The author with his wife snorkeling in St. John

Where to Stay in St. John, USVI (Best Places & Areas in 2022)

Nestled in the eastern corner of the US Virgin Islands is the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the Caribbean: St. John. It’s a beautiful place to visit, but finding where to stay in St. John is a difficult challenge. After all, more than two-thirds of this island is protected as a US National Park!

But honestly, that’s a good problem to have. No high rises, no large hotels, and no beachfront resorts destroying the natural landscape. 

And trust me, as someone who lives in nearby St. Thomas, there are some pretty awesome places to stay on St. John. You just need to know where to look!

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Best Places to Stay in St. John, USVI

Colorful sky above the Cruz Bay Harbor during sunset
Sunset over Cruz Bay Harbor, St. John, USVI

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in St. John, US Virgin Islands? Here are my top picks: 

Let’s take a closer look at the top places to stay on St. John in the US Virgin Islands!

3 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in St. John

St. John is the smallest of the US Virgin Islands after St. Croix and St. Thomas. St. John features two quaint beach towns, Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, nestled on opposing ends of the island. Between the two, 60% of the island is protected by Virgin Islands National Park with beautiful beaches, secluded bays, tropical forests, and scenic hiking trails.

Cruz Bay

View from the beachfront of Cruz Bay in St. John
Beachfront with bars and restaurants in Cruz Bay

👉 Best Area for Activity & Nightlife | ✨ Best Cruz Bay Hotels: Estate LindholmThe Westin St. JohnGallows Point Resort

Cruz Bay is the largest town and economic hub of St. John. It features the best luxury hotels, top restaurants, liveliest beach bars, the National Park visitor center, and a ferry terminal with access to Red Hook and Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas.

Serving as your gateway into Virgin Islands National Park, the majority of the island’s boat tours, group taxis, and Jeep rentals are stationed in the town center. Visit top places in the US Virgin Islands like Trunk Bay’s snorkel trail, Maho Bay’s beachfront, and the fascinating history of Annaberg Sugar Plantation.

After a day of hiking, snorkeling, and relaxing on the secluded beaches of the park, wander back into town for shopping at the duty-free jewelry stores in Mongoose Junction before heading to happy hour at one of the many rum huts. After sunset, order the fresh catch of the day at one of the bustling restaurants before ending your night with some live music at The Beach Bar.

Pros of Staying in Cruz Bay:

  • The best bars and restaurants on St. John island are within walking distance.
  • Taxis are easy to catch as they depart for the top things to do on St. John.
  • Most boat charters depart the bays surrounding the town.
  • Honeymoon Beach and Caneel Bay, a stunning beach along the North Shore, are within hiking distance.

Cons of Staying in Cruz Bay:

  • The village is one of the liveliest places in the US Virgin Islands – not ideal for those looking for a reclusive beach vacation.
  • The best beaches in St. John are a drive or taxi ride away.
  • Parking within the town is nearly impossible.

📚 Cruz Bay Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Activity & Nightlife
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsEstate LindholmGallows Point ResortWestin St. John Resort
  • 🏠 Vacation RentalsBrowse Top Rentals in Cruz Bay
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Longboard ($$), Greengo’s Caribbean Cantina ($$), Lime Inn ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Beach Bar, Rum Hut, Quiet Mon Pub
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Ferry to St. Thomas in Cruz Bay Harbor, North Shore Beaches (Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay Beach, Maho Beach), Great Cruz Bay, Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center

Coral Bay and the East End

The blue water from Hansen Bay Beach and the clear blue sky over it
Hansen Bay Beach on the East End near Coral Bay

👉 Best Area for a Quiet Getaway | ✨ Best Coral Bay Villas: Concordia Eco-ResortEco HauteBlue Wrasse

For decades, the residents of Coral Bay have effectively resisted the predations of modern development – fending off corporate plans for high-end hotels, resorts, and marinas. And good for them. Because that’s why this place has maintained its charm.

Aside from a few restaurants and beach bars, there’s not much else to Coral Bay. And that’s how visitors and residents prefer it. No hotels. No resorts. Just private villas with ocean views overlooking the bobbing homes of a weathered sailing community.

However, everything you might want to see and do is within driving distance. Head to Cruz Bay for a night out on the town. Or take the short drive into the National Park to visit Trunk Bay, Maho Beach, or Annaberg Sugar Plantation. Other nearby beaches include the secluded Salt Pond Beach, Hansen Bay, and Haulover Bay.

Pros of Staying in Coral Bay:

  • Quiet and secluded St. John villas pepper the hillsides with picturesque ocean views.
  • Stunning beaches within driving or hiking distance like Salt Pond Beach, Hansen Bay, Drunk Bay, and Lameshur Bay.
  • Iconic rum huts with sea views and authentic Caribbean vibes.

