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What You Need To Know About St Johns

Saint John (Danish: Sankt Jan) is one of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea and a constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. At 50 km2 the smallest of the three main US Virgin Islands, Saint John is located about four miles east of Saint Thomas, the location of the territory’s capital, Charlotte Amalie. It is also four miles southwest of Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands. Its largest settlement is Cruz Bay with a population of 2,700. St. John’s nickname is Love City. Since 1956, approximately 60% of the island is protected as Virgin Islands National Park, administered by the United States National Park Service.  The economy is based on tourism. Saint John is 50.8 km² (19.61 sq mi) in area with a population of 4,170 (2010 census). As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the total population of the US Virgin Islands territory was 106,405, comprising mostly persons of Afro-Caribbean descent.

 

Population: Estimate 137,294,
Area: 51.8 km²

Currency

Economy

The main export of Saint John used to be sugar cane, which was produced in great quantity using African and Indian slave labor. However, this industry declined after the abolition of slavery, as it was dependent on free labor to be profitable. In addition, in that period, it had to compete with sugar produced in other areas, including by the use of sugar beets in northern locations.

 

Language

The official and most widely spoken language in the Virgin Islands is English. The literacy rate in the Virgin Islands is around 90-95%. It is common to hear FrenchCreole and Spanish spoken, particularly on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

 

Major port town

In the colonial era, Coral Bay was the hub of economic activity on the island. Its natural port offered protection to the sailing ships of the day. In addition, it was an easy sail by smaller boats, with minimal tacking, to the nearby British Virgin Islands. Until the late 20th century, the residents of Coral Bay and East End had easier and more frequent access to Tortola than did those of either Cruz Bay or St. Thomas. Today, Cruz Bay is the port of entry to St. John. Cargo and car barges use The Theovald Eric Moorehead Dock and Terminal. Domestic ferries use the Loredon L Boynes Dock in central Cruz Bay. International ferries use the United States Customs and Immigration dock at the Victor William Sewer Marine Facility. Cruise ships visit Cruz Bay regularly during the winter, although they must anchor and deliver guests via tender. St. John is also a popular day excursion for cruise ship passengers at port in St. Thomas or Tortola. The waters surrounding the US Virgin Islands are patrolled by United States Coast Guard cutters out of Miami, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

 

Transport

While St. John does not have an airport, the island is served by Cyril E. King Airport on nearby St. Thomas. There used to be a seaplane basein the town of Cruz Bay. Antilles Airboats provided regular service until it was sold by Maureen O’Hara. The Virgin Islands Seaplane Shuttle also used to offer services to that seaplane base using Grumman Mallard air boats prior to Hurricane Hugo.A ferry service runs hourly from Red Hook, St. Thomas, thrice daily from Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, and daily from Tortola; regular ferries also operate from Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.Cars and cargo are transported to the island via barge. Two companies offer barge service between Red Hook, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John. The barges operate hourly during daylight hours. Although prohibited by Virgin Islands law, some rental car companies allow their vehicles to use the car ferry. This is because the U.S. District Court deemed the law to violate the Interstate Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. However, as of 2017, the unconstitutional law is still technically on the books, but the Government of the Virgin Islands does not enforce it. Car rental companies are located throughout Cruz Bay, most within easy walking distance of the ferry dock. Taxis are widely available on St. John to provide transport to beaches, hotels, and vacation villas. Water taxi service is also available from Dolphin Water Taxi. VITRAN public bus service runs hourly on weekdays between Cruz Bay and Salt Pond Bay via Centerline Road.

 

Tourism

The economy of St. John is almost entirely dependent on tourism. The island has hundreds of rental villas as well as the following hotels and resorts:

  • Westin St. John Resort
  • Caneel Bay Resort
  • Grande Bay Resort
  • Gallows Point Resort
  • Concordia Eco-Resort
  • Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel
  • The Inn at Tamarind Court
  • St. John Inn
  • Estate Lindholm
  • Lavender Hill Suites

 

Weather Events

In September of 2017, St. John was hit by Hurricane Irma. The category 5 storm forced roughly half of the island’s 4,500 residents to evacuate and caused power outages that are expected to last for months.