If you’ve heard about the US Virgin Islands before, chances are you don’t need any convincing to visit them.
Be it a secluded sugar-white beach or a colorful carnival, everyone can find something to enjoy during their stay on the USVI. The real question is, however, which island should you stay on?
Which should you visit first? Or which island is the safest? The answer to all these is St. John, and if you’re here reading this, you’ve probably been contemplating the idea of opting for that one anyway.
But before you start planning your trip to this beauty of an island, let’s see when the best time to visit St. John is. Let us be your guide!
Why You Should Visit St. John in 2023
You don’t tell someone why they should visit St. John. You tell them when they should go, what they should bring, and when they’re supposed to book their trip.
But in case you need some reassurance of additional reasons to plan your USVI adventure, we don’t see why we can’t cover some St. John basics.
First and foremost, what makes St. John such an attractive island is that it offers activities for all ages and preferences. If you want to hit the trails, head to the Reef Bay Trail, housing the Danish ruins, or the Ram Head Trail if you want cliff views of the ocean.
Those keen to snorkel will have a different reef adventure each time they dive in the blue waters, and if you simply want to enjoy the Caribbean sun, read a summer book, and soak in some vitamin D, by all means, do so!
You can’t come to St. John and not visit the Virgin Islands National Park. With more than 7000 acres on the island and 800 species of plants, the Virgin Islands National Park has activities for everyone who visits.
Once there, you can find food at Maho Bay, Trunk Bay, Salt Pond, and Cinnamon Bay. Those who wish to explore the island’s heritage and culture should check out the Annaberg Plantation.
An ancient sugar mill, the plantation provides drawings and ruins older than 100 years. The Catherineberg Ruins are a must-see too!
A rum and sugar factory all the way from the 18th century, the Catherineberg Ruins isn’t just an educational site where people can see how sugar was harvested, but they also present various photo opportunities for family fun.
For a shop-till-you-drop kind of experience, head to some of the local creative boutiques in the Coray Bay area, the high-end jewelry stores, or one of the shopping centers — Wharfside Village or Mongoose Junction.
You’ll also have the chance to visit some of the nearby restaurants along the way to rest and try some authentic and delicious island dishes.
Finally, although having expectations before you visit a place is normal, allow yourself to be surprised because, even if you think you’ve read all there is to read about St. John, you can’t “learn” this island’s magic — you can only experience it first hand.
Overall Best Time to Visit St. John
The best time to visit St. John is anytime from mid-December through mid-April. It’s the most desirable period to go, as the tourist season is in full swing, the weather’s hot, rainfall is at its lowest, and the island’s at its busiest.
In these months, the temperatures fluctuate between an average high of 84.2°F and an average low of 69.8°F. Whatever it is you have planned, the weather will support it!
It’s also the ideal time to go snorkeling, try scuba diving, observe aquatic life, or simply bask in the sun at some of the local beaches. Also, visiting the rest of the US Virgin Islands is a must, regardless of how crowded they can get.
For instance, if you happen to visit during the Christmas period, head to St. Croix to attend St. Croix Christmas Festival in December/January. March is perfect for the St. Thomas International Regatta.
Cheapest Time to Visit St. John
The cheapest time to visit St. John is in September. This is when you stand a chance to score some attractive airfare deals and accommodation offers.
With children back to school, the island’s much more peaceful and quiet, the beaches emptier, and the overall vibe laid-back.
Being the first fall month, September welcomes visitors with hot temperatures varying between an average high of 87.8°F and an average low of 75.2°F. The month is ideal for getting immersed in the fall Caribbean sunsets and taking that perfect Instagram-worthy shot.
Least Busy Time to Visit St. John
The least busy time to visit St. John is in the mid-April–mid-December period. The island is even more beautiful without the large tourist crowds.
And during this time, visitors are more than likely to have a pleasant stay and even interact with locals in a much more meaningful way if they visit in any of these months.
In these months, the temperatures vary between an average high of 87.8°F and an average low of 71.6°F.
Do note that if you visit in the island’s low season, chances are some of the attractions may close earlier (or altogether), so you may have to make some adjustments on the spot.
Worst Time to Visit St. John
The worst time to visit St. John is during the hurricane season, that is, from June to November. Do note that the hurricane season affects all US Virgin Islands — not just St. John — so there’s “no running away” from it.
