St. John Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love St. John

Overlooking view of the boats on the blue water from Leinster Bay
The blue waters of Leinster Bay surrounding Waterlemon Cay on St. John

Why We Love St. John: The most natural. The most beautiful. And the most pristine. St. John is our favorite Virgin Island and a true Caribbean paradise offering a wildly different atmosphere from nearby islands like St. Thomas and St. Croix.

With more than 60% of the island’s land and waters protected by the Virgin Islands National Park, St. John is the last of its kind. Very few places in the world exist like it anymore. Mountainsides are consumed by tropical forests as they descend into glimmering turquoise waters. Hiking trails, secluded beaches, and breathtaking views are commonplace. And let’s not forget about the culture, lively beach bars, and delectable restaurants. This island has it all.

Welcome to America’s last paradise!

Best of St. John

Things to Do in St. John

The author exploring the ruins of sugar mill along the Reef Bay Trail
Exploring the ruins of the sugar mill along Reef Bay Trail

Covering more than 60% of land on the island, most of your time on St. John is likely to be spent within the Virgin Islands National Park.

  • Reef Bay Trail – the best trail in the Virgin Islands with ancient rock carvings, rustic sugar mill ruins, a secluded beach, and tropical forest trails
  • Cruz Bay – lively beachfront village serving as the gateway into the National Park with beach bars and fine dining
  • Trunk Bay – the most popular beach on St. John with sugar-white sand, turquoise waters, and a snorkeling trail
  • Boating – the best method of viewing all the beauty of a pristine Caribbean island
  • Annaberg Plantation Ruins – elaborate grounds with stunning views of the BVIs and well-preserved sugar mill structures

👉 Explore all things to do in St. John

🗺️ Where to Stay

Most St. John hotels and resorts are in Cruz Bay or its outskirts. A handful of private rentals are scattered throughout the rest of St. John.

  • Cruz Bay – the largest community, primary port, liveliest area, and economic hub of St. John.
  • Coral Bay – the second largest community on St. John and the epicenter of the island’s quieter East End
  • Central, St. John – private residences and vacation rentals peppered throughout the island’s interior mountainsides

👉 Read the full guide to where to stay in St. John.

Overlooking view of the beachfront village in Cruz Bay
Beachfront village of Cruz Bay on St. John

🛎️ Best Hotels

A swing in Gallows Point Resort with a view during sunset
Sunset view from Gallows Point on St. John

Outside of a small handful of hotels, booking a private home or apartment is a common way to stay in St. John.

  • Estate Lindholm – top-rated boutique hotel just on the outskirts of Cruz Bay before entering Virgin Islands National Park
  • The Westin, St. John – world-class resort and beach villas in Great Cruz Bay with a private beach, restaurant, and beach bar
  • Gallows Point – highly rated resort and hotel with sweeping views of St. Thomas right in the heart of Cruz Bay

🍽️ Restaurants

St. John might have the best culinary scene compared to the other two US Virgin Islands.

  • The Longboard – delicious poke bowls, small plates, and vegan options in a vibrant setting within Cruz Bay
  • Salty Mongoose Pizza & Rum Bar – the best pizza on St. John with striking views of Hurricane Hole and Coral Harbor
  • The Lime Inn – intimate restaurant with four or six-course dinner options in the town center of Cruz Bay
  • Skinny Legs – the sailor’s choice of beach bar & grill along the waters of Coral Bay
  • Greengo’s Caribbean Cantina – affordable, yet extremely delicious, Caribbean cuisine with a Latin flair in Mongoose Junction shopping complex
View of people on the Beach Bar in Cruz Bay
Restaurants line the shores of Cruz Bay on St. John (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

🛥️ Day Trips

The Tortola and British Virgin Islands from St John
View of Tortola and the British Virgin Islands from St. John
  • British Virgin Islands – whether it’s a day trip or a week-long vacation, the British Virgin Islands are a stone’s throw away from St. John
  • St. Thomas – the main cruise port and tourist hub for the US Virgin Islands
  • Buck Island, St. Thomas – serene snorkeling and scuba diving sites in the calm bays of this federally protected island south of St. Thomas
  • Lovango Cay – a private resort island with a pool, tiki bar, and beach with day passes available from St. John
  • Water Island– boat charters often make a stop at Honeymoon Beach on Water Island to freshen up your rum drink

🏘️ Neighborhoods

  • Cruz Bay – the largest, and liveliest community on St. John. Bars, restaurants, shopping, and the National Park Visitor Center.
  • Coral Bay – sleepy beach village on the east end of St. John with a few rum huts and boat charters
  • Central – private residences and vacation rentals pepper the mountainsides of the interior of St. John
  • East End – quaint beaches like Hansen Bay and Haulover Beach await you on the quiet side of St. John
  • North Shore the main attraction of St. John with epic hikes and popular beaches like Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, and Maho Bay.
Overlooking view of Coral Bay on St. John
View of Coral Bay on St. John – the second largest town on the island

