Our Favorite Hike On Jost Van Dyke

A Hike With Drinks, Views, and Shopping.

One of the questions we get asked often is about our favorite St. John hikes. With 2/3 of St. John lying inside the Virgin Islands National Park, there are miles and miles of amazing trails offering spectacular views. And many of them end at a world-class beach. So there are tons of fantastic options when it comes to hiking on St. John.

But today we want to tell you about a favorite hike on the neighboring island of Jost Van Dyke. Jost is in the British Virgin Islands, lying just across the Sir Francis Drake Channel from St. John’s north shore. If you think St. John is an idyllic island paradise, which of course it is, Jost is a place where even those living on St. John can get away from it all.

visual view of the hiking trail on jost van dyke
part of the hike trail on jost van dyke

Getting to Jost Van Dyke from St. John is pretty easy. The most economical option for a day trip to Jost is to take the Inter Island Boat Services ferry, which leaves from the Creek on St. John Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8am, returning at 4pm. The round trip cost per adult is $130, including all the taxes and fees to clear customs. Things change, so best to check their website for current schedule and cost.

Jost Van Dyke Hiking Guide:

Ok, now for the hike details. When you reach Jost, walk along the road to the right through the settlement at Great Harbor. It’s a super cool little place — you’ll see an old church and a few bars, restaurants and shops. The last establishment on the strip is the world famous Foxy’s. After Foxy’s you just hike on the road along the south side of the island for approximately 2.5 miles and then turn sharply left. The pavement soon ends as you hike the dirt and gravel road over the spine of JVD. You probably won’t see any people for a while, just goats and maybe horses. Some of the views are out of this world, especially back towards St. John.

When you reach a point above Great Harbor, there’s a short cut that will take you back down in case you’ve had enough by then (shown in yellow on the map). But you really want to continue on to Soggy Dollar Bar. At the end, just walk toward the water and you’ll find paradise, complete with ice cold beer and a hammock on the beach! After lunch and a few beers or painkillers, we usually opt for the taxi back to the ferry dock.

This is an incredible hike, but the difficulty level is hard, so it’s only recommended for the very fit and adventurous. Be prepared with sunscreen, hat, food and bring lots of water. A word of caution, there’s almost no shade on the hike and the sun can be quite intense.

a view of the islands from a dirk hike trail on jost
a view from one of the hike trails on jost van dyke

So if you’re looking for a new challenge on your next St. John vacation, consider this awesome Jost Van Dyke hike from the ferry dock to Soggy Dollar. It’s a St. John day trip you won’t forget.

St. John Beach Guide

For its size, no island in the world has more world-class beaches than St. John. There are a few exquisite stretches of sand on the South Shore and East End, but most are found on St. John’s famed North shore, where each scalloped bay is more picturesque than the next.

Here — exclusively for guests and friends of Island Abodes — is our short guide to St. John beaches. This is just our personal take, but it’s based on many, many (did we say many?) hours at each and every one of these spectacular beaches. We’re sure you have your own favorites and insights. Send us your thoughts and we’ll include in the next update.

palm tree on st john beach
palm tree on the beach in st john

NORTH SHORE

Salomon Bay

This is the closest beach to town, accessible via an easy 15 minute hike starting right behind the Virgin Island National Park offices. Learn more here.

Honeymoon Beach

Honeymoon can be reached by trail from Salomon or down the same trail adjacent to the VINP sign on Northshore Road. Learn more here. 

Caneel Bay Beach 

Although Caneel Bay is home to several amazing beaches, they are pretty much inaccessible after the 2017 hurricanes destroyed the resort. Learn more here.

Hawksnest Beach

Hawksnest is a dreamy beach and  is the first one from town with parking right along the shore. Learn more here.

Gibney or Oppenheimer Beach

A couple hundred yards up Northshore Road from Hawksnest, at the end of the white picket fence, are metal gates that spell “Oppenheimer” across the top and lead down to the beach. Learn more here.

Denis Bay

Just past the Oppenheimer gates you’ll pass Easter Rock on your left and then reach the parking area for Peace Hill. Park there, walk about 20 yards and then veer right down a smaller unmarked trail. Learn more here.

Jumbie Beach

Jumbie often gets overlooked on the way to iconic Trunk Bay. Learn more here.

Trunk Bay

Unless you stopped at Jumbie, your first glimpse of Trunk Bay will be from the overlook. Stopping for photos is not optional. There’s a $5 per person admission fee. Learn more here. 

