Throughout the Virgin Islands, there’s a nickname for the small island that lies tucked between St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands. Locals often call St. John “Love City,” a moniker that harkens to the destination’s true promise of romance. It may be smaller than its siblings St. Thomas and St. Croix, but this petite isle is a big boy in the world of love. Pristine beaches and miles of undeveloped park land await the two of you.
On your romantic getaway, the accommodations that become your home away from home can be as unique as your personalities. Some of the most pampering options are private villas, elegant accommodations scattered across the island.Picture you and your sweetie in your own private getaway–likely a multi-million dollar home. Like vacationing celebrities, you’ll be cocooned by privacy. Hire a villa catering service to drop off a breakfast for you; start your day in your robes out on your balcony to enjoy the buzz of a colorful hummingbird or the scent of tropical flowers that surround “your” home.
In the mood for a little more action? Opt for one of the two resorts on the island: Caneel Bay [www.caneelbay.com] or the Westin St. John [www.westinresortstjohn.com]. Caneel Bay was founded by Laurance Rockefeller and boasts an old world elegance that pampers lovers. Westin St. John cradles couples in comfort; sign up for spa treatments or arrange a private island picnic a deux. Both resorts pick up couples at the St. Thomas airport, whisking lovers to magical St. John aboard private watercraft.
Or are the two of your looking for a back to nature honeymoon? Campgrounds in the island’s national park give you the chance to play Adam and Eve in as much or as little luxury as you choose. Opt for tent camping, screened shelters, or eco-conscious cabins.
Wherever you stay, it’s difficult to tear yourselves away from your new love nest but budget time to explore this island. Hop a guided tour aboard an open-air safari bus that gives the two of you plenty of chances to peek at the island’s natural delights.
Stop at Annaberg, part of the Virgin Islands National Park. Constructed by slave labor as one of 25 sugar factories which once dotted the island, today the park includes numerous ruins. The most visited site is the former sugar mill, now a favorite wedding spot on the island. Hike the park’s trails for some great views of the neighboring British Virgin Islands then cool off with a visit to one of the island’s beaches. Beautiful Trunk Bay, one of the Caribbean’s most photographed stretches of sand, is home to a self-guided snorkel trail. Or opt for a quiet stretch of sand where the name says it all: Honeymoon Beach.
As delightful as St. John’s natural beauties are, her man-made attractions are also tempting for lovers. The only town on the island is tiny Cruz Bay, a hilly burg filled with one of a kind boutiques. Mongoose Junction, named for the furry mongoose often seen along St. John’s roads, is the top shopping area. Drop into Donald Schnell’s Studio; his handmade pottery decorates many of the villas across the island.
For even more shopping opportunities, St. John vacationers can hop a ferry to St. Thomas, one of the Caribbean’s top duty free destinations. Here along historic alleys, put a twinkle in your eye–or on your ring finger–with a stop in one of the numerous fine jewelry stores. Not only will you have a wider selection that you’d have at home but you’ll also enjoy a substantial savings (plus you won’t pay sales tax.)
At night, the lights of St. Thomas compete with the stars, both enjoyed from numerous vantage points on St. John. One of the best views is from the deck of Asolaré, an open-air restaurant featuring Asian fusion dishes served in a relaxed and romantic setting.
Whether the two of you return to a campground, resort or private villa that night, you’ll be serenaded by the sound of St. John’s tiny coqui or small tree frogs. Their melodic call echoes across the verdant hills, over the beaches, and across the tropical growth that will, the next morning, brighten yet another romantic day on this lovely isle.
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Villas: You’ll find villas throughout St. John, many with open air living rooms, private pools, and incredible views. We recently stayed at SeaCove, one of the incredible villas offered by McLaughlin Anderson Luxury Villas (www.mclaughlinanderson.com). Some villas are available for use as wedding sites but use for groups generally involves a surcharge.
Catering Services: Thanks to the island’s many villas (as well as visiting yachts), you’ll find several catering services on the island. These pampering services can prepare a private meal for the two of you in your villa, prepare a hot breakfast, or drop off breakfast so that it’s ready when you awake. We had several meals prepared by KatiLady Villa Services [www.KatiLady.com], from a gourmet dinner to a sprawling breakfast.
Wedding Planners: Ready to say ‘I do’ on your vacation? Weddings are simple to arrange with the help of an island wedding planner. Ceremonies St. John (www.usviwedding.com) offers numerous wedding packages and can perform weddings throughout the island.
For more information on St. John, contact the US Virgin Islands at 800.372.USVI or see www.usvitourism.vi.
Paris Permenter & John Bigley are founders ofwww.LoveTripper.com – a romantic travel site featuring getaways of special interest to lovers in search of a honeymoon, a destination wedding, or a weekend away.
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