Saint John Travel Guide

Sailing off of Saint John's in the USVI at sunset
St. John is one of the U.S. Virgin Islands located just 40 miles east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. The majority of the island is national park, which provides opportunities for lots of trekking and wildlife spotting. The primary draws of the island are the stunning beaches and great resorts, the perfect setting for a relaxing vacation. It is a popular destination for US tourists, but unfortunately, as a result, it’s an expensive place to visit. Most of the tourists tend be couples, families, or people with more disposable income. However, you can use this travel guide to learn all the ways to travel cheap!

Typical Costs

  • Accommodation – St. John doesn’t really do budget hotels and hostels, but campsites are popular and cost around $30 USD per night for a bare site. Guesthouses are another budget option, and prices begin at $50 USD per night. Hotels start around $100 USD per night. Airbnb is a good option here.
  • Food – Lunch and casual meals cost between $15-20 USD. Dinners with wine will cost about $50 USD. There aren’t many budget food options here. Most hotels and resorts do provide free breakfast though, so get your fill for the day.
  • Transportation – Most of St. John’s is easily walkable and makes for a good stroll. Otherwise, taxis are usually around $6 USD around Cruz Bay.
  • Activities – Diving is likely to be the most expensive thing you will do on this island. Expect to pay $90 USD per tank. Entrance to the National Park is $4 USD and $21 USD for a guided tour.

Money Saving Tips

  • Camp – The least expensive way to visit St. John’s is to stay on a campsite. These are well equipped with amenities.
  • Walk – Since the island is so easily walkable, skip getting a taxi and just walk.
  • Have a BBQ – Food on the island is expensive, but there are a few BBQs dotted about the island which offer the chance to cook delicious food for relatively little money.

Top Things to See and Do in St. John

  • Visit the beaches – The beautiful beaches seem endless on the island of St. John, with more than 35 in total. Cruz Bay is a good place to start your tanning, while Solomon’s Beach is famous for nudity. Honeymoon beach is nearby and small, whereas Hawknest Bay has good snorkeling opportunities and is easy to visit. You can rent tents or bungalows in the woods or near Cinnamon Bay.
  • Dive – The island has a lot great dive spots. The warm, crystal-clear water provides great opportunities to see tropical fish and coral. Booking in advance can usually get you a discount.
  • Watersports – There are all kinds of watersports on St. John. You can windsurf, jet-ski, kite-surf, snorkel, sail, or kayak. Really, there’s nothing you can’t do on this touristy island.
  • Catherineberg Ruins – This is site of a sugar and rum factor from the 18th century. Admission is free, and there is not a huge amount to see, but it’s worth a visit if you’re hiking in the area.
  • Hike – The Virgin Islands National Park is probably the island’s most popular attraction and has 20 miles of hiking trails. The Leinster Bay trail will bring you past swamps and coral inlets with markers to help you identify animals and plant life. A very popular hike is the Reef Bay Hike. It is 2.5 miles long and will give you the opportunity to stop at the sugar-mill ruins.
  • Helicopter tours – If you’ve brought plenty of savings with you, you can take an aerial tour of the island as well as some neighboring spots. This is definitely one to get the cameras out for – you will experience stunning views, and some commentary is included by the pilot. Starting price is $99 USD.
  • Rent a boat – Renting a boat lets you visit the island on your own terms. You can bring some snorkeling equipment. Pack lots of food and drink supplies if you plan to make it a long day.
  • Attend a festival – St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July Carnival parade. Most of the events occur in the Cruz Bay area. The annual Blues Festival is held on the island from the 16th to the 20th of March.
  • See the Tap Room – St. John’s flagship brewery, The Tap Room, is located in Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay. Choose from the likes of Tropical Mango Pale Ale and liquid Sunshine Belgian Wheat Ale.
  • Annaberg Plantation – Once an active sugar producing factory, all that is left of this 518 acre plantation is ruins. They are protected by the Virgin Islands National Park, and are open to the public. The windmill is of particular interest and was built between 1810 and 1830.
  • Go to the spa – If you are in the Caribbean, chances are you are on vacation, which means it is time to kick back and relax. Days at the spa are a perfect way to put that plan into full motion. Get a massage and immerse yourself in the serenity of the island lifestyle.
  • Maho Bay – This is a popular beach to visit because there is a cheap campground nearby. Host to over 100 tent-cottages, this area is a highly publicized area for eco-tourism.
  • Explore Hurricane Hole – This bay is protected by the arms of the many mangrove trees that grow in it. It is an amazing place to go snorkeling, because there is a beautiful and wildly colorful nursery of fish, nestled in the water beneath the trees.