St. John was home to Native American tribes for hundreds of years before Columbus discovered the region. You can still see remains of their cultures by hiking the Reef Bay trail to the amazing petroglyphs, or stone carvings, that archaeologists now think were made by the Tainos.

Have you ever wondered why they are called the Virgin Islands? When Columbus sailed past in 1493 and saw the main islands and the dozens small surrounding islands, he named them the Virgin Islands in honor of St. Ursula and her 11,000 martyred virgin followers.

The Danes settled St. John in 1718, initially cultivating dry-land crops such as cotton and indigo which gave way to the lucrative sugar trade by the mid-1700's, with over 100 plantations covering the island. Work was hard and conditions were grim for the slaves. There was a violent violent slave revolt in 1733. In 1848 the Danes outlawed slavery. One of the must see sites is the remains of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation.  

The U.S. bought the islands in 1917 and by the 1950s the tourist industry began. Laurance Rockefeller donated 5,000 acres for a national park. Today’s Virgin Islands National Park includes 7200 acres of land and 5600 acres of underwater lands. The park has many activities for visitors and its sheer size (about 2/3 of the island) will preserve St. John’s pristine beauty even though there is a major building boom taking place today.

Here is a Google Map of some of the historical ruins locations on St John: