St. Thomas vs. St. John

Old Jan 11th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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St. Thomas vs. St. John


Thinking of going to the USVI. I have never being so need some assistance please. What’s the difference between St. Thomas & St. John? If I stay in St. John (looking at the Westin) how far is it to St. Thomas & how complicated, i.e. do we need to be there early, is it like in Hawaii that you have to take a inner island flight or just a short ferry like Puerto Rico. Should I split my time or stay and one and travel to the next. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
Gina
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 12:22 PM
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The ferry takes about 30 minutes. It's really easy to go from St. John to St. Thomas, and a lot of people do that. You can also take a short ferry ride to the BVI (if you have a passport).

Either way, you'll be flying into St. Thomas and then taking the ferry (I believe the Westin has its own private ferry).
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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St. Thomas is the more "urban" island of the two. They are both beautiful, it is just that St. Thomas is much more developed and busy. Most of St. John is national park, but the non-national park part is rapidly developing. The national park part is very beautiful and it has beautiful beaches and good snorkeling if you are a beginner. I will never forget the first time I saw Trunk Bay - it took my breath away!!!!

St. John used to be the sleepy little laid back Caribbean island we all envision when we hear a Jimmy Buffet song, but the last time I was there (2006) there was quite a bit of traffic and congestion in Cruz Bay (main town on St. John). There are still places to escape and encounter quiet on both islands. I think if you are more interested in natural pursuits, St. John would be your best bet. I find St. John to be the more expensive of the two islands.

If you like to shop, especially for jewelery, cosmetics, electronics, etc. You can find it on St. Thomas. There are very nice restuaruants, beaches, etc. Almost any activity you want to do is on St. Thomas.

The great thing about a vacation in the USVI is you can stay on St. Thomas and ferry over to St. John everyday or vice versa. I am a budget traveler and I found less expensive accomodation on St. Thomas. If I needed anything, I could pop to KMART or the local grocery store. I don't remember if there is a car ferry, so if you rent a car on St. John, you may not be able to get it over to St. Thomas. But there is great, cheap public transportation on St. Thomas. The last time I was there, you could get from Red Hook to Charlotte Amalie for 2 dollars - just make sure you take the communal "bus" and not a convential taxi. Conventional taxis are more expensive. The communal bus is very safe if you are traveling solo.

You can decide what your budget is, what is your main interest, what are you looking for in accomodations, how much civilization you like, etc. then decide which island you would like to base yourself. Then you can very, very easily take the ferry to St. Thomas if you base yourself on St. John, or vice versa. You can also very easily go to the BVI - you just need a passport.
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 01:05 PM
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Many people live on one island and commute to the other; it is easy to go back and forth.

You cannot rent a car in St. John and take it onto the ferry into St. Thomas. BUT -- Most, [Hertz being the big exception] in St. Thomas allow you to take the car on the ferry to St. John. Parking in Cruz Bay is difficult, to say the least.

The Westin is not the best beach hotel if that is what you are looking for; would you consider a cottage rental? There are some great rentals from simple to WOW! factor.

What kinds of things are you looking to do while on vacation? Are you going to just want to plop yourself in a lounge chair at the beach or are you going to want to get out and adventure around?
That might help decide.

Are you going alone? That might help too.


Deb
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 01:09 PM
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Doug Stallings: thanks for your quick response. Snorkecat:
thank you for the help you really answered some more questions I had appreciate help from you both. Have a great day
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 05:38 AM
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We always stay on St. John. We rent a home/villa and bring frozen meats & lots of coffee with us. It's easy to pack in a cooler and saves a ton on money. If you want to hike, beach, snorkel or just chill out St. John is the best bet. On the other hand if shopping and nightlife are more important then St. Thomas is best. You can always take the ferry to/from either island.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 06:09 AM
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Hi Deb:
Nice to see you again have read many of your trip reports (Hawaii 2006 was very helpful) and got some great ideas from you there. Actually last night I did some research and found that alot of nice places can be found cheaper than hotels and they don't have a $40.00 resort fee. Since you mention it do you know if the cottages have a cleaning fee, have looked at some on vrbo and vacation rentals but neither mention this. I will be traveling with friends it will be 3 or 4 of us, we like to hike and see the town, not intrested in going out at night and yes, some shopping ONLY if good deals :.
Snorkelcat mentioned St. Thomas has better value for accommodations, which of the two has the better view?

Pulley:
Thanks for the tip did not know this was an option but makes lots of sense.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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We are fortunate to be able to stay with friends who live in Coral Bay but we are staying here our first 2 nights in St John for our trip this March

www.vrbo.com/172750

The owner has been very nice to deal with so far.

Personally, I don't think the Westin is anything special, it's beach isn't the best and personally, I resent paying resort fees.