🍹 Beach Bars

The Author swimming up to Lime Out in Coral Bay
Swimming up to Lime Out from our boat in Coral Bay, St. John
  • The Beach Bar – our favorite happy hour spot in Cruz Bay with live music and picnic tables on the sand
  • The Windmill Bar – although not on a beach, this unique bar situated in centuries-old sugar mill ruins has the best view on the island
  • Skinny Legs – local watering hole and rum hut in Coral Bay
  • Lime Out VI – floating taco stand in Coral Bay serving scrumptious craft tacos and cold frozen drinks
  • Drink – an excellent starting point for a Cruz Bay happy hour bar crawl with delicious rum punch and painkillers

🏖️ Beaches

The author observing the Jumbie Beach in St. John
Jumbie Beach is a small, quiet beach on the north shore of St. John
  • Maho Bay – lively beachfront with food trucks, rum huts, and snorkeling opportunities with sea turtles
  • Cinnamon Bay – the picturesque white sand and turquoise waters from a USVI postcard
  • Jumbie Beach – the most intimate and secluded beach along St. John’s north shore
  • Salt Pond Bay – a secluded beach on the south shore accessible via hike just outside of Coral Bay
  • Trunk Bay – awesome snorkeling opportunities await explorers at the most photographed beach in the USVI’s

🏖️ Read the full list of best St. John beaches.

🏛️ Historic Sites and Ruins

The author's wife entering the Peace Hill Windmill
Entering the Peace Hill Windmill on St. John
  • Annaberg Sugar Plantation – the ruins of this massive plantation feature scenic views, impressive structures, and a troubling past
  • Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins – the ruins at the end of Reef Bay Trail are where the industrial revolution collided with the sugar mills of the past
  • Petroglyphs – ancient rock carvings along Reef Bay Trail from the Taino Tribe, the indigenous people of the Caribbean
  • Peace Hill Windmill – a short hike brings visitors to an old windmill overlooking Hawsknest and Trunk Bay
  • Windy Hill Great House – these ruins offer a stunning view of Waterlemon Cay, the BVIs, and Leinster Bay after a relatively easy hike.

🥾 Hiking Trails

The author's wife climbing up the Leinster Bay Trail
Climbing up to the Windy Hill Ruins from the Leinster Bay Trail
  • Reef Bay Trail – best hike on the island descending to a secluded beach with ruins, ancient artifacts, and multiple island ecosystems
  • Ram Head Trail – a moderate hike that’s best enjoyed in the mornings, particularly early enough to catch the best sunrise on St. John
  • Leinster Bay Trail – flat, easy hike along the Leinster Bay shoreline with options to hike to the Windy Hill Ruins and beyond
  • Lower Lind Point Trail – moderate hike connecting Cruz Bay to the nearest beach, Honeymoon Beach
  • Cinnamon Bay Trail – strenuous hike with an option to visit the America Hill Great House Ruins

👉 Read the full guide to the best hikes on St. John.

Boat Tours

The author climbing up to their boat after snorkeling
Boarding the sailing and snorkeling boat tour in the US Virgin Islands
  • Scuba Diving – Low Key Watersports and Busy Bee Charters brings certified divers to colorful coral reefs
  • Sailing – the eastern trade winds make the US Virgin Islands an excellent destination for sailing
  • Sunset Cruise – have a drink, catch a breeze, and set sail as the sun drops over the Caribbean Sea
  • Snorkeling – the rock and volcanic properties of the Virgin Islands provides an immense amount of shallow water snorkeling opportunities
  • Kayaking – calm bays like Hurricane Hole on St. John provide excellent paddling opportunities

⛵ See the full list of best St. John boat tours.

🤿 Snorkeling Beaches

The author's wife snorkeling under the blue water of St. John
You can snorkel off almost any beach in St. John, but some are better than others.
  • Hawsknest Beach – seagrass beds with sea turtles and coral reefs full of fish are spread throughout this bay
  • Hansen Bay Beach – exceptionally calm waters provide kids and newbies a great place to learn how to snorkel
  • Trunk Bay – an underwater snorkel trail that provides insight into the marine life you might witness
  • Maho Bay – your best chance to snorkel with a sea turtle on St. John
  • Francis Bay – swim towards the rock faces on either the left or right after leaving the beach to find a bustling coral reef

St. John Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Let’s be honest, with year-round warm weather, there’s no bad time to visit St. John and the Virgin Islands.

  • 🌼 Spring – Moderate temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and a nice breeze make for perfect conditions during the island’s busiest time of year.
  • ❄️ Winter – stiff northeast winds create less than ideal ocean conditions, but the sun is usually shining and the temperatures are warm!
  • 🍂 Fall –  hot and humid conditions during the Caribbean’s hurricane season. It’s a roll of the dice to dodge a hurricane, but you’ll likely find an incredibly cheap fare to get here
  • 🌞 Summer – hot and sunny but the winds are usually calm making for flat seas. Excellent time of year to charter a boat for the week.

