How to Find a Vacation Rental on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Why Visit St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands?
Don’t judge all the Virgin Islands by cruise-ship infested St. Thomas!
With about 2 million cruise ship passengers stopping by St. Thomas each year, the most well-known of the U.S. Virgin Islands teems with day-trippers jamming the roads, the beaches, and the restaurants. Hordes shop for jewelry, handbags, and other duty-free consumer goods in mini-malls that cater to tourist taste. St. Thomas offers golf, gaming and nightlife. If you are looking for a laid-back respite on a pristine Caribbean beach, why would you want to go to there? The answer: to get to neighboring St. John, a jewel in the Caribbean!
More than half of St. John has been designated national park. With no airports and just a few ports, St. John is harder to get to . . . but that’s why it’s less spoiled. St. John boasts beautiful beaches and superior snorkeling without the tacky trappings of its bigger, more popular sister.
So book a flight to St Thomas, then get on the ferry and head over to St. John.
Finding lodging on St. John requires a bit of time and effort. The 20-square-mile island has only a couple resorts. Most visitors choose to stay in a private villa, cottage or condo on St. John. Many rentals are not on the beach, but in the hills with a gorgeous view of turquoise Caribbean waters.
Most of the vacation homes and condos on St. John USVI are managed by professional property managers who live on the island. You can find the listings on a number of website that specialize in St John vacation rentals. Before you peruse the listings, you need to consider several factors.
When Should I Visit St John, USVI?
High Season in Virgin Islands vs. Low Season in the Virgin Islands
Except for hurricane season, weather on the Virgin Islands is sunny almost all year around. June, July and August tend to be the hottest months with temperatures in the mid 80s, and December through February are cooler with high 70 degree temps. Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to November with the highest number of storms in August and September. If you book during this time, inquire about what the hurricane policy is.
When researching rentals, take note of HIGH season and LOW season. High season generally occurs during months that are cold in the eastern part of the U.S., about January to April. Holiday break times are also considered high season. Low season are the hotter months. Rates drop by as much as half in low season at some rentals. For a budget vacation, try to book during the low season.
How Far in Advance Should I Book a St John Vacation Rental?
Repeat visitors often book their favorite St John condo or villa months in advance, especially during high season. When you start looking at St. John rentals online, you will find availability calendars. Put in your desired dates and you can see if the place you want is booked. If you wait too long before doing your research, you will find the calendar for that cute cottage with the jacuzzi and perfect view booked solid. The more affordable St. John rentals seem to go fast. When you find a place you like, email or call the property manager to confirm the price and availability. The reservation is not confirmed until you send in your deposit.
St. John, Virgin Islands
What is the Best Place to Rent in St John?
Get up a map of St John up online when you look at rental listings. You will see that two popular places for rentals in St John are Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Rentals on Cruz Bay in St John offer a small town with everything you might want (such as restaurants, markets, and internet cafes). Rentals on Coral Bay in St John offer a bit more privacy and quiet. Be sure to read up on a location before you commit to renting. Ask about road noise if you rent in Cruz Bay. Ask about whether there is a paved driveway if you rent in Coral Bay. We recently rented in Fish Bay and loved it. Close enough to restaurants and shops to be convenient, but peaceful and beautiful.
Will I Need to Rent a Car on St. John?
Unless you stay at one of the few resorts, enjoying St John requires travel to get to a beach. Some visitors rent a jeep, others use a taxi. If you are not going to rent a vehicle, make sure you reserve a rental that has easy taxi access. Although St John is only 20 square miles, it can take 45 minutes to get across the island because you must navigate across a mountain road. Some vacation rentals in St. John require a 4-wheel drive Jeep. Be advised that although the cars are American with the drivers side on the left, you drive on the opposite side of the road than Americans. If you are uneasy about driving, take that into consideration before you reserve lodging.
What is Included in a St. John Vacation Rental?
