There is a ton of great info out there devoted to St. John, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorites for you to explore!

Ranger Guided Reef Bay Trail Hike

If you’re a first time visitor to St. John – I strongly encourage you to experience the Reef Bay Trail Hike.  It is a great way to learn about the history of St. John guided by a National Park Ranger.  For only $30 per person, you get a taxi ride to the trail head, walk downhill to the best preserved sugar mill and last operating rum distillery on St. John.  It is also home to St. John’s only native mammal…  At the end of the trip, you can snorkel in Reef Bay or take the dinghy back to the boat which takes you on a nice ride back to the National Park Dock!

Boating & Sailing Trips

There are a number of great snorkeling/island hopping options depending on what you want out of your day.  Most do an excellent job and there is sure to be one to fit your budget and desires from party your socks off to mellow, family day on the water.  I would recommend doing a search for “day charters St. John” and you’ll see the options!  If you have any questions about one boat versus another, just ask!

Fernando – If you want a highly personalized, customized and reasonably priced power boat trip, please give my buddy Fernando Micheletti a call at 340-626-3121.  Please be sure to tell him Tom & Lori Buttermore referred you.  Fernando is a wonderful host and will make sure you have a great time!

Wayward Sailor – Captain Phil always gets good reviews.   I think he can also marry you on the boat if you’d like!

SCUBA

I have had the opportunity to dive quite a few of the USVI spots and a ton in the BVI.  I’ve been a certified SCUBA diver for 34 years… I was actually trained by one of Jacques Cousteau’s partners who, according to him, was a key player in inventing what we know as SCUBA today.  He never made a dime and was a bitter son of a gun.  Suffice it to say, the training was FAR different than it is today.

If you want to SCUBA – BRING YOUR PASSPORT BECAUSE THERE IS ONE DIVE YOU MUST DO.

The Wreck of the Rhone is a full day adventure where you leave St. John, head over to Tortola to clear customs and then head over to Salt Island to do a two tank dive on the most awesome wreck site I’ve ever had the pleasure of diving. Inquire and sign up BEFORE you get to St. John to assure your place in the queue. They occasionally take snorkelers, but only if there is room.  If you have a snorkeler, the only way to guarantee them a spot on the boat is to pay full price for them to ride along.

You can book this dive with Low Key Watersports in Cruz Bay.  It is not cheap, but it is worth every penny.  Our son Conner is a SCUBA instructor at Low Key, so if you want to get your certification, be sure to ask for Conner!  You can complete all the course work on line and then do all your water training in the beautiful Caribbean water.

If you’ve never done a night dive, it is a freaky fun time…  I highly recommend it!

Villa Services/Catering

St. John has several markets offering fresh produce, meats &amp and seafood. If you don’t feel like spending the first few hours or so of precious vacation time finding the market, grocery shopping and stocking the fridge, we have a few excellent options for you to consider.

Christy’s of St. John – Imagine……arriving at Apito, fresh-flowers, iced down Beverages, a light snack in the refrigerator, and dinner ready to serve; Even a cozy crib for the exhausted young. Christy’s Specializes in “One of a Kind” Celebrations & Special Events. With 31 years experience in tourism on the isle of St. John, Susie, Crystal, and the “Christy Team” look forward to enhancing YOUR “Memory of a Life Time” Vacation!

St. John Provisions is also a great option and have supplied many Apito guests with a nice full fridge. St. John Provisions will stock Apito with all the groceries and provisions required for your stay. Please contact Meredith at 340-690-4131 to learn more about their services!

Our Favorite Restaurants!

First – The best Happy Hour deal on island is Joe’s Rum Hut .  $3 YOU CALL drinks from 4-6PM daily.  Where else can you get a $3 Patron Margarita?  Seriously?  Not a fan of the food there, but a great place to start the evening’s activities.

In order of our most favorite per category…

Relaxed Dining

Coral  Bay

Oasis Caribbean $ – This is a great spot in Coral Bay next to Cases by the Sea and across the street from Island Blues.  Karin runs the place and the menu changes daily.  The link above will take you to their Facebook page. Hit “Like” and they’ll post their menu for the evening around 1 or 2pm each day.  The entrees are cheap and enough for two to share.  They also have a great selection of side items that complete the meal.  It is very popular with all of the locals in Coral Bay.

Indigo Grill – $$ – Located across from the elementary school in Coral Bay, this is a new establishment which finally brings a pizza option to Coral Bay!  They also do some interesting stuff with Tater-Tots which is quite good.  Nice vibe and the food is pretty darn good.

Pickles In Paradise – $ – Great sub options, nice selection of “deli” types of meats and salads they make there in house.  Great place to stop and get a few sandwiches before your hike or beach day.