Cons of Staying in Coral Bay:

  • Nearby beaches lack amenities like rental snorkel gear and beach chairs.
  • Bars and restaurants close early and almost nothing is open on Sundays.

📚 Coral Bay Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for a Quiet Getaway
Google Map

Central and Virgin Islands National Park

Overlooking view of Trunk Bat from Central St. John
Trunk Bay overlook in Central St. John

👉 Best Area for Adventure | ✨ Best Central St. John Private Villas: Estate Peter BayFish BayCinnamon Bay Campground

Between the two main towns is “Central St. John” – a subdistrict almost entirely within the boundaries of Virgin Islands National Park. Essentially, this is everywhere else on the island that’s not within village limits. 

Accommodation is almost exclusively private rentals, including Estate Peter Bay, an upscale neighborhood overlooking the white sand beach of Cinnamon Bay. On the southside, you’ll find Fish Bay – a residential neighborhood with easy access to Centerline Road, Windmill Bar, Catherineberg Estate Ruins, and the Reef Bay Trailhead.

Along the North Shore is the newly reopened Cinnamon Bay Campground – the most affordable accommodation on the island. Stay in an eco-hut or bring your own tent to set up on a raised platform. Either way, you’ll have steps-away access to one of the best beaches in the US Virgin Islands.

Pros of Staying in Central St. John:

  • Luxurious vacation rentals along the North Shore near top beaches, Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay.
  • Accommodation options for modest villas in residential areas on the south side of the island with scenic views of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Quick access to Cruz Bay, Coral Bay, and most trailheads for the best hikes on St. John.
  • Nature lovers will have easy access to most of the best outdoor adventures within the park.

Con of Staying in Central St. John:

  • You’ll need a rental car to get around.
  • Top villas are amongst the priciest in the Caribbean.

📚 Central St. John Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Adventure
Google Map

Tips for Staying in St. John, US Virgin Islands

Book Your Stay Far in Advance

With St. John being so small, your options for places to stay are limited compared to other Caribbean islands. That’s why it’s crucial you book your hotel far in advance! 

👉 Browse St. John accommodation on Booking now

Best Place to Stay for Families

The author's wife and her family in St. John
My wife’s family visiting St. John!

With an outdoor swimming pool, kids club, and private beach, The Westin St. John is probably the best pick for families to stay in St. John. However, after living here, I’ve realized families (particularly with small kids) are better suited to stay in St. Thomas. The infrastructure and things to do on St. Thomas, like Coral World Ocean Park, are conducive to a successful trip for the entire family.

Have Flexible Dates

With limited options of accommodation on St. John, it’s best to have flexible dates. Most of the places to stay are privately owned apartments, small inns, and villas. If you have flexible dates, you’ll increase your chances of being able to book something unforgettable.

St. John Has No All-Inclusive Resorts

Unlike other Caribbean destinations, St. John island does not have any all-inclusive resorts. The closest all-inclusive resort, with the capabilities of visiting St. John, is Bolongo Bay Resort on St. Thomas

Travel During Hurricane Season for Cheaper Prices

If you’re willing to take a roll of the dice to save a few bucks, consider traveling during hurricane season. In the US Virgin Islands, the peak storm season is in September and October. During this time, most of the island is quiet, yet many of the hotels and resorts are still open – starving for people to come

As such, prices on flights and accommodation plummet – saving you a fortune. Obviously, you run the risk of encountering a hurricane. But if the storms stay away, you’re in for a beautiful and affordable time!

Bring Snorkeling Gear

The author with his wife snorkeling in St. John
Snorkeling gear will open up an entire world!

Almost every beach on St. John is worthy of snorkeling. Most beaches have reefs along their edges teeming with colorful fish, vibrant coral, and frequent visits from green sea turtles.

Be sure to pack some snorkeling gear for your trip to the USVI!

FAQs About Where to Stay on St. John, USVI

What part of St. John should I stay in?

The most popular place to stay on St. John island is in the beach town of Cruz Bay. It is the largest economic hub of the island serving as the gateway to the Virgin Islands National Park.

Can you stay in St. John?

There are many places to stay in St. John, US Virgin Islands. Although most of the island is protected by the National Park Service, you’ll still discover a handful of St. John resorts, vacation rentals, and private villas ideal for a tropical vacation on the pristine island.

Is St. John worth visiting?

St. John is worth visiting and should be among your top destinations when visiting the Caribbean. In fact, visiting St. John is an excellent addition to an adventure in nearby Puerto Rico.

Is St. John walkable?

The only section of St. John that is walkable is within Cruz Bay. Otherwise, the narrow mountain roads make for an extremely difficult (and dangerous) time walking around. We highly recommend renting a car to effectively move around the island.

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Have you decided on where you should stay in St. John yet? If not, check out our guide on finding a place to stay in St. Thomas for some more options!

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