was built in 1919 on the site of two earlier churches, one destroyed by hurricane and one by fire. The Coral Bay Mission was first established in 1782.