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Travel Guide to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands

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Travel Guide to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands

The Reef Bay Sugar Mill at Virgin Islands National Park on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

© Bob Curley
Settled by the Arawak Indians 1,700 years ago, St. John retains its pristine nature better than any of the other U.S. Virgin Islands: roughly two-thirds of its landmass is devoted to the Virgin Islands National Park thanks to the largesse of Laurance Rockefeller. It is a place of spectacular beauty and rich, bloody history, including a famous slave uprising in 1733.

Only reachable by boat, and with just three resort hotels (the Westin St. John and Gallows Point Resort in Cruz Bay and the luxury Caneel Bay resort) and a smattering of small inns and private residences, St. John is a quiet island -- a contemplative counterpoint to neighboring St. Thomas. Eco-tourism is king here, but the enclaves of Cruz Bay and Coral Bay reveal a place of vibrant local art and artisans, along with dozens of open-air restaurants, cafés, and bistros.

A personal, friendly, and laid-back atmosphere is the hallmark of St. John, but there's also plenty to do, from sport-fishing and watersports, to horseback riding and archeological exploration. This island harkens back to the time when "getaway" meant "retreat," without the pull or pressure of an itinerary. It's the kind place you can unburden yourself guilt-free. That's a good thing.

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