Peter Bay

Located just past Trunk, beyond the Northshore Road switchbacks, is the entrance to the exclusive Peter Bay subdivision. Learn more here. 

Cinnamon Bay (and Little Cinnamon)

Cinnamon Bay used to be known for its campground and cottages that led out to the longest stretch of sand on St. John. Learn more here. 

Maho Bay

For many residents and visitors, Maho is a beach lover’s heaven. This is the most protected bay on the North shore, with the calmest waters that gently lap at the shore. Learn more here.

Francis Bay

Northshore Road jogs inland at the far end of Maho Bay. Keep bearing left for a couple of miles and you’ll reach Francis Bay. It’s a little harder to get to than some others, which means fewer people. Learn more here.

Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay

Head toward the Annaberg Ruins, park where you can, and start hiking along the shoreline. You can stop anywhere to swim or snorkel or chill, but keep going for 20-30 minutes and you’ll find some nice sand and an easy swim out to Waterlemon Cay. Learn more here.

EAST END

Haulover South

Take Centerline Road to Coral Bay, then veer left at the ball field, pass Skinny Legs, and keep on driving for 3 more miles. Easy parking on the road. The sand and pebble beach is right there. Pretty good snorkeling on either side of the bay. The water is typically very calm. This is a sweet spot if you want to get away from everyone else, and you can hike to another beach (North Haulover) without getting back in the Jeep.

Haulover North

Look for the narrow trail across the road from the beach. After maybe 300 feet it opens up to an incredible view of the Sir Francis Drake Channel across to Tortola. The shoreline is rocky and craggily usually with just a trace of sand her and there. The main draw is awesome snorkeling, especially to the left as you’re facing the water. Water shoes are highly recommended. Use caution getting in and out, and avoid completely when seas are rough.

Hansen Bay

Less than a mile down the road from Haulover you’ll find this delightful spot with soft white sand. Learn more here. 

SOUTH SHORE

Salt Pond

This very special spot is the most popular beach on the South shore. To get here, take Centerline Road to Coral Bay, go right at the ball field, than drive 4 miles to just past the entrance to Concordia (now closed). Where the road turns sharply right is the parking area. It’s a 10-15 minute easy/moderate walk down to the beach. Learn more here.

Lameshur Bay

This off-the-beaten-path gem is located 1.5 miles past the Salt Pond parking area. The last stretch is unpaved so the short distance will take 15 minutes. There are actually 2 bays. You reach Great Lameshur first — a long, rocky, crescent beach where access isn’t super easy. Next door is the real charmer, Little Lameshur, with some of the best snorkeling on St. John. The beach offers soft, white sand and the bay is very protected and usually very calm (except when weather is coming out of the South). There are great trails around and cool ruins to explore.

Reef Bay

This is really 2 distinct places. There’s one Reef Bay beach at the end of the Reef Bay Trail, accessed mid-island from Centerline Road. The trail is awesome, moderate to strenuous heading down, and quite strenuous going back up. At the bottom there are ruins and an isolated coastline with ever changing sand and rocks. Learn more here.

Hart Bay

This is an awesome pebble beach with sand here and there, located down an easy trail right in the Chocolate Hole neighborhood. There’s pretty good snorkeling in spots, with rock formations, coral, and sea life. Learn more here. 

Chocolate Hole Bay

This is the other walkable beach from Down Yonder Villa or the Garden Suite. Same directions like you’re going to Hart Bay, except don’t turn left on Tamarind Road, keep straight on Chocolate East until you reach the Pond Bay development. There are two public parking areas, the first one is paved and the second one isn’t. Learn more here. 

St. John Travel Guide

A Guide to your first time traveling to St. John

You’ve booked your St. John rental suite and you’re counting down the days – you’re on your way to come see us here at Island Abodes and you’re undoubtedly excited about your travel to St. John. However, if it’s your first time traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, then you probably have a few questions about what to expect during your stay with us here. Many people understandably are a little bit uncertain about what the lifestyle and culture is like, which is why we’ve assembled this handy guide for first timers to St. John.

You Won’t Need Your Passport (But You Will Want It!)

