If you know me, you know I LOVE St. John. It’s our place. We got married here. It’s where we feel so at home. We’d live there if we could (and we often fantasize about the plans we are going to put into place to make it a reality one day). It’s our tiny spot in the world. The island that has our hearts. We are visiting Key West this April, another one of our favorite resort towns and a place we’d have a vacation home if the lottery numbers lined up. So I thought no better reason to share pictures from our last vacation in St. John in 2015. In an ideal world we’d vacation there every year or two. Sadly Zika kept us away in 2016 and 2017, but 2018 is our ten year wedding anniversary and we are 100% going back to celebrate!
When we went in 2015, we took our son for the first time, which was really special. To be able to have him play on the beach where we stood barefoot and got married 9 years ago was so cool. My mom came this last trip, too! We stayed at our favorite resort, Caneel Bay. At the end of this post I included a few random tips for those looking to vacation there. I could seriously go on and on about St. John…I’m so passionate about this place. I see a much more detailed travel post in my future for all those looking to go. I swear I’m one of St. John’s biggest cheerleaders! If you want a quaint, beautiful, unspoiled (70% of it is a protected national park), easy, laid-back island with some of the most beautiful beaches you’ve seen, you should book your trip here now!
Annnd I vow to photograph a wedding here one day. Because I was a St. John bride myself, it’s just something I want to do. They say if you put it out to the universe, the universe listens and sends it back to you. So there you go. It’s out there. 🙂
All images below are film, taken on a combination of Contax 645, an old underwater film camera that I bought for $50 off Ebay, and a Canon EOS 3 35mm. Film stocks: Fuji 400h 120 film, Fuji 400h 35mm film, and Portra 800 120 film. Thanks Richard Photo Lab for the processing!
Bonus points if you turn on some Bob Marley, Jack Johnson, Zac Brown Band, or Kenny Chesney (specifically the Old Blue Chair song because it talks about Cinnamon Bay) while viewing this post.
This image above was our hotel room right on Little Caneel Beach. It was perfect for 3 adults and a baby, with a separate bedroom and living area. We had our own stairs down to a private beach for the rooms at this end of the resort. And it was close enough to be able to swim over to Caneel Beach, which has super soft sand, low waves, and a beach bar. Mmmm a beach bar…this is key. This room is the Ocean View Suite and is #12 on the resort map. I believe it’s the only one of its kind.
Restaurants we love:
- Zozo’s! (A must!) – It’s Italian, which we thought was weird while in the Caribbean, but they bring in local flavors and it’s SO good.
- Rhumb Lines – also a must! We had our rehearsal dinner here and the ambiance and food are both amazing. Open air courtyard tucked away through a convince store with swings for bar seats, amazing Pacific Rim and Caribbean food.
- Skinny Legs – A St. John staple…cool bar with good burgers on the other side of the island.
- The Longboard – this was a newcomer for us last trip, but it was good and we loved the vibe of the restaurant. Very island-ey and chill and open air.
- Woody’s – you have to at least go for a beer. Another St. John staple.
- North Shore Deli – this is our place for amazing breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, and packing a picnic of awesome food and adult beverages to take out on our boat or dinghy for the day.
- The Lime Inn
- Morgan’s Mango
- Joe’s Rum Hut – good for drinks on the beach.
There are others, and I will update the list when I do a proper St. John review post (one day)!
There are so many fabulous villas to stay in on St. John. From the coolest 1 bedroom accommodations tucked away in the hills that make you feel like you’re completely alone, to 10+ room mansions. We rented this amazing villa for our wedding almost 9 years ago (and I dream about renting this one for a 10 or 20 year reunion bash – ha!). But when we go back to visit, we typically stay at Caneel Bay. We love it here because it’s such a laid back resort, but still has an upscale feel. You can get a room right on the beach, and they have a beach bar. Which, let’s be honest, when we go to the Caribbean, we need cocktails available to us while our feet (and bums) are firmly planted on the soft white sand. 🙂 There is amazing snorkeling here, tons of beautiful beaches on the property, great food…we love it! There are several other hotels and inn’s on the island, along with the cool Concadia Eco-Resort, which when we visited seemed like tree-houses for adults that let you camp and enjoy the nature around you, including the stunning beaches right at your doorstep.
I think that is what we love about St. John. It’s connection to nature. It’s so preserved, natural, and untouched. Yes, Cruz Bay is getting a bit over developed, but thankfully so much of St. John is a protected park and will remain unspoiled. Being the person of contradictions that I am, I love being in nature, being connected to the earth. I can get down with camping and all the joy that it brings. But I also love a good 5 star resort. And that is one thing I love about St. John. You can have both. It’s such a laid back place, and you can do it as low key or as upscale as you like. But regardless of which side you fall on, everyone is hanging out together, enjoying this little slice of heaven, and just soaking up all of God’s beauty on this magical island.