St. John is well known for its well-preserved natural beauty and attractive beaches. Restricted development and preservation in St. John contrasts heavily with such adjacent and overdeveloped islands as St. Thomas and St. Maarten. St. John is a travel and honeymoon destination with two main resorts and one of the top ten beaches in the world. It is also considered to be the wealthiest and most expensive of the U.S. Virgin Islands, attracting a high level of affluent tourists. The island's high level of affluence has earned it the distinction of being the "Beverly Hills of the Caribbean". Cruz Bay on the western coast of the island is St. John's principal port. From there, a ferry operates throughout the day to and from Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook in St. Thomas. It is also home to (among other things) car rental locations, several bars and restaurants, day charters, and shopping areas of which the three main ones are Mongoose Junction, the Marketplace, and Wharfside Village. Coral Bay on the eastern side of the island is the other (smaller) town on St. John, and offers some of the same amenities.
Two-thirds of St. John is owned by the National Park, so most of the island is undeveloped. Some of the most picturesque beaches in the Caribbean are located along the island's north shore. The most spectacular and well-known of these is Trunk Bay, which has consistently been voted one of the "Ten Best Beaches in The World" by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, has received similar recognition from other publications and is a [Blue Flag] rated beach. Since the beaches are located on National Park land, they are all open to the public and with the exception of Trunk Bay and Caneel Bay Caneel Bay (resort on the north shore, which lies on Rockefeller’s former personal estate). The remaining coastal land, mostly in the north and in the east, is private property, and contains many secluded private villas and cottages. The National Park Service also offers two campgrounds on the island's beaches at Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay. The reefs near St. John's beaches are also world-famous for their snorkeling. In some areas, such as Trunk Bay and nearby Cinnamon Bay, signs identifying various marine flora and fauna have been placed by the National Park Service among the many offshore coral reef to assist visitors. There are also sailing charters available that tour the island, as well as tours around the British Virgin Islands. Boats are available at Gallows Point, Connections or The Guide Booth in Mongoose Junction.
The beaches on the south side of St. John are mostly pebble and coral beaches, are considerably wilder and are also more remote. Some are only accessible by hiking through natural terrain.
Tourism starts late October and runs through June, when The St. John Festival starts. The off-season is considered to be the hot summer months with the heat peaking during August–September.