Heavy showers might make all your plans fly out of the window, and winds lead to rough seas and unusually high waves, which makes beach-going somewhat challenging.
If nice weather is one of the top criteria for when you travel, avoid visiting St. John in its hurricane season, as it may break your US Virgin Islands experience.
October and November are the two months with the most rainfall, with 6.34’’ of precipitation; July has the most humidity; August is the hottest month.
That said, the overall weather is quite nice, and the brief showers, strong winds, and thunderstorms shouldn’t affect all your itinerary plans as long as you’re willing to be flexible.
For instance, you can plan to visit major attractions between rain periods and plan indoor activities when the weather’s generally off. Also, if the weather allows it, opt for inter-island travel.
Just because all US Virgin Islands have a hurricane season, that doesn’t mean they’re equally affected by the same weather conditions at all times. So, if the weather looks more promising on St. Thomas on a particular day, you’re not “confined” to St. John in any case.
If you decide to broaden your trip and extend it to other islands, we suggest venues such as The Pirates’ Treasure Museum, St. John Experience Gallery, St. Thomas Synagogue, Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, Spa To Go VI, and so on.
If the weather cooperates, you can always attend some fun festivals or events, such as St. John Carnival in June/July, St. John’s Farmers’ Market, or the Friday Morning North Head Trail Runs with Toslow (a year-round event).
Things to Consider
Visiting St. John is a magical experience, but to ensure it’s hassle-free as much as possible, take into account the following pieces of advice:
- Illegal drug possession may lead to heavy fines or even prison sentences.
- If you decide to visit St. John during the hurricane season, keep note of the latest weather updates, follow local advice, and be ready to change your itinerary on short notice (tip: check the National Hurricane Center for up-to-date information).
- Many travelers decide to get travel insurance only if they visit during the hurricane season, but we urge you to do so regardless of when you go — if you were waiting for a sign to get it, this is it!
- Carry an insect repellent, wear loose clothes to minimize mosquito exposure, and use nets if you sleep outdoors or with open windows.
- The sea temperature is pleasant enough year-round.
- Greet locals whenever you can and wherever you go. It’s common practice on the islands — it takes very little of your time, but it means a lot to the locals.
- Tipping is similar to the US culture — 15-20% is standard practice, but tipping even more than this isn’t unheard of, especially for superb service.
- You already know that (re)applying an SPF cream is an absolute must, but what you may not know is that you need a special type of sunscreen. Namely, the US Virgin Islands banned the use of sunscreens with oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate — all to protect their ecosystem.
- Avoid wearing swimming suits outside the beaches, as this reveals you’re a tourist right away. While the islands are perfectly accepting of casual wear, walking around in a bikini, or worse, sitting in a restaurant wearing see-through beach apparel isn’t acceptable and will definitely get you weird looks.
- The islands have no open-container laws whatsoever, which means you’re free to drink whenever and wherever you want. Also, the drinking age doesn’t follow the US law pattern — it’s 18, not 21.
Frequently Asked Questions
What language do they speak on St. John Island?
Several languages are spoken nowadays, not only on St. John Island but the US Virgin Islands in general.
First and foremost, English seems to be the most dominant language, followed by Spanish, as it’s spoken by around 17% of the whole population (although mostly by Puerto Ricans).
Next, there’s the so-called “Virgin Islands Creole English,” which is, in essence, an English-inspired Creole and used in a plethora of neutral contexts. An interesting fact is that the Creole you’ll hear on St John is different from the one spoken on St. Thomas or St. Croix, for instance.
There were many other languages that used to be spoken on the US Virgin Islands, such as Danish (during the Danish rule). However, apart from being used as part of the administration system, it never quite became widely used among the locals.
Do I need a passport for St John, Virgin Islands?
US citizens visiting St. John (or any other US Virgin Island), don’t need a passport, which makes visiting any of the islands a piece of cake. A government-issued ID is enough. That said, other nationalities are required to show their passports to enter the islands.
To learn more about the entrance requirements, make sure to visit the official US State Department website (or the equivalent based on your country of origin).
How expensive is St. John Island?
St. John, along with the rest of the US Virgin Islands, is one of the most expensive Caribbean islands. To help you plan your stay, take a look at the following estimates:
- You should set aside approximately $192 per day during your stay in St. John.
