Hillside Villa Overlooking Coral Bay on St John, USVI

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Resorts To Villas Where To Stay In St John, USVI

St John is located in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and is one of the best tropical escapes in the world. From the pristine beaches, fantastic snorkeling, great hiking, and an incredible National Park, this is an island you must explore. The island has a remote, undeveloped feel; no airport or highway makes it peaceful and laid back. But that also makes finding where to stay on St. John more difficult. Here, we will explore where to stay: resort, hotel, villa, or campground, and learn so much more about how to plan your vacation to St. John.

What Does St. John Offer A Visitor

St John is the smallest of the 3 US Virgin Islands. Located in the heart of the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands National Park makes up over half of the island. Traveling to St. John is an excellent choice for nature lovers and people who prefer a more laid-back vacation. You won’t find lots of nightlife on this island. You will, however, find amazing beaches and a less developed old-time Caribbean feel. 

The first thing you will find on St. John is some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. Yep, you are still in the US when in St. John, so no passport is needed. If you want other tips on finding the Best Caribbean Islands To Visit Without A Passport, check out my post. Some of the most famous beaches on the island include Trunk Bay, Honeymoon Bay, Cinnamon Bay, and Maho Bay. All are small coves with soft, white sand and crystal-clear water. For more on the best beaches in St John, check out my post, the Top 9 Best Beaches On St John

View of Trunk Bay St John USVI
View of Trunk Bay
Things To Do On St. John

Aside from just relaxing and taking in the island’s beauty, the top activity on St John is snorkeling. You will find incredible coral reefs to explore right from shore. You can also join organized snorkeling adventures via boat. Either way, you will find some of the most vibrant marine life in the Caribbean. The bays around the island are also home to many sea turtles, which you are likely to see while snorkeling. 

In addition to the wide range of activities focused on the water/beaches, St John is home to a national park. Over half of the island is preserved in the Virgin Islands National Park. Driving around the island, you will find yourself winding in and out of the park. The park offers excellent hiking to several historic plantations and ancient petroglyphs and is home to some of the fantastic beaches listed above. 

Getting To St John

The island doesn’t have an airport, so the only way to reach St. John is by boat. Most visitors arrive on St Thomas, just under 7 miles away. The Cyril E. King Airport (STT) has a lot of flights arriving from the mainland US. Once you land, the easiest option is to catch a taxi to the ferry dock. There are two docks on St. Thomas, one close to the airport in Charlotte Amalie and the other in Red Hook. The best option is the ferry from Red Hook; it’s closer to St John and has more regular departures.

As you exit the airport, tell the taxi stand coordinator you want to go to Red Hook, and they will most likely put you in a shuttle with other travelers going to the ferry. Sometimes, you will have to make a stop or two en route, but that should not be a big issue. All ferries arrive in Cruz Bay, the largest town on St John. 

Getting Around St John

Once on the island, you will need a rental car. On St John, rentals are expensive. Most places offer Jeep Wranglers for rent, which are more expensive than cars. A standard car is fine for visiting the most popular beaches; a Jeep is needed to reach the more remote parts of the island. Renting a standard vehicle will save you some money.

Just a heads up, driving in St John is crazy. First, you are on the opposite side of the road from mainland US. But more importantly, the roads are hilly, steep, curvy, and very narrow. And it’s not always the smoothest ride. The island is only 9 miles long and 5 miles wide, but it can take over 30 minutes to travel from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay. Be sure to book your car early; they can book up quickly during the high-season, and the number of car rentals is limited.

Where to Stay On St. John

Being a small and somewhat tricky island to get to, there are no mega-resorts on St John. A plus in my mind, others might not feel the same way. There are four types of accommodations: resorts, small boutique hotels, villas, and camping. Below, you will find highlights for each category. All have their pluses and minuses. I recommend the villa rental; it is a more laid-back, authentic St. John choice. But here is what you will find.

Cinnamon Bay Trail Lookout St John USVI
View of Cinnamon Bay & Maho Bay from the Cinnamon Bay Trail

Resorts

Although you will not find any mega resorts on the island, you will find several luxury hotels and all the amenities one usually expects at a Caribbean resort. 

Gallows Point Resort

As you approach Cruz Bay by ferry, you will see Gallows Point Resort nestled on a 5-acre peninsula. Located about a 5-minute walk from the heart of Cruz Bay, this resort still feels secluded and calm. Made up of 1 and 2-story units, each has a fully equipped kitchen, king bed, and living room with gorgeous ocean views. The onsite pool and restaurant make this a good choice for a stay in the heart of Cruz Bay.

