10 Picture-Perfect Views of St. John

A year after hurricanes devastated the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands are on the road to recovery — and locals are eager to extend their world-famous hospitality. Imagine yourself in paradise with these glimpses of vibrant island life.

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Photo By: Lauren Oster

Cinnamon Bay Trail

Hikers flock to Centerline Road, where a trailhead just east of the Cinnamon Bay Campground offers access to a 1.1-mile trek through dense forest. Don’t be shy about pausing to catch your breath on the hill: It offers spectacular bird’s-eye views of the sea.

St. John Festival Parade

St. John’s month-long yearly festival commemorates two significant dates in its history: July 3, when slavery was abolished in the Virgin Islands in 1848, and July 4, when word of the decree reached the island. Beauty queens, musicians, dance troupes and merrymakers gather for a rollicking downtown parade.

Mocko Jumbie

Masked and costumed stilt-walkers made their way from Africa to the Virgin Islands centuries ago, and today their fancy footwork is a highlight of parades and festivals all year long.

Fireworks on Cruz Bay

Where better to celebrate national and local independence than on Cruz Bay, where 23 men, women and children were emancipated 170 years ago? As locals note with pride, islanders gained their freedom decades before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation liberated slaves in the continental United States.

Speeding to Maho Bay

One can reach pristine Maho Bay (which boasts a white-sand beach and offshore patches of sea grass beloved by sea turtles and snorkelers) by car — but it’s a lot more fun to visit by boat.

Sunrise on Cruz Bay

Between 6:30 AM and midnight, a ferry brings visitors from Red Hook on nearby St. Thomas to St. John’s Cruz Bay. If you’re lucky enough to have spent the night on the island and head outside just before six, you can greet the sun as it crests the hills and gilds the watercraft anchored in the bay.

Trunk Bay

You’ll need a mask and snorkel to appreciate the informational plaques at Trunk Bay’s National Coral Monument: They’re affixed to the ocean floor, where they guide visitors along an underwater trail.

Gallows Point

A 10-minute stroll from Cruz Bay brings visitors to Gallows Point, a manicured peninsula that now plays host to upscale villas. It once played host to a large colony of peacocks, and some of their descendants still strut across the property’s verdant lawns.

Serene Swim

While many properties on St. John have swimming pools, it’s hard to resist the siren call of the sea itself: In summer months, the tranquil water is a balmy 83 degrees.

Green Iguana

The Virgin Islands’ “green” iguanas are most vibrant when they’re young, and take on a more dusky olive tone as they grow older. If you visit with a bright red pedicure, be sure to wiggle your toes every now and again as you sunbathe: While nips are rare, the big lizards have been reported to mistake feet for the hibiscus flowers they consider a delicacy.

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