GETTING THERE: There is no airport on St. John; you must fly to neighboring St. Thomas (see Details, Page P11) and catch a ferry from Red Hook (20 minutes, $3 one way) or Charlotte Amalie (45 minutes, $7 one way). Ferries run about every hour, from about 6 a.m. to midnight.
GETTING AROUND: A four-wheel-drive vehicle is a must for getting around the island, especially if you want to visit the remote beaches on the east end. Paris Car Rental charged us $69 a day for a rather battered Jeep. You can also get around by cab from the ferry dock in Cruz Bay. Sample fares for two people: $9 to Annaberg Sugar Plantation, $4.50 to Trunk Bay, $9 to Coral Bay.
WHERE TO STAY: Concordia Eco Tents (800-392-9004, www.maho.org; winter rates start at $95 per night through Dec. 15, $125 thereafter) on the southeast coast about an hour's drive from Cruz Bay, are solar- and wind-powered tent-cottages that sleep five or six and come with kitchens, propane stoves, flush composting toilets and cistern showers. There's a small swimming pool. More basic eco cottages are available at the sister property at Maho Bay ($75 per night through Dec. 14, then $115); more luxurious ones at Harmony Studios ($120 to $145 per night through Dec. 14, then $195 to $220).
Gallows Point Resort (Cruz Bay, 800-323-7229, www.gallowspointresort.com, summer rates from $205, winter rates from $395), a short walk from the Cruz Bay ferry dock, has one-bedroom suites that sleep five, with fully equipped kitchens, balconies, air conditioning and a pool. Caneel Bay (Cruz Bay, 340-776-6111, www.caneelbay.com; fall rates start at $395 per night, through Dec. 16), the elegantly understated resort built by millionaire Laurance Rockefeller in the 1950s, has an incomparable setting but, some feel, rather spartan rooms for the price.
WHERE TO EAT: In Coral Bay, Island Blues, Miss Lucy's and Shipwreck Landing are all good choices for seaside dining, serving up casual island fare in open-air settings. Dinner for two runs about $40 to $50, with drinks. In Cruz Bay, ZoZo's (Gallows Point) offers inspired nouvelle Italian cuisine (don't miss the lobster ravioli with pine nuts), with entrees from $12 to $34; the sunset bar is fun. Rhumb Lines serves Pacific Rim and tropical cuisine, with imaginative entrees starting at $7.50; try the mango gazpacho. Uncle Joe's Barbecue, in a yellow cottage across from the town square, has one of the best deals on the island, with chicken barbecue dinners for $7.95.
WHAT TO DO:
* Virgin Islands National Park (1300 Cruz Bay Creek, 340-776-6201, www.nps.gov/viis) offers self-guided hikes, snorkeling and beach acitivities, as well as ranger programs and guided hikes and nature walks.
* Annaberg Sugar Plantation, part of the national park, offers guided tours of the 17th-century ruins and self-guided walks through the grounds. Admission is $4.
* Sailing, snorkeling and kayaking excursions are widely available through hotel concierges or outfitters such as Arawak Expeditions (800-238-8687, www.arawakexp.com; $50 for a half-day kayak trip).
* Trail rides are available through Carolina Corral in Coral Bay (340-693-5778; $55 for a 11/2-hour ride).
INFORMATION: U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, 800-372-8784, www.usvitourism.vi.
-- K.C. Summers