Whether you get around by rental car, open-air taxi, or foot, St. John island offers many unique sites of interest beyond the obvious National Park. In addition to the award-winning beaches, well-maintained hiking trails, and fascinating historical ruins, St. John island includes several sites of interest to visit when wondering what to do.
Located in Cruz Bay at the National Park dock, across from Mongoose Junction shopping center, island visitors can get the low down on all things St. John. From the island’s diverse cultural history, to the tiniest of organisms beneath the sea, the Visitor’s Center offers educational displays, free hiking maps and more. Open daily from 8am to 4:30pm (except holidays), National Park rangers are available for hiking and snorkeling tours and cultural craft demonstrations. Registration and transportation fees may apply. On island? Take the short walk from the public ferry dock and meet the friendly employees of the Virgin Islands National Park in-person. Contact the Visitor’s Center at (340)776-6201 seven days/week.
The ultimate in luxury, the Caneel Bay Resort offers visitors the seven most beautiful Caribbean beaches. The high end accommodations include private land access to Caneel Bay, Turtle Bay, Hawk’s Nest Bay, Scott Beach, and other small cays. Once owned by Laurence Rockefeller, the 170-acre estate is surrounded by Virgin Islands National Park and welcomes the rich, the famous, and the newly wed. Popular for fairytale beachfront weddings, Caneel Bay Resort is rated one of the leading hotels in all the world.
Visit Caneel Bay resort for the day! With an ample parking lot and reasonable parking fees, both Honeymoon Beach and Caneel Bay beach have kayaks and snorkel gear you can rent by the hour or day, sign-up for a guided tour from any one of the amiable and experienced water buffs at VI Eco Tours (right there at the beach), or grab a bite to eat at the Caneel Bay bar and grill. Visitors to Caneel Bay can also hike over to Salomon Beach (or beyond to the National Park Visitor Center, Mongoose Junction shopping center and downtown Cruz Bay). Bring your own towel if you’re visiting Caneel Bay for the day, as visitors on property can use the beach, but beach chairs and hotel towels are for overnight guests only.
Phone Caneel Bay resort help desk for more information, (340) 776-6111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On island? Visit Caneel Bay, just a mile from Cruz Bay up North Shore road (Rt. 20).
A half mile walk from the Cruz Bay ferry dock on St. John island is the Elaine Ion Sprauve Library and Museum, St. John’s only public library. A part of the Virgin Islands Public Libraries, the Elaine Ione Sprauve Library and Museum is located in the newly refurbished Estate Enighed great house in Cruz Bay.
The Elaine Ione Sprauve Library is connected to all the other public libraries through the Dynix Circulation and Catalogue System (DCCS) and offers the usual library services, including a large selection of books, magazines and newspapers for adults on the main level (and a special Caribbean collection), and a separate reading room and a children’s library on the lower level. The library also serves as a depository for official Virgin Islands documents.
Open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Elaine Ione Sprauve library also has story hours and a summer program for children, literature discussions, Spanish classes, craft lessons and tutoring facilities.
Residents of the US Virgin Islands are eligible to apply for a library card which can be used in any of the territory’s public libraries. Visitors are encouraged to peruse the aisles and read any available literature on the premises, while enjoying the building’s history and architecture.
Originally built in the middle of the eighteenth century, what is the library today was quite a significant structure for its time. Two families owned the property during this time and the surrounding area became a major source of sugar production. While the estate changed ownership several times over the years, a fire destroyed the buildings early in the twentieth century and the property remained mostly uninhabited for the next forty years. Eventually sold as separate parcels, the site of the ruined building was admitted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 1, 1976.
Full restoration of the building took just four years to finish, a monumental achievement on St. John island even today. The Enighed Estate House was officially renamed in early 1980 to honor Miss Elaine Ione Sprauve for her service to the government and her outstanding contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands.
Thirty years later the Elaine Ione Sprauve Museum and Library underwent yet another renovation, so visitors today will get the full experience of St. John island’s beautiful public library.
Contact Carol McGuiness, Head Librarian, weekdays 9:00 am to 5:00 at (340) 776-6359 for more information or contributions, which can be mailed to PO Box 30 Enighed Estate, St. John VI 00831.
Are you an animal lover? Why not visit the St. John Animal Care Center (ACC) and be a voluntourist! Located in the heart of Cruz Bay, across from the Inn at Tamarind Court (before the Elaine Sprauve Library and Museum), the small but mighty ACC building welcomes all who cross its threshold. Volunteers are always needed and appreciated, to help with the cat cages and walk the many dogs who call the island animal shelter home. Or signup for an ACC hike, where groups of volunteers hike with shelter dogs through National Park trails (which is allowed, as long as the dog is on a leash). Give a shelter dog a day worth dreaming about while you get your exercise. Brilliant!
Cats and kittens at the ACC shelter occupy the main floor, while dogs and puppies wait for their forever home on the lower level. The ACC is a no-kill shelter, so there’s never a shortage of lovable inventory in need. Pop-in and say hello to the fabulous shelter manager, technician and slew of helpful volunteers.
The ACC is a non-profit and relies on the generosity of others to function. The ACC sponsors three major fundraisers each year. At the early start of season in October, residents clean out their closets and donate gently used clothing, household goods and building supplies to the “No Fleas Please” Flea Market. An “island fancy” gala for the animals follows in high season, usually early January. The season wraps up with Wagapalooza each May, an island style dog show that should not be missed. For more information about these events and other ACC fundraising efforts, email email@example.com, phone +1(340) 774-1625, or visit the ACC website at http://www.stjohnanimalcarecenter.com/
Tucked high in the hill of the Contant area of Cruz Bay is a relatively unknown spot to most visitors to St. John Island, but one with great historical significance. Born in 1902, the Ivan Jadan Museum tells the fascinating life story of the greatest Russian tenor of the 20th century.
In 1941 Jadan was 36 and fled Russia to escape Stalin. His singing career and resulting travels put Jadan in influential circles, eventually leading him on a serendipitous path to a relatively unknown Caribbean island in 1955. Jadan thrived on St. John island with his devoted wife Doris by his side, using trade skills he learned during his younger days to survive. For the next forty years Jadan sang only for friends and local churches, where the fortunate few could hear his passionate interpretations of the Russian classics. For more information, phone the Ivan Jadan museum at (340) 776-6423, or visit the Ivan Jadan Museum website at http://www.ijadan.vi/
Just under 1300 feet at its highest point, Bordeaux Mountain is the tallest mountain on St. John island. Visitors to St. John will pass the Bordeaux Mountain overlook about 5 miles from Cruz Bay on Centerline Road (Rt. 10). Driving on the left, you’ll want to watch for oncoming traffic as you turn right into the parking area at Chateau Bordeaux.
Silver Larimar (the Stone of the Caribbean) jewelry, local artwork and smoothies (virgin and loaded) are available at Hibiscus Jazz, or grab a delicious breakfast or lunch right next door at Chateau Bordeaux. Eat inside at Chateau Bordeaux, or eat while enjoying the epic view from the outside deck. Don’t forget to order a Dirty Monkey, just because you can.
While checking out the Bordeaux Mountain overlook on St. John island, be sure to keep your eyes out for cars and trucks coming around the corner. The view down island into Coral Bay and beyond is mesmerizing (especially after a few of those Dirty Monkey’s).
Chateau Bordeaux is usually open on weekdays for breakfast, from 7:00 am to 11:00 am and lunch from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. While Chateau Bordeaux may be closed on the weekends, the overlook is not. Enjoy!