Saint John

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Saint John is an island in the Caribbean Sea and a constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. It is renowned for being the richest and most expensive of the U.S. Virgin Islands and has afluence comparative to that of the nearby island of St. Barts. It is the smallest of the three main islands: Saint John, Saint Thomas, and Saint Croix. St. John is located in the Caribbean Sea about 4 miles east of Saint Thomas, the location of the territory's capital, Charlotte Amalie, and 4 miles south and west of Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands. It is 50.8 km² (19.61 sq mi) in area and has a population of 4,197 (2000 census). Because there are no airports on St. John, there is only access to the island by boat. Ferry service runs hourly from St. Thomas and daily from Tortola; regular ferries are also available from Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada.

St. John is well known for its well preserved natural beauty and desirable beaches. Restricted development and preservation in St. John contrasts heavily with adjacent overdevelped islands such as St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Cruz Bay on the western coast of the island serves as the principal port of St. John. From there, a ferry runs throughout the day to and from Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook in St. Thomas. It is also home to (among other things) car rental locations, several restaurants, a supermarket, and several shopping centers, the major three of which are named Mongoose Junction, the Marketplace, and Wharfside Village. Coral Bay on the eastern side of the island is the other (smaller) town on St. John which offers some of the same amenities.

Most of St. John is National Park land, so the majority of the island is undeveloped. Some of the most popular beaches in the Caribbean are located along the island's north shore. The most spectacular and well known of these is Trunk Bay, which has consistently been voted one of the "Ten Best Beaches in The World" by Condé Nast Traveler magazine and has received similar recognition from other publications. Since the beaches are on National Park land, they are all open to the public and are not home to any hotels or resorts. One notable exception to this is the Caneel Bay resort on the north shore, which lies on Rockefeller’s former personal estate. The remaining coastal land, mostly in the north and in the east, is private property and is home to many secluded private villas and cottages. The National Park Service also offers two campgrounds on the island's beaches at Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay. The reefs near the beaches of St. John are also world famous for their snorkeling. In some areas, such as Trunk Bay and nearby Cinnamon Bay, signs identifying the different sea life have been placed by the National Park Service among the many offshore coral reefs to assist visitors. There are also sailing charters available touring the island as well as British Virgin Island tours. You can find available boats at Gallows Point, Connections, or The Guide Booth in Mongoose Junction.

The beaches on the South Side of St. John are considerably more wild and remote. In some cases they are only accessible by primitive dirt roads.

Tourism starts late October and runs through June, when Carnivale starts. It is considered "off season" during the hot Summer months.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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