Aqua Bistro – $$ –

If you’re stay includes a Friday Night – it’s Ponzu Tuna night!  An awesome sashimi pile of fresh tuna awaits you.  Make a reservation – this is a popular spot on Friday nights and possibly the best meal you’ll have on-island, if you like Tuna…

Located in Cocolobo Plaza, I would recommend one of the two tables right by the entrance or at the bar.  Nice breeze is usually blowing and very comfortable.   I love the buffalo shrimp and Lamb Gyro, but be sure to check out the fresh fish of the day and try the Ponzu preparation.  Check the website for live music schedule, don’t worry, it’s usually Loren who has a great voice and plays acoustic guitar.

Skinny Legs – $$ – Great burgers, huge chilli dogs, good drinks and some fun little shops (Jolly Dog)

Shipwreck Landing – $$$ – Live music at times, nice atmosphere and the food is good also!  Some interesting shops next to the restaurant also.

Ms Lucy’s – $$ – Although Ms Lucy passed a few years ago, the tradition continues with their Sunday brunch.  It is very quaint and they do attract a pretty big crowd.  They are also open during the week.  Great beach front location and friendly staff!

Cruz Bay

Jake’s Restaurant – $ – This is my absolute favorite spot for breakfast. Try “The Regular” for the best breakfast you’ve had in quite a while. It’s right above Cruz Bay Watersports in the Lumberyard, which is located on the road between the traffic circle and the International Ferry Dock. Great pancakes and French toast too!

Sun Dog Cafe – $$ – This little gem looks like nothing special.  It’s just a shack next to “Best of Both Worlds” on the upper tier of Mongoose Junction on your way to the public restrooms (it’s plenty far enough away from those). However, it is some of the best food on St. John. We eat here several times a week when we visit. Check out the daily “puff” – a flaky pastry filled with interesting flavors…

Uncle Joe’s BBQ -$ –  Located across from Cap’s Place near the Post Office, Uncle Joe’s is a great value and the the BBQ sauce is absolutely addicting!  I only get the chicken as the ribs and steak were not quite up to par.  The chicken is “to-die-for”. Good sides with peas and rice, macaroni salad and good cole slaw.

The Lime Inn – $$ – This place has a great cheese steak for lunch and they usually have fresh lobster and a nice fish selection.  They also have buy one bottle of wine, get one free.  Their Philly Cheesesteak is awesome.

Fancy Dining

Cruz Bay

ZoZo’s – $$$$ – Even though ZoZo’s has moved to Caneel Bay, it still meets the criteria for a romantic dinner. Set in the ruins of an old Danish sugar mill, you may not get the sunset view anymore, but the food is still fabulous. You’ll want to get a reservation around 5:30-5:45 so you’ll get the full effect of the sun setting (even if you can’t actually see it hit the water).

Asolare – $$$$ – This is located up the hill from Cruz Bay.  Great sunset view options (again, ask for a table on the balcony).  Kinda fancy pants –  I don’t know if they still have it, but the coconut soup is awesome.

Other food options…

You can also get some pretty authentic West Indian fare and good comfort food at Starfish Market $ during lunch.  You pay by the pound, and while one lunch can be expensive, it is more than enough for two to share…

Best Bakery?  Baked in the Sun – $ Located next to Kilroy’s laundry on your left as you head to Starfish from the traffic circle supplies most of the island with their cheesecakes and Key Lime Pie’s.  They have a great sandwich for a picnic, the “Stuffer” which is a pastry filled with smoked turkey and pepper jack cheese… Of course, they have fresh baked bread, etc.

Photography

Get a family portrait or wedding pictures  while you’re in paradise!  Yelena Rogers is an excellent photographer who can help you make some memories!

Helpful Books

Here’s a list of very good books you should seriously consider buying and reading before you come.  There is so much to see and do, you’ll be glad you did some advanced planning!

Feet, Fins and Four Wheel Drive – Great book!

St. John – Off the Beaten Path – Another great book!

Web Cams

The St. John Spice Cam – Check out the ferry dock while you look outside your window at snow!  Great to give to friends and then go wave to them! This is a place you simply must visit also. Check out the “Cruz Bay Grill Rub”. It’s great on chicken, steak, fish, potatoes, you name it! Don’t wait until you leave to swing by! They’re located on the 2nd floor of the building right at the ferry dock entrance.

Villa Serendipity – Chocolate Hole web cam.

Newspaper

Tradewinds is THE local paper.  I read it every day… on my computer…  After you register, you can download the last edition as a PDF.  It’s a hoot to read.

Web Sites

VI Now – Great spot for ferry schedules and knowing when the Cruise Ships are in port so you can avoid the crowds at the NPS beaches!

See St. John – This is a great site for just about everything you wanted to know about St. John.

St. John Beach Guide – Good overview of beaches

St. John Trail Guide – Good hiking guide too!

Friends of the Park – Get involved! This is a great group of folks who realize the National Park keeps St. John an unspoiled paradise!

On-St. John – Our favorite bloggers, the “Bongo-Bongo Boys” have a great site updated daily!

Ready to chuck it all?

Then be sure to start your adventure with the VI Moving Site.