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St. John Info

Two chairs on a tropical beach property in St. Croix USVI

Welcome to the captivating island of Saint John, US Virgin Islands, where paradise and tranquility await.


Living on St. John is a dream come true for those who seek a unique blend of natural beauty, a laid-back island lifestyle, and a strong sense of community. This little island in the Caribbean offers a rare way of life that is enchanting and enriching.

Saint John is one of three main US Virgin Islands, along with St Croix and St Thomas. St John is situated to the east of St Thomas (our sister island) and to the north of St Croix. There are approximately 4,000 people who live “on island” (as locals say!) full time. The people of the island are known for their friendliness, warmth, and a shared appreciation for the island’s unique charm. The sense of togetherness is evident in various community events and gatherings, from local festivals to beach cleanups, where residents come together to celebrate and care for their beloved home. The charming town of Cruz Bay serves as the island’s social hub, offering a delightful mix of local and international cuisine, vibrant shops, and a lively nightlife scene. Coral Bay, is the other main town, although it is more quiet and quaint, it serves the east end of the island. Whether you enjoy getting out to socialize or relaxing in the immersive natural world, St John has it all.

Life on Saint John is a celebration of outdoor adventures. Residents and visitors alike indulge in snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and exploring hidden coves and trails that unveil breathtaking views. The island’s laid-back atmosphere encourages a slower pace of life, inviting individuals to savor the simple pleasures of breathtaking sunsets and warm Caribbean breezes. The island’s vibrant culture is another key aspect of life in St. John. From the captivating sounds of Caribbean music during Carnival, to Moko Jumbies, to the colorful local art scene, there’s always something enriching to experience. The island’s historical sites, such as the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins and petroglyphs of Reef Bay provide a window into its past and the heritage that shapes its present.

Saint John is renowned for its pristine white-sand beaches, including the world-famous Trunk Bay, where palm-fringed shores meet vibrant coral reefs. The Virgin Islands National Park covers over two-thirds of its land, ensuring that much of Saint John’s natural wonders remain unspoiled and teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Lush green hills, tropical forests, and diverse wildlife like sea turtles create a stunning backdrop that residents can enjoy every day. St. John is also infamous for our wild donkeys! These free-roaming donkeys have become an integral part of the island’s landscape. Wander through the lush hills and serene beaches, and you might just encounter these gentle creatures meandering along the roadside or grazing in open fields, but please do not feed them! Living in such an idyllic environment fosters a deep connection to nature and a sense of tranquility that is hard to match elsewhere.

St. John’s Island History

The history of St. John’s Island begins in 1717, when 20 Danish explorers came over from the nearby island of St. Thomas (also a part of the Virgin Islands).
These explorers made use of the uninhabited land by growing cotton, sugar cane, and other crops. In 1731, they established the Annaberg sugar plantation, which came to be one of the island’s largest producers of sugar by the 1800s.

By 1733, the island was home to 109 plantations. In the same year, a slave revolt also took place on the island, in which a group of slaves overpowered and killed 5 Danish soldiers. Before the French forces were able to reach the slaves, they shot and killed themselves.

In 1848, Denmark emancipated the slaves and by 1859, many of the plantations were abandoned. The population on the island began to dwindle until 1917, when the US purchased the island from Denmark as a naval base during World War I. As a part of the deal, the US had to recognize Denmark’s claim to Greenland, which they’d previously ignored.

Throughout the 20th century, private investors bought property on the island, turning many of the former plantations into resorts.

The Island’s Changing Economy

St. John’s main export used to be sugar cane. However, this has changed since the eradication of slavery.

Now, the island’s economy is almost entirely dependent on tourism. There are hundreds of rental villas, hotels, and resorts on the island, as well as numerous shops and restaurants. The island is a very popular stop for boat charters coming from Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.

It’s Home to an Amazing National Park

St. John’s Island is also home to an amazing national park, the Virgin Islands National Park.

In 1956, Laurance Rockefeller donated his lands to the US on the island to the national park service. He did so under the condition that the lands would be protected from future development.

The Virgin Islands National Park is home to snow-white beaches, dozens of hikes, and a range of wildlife including deer, sheep, donkeys, goats, mongoose, pigs, cats, and dogs.

Demographics and Land

The total population of the US Virgin Islands is 106,405. St. John’s contains just 4 percent of the US Virgin Island’s population, with about 4,000 residents.

The island, which is just 5 miles wide and 9 miles long, is predominantly Afro-Caribbean. Most of the population is concentrated in two areas- Coral Bay and Cruz Bay, which is the capital. More than four-fifths of the island is covered in tropical vegetation.

Other Fun Facts

Here are some other fun facts about the island:

  • The island is nicknamed the Love City
  • There is no freshwater source on the island, all the water is collected from the rain or trucked in
  • Petroglyphs and artifacts have been found on the island that date back to the 700s
  • Some people spoke a language on the island (Negerhollands) that is now extinct

Now that you’ve read these fun facts about the island, it’s time to discover St. John’s in person. Be sure to check out our real estate listings on the island.


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