Vacation Planning Guide

Uncategorized / March 17, 2019

map of St John US Virgin IslandsSt John Vacation Planning Guide 2019

St John, US Virgin Islands is one of the hottest destinations in the Caribbean. Famous National Park beaches like Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay Beach and Maho Bay are perennial favorites on many TOP BEACHES lists. And each day visitors post inumerable images and videos to Facebook, Instagram and Youtube – of themselves surrounded by stunning white sand beaches, aqua waters, coconut palms or holding island drinks! All of which has inspired you to research St John island for your next couples getaway, anniversary, honeymoon, destination wedding or family vacation!

To take the guess work out of it, we’ve created a comprehensive St John vacation planning guide. It’s our collection of information, first-hand experience and resources to help you plan a visit to the Virgin Islands!

Is St John right for me?

St John is a very popular destination – but it may not fit everyone’s travel style or interests. Here are some things to consider before booking your visit.

  • St John does not have an airport. Guests usually fly into Cyril E. King Airport [ STT ] on St Thomas before taking a taxi to one of the ferry docks for a short ride to Cruz Bay. Airlines serving STT
  • Unlike much of the Caribbean, St John isn’t a resort lined island bustling with hotels, shops, buses, taxis, souvenirs, gifts and duty-free shops! You won’t find the 3-tee-shirts for $20 dollar stores.
  • Nearly 2/3rds of the island is National Park!
  • There are no all inclusive resorts!
  • Weekly rates for accommodations can be significantly higher than other destinations.
  • You’ll very rarely see ( or hear ) a jet ski.
  • And the pace of each day tends to be a bit slower and more relaxed than other destinations.

All of this laid back island living does come at a price. Trip planners may need to decide if St John is a good fit for their budget ( Not to worry we’ll point you to affordable accommodations, ways to save, and best times to visit). A place to stay is the most expensive part of the equation. Vacation and resort rentals average $375/nt for 1 bedroom; but can go ashigh as $3,825/nt and higher for a lavish villa rental. Rental cars/Jeeps™ average $75/day. Food in general is expensive. Common, inexpensive items like crackers and strawberries can be insanely priced in local markets!

St John on a Budget

Ways to Save. There are certainly ways to reduce the overall cost of visiting the island. Deciding to vacation when airfare and lodging are at their lowest rates; and taking advantage of things like happy hours, cooking at home and activities that won’t break-the-bank can shave off a surprising number of dollars! Here are some of our favorite ways to save …

VRBO charges a service fee capped at $599. AirBnB charges 0%-20%

First and foremost, consider that from mid April to mid December is generally considered Low Season. That means the same great beaches and weather; but you’ll shave an average of 30% off on your vacation rental. This saves most people between $800 < > $1,000 vs High Season rates.

St John villa rental beachfront

Avoid book on the big online travel sites. While it may be convenient to browse hundreds of vacation rentals on one of the big travel sites – it comes at a cost. VRBO charges a service fee capped at $499. AirBnB charges 0%-20% of your rental charges – which can equal hundreds and hundreds of dollars! Two strategies we recommend:

  1. If you find the name of the villa on VRBO/HomeAway/AirBnB or in a travel forum – do a Google search for “villa name St John”. The top search results should point you to the owner or manager – where you can book direct and avoid the service fees.
  2. Browse the exclusively St John Book Direct vacation rental site: . They have over 250+ listings, all with “live” calendars, rates, photos, villa map and exclusive discounts .. and the best part … you can connect directly with the owner or manager to avoid the service fees!

Look for vacation rental discounts. Many of the most popular places rent a year or more in advance for the best dates ( winter, Holidays, etc). But that same villa may offer a discount or promotion during the slower Low Season months. With promos/discounts averaging 15% – you can save an additional $300 < > $450 off the cost of an avg. 1 week stay. Click for current St John vacation rental discounts.

Air fare. Check the rates for your dates on sites like KAYAK and Google Flights. Here are the US airlines that fly into St Thomas, US Virgin Islands: American Airlines – Direct flights from New York, Boston, Miami, and San Juan, Puerto Rico , Delta Airlines – Direct flights from Atlanta, Georgia and New York, New York , JetBlue – Direct flights from Boston and San Juan, Puerto Rico , Spirit Airlines – Direct flights from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida , United Airlines – Direct flights from Chicago, Dulles and Newark .

Rental Cars / Jeep™: In general, there aren’t many ways to save on a rental car. You either decide to rent … or not …(we recommend you do …)! Most of the St John agencies fall with $75-$90/day. Some travel sites will recommend using lower rate agencies on St Thomas – but be warned – you’ll have to pay for the round trip on one of St John’s car ferries. And if anything happens … you’ll be on your own to get a flat tire fixed or get the vehicle back to St Thomas. One place you can save – is the daily insurance rate most agencies charge. Check your own car insurance to see if you are covered while driving in the US Virgin Islands ( a US Territory). And some credit cards offer additional coverage. Waiving the optional insurance can save you $10/per driver/per day!

Food / Dining Out. In general, food and dining is expensive on St John. Inexpensive items like crackers, certain fruits, meats along with specialty items and brand names can be very expensive in St john markets. Shop smart by shopping in local markets. Buy off brand products. Wait until you’re home to eat strawberries! To save on dining out – check out the Cruz Bay Happy Hours! Most restaurants and bars run specials the first few hours of early evening. Check out some of the affordably priced options and splurge as budget allows. places like Ronnie’s Pizza in Cruz Bay and Caribbean Oasis in Coral Bay serve great budget-friendly food!

Activities: You can save lots of money by enjoying the free activities St John is famous for! Beaches: Only Trunk and Hansen Bay Beach charge visitors. The rest are yours to enjoy free of charge! Hiking: There are dozens of beautiful hiking trails in the US Virgin Islands National Park. Most of the trails will treat you to an invigorating few hours of adventure and discovery that, depending on the trail, may include stunning views, plantation-era ruins, ancient petroglyphs, and secluded beaches! Snorkeling: St John is known for it’s wonderful shallow water snorkeling. Most of the reefs are accessible right from the beaches! Best deal on St John: Honeymoon Beach All Day Pass – You won’t need to splurge to enjoy a day at Honeymoon Beach with access to kayak, paddle board, snorkel gear, chair, float and locker. At just $49/pp it’s easily the best water sports rental on the island!

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Best Happy Hours

Our TOP 5 Happy Hours on St John! After a day of sun and fun your thoughts will turn to food and drink. St John is blessed...

March 17, 2019