IF there is a cleaning fee, it should be listed in the ad. Ask to be sure when you contact the owner on a cottage/villa rental.

Let me know if I can help with anything else. This is our second trip, we are far from experts but can always give my 2 cents worth !

Deb

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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 07:11 AM
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Personally, I don't think St Thomas is in the same league as St John. STT is much busier, way more conjested around town. Although STT does in fact have a few nice beaches, I just feel as if STJ beaches blow them away. To me, STJ is still very laid back, and just has an "easy going" kind of feel to it.

Exploring the beaches of STJ in a jeep is incredible. The northshore road brings you to many lookouts that take your breath away. You can always find a beach on STJ with hardly any people on it. I always feel very safe driving anywhere on STJ.

If you are going with 3-4 friends, I'd highly recommend getting a villa. There are tons of 4-5 bedroom villas available, and splitting the cost between 4+ people should allow you to stay in a gorgeous house with amazing views.

Bottom line, I recommend STJ over STT all day....any day.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 07:38 AM
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Hi Gina:

We've been to St. John several times and own a timeshare at the Westin. Of the two island, St. John, in our opinion, is far superior. Much less crowded, many fabulous beaches, great hiking, great restaurants and a bit of good shopping is you're into that.

As far as accommodations - eating out is expensive so having your own kitchen is very helpful. We've stayed in the resort part of the Westin and it was fine but our timeshare allows us to cook in our own kitchen. We've also rented villas which is really great for giving you the feeling of living there. There are small 1-bedroom villas if you are going on your own or larger ones if you're traveling with friends. I highly recommend these folks who we have rented through several times with great success:
http://www.caribbeanvilla.com

There are so many fabulous things to do and see on the island I could type all day - have a great trip!!

Judy
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 08:59 AM
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Gina,

When are you going and how many people do you have? We've stayed in many villas on St. John and would be happy to share our thoughts with you. St. John is the best!!!

Mike
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 09:59 AM
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Again thank you all for your help, I really apprecaite all your input. More than likely it will be 4 of us going. As far as when that's not decided yet, it will probably be end of May or in November, I just need to check on the weather too. I live in Miami and I am assuming their weather is similar to ours. I can't thank you all enough I appreciate your time and knowledge. Gina
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 01:16 PM
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I prefer May over November. Both are low season and no hurricanes in May.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 06:38 PM
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Hi everyone - I'm just jumping in...we are thinking of going to STT for a week in late March with several families - all with teenagers. We are thinking of staying at the Marriott and doing a day trip, or 2, to STJ. Sounds like STJ is best for snorkeling. What else would you recommend for teenagers on either island? Any particular catamaran trips you think are fun? How about good beachy restaurants on either island?
Thank you! Carla
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Old Jan 13th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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CarlaKen: Both islands will have plenty for teens to be interested in if they love watersports. Just as many if not more watersports, tours etc. leave from St. Thomas. St. John's attractions are primarily outdoor beauty and activities such as swimming, snorkeling,hiking, etc. Depending on how old the teenagers are, there may be more for them to do at night on St. Thomas than on St. John. There are no movie theaters and less non-alcohol activities on St. John. At a large resort such as the Marriott, there should be a decent amount of nighttime offerings for teens. As for day trips, there are catamaran trips to the BVI's that are terrific for the entire family. Also, there is New Horizons II which is a motorboat but goes to 4 different BVI's in one day which may be a fun pace for teens.
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 01:21 PM
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Deb & Judy:
Thank you for the websites, I know Deb you will write a report once you get back? have a great time.
Mike am with you we usually do go on vacation in May but one one the girls may be stuck at work, we are crossing our fingers....
I have one more question (for now) if we stay in St. John and want to spend the day in St. Thomas what is the best way for us to get around should I rent a car for the day or do they rent scooters or have those golf carts that you can rent is this even safe?
Thanks again.
Gina
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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No golf carts- it is a regular city. I personally wouldn't do scooters, if such a rental is even possible. LOTS of traffic, driving on the other side, not knowing where you are going etc.

Rent a car, take a taxi after you get off ferry or maybe bus.

DEb
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 04:55 PM
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Thanks you
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Old Jul 24th, 2013, 12:32 PM
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Hi, everybody we are planning this travel too, and have a lot of questions about visa and hotels.

Im traveling with my wife (honeymooners),But we just have 3 days and we don´t know if ST or SJ.

We would like to find a place to stay there very cheap, some kind of hostal, i´m not interested in fancy hotel. Just beach and relax, no hike. There a lot of green in Colombia we don´t want more.


Thanks
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Old Jul 24th, 2013, 03:16 PM
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There are no hostels on either St Thomas or St John. There is a campground (Cinnamon Bay) on St John. The USVI is not a cheap destination.
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