It may be the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, but St. John is a natural wonder of luminous crescent bays and perfumed forest groves. It’s got miles of pristine parkland, fresh-scented hiking trails, and mossy peaks with panoramic views. It’s got probably the best beaches per capita of any Virgin Island. It’s got a sleepy, secluded feel—if you can’t chill out here, well, then better get thee to an apothecary. In fact, St. John is where St. Thomas locals come to “plug out. They don’t call it “Love City” for nothing.

St. John is no mere pretty face, however. It has in the ruins of 18th-century sugar plantations a landscape dotted with its own trail of tears. It’s got churches: 18 at last count.

St. John has no airport and no cruise-ship pier. Nonetheless, it is a favorite day-trip destination from nearby islands and a popular ferry excursion for cruise-ship passengers from St. Thomas. But the day-tripper and cruise-ship crowds that stream over in the morning are generally gone before nightfall.