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Legendary Locations: St. John

Oluchi Onweagba in 2008 :: Raphael Mazzucco/SI

Oluchi Onweagba in 2008 :: Raphael Mazzucco/SI

SwimDaily is celebrating the impending launch of Swimsuit's 50th anniversary issue with this video-a-day series featuring our most memorable shoot locations, hosted by the memorable-in-her-own-right Emily DiDonato.

Be sure to come back daily because we are sending ONE LUCKY READER on the trip of a lifetime to the No. 1 Legendary Location. Go here for more details!

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Day 9: St. John

Each night quiet symphony of crickets, tree frogs and crashing waves along the beach of Hawksnest Bay lulls a visitor to sleep. In the morning the sight of turquoise waters glistening at sunrise beckons before you're even out of bed. The call is simple, "Come in, this is the way to start your day," and the response is just as rapid. Fifteen steps from your door, and you're in the water.

Life moves slowly on St. John, where the top speed limit is 20 mph. Winding through the island's mountains and lush forests, the roads are narrow and steep. There is no airport, and the island is accessible only by boat or ferry from St. Thomas and St. Croix, the other two main bodies of land in the U.S. Virgin Islands. White sandy beaches line every curve of the island, and 18 miles of hiking trails meander through the mountains. The stone remnants of long-abandoned sugar mills are both a striking sight and a welcome reminder that you have left the industrialized world behind.

Because most of St. John is a national park, it's easy to disappear amid the lush trees and think you are the sole person on the island. Every so often, the morning skies open for a brief shower. When the rain ends, the air is clean and your spirit is refreshed. Outside, through the trees, the beach awaits again. Water truly is the best way to greet each waking moment.

–Connie Aitcheson