Our Family’s Journey Back to Paradise
We recently had the privilege of returning to the captivating island of St. John, USVI, for a well-deserved family vacation. It had been a few years since our last visit due to the damaging effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, followed by the pandemic that thwarted our 2020 plans. But finally, in 2022, we could return to this remarkable island paradise.
Have you ever witnessed remarkable progress in the face of adversity? That’s exactly what we experienced during our recent trip to St. John. It was an emotional journey for us, as we saw firsthand the recovery efforts from the catastrophes of the past few years.
However, returning to the island gave us a renewed appreciation for the resilient spirit of the people and the natural beauty that makes St. John such a beloved destination. It’s truly inspiring to see a community come together and overcome challenges, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to witness it firsthand.
If you’re considering a trip to St. John, USVI, we highly recommend it. From gorgeous beaches and stunning national parks to unique local cuisine and friendly hospitality, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on this enchanting island. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in paradise.
Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost, the author may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Travel Basics to St. John
Are you planning a trip to St. John, USVI? You’re in for a treat! This stunning island boasts many breathtaking trails and beaches, making it a nature lover’s dream come true. Did you know over 60% of St. John is part of the National Park Service? From fine-dining restaurants to laid-back beach bars, there’s something for everyone on this charming island. So when you’re packing your bags, leave those heels at home, and don’t forget to bring your favorite hiking shoes and snorkel gear. It’s time to embrace island living at its finest!
Essential Information for traveling to St. John, USVI
To travel to St. John, you will first fly into St. Thomas (STT airport code) from the mainland US. Then, you will take a ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. Unfortunately, there isn’t an airport on St. John Island. However, several ferries run from St. Thomas to St. John daily, including a car ferry if you choose to rent your car on St. Thomas.
We took the ferry from Red Hook, St. Thomas, to Cruz Bay, St. John, because it offered the times we wanted to travel. It was easy to buy tickets in person or online. http//:www.stjohnticketing.com There are ferries from Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to Cruz Bay, St. John, if that location on St. Thomas is more convenient for your travels. When returning leaving Cruz Bay, St. John, the Crown Bay, St. Thomas ferry is only 5 minutes from the St. Thomas airport. There are fewer times that the ferry runs, but if it works with your schedule, this is the fastest way to get to and from the airport.
Car rentals and driving on St. John, USVI.
Jeeps are the most popular rentals on the Island since many roads require 4-wheel drive. On this trip, we had six people, and it did not allow us to rent a Jeep. Instead, we rented a Dodge Durango from O’Conner Car Rental. https://www.oconnorcarrental.com/ The Durango served our purposes well. O’Conner Car Rental was an easy pick-up and drop-off as they have facilities at our hotel, the Westin Villas. Please note that rental cars on either St. John or St. Thomas will be American cars, but in the Virgin Islands, they drive on the left-hand side of the road. There are many winding curves with blind spots on the Island; drivers should be confident driving on the left-hand side of the road.
Where We stayed on St. John, USVI.
We enjoyed staying at the Westin Resort Villas, conveniently situated in Cruz Bay during our vacation. Our villa was a cozy two-bedroom, three-bath loft villa that accommodated up to 10 guests comfortably.
One of our favorite things about this location was exploring the various Cruz Bay restaurants, not to mention the easy accessibility to the North Shore beaches. And if you’re looking to venture out, plenty of taxis are readily available to transport you.
Fun fact: Did you know that the Westin is the largest resort on St. John? That’s right! The resort recently underwent 18 months of renovations after enduring hurricanes Maria and Irma, and now it’s back to its original splendor, boasting breathtakingly beautiful grounds. Interested in booking a stay at the Westin yourself? Check out Booking.com to learn more!
More Lodging Options on St. John, USVI
Regarding lodging options on St. John Island, many choices exist. Grand Bay Resort and Gallows Point are both viable options, as are a handful of small inns and cozy bed and breakfasts. If you’re looking for a rental home or villa, you’ll be happy to know hundreds of options are available, which can be found on VRBO.
Interestingly, there are no all-inclusive resorts on the island, which gives St. John a unique edge. Additionally, if camping is your thing, Cinnamon Bay Resort and Campground offer a lovely opportunity to experience the great outdoors.
For even more hotel options on St. John and nearby St. Thomas, we recommend checking out Booking.com to find the perfect fit for your Island stay.
Getting around St. John, USVI.
Once on the Island, there are taxis that are easy to use to get into the downtown area of Cruz Bay and also will take you to various places on the Island. However, we wanted flexibility and rented a car to explore during the day.
In the evening, we use taxis for dining in Cruz Bay since parking is limited downtown. Taxis from the Westin to downtown Cruz Bay would cost $5/person for two or more, each way. Taxi stands are located near the Cruz Bay Ferry Station, Westin Villas, Trunk Bay, and Cinnamon Bay for those who prefer using taxis versus driving.
Passport requirements and visiting the BVI.
Passports are not required for US citizens to visit the US Virgin Islands. However, you would miss out on a wonderful experience exploring the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The islands of Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda are an easy day trip from St. John.
US citizens will need to have a valid passport to enjoy the BVI. There is an Inter-Island Boat Service from St. Thomas/to St. John to Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. http://www.interislandboatservices.com/
Some facts to know about the Island
St. John Virgin Island is located at 18º20′ N 64°44’W. You will see these coordinates used throughout the Island along with the Petroglyphs symbol. Don’t be surprised to see donkeys or goats on the roads. Many animals free-roam the Island. Please watch for them on the roads and do not feed them. There is also an abundance of iguanas and chickens. Over 60% of the Island is National Park, providing many trails to explore. Remember to leave only footprints when visiting the National Park and beaches.
Recently, the USVI passed a law requiring all sunscreen to be Reef SAFE. Check your bottles before leaving home, as some are only Reef Friendly. Products containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene are prohibited. There is a fine of $1000 for first-time violators. If you are unsure about your sunscreen, it would be best to buy it once arriving on the Island.
When to Visit St. John, USVI
The best time to visit is December through June. The weather is mild with less rain. The average temperature in St. John is 85°F. Although Hurricane season is from July until October, the highest risk for a hurricane is in August and September. If traveling within these months, be advised that many local restaurants and activities close. In addition, it is historically a time when the local staff will go on vacation themselves—plan for dining and activities in advance.
Final Thoughts on Travel Basics of St. John, USVI
So, there you have it – the travel basics about St. John, USVI! Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned veteran, remembering the essentials is always helpful. St. John has something for everyone, from the stunning beaches to the vibrant culture. Pack plenty of sunscreen, grab a map, and explore this Caribbean paradise. Bon voyage!
Check out my post about Snorkeling & the Beaches of St. John USVI Beaches & Snorkeling Guide of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands and My Top 15 Bucket List for St. John, USVI Top 15 Bucket List activities on St. John U.S.V.I.