When looking at rentals compare what they offer, such as
pool or jacuzzi
driveway access (paved or not)
beach gear such as towels or snorkel equipment
size of bathroom
air conditioning (it can get hot)
screens (see info on mosquitoes)
Things to Buy Before You Go
Be safe. Do not leave keys and wallet on the beach while you swim. Use a waterproof dry bag.
Will I Need Air Conditioning on St. John?
St. John can get hot. To avoid an uncomfortable stay, look for places that have AC at least in the bedroom, especially if you are staying during the summer. Certain areas get more of a breeze, others that are higher up in the mountain are always a bit cooler and may not need AC.
Are There Mosquitoes on St John?
As a Caribbean island, St John can sometimes be bothered by mosquitoes. You can lessen the chances of mosquitoes by booking at certain times of the year, looking for a rental higher up in the mountain, and looking for a place that has screens. Ask the property manager of any possible rentals up front about mosquito questions.
Best Mosquito Repellants on Amazon
What is the Water Supply on St. John?
St. John gets its water through a rain collection system. Getting a rental with a filtered water system means you can just re-bottle water (buying bottled water on St. John is expensive). Also ask about water pressure. Some rentals have good pressure, others don’t.
Will I Need Phone or Internet on St. John?
You are on vacation to get away from it all, but you may want the option of being able to stay in touch or look up information. Some rentals include a phone for local calls. Some offer wifi access. The local towns will have internet cafes if your rental does not, but they are not always open or convenient. Be advised that if you use your cell phone from the US, you may be charged international roaming rates, which can be quite high. Call your carrier before you leave.
How to Find Listing for Rentals on St. John USVI
If you do an internet search using the right keywords, you will stumble upon several property managers who specialize in St. John vacation rentals. Use keywords such as: “St. John vacation rentals,” “St. John cottage,” “St. John villas,” “St John vacation house,” “Cruz Bay rentals,” Coro Bay rentals” and “U.S. Virgin Islands rentals.” One site to check is VRBO.com. VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals by Owners. You can find urls in travel books on the Amazon link below as well. Be advised that many rental houses may be listed on more than one rental site. Some sites have better pictures than others. If you find a house you like, do a search using the house’s name (most owners give their rental house a name). You may find more info, better photos and reviews on that particular rental.
How to Find Reviews on St. John Lodging
Many rental listings show guest comments, but these can be edited so that only positive comments show up. TripAdvisor.com is a good place to find real reviews on St. John rental listings. You can also Google the name of a particular vacation rental and the word “review" and see what else comes up. You can also check various online travel forums that specialize in travel in the Caribbean. Remember to share your review when your stay is over to help others.
How Much is a St. John Vacation Rental?
St. John may be more remote, but that does not mean it is less expensive. In fact, because it is less developed, it attracts affluent travelers willing to pay for its natural beauty. High rates have earned this beautiful island the distinction of being the “Beverly Hills of the Caribbean.” You can find vacation villas for astounding prices that only the rich and famous can afford. Although you will be hard pressed to find a real bargain rental, you will find houses that rent for a more reasonable rate if you look early.
Soak Up Caribbean Sun on St. John
I hope you find this advice on finding a vacation rental in St. John helpful! Please feel free to share tips that you feel may help others. Enjoy your vacation.
What are Best Travel Books for St. John?
You can find tons of information on St. John on the Internet. But an up-to-date travel book is handy because you can take it with you. I found the Fodor's Book the most helpful. Other good books are listed in my Amazon link below. Many of the books come in a Kindle version.
Best St. John Travel Books
If you want to scoop on where to hike and the best beaches, this is the book to get.
Recent Photos of St John, USVI
- Caribbean: St John, USVI - a set on Flickr
Photos I took on a recent trip to St. John
How to Avoid the Cruise Crowds on Trunk Bay
- My Hub on How to Avoid Crowds at Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI
You can enjoy peaceful beauty on Trunk Bay if you go on a day with no cruise ships scheduled. Here's my tips on visiting one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.