St. John is a Caribbean Island that is a district of the United States Virgin Islands and is also an unincorporated territory of the United States. The island covers an area of almost twenty square miles and has a population of forty-two hundred residents. This gives the island a population density of approximately two hundred and fourteen residents per square mile. St. John is not only a popular tourist destination but is also one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. It is also considered to be one of the most expensive and wealthiest areas of the Virgin Islands. As a result, it attracts a large number of wealthy visitors. This has earned the island the name “Beverly Hills of the Caribbean”. St. John is situated four miles east of St. Thomas and four miles southwest of Tortola. There are no airports located on the island, so it can only be accessed by ship. There is however, a ferry service that runs between St. John and the islands of Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and St. Thomas.
The history of the island can be traced back to the fourth century, when it was occupied by the Arawak Indians. Members of this tribe emigrated to St. John from Venezuela and Colombia, and lived on the island until the fourteenth century. Eventually, they were driven off of the island by the Carib Indian tribes who also attacked many other islands in the Caribbean during this period. The first European visitor to the island is believed to be Christopher Columbus, who reportedly saw the island during his trip to the New World in 1493. He went on to name the island group of which St. Thomas is a part of “Eleven Thousand Virgins” in honor of St. Ursula’s feast day and the eleven thousand virgins who were martyred alongside her. During the eighteenth century, the Danish West India and Guinea Company settled St. John and gave it its current name (which in Dutch is Sankt Jan). Twenty-six years later, in 1754, the Dutch Crown took control of the island and established a number of sugar plantations. They also imported a number of African slaves to be used as a labor force on the sugar plantations. It is said that by 1776, the number of slaves on the island outnumbered the Dutch settlers by a ratio of five to one. The Dutch also used the Carib Indians as part of the labor force, which resulted in the destruction of their entire population. The use of slavery continued for a number of years on the island, until the Dutch abolished slavery in July of 1848. Control of the island was passed to the United States in 1917, when they purchased the U.S. Virgin Islands for a reported sum of twenty-five million dollars. Citizens of St. John are residents of the United States, bu they cannot participate in presidential elections and only have non voting status in the U.S Congress. St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix have a fifteen seat legislative body that allows the U.S. Virgin Islands to enjoy a great deal of self rule.
Covering over seventy percent of the island, and also one of its most prominent attractions, is Virgin Islands National Park. This national park not only covers a large portion of St. John, but also covers a portion of St. Thomas. The majority of the land was donated in 1956 by Laurance Rockefeller who gave it to the United States’ National Park Service on the condition that it would become a protected natural area. The park is the most widely known for its hiking trails and the excellent facilities available for snorkeling and scuba diving. Another prominent feature of the park is Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay has some splendid sugary white beaches and affords snorklers an excellent opportunity to explore the underwater trails through the coral reefs. Other features of the park include Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail, Bourdeaux Mountain Trail, Reef Bay Trail and Genti Bay. Virgin Islands National Park receives over seven hundred thousand visitors each and every year. Many of these visitors stay at one of the two campgrounds (Cinnamon Bay and Maho Bay) located in the park. The park doesn’t have any hotels or resorts within its confines, except for Caneel Bay Resort.
Caneel Bay Resort is situated on what was once the private lands of Laurance Rockefeller. It is located at Caneel Bay and takes its name from this location. Caneel Bay literally means ”cinnamon bay” in Dutch. Guests can stay at Caneel Bay or one of its resort facilities at Scott Beach, Hawks Nest Bay and Turtle Bay. Guests can also partake in snorkeling at the bay, which is excellent due to the variety of marine life. Animals that can be found in this location include angel fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, sea urchins, coral and sea fans. There are also varieties of sea turtles, barracuda and squid, as well. Other key features of Caneel Bay Resort include tennis courts, spa services and massage services. Leading from the resort are several national park trails where visitors can enjoy a nice day hike. Other popular attractions on St. John include Buck Island, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas Skyride, Nightwind Charters, Do It In Style Charters, Coral World Ocean Park, Tropic Power Boat Rentals, Bluefin II Sport Fishing, Hassel Island, Mangroove Lagoon, Virgin Islands Ecotours, Carib Beach Resort, Best Western Emerald Beach Resort, Miller Manor, Green Iguana Hotel, At Home in the Tropics, Red Hook to Cruz Bay and Leeward Island Air Transport.