Saint John is the smaller of the three main islands that make up the US Virgin Islands and makes for a great day trip from Saint Thomas. Saint John is a far more secluded island because it is not as easy to get to unlike the other two but it’s charm and raw natural beauty is second to none. This post covers all you need to know to make a day trip to Saint John from Saint Thomas and what to see and do once you get there.
How to Get to Saint John from Saint Thomas
Saint John has no airport. So, if you are flying into the Virgin Islands, you will have to fly into Saint Thomas and then hop over to Saint John from there. Ferry services connect the two islands easily.
There are two passenger ferry options to choose from: Red Hook, St. Thomas to Cruz Bay, St. John; and Crown Bay, St. Thomas to Cruz Bay, St. John. The Red Hook to Cruz bay route is a shorter ride at 20 minutes while the Crown Bay route takes 30 minutes. You may decide to chose one or the other depending on where yo are staying at Saint Thomas. We took the Red Hook route as we were closer to there. One thing to note is that the Crown bay route, in addition to being longer is also ore expensive.
If you already have rented a car in Saint Thomas, I highly recommend you bring it over to Saint John so that you can explore the island hassle free. One thing to callout is that not all rental car companies let you transport you car back and forth between the two islands, so I highly recommend renting from a company that does allow this.
There is a daily car ferry between Red Hook and Cruz Bay (Crown Bay does not offer a car ferry). There are three companies to choose from. The price is the same regardless ($35 one way and $50 round trip), however what varies are the schedules. If you are planning on making the round trip with the same company, highly suggest you look at the schedule and determine what time you want to leave and arrive beforehand.
Pro Tip – Bring cash to pay for the car ferry. You will have to pay a small port fee as you enter the Red Hook Port area ($3 for cars) and you will pay the ferry fee once you are boarded.
Charter a Boat
Definitely more expensive but would be quite the experience!
How to Get Around
If you have a car in St. Thomas the best recommendation is to take your car to St. John using the car ferry. your other option are:
- Rent – Most rental agencies are located at Cruz Bay. While a car is completely fine (that is what we had), most people seem to hire jeeps and SUVs or vehicles with higher ground clearance. The roads can be a little steep, rocky and bumpy at places.
- Hire a taxi – You can find taxi services at Cruz, Truck and Cinnamon Bay. Rates are per person and per destination. See HERE for rates
What to See and Do
Cinnamon Bay plantation ruins and Annaberg plantations are two of the famous sugar plantations ruins you can see in the island. Although now in ruins, some of the these plantations date back to the 1700’s.
Enjoy the Many Vista Points
There are so many beautiful vista points all over the islands! Look out for the vista point of Maho Bay and Truk Bay!
If you are looking for a place to eat during your day trip to Saint John, check out Miss Lucy’s. This awesome lunch spot is located in Friis Bay which is a smaller bay along the greater Coral Bay area. Miss Lucy’s offers some tasty Caribbean cuisine with amazing Caribbean views as the backdrop.
Maho Bay Beach
Beautiful white sand beach located on the north side of the island. This is a free beach is widely popular for sea turtles. I saw a huge one and had a chance to swim with in for a bit. You can rent all sorts of water sports and other other beach equipment. We paddle boarded and snorkeled for almost 2 hours here. There is also a small bar serving food and alcohol.
Part of the Virgin Islands National Park and is one of the best places in the island to snorkel. There is a self-guided under-water snorkeling trail with information about what you are seeing. You can rent snorkeling and other water sports equipment from a concession stand. Trunk Bay also has shower facilities and is overall well managed. You will need to pay a small fee to enter.
Very rarely do you find places where you can hike in lush green forests and end up at crystal clear beaches. The Virgin Islands National Park offers you to experience both. The national park covers more than 50% of the island itself. The visitor center is located at Cruz Bay. There are many hiking trails that you can choose from, ranging from easy to difficult. Reef Bay trail is supposed to be the most popular. No matter which route you choose, you are sure to experience beautiful look out points, pristine beaches and nature at its finest.
Fun Fact (or Not) – The Maho bay beach area is so close to the British Virgin Islands, that your cellular service provider may think you are not longer in the US! Both AT&T and T-Mobile sent us messages about roaming! Dispute it if they charge!
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Click HERE or below to read my guide on Saint Thomas, which is the capital of the US Virgin Islands