View of a ferry sailing in USVI from St Thomas to St John

How to Go from St. Thomas to St. John (in 2023)

One of the coolest parts of staying in St. Thomas is its close proximity to St. John. Many visitors go from St. Thomas to St. John for an entire day exploring new beaches, sugar mill ruins, and hiking trails in Virgin Islands National Park. 

And if you want to keep things simple, it’s even doable to head over to Cruz Bay strictly for happy hour and dinner. 

Here’s a quick practical guide to how to get from St. Thomas to St. John: 

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4 Ways to Get From St. Thomas to St. John (& Back)

If you’re staying on St. Thomas, you’ll have four different methods of transit to visit Cruz Bay, St. John, and Virgin Islands National Park. These include two ferry routes, a car barge, or a private boat tour. 

Which is right for you depends on where you’re staying, what activities you do in St. John, how many people you’re visiting with, and how long you plan on staying on the island.

Red Hook to Cruz Bay via Ferry

🚍 Best for: Saving time and money for individuals, couples, or small groups for an easy and quick trip.
💵 Cost: $
👉 Ferry Schedules and Where to Book: VI Now

View of a blue VITran Ferry on USVI

Often referred to as “The People Ferry”, this is the cheapest, easiest, most popular, and shortest route from St. Thomas to Cruz Bay. Every hour, one of the ferries departs Red Hook, St. Thomas, and the other Cruz Bay, St. John, crossing each other along the way. It’s efficient, comfortable, and fun – the ride alone is worth the cost of the ticket.

Pros of Cruz Bay Ferry: 

  • Largest ferry schedule with hourly departures from both the Cruz Bay Ferry Dock and Red Hook Ferry Terminal.
  • The cheapest option to visit Cruz Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands National Park, and beyond.
  • Ferry services run daily beginning early in the morning until 11:00 PM.

Cons of Cruz Bay Ferry: 

  • Your movement on the island will be dependent on taxis and Safari buses or confined to Cruz Bay.
  • Can become costly for large groups.
  • Includes a carry-on bag but checked luggage requires costly bag tickets. 

Red Hook to Cruz Bay via Car Barge

🚍 Best for: Complete freedom to explore St. John and its distant points of interest
💵 Cost: $$$
👉 Barge Schedule and Where to Book: VI Now

View of a red car barge parked on the water of USVI

For ultimate freedom to explore St. John, consider taking the car barge. Departing Red Hook on the East End of St. Thomas are three different car barges. This is important because if you buy a round-trip ticket (which is the cheapest option), you must return to St. Thomas with that specific company. This restricts you to a very specific schedule, but if you plan accordingly, it’s beyond doable.

Pros of the Car Barge: 

  • Permits freedom to explore all the things to see in St. John and reach places you wouldn’t be able to access if taking the passenger ferry.
  • Not dependent on costly taxis and buses, thus reducing costs for larger groups or families.

Cons of the Car Barge: 

  • A round-trip ticket strictly binds you to that company’s barge.
  • Car barges have extremely limited capacity, thus stranding cars at day’s end.
  • The last barge departs St. John around 7 PM – a much earlier ending than the ferry.

St. Thomas to St. John by Private Boat Tour

🚍 Best for: An epic boat day.
💵 Cost: $$$$
👉 Where to Book: Search for Boat Tours Visiting St. John from St. Thomas

A private boat used by the author in Hurricane Hole
We took this private charter into Hurricane Hole in Coral Bay, St. John.

Taking a private boat tour to St. John shouldn’t be viewed as an alternative to visiting via ferry or barge. Rather, you should take a private boat tour AND ferry or barge. The experiences you’ll have are vastly different, yet equally as amazing. You’ll view the island from a different perspective as you visit quiet coves, secluded bays, amazing coral reefs, and even a floating taco stand only accessible by boat.

See my lists of the best St. Thomas boat tours and St. John boat tours for more tips.

Pros of a Boat Charter: 

  • Visit popular spots only accessible by boats like Waterlemon Cay and Hurricane Hole.
  • Chance to visit Lime Out VI, a floating taco stand featured in our guide to the top things to do in the USA.

