Most of us look forward all year to our family beach vacation. Spending real, relaxed time with kids, and maybe extended family too, is one of the great joys of life. Throw in perfect weather, amazing beaches with crystal clear water, pristine natural beauty of a national park, and it’s downright heavenly. The Travel Channel recently named St. John as one of the best vacation destinations for families. Here’s what makes it so special.
St. John is Accessible, But Not Too Accessible
St. John doesn’t have an airport, so visitors fly into Thomas from any one of numerous US cities before reaching their final destination by ferry. In a world consumed with convenience, not every traveler is willing to go that extra mile (actually 3 miles). But for those in the know, the payoff is so worth it. Far from being an inconvenience, most St. John aficionados crave the ferry ride for the spectacular views and the anticipation of what awaits. Learn more here.
St. John is U.S.
In a complicated world, many families find comfort in staying in the U.S. As a U.S. territory, St. John is American soil, protected by Uncle Sam. The language is English, the power is 110v, and the Dollar is the currency, so no exchange-rate hassles or costs. For all that’s familiar on St. John, there’s also a wonderful dose of the exotic. While it’s U.S., it’s the Caribbean first and foremost, with a slower pace of life, where the simple pleasures come into focus.
St. John is Safe
With only 4,000 residents, St. John is like a small town where people know each other and look after one another. That makes it a refuge where crime is exceedingly rare. While it’s still prudent to not invite a problem – for example by leaving valuables in plain view on the seat of your unlocked rental Jeep – the safety rating means that St. John is a place where families can truly relax.
Families vacationing on St. John prefer the term “experiences” over “activities.” You won’t find movie theaters or water parks or bowling alleys. Instead, think snorkeling with sea turtles, learning to paddleboard in Maho Bay, hiking to Honeymoon Beach (and taking a golf cart ride back), taking a boat trip to the BVIs, or just playing with the little ones in the gentle surf of an exquisite white sand beach.
Private villas, apartments, and suites dominate the St. John accommodations market. There are some great small Cruz Bay hotels, but most families opt to rent a home with more room to spread out, a stocked kitchen to prepare meals, and amenities like a washer/dryer to keep things civilized and make packing a breeze. Aside from being more enjoyable in every way, renting a St. John vacation home affords more opportunity to be a part of the community as you live like a local during your trip. It really adds to the entire experience of being a traveler rather than just a tourist.
St. John’s Beaches are World Class
There are lots of reasons St. John is an ideal family destination, but for most people it’s all about the beaches. The sand is perfect and the water in this part of the Caribbean is as clear and calm as it gets. That means you can get up close and personal with coral reefs and all kinds of marine life, including friendly sea turtles, colorful reef fish, stingrays, and more. From Honeymoon, Hawksnest, and Trunk, to Cinnamon, Francis, and Salt Pond, each St. John beach is both unique and spectacular. For families, it’s hard to beat Maho Bay, which is the most protected bay on the North Shore. It’s almost always calm, with perfect sand that slopes gently into the clear water, and sea turtles galore.
St. John Transportation
Getting from the airport to the ferry is easy, (as explained here) you can take the public taxi vans or safari trucks available outside baggage claim. No car seats are required or available for these public transport vehicles. The best way to travel once on St. John is by renting your own private jeep. You can also rent a car seat from Island Baby to be placed in your jeep when you pick it up at the car rental place. Using public transportation while on St. John to explore the island is not recommend as it can be unreliable.