St. John, USVI is one of my favorite places because of the endless activities, delicious food and unique experiences! Here are five of the best unique experiences in St John USVI, featuring dinner with a private chef, day charter to the BVIs and more!
*Edited December 2017*
Two weeks ago I returned from my second trip to the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. I visited the island in 2012 and couldn’t wait to return this year. With over 15 days spent on the island, I’ve really only scratched the surface of the endless activities on the island. Here are five of the best unique experiences in St John, USVI. Make sure you scroll to the bottom and watch the short video featuring highlights from one of our snorkel tours!
(1) Day Trip to the British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are only a short boat ride from St. John. Pack your passport and visit one or many of the beautiful British islands. For my last trip to the islands, I chose to spend the day with Magic Moments Luxury Excursions. While there are many other day charters available, I chose the Magic Moments excursion because it includes breakfast, lunch and endless drinks in addition to gasoline for the boat, shade, comfortable seating and a bathroom on board. In addition, the excursion stops at two snorkel spots and the famous, Soggy Dollar Beach Bar on Jost Van Dyke.
A day on Magic Moments started with a delicious continental breakfast before we jumped in for our first snorkel. Some of the best snorkeling I did on St. John was at the Leinster Bay snorkel spot we stopped at first. In fact, we saw our second nurse shark, some of the biggest sea fans I’ve ever seen and thousands of beautiful fish. We loved the snorkel spot so much that we actually planned a return trip via a hiking trail.
After a quick stop at customs in Tortola, we headed to the Caves at Norman Island. The Caves are rated as one the best snorkel spots in the Caribbean. I never snorkeled in caves before so it was a really great experience. Thousands of fish swim right outside the caves so it is a great way to experience the underwater world. Even if you don’t like to snorkel, you can jump off the back of the boat and take a dip in the beautiful Caribbean sea.
For lunch we moored our boat right off a picturesque island of Sandy Split. The island is practically untouched and the water is the most beautiful blue color. I could have stayed there all day just admiring the beautiful scenery. For lunch, we were served an incredible meal of Lobter Etoufe, chilled prawns, chicken salad, fresh bread and a rich chocolate brownie.
After lunch we headed to one of my favorite spots in the British Virgin Islands, Jost Van Dyke. Have you ever jumped in the water and swam to a bar? Soggy Dollar Bar is exactly as the name implies. You moor your boat, jump in the water and swim to shore to grab a drink or snack at the bar. I wasn’t anticipating how much I would really love Jost Van Dyke. The beach and water are gorgeous and it’s fun to grab a drink and chat with other travelers.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for a fun little video highlighting our snorkel adventure!
(2) Private Dinner at your villa with a local Caribbean chef
If you are staying in a villa while on St. John, I highly recommend hiring your own private chef to prepare you dinner one night. Chef Elvet Carty from Elite Culinary Concepts VI prepared us a delicious sunset dinner featuring flavors from the island and local, fresh ingredients. Chef Elvet was born and raised on the island of St. Thomas and attended culinary school in London before returning to the United States to work in prestigous restaurants along the East Coast. Now that he is back in the US Virgin Islands, he was able to share this culinary experiences with us.
A private chef dinner is a unique experience because it enables you to learn more about the chef that is preparing your dinner. Chef Elvet crafted a menu for us that was fresh, flavorful and infused with Caribbean flavors. The chef and his staff take care of everything from prep and dinner to washing dishes and cleaning up. You just sit back, relax and enjoy a unique island experience.
Our sunset dinner menu included Crab Pumpkin Bisque, Wilted Tropical Salad and a delicious main course consisting of snapper, oxtail hash, polenta galette and mango sambal emulsion. To finish the meal, we indulged in lime coconut mango napoleon. Each course was paired with wine and served by the chef’s staff. He even adapted the menu to meet everyone’s tastes and allergies. One person in our party doesn’t like crab so he adjusted the menu and created an appetizer featuring galette of chicken just for her.
Excellent service, delicious food and the opportunity to learn from people born and raised in the US Virgin Islands is an incredible experience. From beginning to end, the entire meal was one that I will never forget. In fact, I think a private chef’s dinner may be something I aim to experience on every travel adventure.
(3) Foodie Jeep Tour
One of the reasons I really love St John is because of the great food options. Hop in your jeep and plan a day exploring some of the islands best and most unique food spots. If you need a day off from the beach, this is a great way to see what else the island has to offer. If you can’t go a day without visiting the beach (like me!) then feel free to add a few beach stops along the way.
