A brief history of St John


St John is an island that beckons with its pristine beaches, vibrant culture, and a history that's as captivating as its sunsets. As you plan your journey here, we wanted to share some of the island’s history, the remnants of which are still evident today.


The Ancient Inhabitants: Begin your journey with a nod to the island's original settlers, the Arawaks and Caribs. While the sands you tread may now be dotted with sun loungers, they were once the grounds of these indigenous communities. Dive deep into the island's archaeological sites and discover the traces they've left behind, particularly at places like Cinnamon Bay.


Whispers from the Colonial Era: The warm breeze carries tales from centuries ago. In the 18th century, St. John bloomed with sugar plantations, an endeavor that bore both sweet produce and bitter memories. The Danish footprint is visible in the architecture, the culture, and even the cobblestoned streets. Yet, the spirit of resistance also thrives here. The 1733 rebellion, where enslaved Africans stood against their oppressors, serves as a testament to the indomitable will of St. John's ancestors. While exploring the remnants of this era (like the ruins of the Annaberg sugar plantation), visitors are invited to acknowledge the pain and resilience that shaped the island.


An American Chapter: As you wander through the bustling markets or serene parks, remember that since 1917, St. John has been under the U.S. flag. The transition brought changes in governance and lifestyle, laying the foundation for the vibrant community you witness today.


Modern Day Paradise with a Historical Touch: Today's St. John is synonymous with tranquility and natural beauty. Thanks to philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, the Virgin Islands National Park graces the island, offering visitors a lush escape. In fact, Esprit borders the Virgin Islands National Park, where you can hike the trail up to Bordeaux Mountain.


In St. John, every grain of sand has a tale to tell, every wave carries a melody of the past. As you soak in its present-day beauty, take a moment to reflect on its deep-rooted history, and you'll find your trip becoming all the more enriching. Safe travels!


Planning Your Visit

St John’s natural beauty is due to the preservation of over two-thirds of the island with the famous Virgin Islands National Park. The smallest of the three main Virgin Islands, St. John encompasses 20 square miles of beautiful scenery, lush vegetation, mountains and coastlines lined with soft white sand and turquoise waters that will take your breath away.


St. John has so much to offer. You will find out just how friendly everyone is, how delicious the food is, and how unspoiled the landscape is. Just a few of its celebrated features include Trunk Bay, consistently rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world; Maho Bay, a 10-minute drive from Esprit and home to Maho Crossroads (rated best beach bar in the Caribbean); and the petroglyphs created by the Taino people, first inhabitants of St John.


With its central island location, Esprit provides easy access to many island “hot spots,” while still retaining that secluded island feel. The villa is just a 15 minute drive from the ferry dock in Cruz Bay, a 5-minute drive to the charming and quiet Coral Bay on the east side of the island, and 10-15 minutes to the celebrated North Shore beaches.


Being situated at the edge of the National Park, you can walk out the Villa's front door and hike one mile to the trailhead of the Bordeaux Mountain Trail. For the adventure seekers, Reef Bay Trail) one of the Caribbean’s “10 Best Hikes” according to Carribean Life Magazine) is 5 minutes away.


Esprit’s location near the summit of Bordeaux Mountain — the highest point on St John — makes it a special place. And it’s not just the incredible views or the cooling tradewinds: Bordeaux Mountain is a unique ecosystem on St John where the bay rum industry once thrived. You can still encounter these trees and their sweet scent (in fact, there are several Bay trees on the property).


Regardless of what you choose to do, we hope you feel welcome at Esprit and enjoy your stay!