First Time Visiting St. John? Tips and Pointers for First-Time Travelers

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 trip. However, if it’s your first time coming 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. We look forward to having you stay with us here at Island Abodes!

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!

 

Lime Out – St. John’s New Floating Taco Bar is a Winner

There’s a new floating taco bar, Lime Out VI, on the Coral Bay side of St. John and it’s not to be missed. The Island Abodes team loves the delicious tacos and amazing craft cocktails in the beautiful setting of Round Bay on the East End. We highly recommend that you check it out during your next St. John vacation.

First let’s talk about the food offerings. It’s all tacos! But these aren’t any ordinary tacos…they are downright scrumptious. From Ceviche to Tuna to Surf and Turf (shrimp and short rib) and even a Vegan Taco, we’ve devoured them all. They are made-to-order with fresh ingredients wrapped in a soft tortilla. They are pretty big and we feel like you get a lot for $7-10 each.

You can’t eat tacos without a cold beverage, right? For libations Lime Out offers awesome craft cocktails, St. John Brewers beer on tap, and even bottles of bubbly if you really want to celebrate.

But the best thing about Lime Out is the location. You can either arrive by power boat, or swim/raft/kayak/paddleboard from Hanson Bay. If you’re going from shore there’s a swim up bar where you can comfortably hang out while enjoying the food, drinks and views.

Lime Out was started by the owners of the Lime Inn restaurant in Cruz Bay, which is one of our favorites. So they know good food. They are also a multi generational St. John family and have gone to great lengths to make Lime Out an environmentally responsible operation. Power comes from solar, they have only reusable cups, no straws, and they are very strict about collecting trash to make sure none ends up in the pristine surrounding waters.

How to get there? If you’re on a charter boat, just tell your captain it’s taco time! If driving, take Centerline Road to Coral Bay and turn left at the ball field. Go past Skinny Legs and keep on driving. Just past Haulover Bay is Hanson Bay where you can park. There’s a nice beach and other offerings for a small fee. Look out in the water and you can’t miss Lime Out!

Map Of Lime Out In St John USVI

Introducing Salty Daze Charters USVI

Salty Daze Charters USVI- Veteran owned and St. John’s newest Charter boat experience!

 

Offering Full and Half Day customizable cruising charters around the USVI and BVI.

Salty Daze USVI is a family run, Veteran owned business with 30 years of roots on St. John. Kate (our booking concierge) first came to the islands in 1993, while her uncle managed Cinnamon Bay campgrounds. Her whole family fell in love, bought their residence and they have been around here ever since. Justin (Captain extraordinaire) had his first taste of the islands during one of Kate’s family reunions, on the East End of St. John. After a cruise around the BVI and a couple jumps off the Willy T, Justin proposed to Kate and the rest is history. Justin served honorably in the US Navy for 8 years, while Kate represented our country in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Kate, Justin, their two daughters, Magnolia and Azalea, along with their English Bulldog, Hawser, reside in Coral Bay.

Justin and Kate have a beautiful and robust 31’ Mako Cuddy cabin boat, decked out to get 6 people to their destination of choice quickly and comfortably. They’ve got brand new E-Sea Rider bean bag chairs that you won’t want to leave, brand new upholstery done in 2018, a thumpin stereo system, top of the line snorkel gear, a cooler full of ice and bottled water, a convenient dry cabin to store your goods, tons of cooler space to store beverages and food, plus you get a free @saltydazeusvi cocktail cup or a koozie for your beer. Plus, for a limited time, they are partnering with Irie Pops by providing a cooler of pops for your day on the water!

Check out daily happenings on there Instagram and Facebook

Bookings can be made in real-time on there website, saltydazeusvi.com or by calling (340) 690-SALT. They always offer discounts to active service members, Veterans and Olympians/National Team Members and of course Island Abodes guests. Please inquire about other deals.

8 Tuff Miles

The last Saturday in February might be the busiest time on St John! Why? Because every year, more than 1,000 runners come to the island to participate in 8 Tuff Miles. They race from the Virgin Islands National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay to the Coral Bay ballpark. The Island Abodes team has run (well really walked) this race several times and it is always a blast! Organizations have water stations throughout the 8 miles. Volunteers dress up, play fun music, and some water stations have shots and beer for you to enjoy!

The challenge in this race is the hilly terrain. The event begins with an uphill climb from Cruz Bay, there are flat portions and hills in the middle, followed by a long, downhill finish to Coral Bay. The heat is also a factor that makes the eight miles along St. John’s Centerline Road so tough.

Participants have three hours to complete the course, and the time passes quickly, even for the slowest walkers.

History of the race from the 8 Tuff Website:

Upon returning to St. John in September 1996, I was trying to quit smoking, and I decided to punish myself by running and hopefully then realize that my body and lungs were beaten up because of all the chemicals in the cigarettes. On a December Sunday morning close to the end of the year, I woke up, put on my running shoes and started running towards Coral Bay from the downtown Cruz Bay area. Carrying a single bottle of water, and not at all sure how much time this would take, I now knew I’d be quitting smoking in the very near future. I reached the corner in Coral Bay known as the T intersection in about 1:20:00 and was both surprised and pleased.

Soon after that, I attended a meeting of the St. John Action Committee. They were looking for ways to entice St. Thomas folks to come over and spend the day on St. John on the last Saturday of each month with fairs and music and other ideas. My suggestion was to have a footrace, and the course would be from one end of the island to the other. Most of the people at the meeting seriously thought I was crazy to suggest the idea, but there were people there that saw the idea had potential. With a handful of new friends, the date for the first race would be the last Saturday of February. The last Saturday of January was coming up too quickly, and that is why we waited, planned accordingly and had the first race on the last Saturday of February, “February 22, 1997.”

The Future Business Leaders of America from Sprauve School volunteered to staff the 12 water stations along the way. Timing would be done by a couple of friends who were on the island that winter. We had 25 t-shirts printed, and 21 entries signed up that morning. Quite a few from St. Thomas, I might add. The plan was working! There was a Virgin Islands Policemen on a motorcycle leading the first place runner. Most of the entries ran, and there were some walkers. First place was 1:01:10. It was Charles Morton from St. Thomas, and now, the chase was on for future races. Brenda and Mark Wallace were smart enough to film the early morning gathering, the start, some of the middle and a good portion of the finish line. It’s always fun to go back and watch this piece of film with three people standing on the ball field in Coral Bay cheering on the runners as they finish what would soon become the largest attended road race in all of the Virgin Islands.

Book your place to stay now for the 2020 race! www.islandabodes.com