Cons of a Boat Charter: 

  • Most expensive way to visit St. John.
  • Won’t have access to the hiking trails, bars, and restaurants on the island.

Charlotte Amalie Ferry to Cruz Bay

🚍 Best for: Cruise passengers and those staying in Downtown Charlotte Amalie.
💵 Cost: $$
👉 Ferry Schedule and Where to Book: VI Now

View of the Charlotte Amalie Ferry

The ferries departing Downtown Charlotte Amalie or Cruz Bay Marina are other options for those staying in town, stepping off a cruise ship, or without access to ground transportation. The ride is a bit more expensive but saves time from commuting to the East End of St. Thomas.

Pros of the Charlotte Amalie Ferry: 

  • Conveniently located along Charlotte Amalie’s Waterfront near hotels, guesthouses, and bus stops.
  • Cruise passengers have the option of departing from nearby Crown Bay Marina – a mere steps away from your cruise ship.

Cons of the Charlotte Amalie Ferry: 

  • The longer ferry route runs infrequently. 
  • More expensive than the Red Hook ferry.

4 Tips For Getting Between St. Thomas and St. John

Don’t Wait for the Last Ferry Back to St. Thomas

The LAST ferry or car barge of the day should be your last resort. It’s not uncommon for the ferry or car barge to fill up, thus STRANDING you on St. John for the night. So plan ahead and catch the second to last departing vessel, at the very least. 

But the good news is, if that were to happen, there are lots of good and cheap places to stay in St. John.

Start Your Day Early at Virgin Islands National Park

The author's wife on a hiking trail in St. John
With no tree cover, the best hiking trails on St. John are best enjoyed early.

If you plan on doing any hiking on St. John, you’re going to want to get an early start to avoid the sweltering heat. The two most popular trails, Ram Head and Reef Bay, are best accessed via your own personal vehicle at an early morning hour. I highly recommend taking one of the barges departing Red Hook in the 6 AM hour.

After your hike, be sure to cool off at one of the many gorgeous beaches on St. John before heading back to St. Thomas!

Arrive at the Ferry or Car Barge Early

Space is limited, particularly on the car barges. Arriving early, at least a half-hour, ensures you’ll have access to a spot on the car barge or seats on the ferry. It’s rare the people ferry fills up, but it’s possible (it’s happened to my wife, actually).

Pay for Your Tickets When You Arrive in St. John

View of a ferry terminal in US Virgin Islands
You can easily purchase tickets at the counter at the ferry terminal.

The ferries and barges will try to sell you tickets ahead of time. But honestly, there’s no need for it – particularly for the car barge. It doesn’t reserve your spot and it doesn’t save you money, only reduces your flexibility.

👉 Read Next: How to Go from St. Thomas to St. Croix

FAQs on Getting to St. John from St. Thomas

How long is the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John?

The ferry leaving from Red Hook on St. Thomas to St. John takes approximately 10 – 15 minutes.

How much does it cost to take the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John?

The ferry from Red Hook on St. Thomas to St. John costs between $12 and $17 for a round trip depending on if you’re a resident or non-resident. Children aged 1 – 11 years old are $2 for a round trip.

Is it easy to get from St. Thomas to St. John?

It is easy to get from St. Thomas to St. John with many options leaving Red Hook, Charlotte Amalie, and Crown Bay Marina on St. Thomas before arriving in Cruz Bay at the St. John Ferry Dock.

How do you get from St. Thomas to St. John, USVI?

You can get from St. Thomas to St. John in the US Virgin Islands with relative ease by taking one of the many passenger ferries, car barges, or even renting a private boat.

⛴️ Read Next: How to Go from St. Thomas to Tortola, BVI

Map of How to Get Between St. Thomas and St. John


Let us know what questions you might have about getting to St. John from St. Thomas. In the meantime, consider these other amazing places to visit in the US Virgin Islands during your trip!

I hope I’ve helped you figure out how to get from St. Thomas to St. John!

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