Destination Wedding on St. John


April 23, 2013
Words by
Photos courtesy of Caneel Bay

It is the smallest and, many will argue, the most charming island in the Caribbean. St. John is secluded, affluent and echoes a history thousands of years strong.

On land originally developed in the 1950s by Laurance Rockefeller on the northwest side of St. John, Caneel Bay awaits like a beautiful secret. Turquoise waters are embraced by seven sugar-white beaches and 170 acres of unspoiled beauty with accommodations blending unobtrusively into the tropical landscape. You’ll find casual, unpretentious luxury far removed from the outside world – there is no phone or television in your room (your wake-up call is a friendly knock on your door). You’ll soon surrender to the tranquility and marvel over your cell phone once seeming so essential to your survival.

During your stay at this picture-book enclave, you will undoubtedly meet guests who have been returning for years, even decades, and you’ll soon understand why. Immediately upon your arrival you are among friends and your visit will resonate among your most treasured romantic travel memories.

How to while away your time presents a diverse array of choices. World-class tennis with gorgeous mountain views, watersports (including some of the Caribbean’s most prized scuba and snorkeling) and yoga, will warm you up. Relax with a seaside massage or simply nap away the afternoon in a beachside hammock. Whatever you choose, you’ve found a perfect paradise to call your own and to return to often.


For couples considering a destination wedding, Caneel Bay offers an experience unmatched in the Caribbean – whatever your budget.

“Many of our weddings are very simple, incorporating the beauty of our environment as a backdrop,” says Caneel Romance Curator, Vera Payne-Powell. “Others are more lavish, with couples flying in florists from New York to completely transform the environment. The great thing is you don’t need to spend masses of money creating ‘the look’ when all that is inherent to the surroundings. Whatever the resources or the personalities involved, we have the quintessential ‘tropical paradise’ many couples envision – white sand, turquoise water, palm trees, lush greenery and scented breezes.”

Whatever wedding you imagine, your day will belong to you: the resort will never schedule more than one event per day. Another bonus: as part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, visitors from the States won’t need to worry about passports when entering St. John.


Caneel Bay boasts a variety of elegant and casual dining choices; the jewel in the crown is The Sugar Mill, open-air fine dining in the resort’s 18th century sugar mill ruin. Executive Chef Michael Vargas has created dishes which introduce guests to the herbs, spices and natural resources native to St. John and the Virgin Islands. Evening attire required. Don’t miss: Afternoon tea served daily on the verandah at Turtle Bay Estate House. A variety of hot and iced coffees, teas and fresh-baked pastries welcome you to this lovely daily ritual.


Commemorate your experience with a private art lesson with one of Caneel Bay’s artists in residence. You’ll learn step-by-step how to re-create your breathtaking view and return home with
a one-of-a-kind work of art.


Named one of the Caribbean’s 10 best hikes, Reef Bay Trail is a fascinating trek through some of St. John’s most beautiful landscapes. Choose a number of different trails led by a knowledgeable park ranger and journey into the history and culture of the island. Don’t miss: The petroglyphs. Ancient carvings found on rocks surrounding an ancient pool are believed to have been created by the Taino Indians between 1200 and 1400, A.D.


Located on the west coast of St. John and a quick drive from Caneel Bay, Cruz Bay is the island’s center for shopping and dining. Friendly and safe day or night. Don’t miss: La Tapa; eclectic elegance with warm rustic ambiance featuring contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with Chef Alexandra Ewald’s own personal interpretation.

Main image above courtesy of Caneel Bay. This article first appeared in Destination I Do’s Fall/Winter 2012 issue.

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