If you’re an American citizen, you don’t need your passport to come visit St. John. Because it is a U.S. territory, your goverment issued ID such as a driver’s license or state identification card should work just fine. That said, many people like to carry a passport with them for a couple reasons. For starters, it’s one of the best types of identification and will make getting on and off the island a breeze. And secondly, with the British Virgin Islands just a short jaunt away, including Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke and the Baths on Virgin Gorda, you’ll definitely need your passport if you decide to visit them.

The Currency is the Same

There’s no need to worry about changing your money when you visit St. John. Your dollars are still good here! Of course, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you carry enough cash on you while you’re here. ATM surcharges can add up quickly, and cash is always the preferred method of tips and the only way to pay for things like the taxi.

Be Sure to Drive on the Correct Side of the Road

Here on St. John, we drive on the left side of the road. It’s extremely important to remember this to avoid any unwanted fender benders. Your driver’s license is perfectly fine here, though. Always make sure to buckle up when behind the wheel (this goes for all passengers) to avoid a hefty ticket (and for safety!), and hang up your cell phone when you’re driving. While almost anything goes on St. John, talking and driving is against the law.

Speak the Language of the Locals

The official language of St. John is English, so you shouldn’t expect any communication barriers holding you back when you’re staying with us. However, the English you hear may be spoken with a Caribbean lilt. It’s good form to greet others warmly when out and about. Here’s a fun tip: locals don’t say “good evening.” They actually say “good night” when meeting someone after dark! Be sure to always greet with a “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” (after 12noon) or “Good Night” (after the sun has set). If you are unsure, say “Good Day”.

Visiting St. John can be an awesome experience for you and your family, so be sure to arrive with an open mind and a strong sense of adventure. To learn more about what it’s like here, please be sure to check out our FAQs. Or, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for an extended travel guide for St. John built just for you. We look forward to having you stay with us here at Island Abodes!

Getting to St. John in 3 Easy Steps

Think of St. John and you probably conjure up thoughts of swaying palm trees, crystal clear water, exquisite white sand beaches, and leaving behind the crowds and the hustle and bustle. There’s no other place like it – at 19 square miles, 2/3 consisting of the Virgin Islands National Park, perfect year round weather, and more than a dozen of the world’s best beaches – St. John is, to sum it up, an idyllic island paradise. While St. John definitely rewards those with an adventurous spirit, getting here involves just three easy steps.

  1. Fly

The first step to starting your St. John vacation is to fly into St. Thomas, airport code STT. There are nonstop flights to St. Thomas from numerous US cities, including New York, Atlanta, Newark, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, Washington DC, Houston, Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale. Another option is to fly into San Juan (SJU) from the mainland and then take a quick 20-minute hop over to St. Thomas.

  1. Ride

After arriving at the St. Thomas airport, the next step to reaching St. John is getting to one of the two ferries. This leg of the trip requires a taxi ride. It is very simple to find a taxi, after you exit the baggage claim area, walk outside and tell them you want to go either to Crown Bay or Red Hook and the taxi dispatcher will tell you what taxi to get into. If you’re going to Crown Bay Marina it’s just a 5-minute ride for around $8-10 per person plus bags. This ferry is highly recommend and leaves twice a day, once at 3:30pm and again at 5:30pm.

If Red Hook is where you’re headed, it is a 45-minute ride give or take for $20 per person plus bags. The Red Hook ferry leaves on the hour every hour from 7am to 12midnight.

For the most part, taxis are the passenger van variety and shared by 10 or 12 travelers. Another option is to arrange a private taxi in advance. We recommend calling or texting Carol with Smile Taxi at 340-643-5837. This can be a pricey option for one or two people, but if you have a group of four or more, plus luggage, it’s actually pretty cost effective. And it’s a wonderful, personalized experience.

  1. Cruise

The cruise to St. John is hands down the best part of the trip. The ferry leaves Crown Bay daily at 3:30 and 5:30 and arrives at the “Creek” on St. John, where the Virgin Islands National Park office is located. If you can make the 3:30 or 5:30 departure from Crown Bay, it’s a more relaxed option with more personalized service in our opinion. It’s $20 per person plus bags from Crown Bay. The Red Hook ferry is $8.15 per person plus bags (unless you have a VI driver’s license, in which case it’s only $6). It arrives at the main ferry dock in Cruz Bay, St. John.

So that’s it — fly, ride, cruise — ahhh St. John! Let us know if you need any help getting here or finding the best St. John lodging.

