Fifteen years ago today, I married the love of my life. We’ve been on plenty of trips in the past decade and a half, and have passed on our love of travel to our children. One of our best vacations, though, was before we had kids. I’m thinking a lot about our honeymoon today, and about where we went. St. John, in my mind the most romantic of the US Virgin Islands, was where we spent our honeymoon. It was a perfect Caribbean island for a perfect honeymoon, and it didn’t surprise me at all when, a few years later, my brother-in-law had his honeymoon on St John as well.
There are three US Virgin Islands, and St. John is the smallest. St. Thomas’s main port (and capital of the US Virgin Islands) is Charlotte Amalie: There are a ton of duty-free shopping here, so cruise ships let off and pick up passengers there constantly. It’s busy! St. Croix was not really a strong contender for romantic getaways (like honeymoons), and my new husband and I wanted our honeymoon to be a mix of pampering and eco-travel. That meant St. John.
St. John is, famously, two-thirds US National Park land, with a few upscale resorts scattered along its coast. No airport; travelers land on St. Thomas and take a ferry across. The peace and quiet, relative lack of commercialism, and the swathes of preserved natural Caribbean forest, really best suited our honeymoon wishes.
The Best Beaches on St John, US Virgin Islands
With so much less development than the other US Virgin Islands – and certainly much less than other popular Caribbean resort islands, too – the white sand beaches are clean and the water beyond pristine. One of the best beaches in the world is here, in fact; Caneel Bay, which was founded by conservationist Laurance Rockefeller. With 171 preserved acres and seven beaches, it’s really quite a wonderful legacy left by L. Rockefeller.
Other favorite beaches on St. John are Cinnamon Bay (one of the largest, and a National Park campground), Hawksnest, and Trunk Bay. We took a drive to Trunk Bay; it’s one of the most scenic spots in the Caribbean. We loved it; the soft white sand, the snorkeling, and the gorgeous vista were as good as it gets. Trunk Bay is on many lists as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The best snorkeling on St. John, though, is in Leinster Bay. Not accessible by car, we had to hike (maybe 15 minutes) from the Annaberg Ruins parking lot. It’s worth the trip; hardly any tourists (a day cruise does dock here though), more sea turtles than I’ve seen anywhere except Hawaii, and a remote feel that adds to the romantic experience of a honeymoon vacation.
One last beach worth mentioning is – believe it or not – Honeymoon Beach. Unless things have changed in the past 15 years, this is a “clothing optional” beach. What did I do there? I’ll never tell (it’s technically illegal to go nude, by the way). There are plenty of people on Honeymoon Beach, plus curious boaters cruising slowly by, so this may not be the easiest place to let go of inhibitions; it’s definitely not the most private.
Two Recommended Luxury Resorts on St. John in the Caribbean
Luxury vacations at Caneel Bay Resort are “unplugged,” that is, no phones and no televisions – although there is a business center. Note: Caneel Bay Resort is not where we had our honeymoon. We hiked there, though, and enjoyed some luxury and pampering. Its beaches are open to the public.
The resort we stayed in for our honeymoon was romantic, pampering, fun, and…gone. A tropical hurricane destroyed that Marriott a couple of years later. So sad! However, the resort that replaced it, the Westin St. John, is a 4-star luxury resort hotel as well. Along with all the relaxation and pampering that a romantic honeymoon requires, the Westin has many fun children’s activities.
I love tropical islands for vacations, and I love being married to my SoCalGuy. Today, on our fifteenth wedding anniversary, I look through old photos of our wonderful honeymoon on St. John, and marvel at the sweet passage of time. This US Virgin Island was the perfect romantic Caribbean getaway for our first week together as a married couple, and I wouldn’t change a thing.