St. John Transportation

Getting to St. John is an adventure that takes several steps and will always end up in a trip across the sea

Photo Credit: © Sharon Johnson
 

St. John, the smallest of the main islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands chain is located just four miles off the coast of St. Thomas, which is where the nearest airport is located. That's right; St. John is only accessible by sea. Once on the island, tourists will have 19.61 square miles of land to explore, and several ways to do so.

Getting There

Because you can only get to St. John by ferry or sailing your own watercraft, it takes a bit of planning and coordination to make sure your travels to the U.S. Virgin Islands line up just right. Most tourists fly or cruise into nearby St. Thomas, then take one of the numerous ferries over to St. John, while a small number will take advantage of the wonderful sailing conditions and charter a private yacht for the journey.

Getting Around

You need a way to get around St. John, and this island certainly has a decent selection of options. Rental cars put you in charge, taxis allow you to relax and let someone else take the wheel, while buses are a back up option if you're feeling optimistic.

Air Travel

St. John does not have an airport with regular service. Instead, travelers wanting to make their way over to St. John will need to rely on Cyril E King Airport over on St. Thomas. Once on St. Thomas, it may be possible to schedule an airplane charter service to take you to St. John. However, most people will instead take a taxi to Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook, where they hop on a ferry to Cruz Bay. Cruz Bay will be most visitor's final destination. If not, you will have no problem finding further transportation to take you all across the island.

If you want to learn more about the multi-step process of getting to St. John, or guides will be able to help. click here to see our St. John Air Travel guide.

We also have a ferry specific guide for St. John which is discussed below. A direct link for that guide can be found here.

Sailing

St. John is often thought of as one big nature park, and that is not an unfair assessment. With dense forests and long coasts with hidden coves, it is an ideal place to look for secluded beaches and places to explore. Sailors will be lucky enough to find some marinas and docking areas scattered throughout the coast; especially around Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Additionally, tourists that fly into the islands should have few problems finding charters and boating trips that will take them to some of the hidden spots – giving everyone the chance to enjoy St. John's natural beauty from land or sea.  Click here to learn all about sailing to this island.

Cruises

Although St. John does not actually have a cruise port, many Eastern Caribbean sailing itineraries include St. John on their list of stops. What typically happens is that the cruise ship will dock on St. Thomas, and transport guests to St. John for a day aboard a smaller vessel which the island can handle. Occasionally, the smaller cruise lines will anchor just off shore and shuttle passengers in. However they arrive, cruise passengers make up a decent percentage of all of the island's tourists. Arriving in Cruz Bay like nearly every other visitor, cruise ship passengers are greeted by taxis ready to take them to whichever attractions they hope to see during their time on the island.

Rental Cars

Because almost everyone who arrives on St. John does so through Cruz Bay, the bulk of the island's rental car agencies are located there. You'll have your pick of several local agencies as well as international chains, and find that prices range from $70 to $150(USD) a day or $400 to $700(USD) a week. Renting a jeep is recommended due to the rugged conditions of most roads outside the city, which you will have to learn to drive on the left side of the road.

Everything you need to know about renting a car on St. John can be learned when you click here.

Taxis

The price of taking a taxi everywhere you go on St. John can add up easily, but it simply makes the most sense for day-trippers who don't want to waste any of their time dealing with the paperwork of renting a vehicle. Drivers on the island are very friendly and knowledgeable not only about the road conditions and traffic laws, but the heritage and history of the island as well. In fact, taxi drivers also serve as tour guides, and you can hire one to take you and your group around the island for $25(USD) per person for two hours if there are two or more riders.

Taxis on St. John have set rates, rather than ticking meters, which you can learn about by clicking here.

Buses

There is a public bus system on St. John that runs from the Cruz Bay Ferry Dock along Centerline Road, through Coral Bay, and finally stops in Salt Pond Bay. The bus originates from Cruz Bay on the hour at 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., and then at 25 minutes after the hours from 8:25 a.m. until 7:25 a.m. Heading in the other direction, but still along the same route, the bus offers pick up in Salt Pond Bay on the hour at 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, and 8:00 a.m., then 10 minutes after the hour from 9:10 a.m. until 8:10 p.m.

You'll pay $1(USD) per person to ride the Vitram Buses, although this is not recommended as your main source of transportation. The buses here are not the most reliable buses you'll encounter, and you could very well end up waiting up to an hour after the posted schedule. If you've got something scheduled that you must get to at a specific time, skip the bus. However, if you're not in a hurry and simply want to get around and see what's out there, this is the perfect, and cheap, option for you.

Ferries

There is really no more convenient way to reach St. John than by ferry. Serving as a hub for much of the rest of the Virgin Islands, St. John has routes that reach St. Thomas, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda. This makes St. John a great staging ground if you are planning to explore the entire Virgin Island chain.

If you do seek to utilize the ferry system on St. John, be sure to click here and learn more about the various routes and companies that you will be dealing with.

Understanding transportation on St. John is pretty simple, making it easy for tourists to choose the appropriate means of travel for them. Sailing to the island is really your only option, be it by boat, cruise ship, or ferry, however, your options for on-island transportation are much more diverse. Take your time to go over all of the options before booking whichever option you ultimately choose to go with.

 

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