7 Tips to Make Your St. John Honeymoon Truly Epic

Many publications, over many years, have named St. John as one of the world’s best honeymoon destinations. The reasons are obvious: perfect weather, uncrowded beaches with exquisite white sand, crystal clear waters, miles of hiking trails in the Virgin Islands National Park, and a laid back Caribbean vibe. It’s the perfect recipe for romance and relaxation. Some time spent planning before you check into your St. John honeymoon suite will really pay off. Here are 7 suggestions to help make the most of your St. John honeymoon.

  1. Make Travel Day Easy

Getting married can be a whirlwind – getting to your idyllic island honeymoon shouldn’t be. With no airport on St. John, you’ll need to fly to neighboring St. Thomas and then ferry over. While there are alternatives like going through San Juan, the best bet is to reach St. Thomas from one of the several mainland gateways including Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston or Dallas. Airport code STT.

Once you arrive on St. Thomas you have a choice between a 5-minute taxi ride to Crown Bay followed by a 30 minute ferry trip, or a longer taxi ride (around 45 minutes depending on traffic and stops) to Red Hook and then 15 minutes on the ferry. The Crown Bay ferry departs at 3:30 and 5:30, and the Red Hook ferry departs every hour on the hour. If it works for your flight schedule, the Crown Bay ferry is a more relaxed experience. If Red Hook works better, spring for a private taxi and arrive quicker and with more personal attention. Whichever ferry you take, there’s a bar where you can sip a cold beverage and stare into your sweetheart’s eyes.

  1. Rent a Jeep

While it’s possible to get around St. John via taxi, we highly recommend renting a Jeep. Having your own wheels will give you the freedom to come and go as you please, explore the island, find your own secret beach, or run up to the market for a bottle of bubbly.

  1. Hire a Private Chef

Hiring a private chef for a special meal at your vacation home is an amazing way to say I love you. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be staying at a St. John vacation rental with an extraordinary view, like Island Abodes’ Penthouse, Honeymoon Suite, Hibiscus Suite, or Papaya Suite; or our Chocolate Hole pool villa. St. John has some exceptional private chefs who can prepare and serve the perfect mouthwatering meal, often with local Virgin Islands fish and produce.

  1. Make a (Flexible) Plan

Having a plan before you arrive will help to maximize your adventure and relaxation time, and help ensure you don’t miss any “must do” activities. But it’s also smart to stay flexible. Maybe you and your betrothed will find the experience of swimming with sea turtles at Maho Bay so moving that it warrants another day? Or maybe you decide to push off this morning’s hike for a few more hours in your plush king size bed with this view. Whatever you decide, you’re on island time and flexibility is key.

  1. Take a Boat Trip

Many Island Abodes guests say that their one “must do” activity is a day on the water. There are some amazing private charter boats that can whisk you over to Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, or to the Caves and Indians at Norman Island, or stay in local St. John waters and visit Pizza Pi or Lime Out for an unforgettable lunch. There are also some awesome group charters that head over to the BVIs daily and offer sunset sails in domestic waters.

  1. Find Your Perfect Beach

There are so many world-class beaches on St. John, it’s really hard to believe. If it’s your first trip, we recommend spending part of a day beach hopping down the north shore. You can start close to town with a nice hike down to Salomon and Honeymoon, then hop back in your Jeep for a drive down to Hawksnest, where you can park just steps from the beach. The next two beaches, Dennis and Jumby, are each down a short trail, but well worth the effort. Then the iconic Trunk Bay (be sure to stop at the overlook for this not-to-be-missed photo op). Continuing down the coast you’ll reach Cinnamon (and Little Cinnamon if you head left when you reach the shore). Then the world-famous Maho Bay, which is the best place anywhere to swim with sea turtles. And finally, Francis Bay is the last beach on the north shore, with amazing views up St. John’s coast and over to St. Thomas in the distance. Remember, since the island is mostly national park, there are no St. John vacation rentals on the beach, so getting to the sand requires a short drive for everyone.

  1. Choose Accommodations Thoughtfully

If there’s ever a time to choose the right accommodations it’s on your honeymoon! Selecting a place with spectacular views, an oh so comfy king size bed, and all kinds of thoughtful touches and amenities, is the only way to go. It should be backed up with tons of stellar reviews from past guests, the kind of place where the owners and staff take your comfort and happiness very personally. You’ll find all this and more at Island Abodes. Whether you book our Honeymoon Suite, or any of our other St. John vacation apartments or villas, you will always find affordable luxury. Let us help make your St. John honeymoon truly epic!