🚌 Getting Around

The best way to get around St. John is by renting a car, preferably a Jeep with 4 wheel drive.

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – unless you’re hiking a trail or strolling Cruz Bay, walking isn’t a good way to get around St. John
  • 🚗 Driving – driving on the left side is easier to get the hang of than you think! We highly recommend renting a Jeep on St. John!
  • 🚇 Safari – locally owned and operated open-air trucks. The cost is usually a few dollars.
  • 📲 RideShare – rideshares like Uber and Lyft do not exist in the US Virgin Islands
  • ⛴️ Ferry Service – hop aboard a ferry to Lovango Cay, St. Thomas, or Tortola

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 😊 “Good Day!” – It’s customary to greet a Virgin Islander with an emphatic “good morning!”, “good afternoon!”, or “good day!”. Anything else is considered rude.
  • 🚗 Keep Left – Don’t forget, we drive on the left side! It’s easier to get used to than you’d think, but I must say, it’s a bit intimidating when you first try it.
  • ⛰️ Be Adventurous – Relaxing on the beach is great, but the true beauty of St. John lives in hard-to-reach places. Difficult hikes, epic views, distant islands, and hidden coral reefs await those willing to find them.
  • 🐴 Look out for Donkeys! – Goats, white-tailed deer, and plenty of chickens too! All of them were released here centuries ago and still roam free today.
  • 💍 Duty-free Shopping – St. John and the USVI’s enjoy tax-free shopping. Be on the lookout for a Hook Bracelet, a popular Caribbean piece of jewelry

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🥾 Hiking Shoes – St. John has some of the best hiking trails in all of the Caribbean.
  • 🤿 Snorkel Gear – You’ll see some cool underwater life off of almost every beach on St. John including sea turtles!
  • 🏖️ Packable Beach Blanket – Most hikes culminate their descent on a pristine beach. A packable beach blanket will serve you well when you get there!
  • 🧴 Mineral Sunscreen – Non-mineral sunscreen is banned in the USVI because of its harmful properties to the coral reef
  • 🚰 Reusable Water Bottle – Once plastic bottles are used on our islands, they never really leave. Plus, you’ll save loads on purchasing water!

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 3,881 (St. John), 87,146 (USVI)
  • Time Zone – Atlantic Standard Time (UTC -4)
  • Area Codes – 340
  • Airports – Cyril E. King Airport – St. Thomas (STT)
  • Nickname – Love City
  • Demonym – St. Johnian (St. John), Virgin Islander (USVI)
  • StateUnited States Virgin Islands (USVI)
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $500+/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $200+/night
  • Rental Car – $100/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$5 – $10 on Safari ($30 to airport from Cruz Bay after ferry ticket and taxi ride)
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $40 – $50
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $120+
  • Draft Beer – $7 – $10

FAQs About Visiting St. John

Is St. John safe for tourists?

St. John is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean for tourists and much safer than most large American cities. As with anywhere, take precautions against petty crime while out on the town or relaxing on the beach.

Is St. John worth visiting?

St. John is the most beautiful and natural US Virgin Island and well worth visiting. If you’re making a trip to the Caribbean or nearby Puerto Rico, we highly recommend making your way to St. John to explore the Virgin Islands National Park and other parts of the pristine island.

When is the best month to visit St. John?

Once the hurricanes have cleared, the heat and humidity decrease, and the sun consistently shines, the months of December through March are the best months to visit St. John. Temperatures are moderate, the rainfall is minimal, the sun is gleaming, and the ocean conditions are favorable.

Do you need a car on St. John?

I recommend renting a car either on St. John or on St. Thomas before you take the barge to St. John. Although you can get around to most major attractions via a Safari or Taxi Cab, it can get costly. Not to mention, a car will give you complete freedom to visit the most remote hiking trails and beaches the island has to offer.

Do you need a passport to visit St. John?

US citizens, including Puerto Rico, do not need a valid US passport to visit St. John. St. John is a part of the United States Virgin Islands – a territory of the United States. As a territory, flights to St. Thomas (your entry point to St. John) are considered domestic travel in the US and not international travel outside of the country. See our full guide to who needs a passport for the USVI.

Meet Our St. John Travel Expert

Andrew Bloem

Andrew Bloem is an adventure travel writer from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A pirate at heart, Andrew’s travels usually don’t stray too far from a palm tree and an ocean view. When he’s not writing guides for Travel Lemming, you can find him typing away at the local tiki bar for his site OceanWide Explorers.

👉 Read Andrew’s Articles

📰 St. John Travel Guides

Since you’re here, you might as well explore everything else the US Virgin Islands have to offer! Check out all of our articles about St. John!

🗺️ St. John Map