- On average, you’ll need around $56 for meals and $49 for local transportation per day.
- The average hotel price in St. John is $211 for a couple.
- Depending on your travel style, budget-conscious travelers should expect to spend around $84, mid-range spenders $$192, and those with no budget restrictions $367 per day.
Finally, please note that the above-mentioned figures are approximations and are subject to change.
Which is more expensive: St John or St. Thomas?
It’s said that St. John is a smaller island than St. Thomas, which means it has fewer resorts and accommodation options in general. Therefore, it can get much more expensive than St. Thomas.
How do you get around in St. John?
There are several ways to get around St. John. First of all, there’s a bus service running from one end of the island to the other. Note that even if you check the bus schedule, they’re usually not on time, so be ready to wait.
A taxi is an option too, but make sure to settle on the fare with your driver before the ride (keep in mind that taxi prices are standardized by the government).
Many visitors opt for car rentals as well. That said, driving is on the left side, which makes things somewhat challenging for most travelers, so naturally, many visitors discard this option.
Hitchhiking is possible, although it isn’t something many might be comfortable with.
Just make sure to point toward the direction you need to be going instead of using your thumb. Many hotels or accommodations provide bike renting services as well. Given that St. John is a hilly island, biking can be a difficult undertaking.
Which Virgin Island is the safest?
Given its smaller territory compared to the rest of the US Virgin Islands, lowest population number, and low crime rate, St. John is said to be the safest island.
That said, some petty crime does happen from time to time, so showing some common sense and taking basic safety precautions is advisable.
- Stay in resorts with high security;
- Make sure your valuables, travel documents, and other important items are always stored in a safe place;
- Avoid visiting isolated places, especially late at night;
- If you opt for water-based sports, always choose reputable companies and follow instructions;
- Never go alone on hikes or other types of adventure tourism;
- If you use taxis, always pick well-established operators (if possible, arrange taxi services via your accommodation);
- If you’re a woman traveling alone, avoid secluded areas, as sexual assault incidents are rare but possible;
- If you engage in activities taking place in freshwaters such as lakes or streams, avoid getting water into your nose, eyes, or mouth, especially after heavy rainfall or floods. Although the water may appear clean, it could very well be polluted.
How many days should I stay in St. John?
This entirely depends on what you hope to get out of the journey, your budget, and how much time you plan on spending on the other USVI (if at all). In general, we recommend spending at least a week on the island(s).
One week is enough to rest, see some major landmarks, go on a shopping spree, engage in water-based activities, bask in the sun on the white-sand beaches, and explore the island(s) in a laid-back manner.
Don’t forget you need to factor in the overall travel time, which varies depending on how far your country of origin is. Of course, the longer you stay, the better you can experience the island(s).
Can you easily travel between the Virgin Islands?
Yes, absolutely — moving from one island to another is a walk in the park. The three possible ways to do so are by flying, choosing a boat charter, or opting for a ferry.
That said, it all depends on which island you’re trying to get to, as well as the one you’re traveling from. For instance, if you’re staying in St. John but wish to visit St. Thomas, using a ferry boat would be the most convenient option.
So, When Is the Best Time to Visit St. John?
While organizing a trip to St. John is nothing short of magic, it does come with many details, so let’s quickly recap the most important information.
- The most desirable time to visit St. John is anytime from mid-December through mid-April. It’s when having fun in the sun is in your favor, recreational activities are at full steam, there’s an influx of tourists at the island, and while the prices may skyrocket and beaches are crowded, it’s well worth it.
- If you’re trying to stick to a budget, plan to visit in September. It’s arguably the month when you can find some attractive accommodation packages and affordable plane tickets.
- Trying to avoid large crowds is possible in the low season, in the mid-April–mid-December period. This period is ideal for travelers who wish to enjoy St. John in solitude, mingle with locals, and take advantage of the fewer beach crowds.
- The worst time to find yourself on St. John Island is during the island(s) hurricane season, which runs each year from June to November. Weather-wise, this period may be somewhat frustrating for those who factor in seasonality when planning their trips. However, St. John is so special that even the greatest of storms won’t manage to ruin your stay.
So pack your sunscreen, put a smile on that face, and get ready for the best Caribbean relaxation you’ll ever experience in your life. What are you waiting for? Book your stay on St John Island today!