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 Islands Information

Place: St. John Virgin Islands

St. John is the Hidden Gem of the Virgin Islands
By Caitlin Moore

To recycle a tired old clichť, delightful things often come in diminutive packages. Surveying the Caribbean, there are many islands to choose from that convey a message of exoticism, relaxation and jaw-dropping beauty that make your hometown landscape seem black and white in comparison, and some of these islands are easier to spot than others. When deciding on your next island vacation, donít overlook St. John; itís relatively tiny but packs a big punch and does an incredible job of making you feel like youíre far, far away.

Much of St. Johnís allure revolves around the fact that two thirds of the island is pure, untouched nature. Protected by the United States as designated national park land, these hills, valleys, forests and beaches are untainted and lush, brimming with wildlife and Technicolor beauty. This is the smallest of the US Virgin Islands, but once you set foot on the soil of this impressive place youíll be convinced that 28 square miles is more than enough to make your getaway supremely satisfying.

Tours led by knowledgeable guides will acquaint you with the sights of the island, or if youíre feeling adventurous you can head out on your own and just let the peaceful ambiance overcome you. Whether youíre nestled into a jeep or walking along the path with no particular itinerary in mind, this will be a good first activity to get you in the vacation mood, if youíre still hanging on to that last bit of stress, that is.

The beaches are the best part about St. John. From scenic Rams Head to the white sandy wonderland that is Trunk Bay, youíll feel like youíve stumbled onto a very well-kept secret as you survey the scene. Thatís another plus; crowds tend to be thinner here than in other Caribbean isles, perhaps because itís tucked away from the main thoroughfare or maybe people just donít know what theyíre missing. Either way, itís to your advantage. Enjoy the beaches without feeling trampled upon, and pretend like youíve escaped to your own tailor-made hideaway in the clear blue ocean.

The run-through isnít over yet; weíve yet to visit the place nicknamed Love City. Cruz Bay is a little more action packed than St. Johnís other spots, as it is the home of shops, grocery stores, gear and jeep rental services and restaurants. This will be the home base for your scuba diving adventures, and where you can stock up on souvenirs and staples to take back to your vacation rental. Donít expect a bustling city atmosphere or anything, but it gets the job done in a pleasingly laid-back way.

The climate and conditions of St. John make it ideal for plant growth, and a common activity involves taking a flower tour. Heavenly orchids dot the hills, century plants add a sense of time and history, and the Red Gingerís ruby color will cause you to continually marvel at its vibrancy. Hibiscus, prickly pear cactus, Hanging Heliconia and the Bananaquit, the official bird of the island, will all delight your senses as you meander through the wonderful world of St. John.

In addition to all of this, there are boat tours, horseback riding, windsurfing, fishing, surfing and paragliding to keep you busy. Many visitors find it not only worthwhile but ideal to snag a St. John Vacation Rental that will make your home away from home as comfortable as possible. If youíre taking the time to traipse all the way to the Caribbean for what is certainly a hard-earned vacation, you may as well treat yourself to a well-rounded and pampering experience on all fronts. Vacation rentals allow for the possibilities of breakfast in bed, cocktails on your private patio, naps in the middle of the afternoon, and short strolls to the beach, among other things. Seeing this island through the windows of a cute cottage on the shoreline or a fabulous Oceanside villa will make this dreamy vacation even dreamier, so at least check out the options as you start to plan your trip.

St. John is a true find, and one that you should make an effort to seek out. Itís not the biggest or the most well-known Caribbean isle, but thatís something that will become your gain and everyone elseís loss.

Visit HomeAway.com to peruse the vacation rentals here and all over the world.