While vacationing in the Virgin Islands in January, my husband and I took a day trip from St. Thomas to St. John. Our time in the Caribbean was sort of a belated honeymoon (we eloped in October), and St. John was hands-down the most adventurous part of our entire trip! We woke up early one Saturday to take the Red Hook ferry in St. Thomas over to Cruz Bay, and stayed on the island all day (and almost all night). Our time on St. John was filled with exploring, hiking through rainstorms, wild donkeys and some of the most incredible landscapes I have ever seen.

Something unique about St. John is that a large portion of its area (more than half) is occupied by Virgin Islands National Park. Our original plan was to ride the bus (it’s only $1!) down Centerline Road to the Reef Bay trail, and hike all the way to the south-eastern tip of the island known as Ram Head to watch the sun set there. However, due to the bus schedule and reluctance of every cab driver in Cruz Bay to pick us up across the island (I don’t blame them), we ended up turning around at Reef Bay. Along the trail we encountered numerous species of plants and wildlife, the ruins of two abandoned sugar mills, and the Petroglyphs along a freshwater reflecting pool, once sacred to the indigenous Taíno people.

We took an impromptu hike on Lind Point Trail overlooking Cruz Bay during golden hour, and made it to Honeymoon Beach just in time to see the pinks and purples of sunset before a storm blew in. Hiking back was quite an event – but the views were well worth it. Note to self: be more prepared for island rains next time you’re hiking in the jungle.

Some more touristy stops of note in Cruz Bay include St. John Brewers (try their Tropical Mango pale ale!) and Morgan’s Mango for dinner. Best lobster I’ve had in years.

If you find yourselves in the Virgin Islands and are up for some fun, I highly recommend spending a day on St. John!