The Westin St John Resort Villas

The Westin is closest to a full-service resort or luxury hotel on St. John. Located just a short distance from Cruz Bay, near Chocolate Hole, this resort offers a large pool and a beach. Villas range from stylish studio rooms to three-bedroom and townhouse options with up to 2,850 square feet, and private pools. The Westin is the island’s largest resort and offers its own ferry from St. Thomas.

Lovango Resort & Beach Club

While technically not on the same island as St John, this resort is located 10 minutes away from Cruz Bay by boat. It is a very tranquil option with several accommodation options ranging from cottages and ocean-view villas to luxury treehouses and glamping. Resort guests receive complimentary ferry service to and from Cruz Bay, with service throughout the day. Staying here requires a little more planning if you want to explore the beaches and sights of St. John, but the accommodations are more unique. Even if you don’t stay at Lovango, you can visit for the day and purchase a pass for the beach club.

Boutique Hotels

Sea Shor Allure

This small resort features eight condominiums that overlook the water. Near Cruz Bay, the hotel offers several amenities, including an onsite pool. This option provides the convenience of the villa rental with the ease of a hotel setting.

Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel

Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel offers 14 guest rooms and one apartment suite in the heart of Cruz Bay. Close to restaurants, bars, and shopping. This hotel is an option where you could forgo the car rental. It is close enough to walk from the ferry and only a short walk to the open-air taxis that will take you to any of the most popular beaches. 

Villa Rental

The most popular accommodation option on St John is a villa rental. You can find villas that fit almost any budget, from single rooms to fabulous hillside mansions. What I like most about this option is you have so many choices. You can also stay outside the Cruz Bay area if you are looking for a quieter, laid-back location. Several St. John exclusive rental agencies, such as Rental Escapes, St John Ultimate Villas, and St John Villa Rentals, deal exclusively with island properties. But the best option is VRBO, which will give you many choices. I recommend the Verandah-style Living Overlooking Coral Bay or the OWNERS’ QUARTERS on the top of the house at AQUA VILLA ST. JOHN both found on VRBO. 

Many villa rentals include a private swimming pool or a hot tub. Most offer panoramic views of the water. And it is the perfect place to spend your time on St John. 

Cinnamon Bay Beach St John USVI
Cinnamon Bay Beach

Camping

Cinnamon Bay Beach & Campground

Cinnamon Bay Beach & Campgroundis in the Virgin Islands National Park. This campground offers you a wide array of options, from Eco-tents, which are fully set up and equipped, including a real bed, to bare sites where you can bring your tent or rent one. You won’t find an option closer to the beach and nature than this. 

How to choose where to stay…

Deciding where to stay can take time and effort. Before booking, here are the questions you need to ask yourself to help you make that decision.

Do I plan on renting a car?

If the answer is no, you must stay in the Cruz Bay area, where you can walk to restaurants and easily access alternate transportation options.

Do I like a more lively environment?

You want to stay in Cruz Bay, with easy access to bars, restaurants, and nightlife. St John is probably not the best choice if nightlife is your main goal.

Do I need a pool, fitness center, concierge, or onsite dining?

Then, one of the three larger hotels will best meet your needs.

Do I want a quiet, tranquil environment?

Then, a villa rental in Coral Bay is the best choice.

Do I want to explore the various beaches?

This can be done from any of the options, but the best choice would be camping since you are right on one of the best beaches in the world. If camping is not your thing, a villa rental would be the next best option. 

Do I want to cook my own meals?

Renting a villa allows you to cook meals, it also often allows you to do laundry. It is better for a longer stay.


When to Go

High season is from mid-December until mid-April on St John. This will be the time with the best weather and the highest cost. Since it is considered shoulder season, late spring (May) and late autumn (November) are perfect choices to visit. The weather is still good, but the tourist crowds have thinned out a bit. June through October are off-season, mainly due to hurricane season and the increased risk of storms. 

What to Pack

Pack light when you go to St John; it is a casual island. There is no need to dress up. The day-to-night temperature change is minimal, so you most likely won’t even feel a chill in the evening. 

St. John is an excellent island for a more relaxing, low-key vacation. If you want luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts, you might be better off staying on St. Thomas or St Croix and day-tripping to St John. From the more lively Great Cruz Bay to the more serene vibe of the Coral Bay end of the island, you will find the perfect accommodation to fit your needs. 

Check out this post if you are looking for some other Best Travel Destinations for Warm Weather Besides Florida.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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