T’ingz ta’h know

Map of St JohnYou’re here. Now what?

Here’s our short list of things to know so you can enjoy your time on St John.

A local custom and great way to start every meeting is with a “Good morning”, “Good afternoon” or “Good evening”. Leave out this introduction and you’ll start out on the wrong foot.


The island of St john is just 9 miles long and 3 miles wide [ 28 sq mi ].
Coordinates: 18°20′N 64°44′W
Time zone: GMT-4
Avg temp: Winter [ 77F ], Summer [ 82F ]
Area code: 340
Currency: US Dollar
Driving: Drive on the LEFT
Weather: Weather Information

Drinking Tap Water on St John: Most water on St John and across the Caribbean and Virgin Islands is rainwater collected from the roof and stored in a cistern. Unless your villa has a sophisticated multi-stage water filtration system – the water quality should be suspect. We don’t recommend drinking tap water.

Driving on St John: We drive on the left-hand side.  And roundabouts are clockwise. And use extra caution when crossing the street – look left then right then left again should be reversed on St John ; )

Grocery Shopping: Literally everything is imported to St John. Expect and plan for everyday items to cost more, sometimes considerably more, than they do in the States. The items with some of the highest prices are fresh produce and meats.

Dress Code: St John is a casual island – with the exception of fine-dining restaurants. Most islanders wear light breathable cotton clothing, sun dresses, shorts, tee shirts, polo shirts, shorts and casual pants, sandals, sneakers, hiking shoes. Swimsuits should not be worn into town or while shopping.

Mosquitos on St John

D’em Bugs!: St John is a tropical environment with its share of things that fly and crawl. Mosquitoes and No-see-ums are the most common bugs. Mosquitoes are worst after a strong rain. Wear long lose-fitting clothing – especially if you’re out for the evening and apply insect repellant.

Earth Friendly Bug Spray: Insect repellents using piciridin have been widely available in Europe for years. It’s a synthetic compound that mimics the chemicals found in black pepper. For more info on piciridin from the National Pesticide Information Center . You might also want to try a local product that is effective: Love Me Not , available at Chelsea Drug in Cruz Bay, Friends of the VI National Park at Mongoose Junction. Here’s more info on Love Me Not products.

Do I need a passport to travel to St john / Virgin Islands?USVI passport information
The short answer: NO.
US citizens do not need a passport to travel to St John / St Thomas or St Croix ( USVIs). VI Tourism promotes the “No passport required” slogan. However, you’ll need a passport to travel to and from some of the neighboring islands of the BVIs / British Virgin Islands, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, etc. So travelling with your passport is recommend by this traveler : )

Will my cell phone work on St John ?: Depends on the service provider; but most carriers provide good signal in and around Cruz Bay. Signal on the Coral Bay side and south to Salt Pond and Lameshur is weak to non-existant. Check with your service provider to confirm that they service the Virgin Islands ..and that you won’t incur any roaming charges!

ATT&T – Good coverage on St John but beware of the tower your cell phone “grabs”. The cell tower on Tortola will mean an international call and rates!

SPRINT – Good coverage. Areas in Coral Bay can be spotty. Also what for ROAMING if your connection “grabs” the cell tower on Tortola.

VERIZON – Coverage isn’t as good in Coral Bay as it is in Cruz Bay. Beware of ROAMING fees and the cell tower on Tortola.

T-MOBILE – Limited coverage and spotty service. Beware of ROAMING charges and the cell tower on Tortola!

The greatest weather threat to you and your vacation in the Virgin Islands is probably hurricanes. These rapidly developing and extremely powerful storms produce strong winds, torrential rain and storm swells / flooding. Because the path of a Caribbean hurricane is unpredictable – travelers visiting during hurricane season are advised to take out travel insurance. Weather Information

Hurricane Season
August and September are the months with historically high numbers of hurricanes in the US Virgin Islands. Hurricanes in July and October are much rarer.

Getting to know the island is what it’s all about. Here are a couple of tips to get you started …

A local custom and great way to start every meeting is with a “Good morning”, “Good afternoon” or “Good evening”. Leave out this introduction and you’ll start out on the wrong foot.

Drive on the left!

Relax, you’re on vacation. Island living happens at a different pace. It’s why you came to St John. So remember, nothing happens quickly and that’s how it should be!

Be courteous. The Island is popular …and small. That means we all gotta get along and enjoy ourselves.

Most of the Island is a National Park. Always respect the place, St John’s hiking trails, St John’s coral reefs and sea life.

Don’t be that tourist that ruins your trip on the first day with a wicked sunburn. When packing for the beach include high SPF sun tan lotion, hat, beverages and moderate your time in the sun.

Snorkeling is one of the most enjoyable things to do on St John. But, even a confident swimmer can be distracted. Make sure you stay within your physical limitations. Be aware of your surroundings. Never snorkel alone. Watch for strong currents, waves, boats, jet skis, changing weather and the distance you’ve traveled.

Virgin Islands National Park
covers about 2/3 of the island – respect the natural resources you’ve come to enjoy so that others can do the same!


T’ingz To Avoid!
Christmas Bush – same, same as poison ivy but nastier. Don’t touch – wash off gently with soap and water.
Catch-n-Keep – This member of the Acacia family has very effective hooked thorns!
Manchineal Tree – This tree is rare but definitely a bad bad tree. Do not touch, sit under it or consume the lime-like fruit!
Sea Urchins – These little guys love some of the same places we like to swim. Keep your eyes open and do your best to avoid any contact!
Jellyfish – Most stinging Caribbean jelly fish  can cause minor discomfort, skin irritation and rashes. Be aware when swimming and snorkeling.
Lion Fish – This fish is very attractive but don’t be tempted to touch …the spines are poisonous!
Mosquitos – Dengue Fever is spread by mosquitos and  usually presents with flu-like symptoms. Kids and older adults are at highest risk. Precautions such as wearing clothes that cover the skin when out for the evening and using insect repellent go a long way toward reducing your chances of becoming ill.
Jack Spaniard Wasps – These little guys aren’t particularly aggressive – but they love to build their nests right at head height. Best to see them before they see you!