Two of the best sources of information for St. John travel are St. John Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive and St. John Off the Beaten Path. I use both books on any trip to the island because they offer unique and interesting facts about the island in addition to fun self-guided Jeep tours. With so many delicious food options and fun self-guided tours, choose what works best for you and enjoy the day!
Start with breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing. Don’t miss the eggs benedict!
I love to drive up the North Shore and stop at all of the outlooks to take some pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You can drive all the way up the coast, stop at a few hiking spots, dip your toes into the ocean and continue driving until you reach Coral Bay.
Caneel Bay Resort is featured in the picture above
Trunk Bay is featured in the picture above
In Coral Bay, I love to make a few stops. Skinny Legs is a really interesting place to grab drinks and a burger. But make sure you save room because you don’t want to miss out on Coral Bay’s other delicious food options.
The Tourist Trap is one of my favorite places on the island. Yes, it is nothing more than a few tables and chairs and can be easily missed from the road. But you do not want to miss the lobster roll. In fact, the lobster roll is so good, I forgot to snap a picture. Just trust me, order the lobster roll and anything else on the menu and you will love it! (Edited: the Tourist Trap is now closed but check out a few of my other favorite places to eat.)
After the Tourist Trap, we love to drive to Salt Pond or Lameshur Bay for a quick snorkel and dip in the beautiful water.
Best thing about the jeep tour is the probability that you will spot a few donkeys making their way to another part of the island.
On your way back to Cruz Bay from Coral Bay, don’t forget to make a stop at the roadside smoothie stand, Colombos.
Stop for a snack at North Shore Deli and plan where you will stop for dinner. Food, fun and a jeep tour around the island is a great way to spend the day!
(4) Watch the sun set
I realize that you can view sunsets in many locations throughout the world but have you ever watched the sun set in St John? During the summer months, it is especially beautiful as the sun sets over St. Thomas and creates this beautiful orange and yellow glow. My favorite places to view the sunset on St. John is anywhere in Cruz Bay, especially The Terrace Restaurant and Ocean 362 because you can grab dinner and some drinks. Zozo’s Restaurant at Caneel Bay is also a great place to enjoy some amazing food and a beautiful sunset. (Edited: Zozo’s is currently closed but check out a few of my other favorite places to eat.)
Pictures above from the Terrace Restaurant
Picture above from Zozo’s Restaurant
Picture above from Ocean 362
(5) Kayak or hike to a secluded beach and explore on land and in the sea
St. John has some really great hiking trails and even better secluded beaches. While many of the more popular and easily accessible beaches can get busy, there are many beaches on the island that you can visit and you will be the only person on the beach all day. St John Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive book and the St John Off the Beaten Track book both have excellent recommendations for hiking trails and secluded beaches. We’ve done Rams Head, Reef Bay Trail and a few other smaller trails. Next time, we will hike the Brown Bay Trail and a few other longer trails that lead to some really great snorkeling.
On each of our trips to the island, we booked a kayak and snorkel tour with a guide. In 2012, we used Hidden Reef Eco Tours and kayaked the Coral Bay side of the island. For our most recent trip we used Virgin Island Eco Tours and did the Caneel Bay Hike, Kayak and Snorkel. We had an excellent trip with both companies and highly recommend a kayak and snorkel tour. You can kayak to remote areas and experience some really great snorkeling.
Where else can you hike to a secluded beach and lounge on the beach with a donkey?
I owe a lot of the unique experiences I discovered on the island of St John to Shanna at Blue Sky Concierge. About a week and a half before I left for St John, I contacted Shanna. I actually found her company by searching for provisioning services and noticed that she also provided luxury concierge services. She recommended some of the best things to see and do on the island, made dinner reservations for me and even offered to arrange a delivery to the island after we stupidly broke our GoPro. I did not pay her and she did not pay me to recommend her services. I just really love her services and will be working with her again in the future, In fact, most of her services are free or very low cost. The provisioning and event services have fees and some limited things like car rentals or charter boat excursions have fees too. Blue Sky Concierge services are now available worldwide, so get in touch with them and enjoy the best that the world has to offer!
Don’t miss my video of our snorkeling adventure to St. John and BVI snorkel spots. Watch it in 1080p HD!
Other St John Travel Guides:
I researched, planned and paid for all of these experiences on my own and was not paid to write this post. As mentioned above, with the help of Blue Sky Concierge, I was able to discover some of the best island experiences to share with you.
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