When Christopher Columbus discovered the Caribbean island of St. John in 1493, he claimed the territory for Spain and included it in the group of surrounding islands, which he called “Las Islas Virgenes,” or what we know as the Virgin Islands. Later, the English navigator Sir Francis Drake discovered a waterway between the British and American Virgin Islands, which became known as Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Over the ensuing decades, and especially in the 1660s, virtually all of the major European powers were vying for control of the Virgin Islands. However, it was Denmark that emerged holding authority over St. Thomas and St. John, and they were the first to establish a permanent settlement in St. John on Coral Bay, a strategic harbor in the Caribbean. St. John remained under the authority of the Danish government until the United States purchased the island in 1917 for $25 million, and in 1927, the island’s inhabitants were granted American citizenship. Then, in 1956, St. John came under private ownership when Laurence Rockefeller purchased the island and designated a large section of the island to the United States’ National Park Service. Today, nearly two thirds of the island is set aside as the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park.
Because of this unique history, much of St. John’s gorgeous landscape remains undeveloped and unspoiled. The island has a laidback, carefree atmosphere that sets the perfect tone for you to enjoy a relaxing Caribbean vacation on this tropical paradise. Whether you enjoy relaxing on a secluded beach, deep sea fishing for exotic tropical fish, exploring the natural landscape of a Caribbean island paradise, or experiencing the local way of life of this culturally-rich island, St. John has just what you are looking for in the ideal Caribbean vacation.
St. John offers visitors a wide range and variety of recreational activities, including swimming, sailing, kayaking, tennis, and horseback riding. The turquoise waters surrounding St. John are some of the clearest and most pristine in the entire Caribbean, and provide the perfect destination for boating, snorkeling, and diving. They are also home to a host of unique exotic fish that make the waters around St. John a prime destination for deep-sea fishing, with varieties such as marlin, sailfish, mahi mahi, and wahoo.
Additionally, St. John boasts a thriving and exciting nightlife, providing visitors and locals alike with a wide range of bars, clubs, and restaurants from which to choose. Some of the most popular establishments are Duffy’s Love Shack, and Fred’s at Cruz Bay. Cruz Bay is also the island’s prime destination for shopping. Although St. John is not a duty-free port, it still features a number of unique local shops, designer boutiques, and quaint cafes. Wharfside Villas is one of the most popular shopping centers on St. John, attracting tourists and locals alike.