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discover st john: a virgin island treasure

by Bryan Ferguson

"Islands in the Stream," a song written by the Bee Gees, is both a fitting epitaph and a swan song to describe the beauty of the Virgin Islands. Whether you're daydreaming at the workplace or planning a romantic honeymoon getaway, there's no escaping the allure of palm-fringed beaches, quartz-white sand, turquoise water and rum punch.

In fact, you don't just want to take a vacation, you want to find an idyllic island paradise where life's fast-paced rhythms are replaced with gentle trade winds, Carib bird songs and the sensation that anything can happen (but especially nothing, and that's just the way you want it). The Jamaicans have a name for this laid-back feeling; They call it "irie." In America, we call it the endless summer to come. You don't have to go to Montego Bay or Ocho Rios to find it, just cast a sail to the wind and navigate your way to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

America's Paradise

The Virgin Islands are composed of St.Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. St. Thomas is the most developed and most popular tourist destination of the three islands, and its capital, Charlotte Amalie, is a fitting hub for cruise ships. Dronningens Gade is the main thoroughfare in Charlotte Amalie. It's a world-class Mecca for duty-free shopping, as there are more than 100 jewelry stores in the colorful Danish warehouses lining the narrow, cobbled street. However, you can't shop forever, and the jewel of America's paradise is only a four-mile ferry ride across an emerald, gin-clear sea. The island of St. John is on the horizon, and in 20 minutes you will be docked at Cruz Bay.

Cruising and Puddle Jumping

While some dream of puddle jumping across the Caribbean in a twin-engine Cessna, most of us will explore the islands by cruise ship. When planning your nautical tour of paradise, be sure to invest in Travelguard.com cruise insurance, or the type of cruise insurance best suited for your trip. Canceling a cruise is not like canceling a hotel reservation; there are penalties, and chances are you won't get your money back. If an illness, accident or emergency should arise, cruise insurance will protect you. It's time to put your feet up and feel the trade winds in your hair. It's time to find the Southern Cross and navigate your way to St. John — follow the map to paradise.

The Idyllic Island

St. John has a unique reputation due to the amount of affluent tourists it attracts. The island has been called the "Beverly Hills of the Caribbean." However, this phrase is misleading considering most of St. John is undeveloped and part of a 5,000 thousand acre National Park. Hiking trails, wildlife and outdoor-adventure tours are abundant in St. John. Furthermore, there are more eco-friendly bungalows on the island than anywhere else in the Caribbean. In other words, St. John is more "irie" than Rodeo Drive, and the Beverly Hills tagline seems like something dreamed up by a think tank who'd never dug their feet in the soft white sand.

The island's north shore is home to some of the best beaches in the Lesser Antilles and Trunk Bay. The north shore is well-known and continually rated as one of the best spots in the world. This is the type of place where time is not selfish. It's where you can spread out your towel, dive into your favorite paperback and bask in the sun — like one of the island's many iguanas. Whether you stroll down Honeymoon Beach, inquire about island boat tours, go scuba diving or snorkeling, or simply shop and dine at Cruz Bay, summer is eternal in St. John and paradise is around every corner.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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