The tourist office (tel 340/776-6450) is located near the Battery, a 1735 fort that’s a short walk from the St. Thomas ferry dock in Cruz Bay. It’s open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm. A National Park visitor center (tel 340/776-6201) is also found at Cruz Bay, offering two floors of information and wall-mounted wildlife displays, plus a video presentation about the culture of the Virgin Islands; it’s open daily 8am to 4pm.
You can pick up a map of the island from the tourist office and also a copy of “St. Thomas + St. John This Week,” distributed free throughout the islands.
Most visitors will arrive on St. John at Cruz Bay, on a ferry from St. Thomas. This charming little village, with its few restaurants and shops, is quite the departure from the bustle of Charlotte Amalie. Cruz Bay is also the first stop on any trip to Virgin Islands National Park, which sprawls through the interior and encompasses almost all the coastline. The park service runs an information center in town. Route 20 leads north out of Cruz Bay, and passes the beaches at Caneel, Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon, and Maho bays.
At the far north, Route 20 leads to the start of the Annaberg Trail, a historic hike through the ruins of 18th-century sugar plantations. Route 10 cuts through the center of the island. Dozens of foot trails lead off this road, making for easy exploration of the peaks and mountains.
On the east end of the island is Coral Bay, the island’s original settlement. It’s a favorite among yachties and home to a smattering of small restaurants and bars. Crumbling ruins of forts and plantations also dot the coastline here. The far east end is undeveloped and pales in comparison to the lush greenery of the park. The south coast is a favorite hideaway for locals, but little known by visitors. The coastline here is sweeping and tranquil, yet rocky in parts and punctuated with a handful of small protected bays.