Like most Top Caribbean Vacation Destinations, St John has many unique qualities. Its tropical latitude and its laid back attitude draws tourists to these shores. Her beautiful beaches and the protection of the Virgin Islands National Park help St John to rank among the world’s top Caribbean destinations.
So, before you get on that plane and head down here – we’d like to share a few helpful tips so that you can truly enjoy your time on St John.
St John enjoys an average Winter Temperature of 77F and averages 80 > 84F through the Spring, Summer and Fall. With the exception of Summer, you’ll usually find cooling Tradewinds that increase with the end of each day.
What to pack?
St John is a pretty casual place. Since the main activities are beaches, snorkeling, and watersports – you should pack a couple of bathing suits. Shoes? We suggest flip flops, boat shoes and perhaps a pair of sneakers or light hiking shoes. A couple of pairs of shorts and several tee shirts will get you through a vacation. If you plan to enjoy fine dining – pack something dressy but not formal. Men: kakis, a loose dress shirt and boat shoes will be fine anywhere on island. Women: Sundress or tropical kakis and blouse and you’ll be dressed for just about any restaurant.
There are plenty of places that rent snorkel gear – so unless you have your own equipment or need a prescription mask – you might find it more convenient to rent instead of pack gear.
The sun is hot and many people are traveling during winter months. Be sure to bring sun protection – lotions, hats and coverup.
Bugs, Mosquitos and Illness
Like most tropical locations, St John has its share of insects. Most are harmless unless you stand on, sit on or provoke them! Insects to watch out for are the Jack Spaniard Wasp, centipedes and spiders.
Mosquito-borne illnesses – like Dengue Fever and Chikungunya are on St John. These diseases are spread by mosquito bite. While they are rarely fatal; there is a risk associated with each of these diseases. Here’s a great resource provided by the CDC.
Will my cell phone work?
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have coverage on St John. Each seems to be better in some locations than in others around the island. And you should consult your carrier before travel to make sure you understand that roaming charges may apply and what those rates might be.
We drive on the left side! You read correctly – we drive on the left side of the road. It’s easy to forget until you encounter a bus or safari taxi or rental Jeep coming at you!
Speed limits are low and the island’s winding roads aren’t suited for high speed. But you might encounter someone that didn’t get this memo! So always keep your eyes out for cars that cut a corner, buses and large trucks that require more room and those adorable donkeys that love to stand in the road!
This is the West Indies. The sun is hot and nobody is in a rush to do anything. It’s a part of the tropical culture. And it’s a part of what draws tourists to the island. “Island Time” means sloooooooow. So just remember why you’re here; and don’t get up tight if the line at the gas station isn’t moving very fast.
People enjoy different customs in the Virgin Islands. One of the most important is your greeting. Start any conversation with a “Good morning”, “Good afternoon” or “Good evening”. Ask if they are doing well. Then move on to your “business”, be it a question or request.
It is generally frowned upon to walk around in swimwear unless you’re on the beach.
Crime on St John
Like anywhere else there is unfortunately crime in Paradise. Unlike some Caribbean destinations, St John’s crime is predominantly theft / burglary. With that said, don’t pack expensive jewelry, watches, electronics, large sums of cash, etc. And don’t leave valuables in your rental Jeep / car. There are ATMs on both sides of the island.
Cash or Credit?
Many St John businesses prefer cash. Most take major credit cards. And there are several ATMs located around Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Fees are general in line with Stateside fees.
There has been some credit card fraud on St John. It’s poorly documented – but it exists. To reduce the chances of loss – use a credit card and not your debit card. Check your card activity against purchases when you return home.
Well, that should do it.
You’re now armed with information that should lighten your luggage and help you be prepared for all the fun and sun you can soak up on your visit to St John and the US Virgin Islands.