June 17, 2024

How to Visit the Unspoiled Beauty of St. John’s in the US Virgin Islands

St John is one of the US Virgin Islands along with St Croix and St Thomas. It is the smallest island with an area of ​​20 square miles and 60 percent of the island is protected by the Virgin Islands National Park. With 16 stunning beaches and over 30 hiking trails, it’s the perfect place to escape the rat race and enjoy the outdoors in the heart of the Caribbean.

If you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation without the tourist attractions, St. John should be at the top of your list. If you love hiking, going to the beach, or having a nice drink overlooking the clear blue Caribbean Ocean, keep reading.

Saint John’s ferry

Photo credit: cworthy / Shutterstock.com

How to get to Saint John

Going to Saint John is a unique adventure. The island is about 4 miles east of St. Thomas and does not have an airport. To get to the island, you must first fly into St Thomas and then take a ferry over to St John.

Passenger Ferries

There are two options for traveling from Saint Thomas to Saint John: by passenger ferry or vehicle barge. From the airport on St Thomas, you can take a taxi to one of the ferry or barge docks. There are two passenger ferry options on St. Thomas. The ferry leaves from Red Hook, which is on the east side of the island, once every hour. There is also a ferry closer to the airport in Charlotte Amalie, but it only makes the trip three times a day. When you arrive in Saint John, you will find several car rental companies and taxis near the ferry dock to help you get around the island.

Barge Vehicle

The second option is to rent a Jeep on St. Thomas and take the vehicle barge over to St. John. I say Jeep specifically because you’ll need a four-by-four to hit some of the best trails and locations. There are car rental companies near the airport and most will pick you up at your terminal. From the airport, drive across the island to the vehicle barge at Red Hook. The airport is on the west side of St Thomas and the ferry dock is on the east side. It takes about 20-30 minutes to drive between the two.

Each option has its pros and cons, but for me, I choose the second option. Dealing with your bags from a taxi to the ferry, off the ferry, and then walking to a car rental company on St. John is a pain — especially if it’s raining. It’s a pain if anyone packs as much as my wife does!

When you rent a Jeep on St. Thomas, you usually don’t have to touch your bags after you leave the terminal. You are in a fast Jeep and can drive yourself anywhere on St Thomas before going to the car barge. You could also spend a night on Saint Thomas if you want.

Another advantage of renting on St. Thomas is that you can get groceries and supplies before you head to St. John. Everything on St Thomas is cheaper and has more variety.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that cars drive on the left side of the road on Saint Thomas and Saint John. It can be a little confusing at first, but generally, everyone else follows. If you are not comfortable driving, you might be better off renting in Saint John as you will be sharing the road with fewer drivers there. Although taxis are available on Saint John, renting a Jeep is part of the adventure and makes the trip much more enjoyable.

Cruz Bay at the entrance of Virgin Islands National Park

Cruz Bay at the entrance of Virgin Islands National Park

Photo credit: Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock.com

Where is St. John?

Cruz Bay

When you leave the car barge on Saint John, you will be in Cruz Bay on the west side of the island. This is the largest “town” on the island and is the main area for groceries, restaurants, shopping and hotels. If you want to be close to shopping and nightlife, stay somewhere near Cruz Bay.

Coral Bay

On the east side of the island is a small town called Coral Bay with a few restaurants, bars, and small shops. Most of the best hiking trails are also not far from Coral Bay. If you want to get away from civilization, stay in a villa near Coral Bay. Many are listed on Airbnb and Vrbo.

I personally enjoy staying in Coral Bay and walking in the area. You can make friends quickly in the evening at bars like Aqua Bistro.

The turquoise waters of Saint John

The turquoise waters of Saint John

Photo credit: BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock.com

When To Go To Saint John

It’s a misconception that it’s “too hot” in the summer because St. John’s average temperature is 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. With the trade winds on the west side of the island, you don’t need air conditioning in a windward villa, even in the summer months.

The busy season on the island is around Christmas and January. Many want to escape the winter and enjoy the holidays somewhere tropical. I would avoid these months.

I would also avoid hurricane season altogether, which runs from July to November. Hurricanes can be very predictable. As I mentioned, going here is an adventure, and a hurricane can go from a minor inconvenience to a huge problem in a matter of days. Being in the middle of a major hurricane is a little too much adventure, even for this survivor!

To enjoy the island without the crowds and hurricanes, the best time to go is late spring and early summer. This is after all the holiday travelers leave and before hurricane season begins. The crowds are low and the weather is great.

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