St. John is, and always will be, my favorite place in the world. As you can see from this post, there is a definitely a reason why. The beaches are the best in my opinion, the people are friendly, and the food is amazing. If you’re planning on heading to St. John anytime soon, I’ve included some great recommendations for activities and places to stay. There are not many dining options in this guide because I have already written a comprehensive foodie guide to St. John, which you can read here.
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How to Get to St. John
St. John does not have an airport and the only way to access the island is via ferry. The easiest way to get to St. John is to fly into St. Thomas – the neighboring island about 3 miles to the east – and take the ferry over. There are two departure points for the ferry – Crown Bay and Red Hook. The Charlotte-Amelie ferry is still closed from the hurricanes in 2017. The Crown Bay ferry only departs St. Thomas once per day, at 3:30pm – so this route probably won’t work more most people. The Red Hook ferry operates hourly beginning at 5:30am and ending at midnight (to St. John and 11:00pm if you’re coming from St. John). You can check out the ferry schedule here. To get to Red Hook you will need to take a taxi from the airport. It’s about a 40 minute drive – depending on traffic – and costs $15.00 per person (or $11.00 per person if you have two or more people in your party). Once you arrive at the ferry dock you will need to purchase a ferry ticket which is $8.15 per way for non-residents.
Where to Stay
The majority of St. John (two-thirds in fact) is designated as a national park, so you won’t find a bunch of resorts and chain hotels, which I find rather charming and adds to the island’s vibe. I definitely have a favorite hotel, you can read more about it below, but there are some other really great options for just about everyone. Not all hotels are beachfront, in fact, most of them aren’t. But that’s OK because you don’t really need to be beachfront in St. John to have amazing views or a great time.
Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel – We always stay at Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel. The owners (Denise and David) are so kind and I love supporting locally owned businesses – not just in St. John, but anywhere that we travel. It’s also located right in the middle of Cruz Bay so you’re just a few minutes walk from restaurants, taxis, and shopping.
St. John Inn – This brightly colored hotel is located just up the hill in Cruz Bay and within walking distance to anything you could possibly need. The hotel offers 14 uniquely decorated rooms, including some with a kitchenette. All rooms include free WiFi and the hotel offers free parking and complimentary breakfast.
The Westin – Recently reopened after the hurricanes in 2017, The Westin is a great choice if you’re traveling with your family or any large group of people. Or maybe you’re just a resort kind-of-gal (or guy) and that’s totally OK, too. The Westin is located a little outside of Cruz Bay (about 5 miles), but there are shuttles that can bring you to town or you can rent a vehicle.
Estate Lindholm – Located right outside Cruz Bay on N. Shore Road, Estate Lindholm has 15 individually decorated guestrooms that all come with kitchenettes and furnished private balconies.
Airbnb – Surprisingly, there are some Airbnb options in St. John. Most of them are condos located in Cruz Bay, but there are some homes located on the East End of the island and some scattered amongst the center of the island. Definitely worth checking out, but be mindful that if you are staying anywhere other than Cruz Bay, you will need to rent a vehicle.
Where to Eat
The food scene in St. John is pretty incredible. To be such a small island, there are so many different types of restaurants and you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t enjoy as many of them as possible. Like I said above, I did a pretty extensive food guide to St. John, so I have only included a few options here.
Extra Virgin Bistro – A little on the expensive side, but Extra Virgin Bistro definitely has some amazing food. Think Mediterranean meets Italian meets Caribbean. They source their fish from local fisherman and even include the name of the fisherman printed on their menu. They also grow a lot of their own herbs on-site.
Miss Lucy’s – If you’re staying out in the Coral Bay area, definitely check out Miss Lucy’s for some authentic Caribbean fare. Even if you’re not staying in Coral Bay, check it out anyways.
What to Do
Enjoy the Beaches – St. John has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life, so enjoy them! My personal favorites are Salomon Bay, Cinnamon Bay (the donkeys that roam the area – swoon), and Maho Bay. Maho Bay is known for it’s sea turtle sightings and we saw several the day we were there.
Snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay – Make your way to Waterlemon Cay for some pretty amazing snorkeling. My husband loves to snorkel and says the snorkeling at Waterlemon is the best he’s ever experienced.
Rent a Boat – We rented a Boston Whaler from OceanRunner and it was hands down one of the best days we had on the island. We were able to visit a bunch of different beaches and go at our own pace for the day. This can be kind of expensive – it was $295.00 for the day, but it’s a 7 hour rental and the boat can hold 4 people – so if you’re with a group of people and can split the cost, it’s definitely more affordable.
Volunteer at the Animal Shelter – I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at the animal shelter while we were in St. John. Most people opt to walk the shelter dogs, but my husband and I wanted to help with the cats. We spent the morning cleaning out their food and water bowls, cleaning out their litter boxes, and sweeping and mopping the floors. I love animals (and I really love cats) so I am so glad we were able to do this. If you can’t volunteer, send an email to the shelter and ask them about any items they may need that you can bring with you. We bought several boxes of dog treats and dropped them off the morning we volunteered.
What are some of your favorite things to do in St. John? Leave me a comment so I can check it out the next time I am on the island!