The 20-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas will take you to Cruz Bay, the capital of St. John, which seems a century removed from the life you left behind. Cruz Bay is so small that its streets have no names, but it does have a couple of shopping centers, seaside restaurants and cafes, and a small park.
The local Vitran (tel 340/774-0165) service runs buses between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, along Centerline Road about once an hour, costing $1 for adults and 75[ce] for children.
You’ll have no trouble finding taxis to take you anywhere in St. John. Between midnight and 6am, fares are increased by 50 percent. Taxis meet the ferries as they arrive in Cruz Bay, or you can hail one if you see one. Taxi rates are set by the island’s Taxi Association and fares are widely posted, even in taxis; check out the official fares in the free magazine “This Week” offered in most businesses. Typical fares from Cruz Bay are $8 to Trunk Bay, $9 to Cinnamon Bay, and $18 to Maho Bay. Waiting charges are $1/minimum per minute after the first 5 minutes.
Many taxi drivers operate multi-passenger taxi van shuttles or open-air safari taxis (converted truck beds with open-air seating). Taxi vans are equipped to transport approximately 8 to 12 passengers to multiple destinations on the island, while safaris can often fit up to 25 people. It’s cheaper to hop on a van or safari than ride a taxi on your own if you’re going between your hotel and Cruz Bay, but keep in mind you will be making stops along the way.
If you don’t plan to rent a car, it’s easy to find taxi drivers (who also double as tour guides). We highly recommend taxi driver Kenneth Lewis (tel 340/776-6865), who will meet you at the ferry terminal in St. John for hotel or villa transfer and is also a wonderful sightseeing guide. Expect to pay about $50 for a single-passenger tour or $25 per person for two or more passengers for 2 hours of sightseeing in a shared car. Kenneth’s vehicle can accommodate up to 18 passengers.
By Car or Jeep
One of the best ways to see St. John is by a car, in particular a four-wheel-drive vehicle, which you can rent in town (reserve in advance in winter). The steep roadside panoramas are richly tinted with tones of forest green and turquoise and liberally accented with flashes of silver and gold from the strong Caribbean sun. Remember: Drive on the left and follow posted speed limits, which are generally very low.
There are only two gas stations on St. John, one of which is often closed. The more reliable of the two stations is in the upper regions of Cruz Bay, beside Route 104.
Unless you need to carry luggage, which should probably be locked away in a trunk, you might consider one of the sturdy, open-sided, jeeplike vehicles that offer the best view of the surroundings and are the most fun way to tour St. John. They cost around $76 to $84 a day.
A recommended local car-rental agency on St. John is St. John Car Rental, across from the Catholic church in Cruz Bay (tel 340/776-6103; www.stjohncarrental.com), operating on the island since 1974. They have two- and four-door Jeep Wranglers, Dodge Nitros, Nissan Pathfinders, and Dodge Durangos.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.