The Vitran BUS
The bus is not intended for arriving guests with any amount of luggage, but once on island the VIRTAN Bus ($1) may be a fun adventure to explore other ends of the island (when the family takes the car), get a break from driving, and explore some one-way hiking by getting dropped as a National Park Trail Head!
We will be outlining some our favorite one-way hikes soon! In the meantime, just ask.
Planning Transportation for your stay on island...
Renting a CAR
It is important to consider your on-island transportation needs at the same time you are booking your villa and purchasing your plane tickets. Especially in peak season, but very often all year, it can be difficult to arrange for a rental vehicle last minute. Reserve your vehicle as soon as you commit to your stay.
Though it is possible to rent a vehicle on St Thomas, we highly recommend reserving your car on St. John. For an explanation of that recommendation and much more information on rental vehicles, look at the Rental Vehicle section of our FAQ’s.
Most villas require a 4-wheel drive.
All vehicles are similar to US cars - driver is operating on the left. However, prepare to drive on the LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD.
Throughout our Travel Planning Section, is a collection of our answers to questions we are frequently asked about travel to and vacation time spent in St John (STJ). Our “answers” are basically our opinions, informed by our experience living here and colored by personal preferences and quiet prejudices. They are never meant to represent the ultimate fact of the matter. We share them in the hope that they will assist our guests, especially the first time traveler to STJ, in making choices that will make their trip and their vacation as smooth and hassle free as possible. If you are a frequent visitor and have figured out your own preferred methods, good on you, you go.
Q: I notice today that I can save $120.00 by flying into St Croix, USVI. How do I get to St John from there?
A: There is no public, or easy, transportation between St Croix (STX) and St John (STJ). You will have to fly from STX to St Thomas (STT) at a round trip cost of about $200.00/ticket and then continue the journey to STJ. Flying into STX, unless you are staying there, will add cost and travel time to your trip to STJ. We recommend against it no matter how cheap the flight.
Q: Why do you recommend renting a vehicle on St John when I can get one right at the airport and save the taxi and ferry costs, even stop to buy discounted groceries at Cost-U-Less?
A: Many people, especially return guests, do rent their vehicle on St Thomas and have no problems doing so. However, to get your vehicle to St John you will need to use the barge system. The last barge of the day to STJ leaves Red Hook at 6:30 p.m. (sometimes 7pm) If you have a late flight or your flight is delayed you may not make that last boat and will have to find accommodations on STT for your first night. Also, though some few STT rental companies will come to STJ to help you in the event of a vehicle breakdown, most expect you, at your expense, to get the vehicle back to STT.
Q: The barge is a first come, first served affair. There are no reservations available. Quite frequently, when one or more barge is down (spring 2016 for example!), wait times at the dock can exceed three hours.
A: If you do rent a vehicle on STT, we recommend purchasing a one-way ticket on the barge, though round trip is less expensive. There is more than one company operating and some companies do not accept return trip tickets purchased from the other companies, forcing you to buy a second ticket or wait on STJ until “your” barge is running. Also note, the barge is used heavily to conduct day-to-day business between STJ and STT -- the system, as is, is not designed to handle the the amount of visitors traveling to STJ and all of their vehicles.
Please help support STJ car rental agencies maintain cars dedicated to STJ.
Q: Do we need to rent a car? Can’t we just rely on the bus and taxis to get around?
A: Many guests who are staying at a larger resort like the Westin or Caneel Bay do not rent vehicles. Most of their needs are met at the resort, so they can just stay put and the taxis are readily and frequently available to them for island touring and trips to the north shore should they want one. If you are renting a villa, especially one with a killer view, you will want to be independent vehicle wise. The bus routes are limited and the schedule undependable. Many of the roads up the mountains to the villas are inaccessible by taxi.
Q: Is it true that there is only one gas station on St John?
A: Actually there are two now, but they are in the same corner of the island in Cruz Bay, about a quarter mile apart. If you are staying on the North Shore, East End or in Coral Bay and points south, it is a good idea to take a lead from the locals and top off your tank whenever you are in Cruz Bay.
Q: If my flight arrives in St Thomas at 1:18, what time / ferry should I take and what time should I book the car rental in St John? And on the return, if my flight departs St Thomas at 3:00pm, what ferry should I take and what time should I return the car in St. John?
Disclaimer: Things change here often. We will try to keep this document current but items like schedules and rates and hours of operation should always be checked for current status.