May 7, 2024

USVI Overview: St. Croix or St. John?

Imagine a place that has amazing diving opportunities, historic landmarks, and beauty as far as the eye can see. Now, stop imagining it, and plan a trip to see all of this and more in the USVI! In the ideal world, you’d be able to visit St Croix, St John, and St Thomas. However, most vacationers simply don’t have that much time. So, which island is best? It all depends on your point of view! We’ll compare St Croix and St John in this article to help you make the best possible choice. 

St. Croix Overview

St Croix is a tropical destination that you’ll never be able to forget. Whether you want to lounge on a beach, play golf on a championship course, or absorb Crucian culture in Frederiksted and Christiansted, you’ll be all set! St Croix also invites you to eat delicious food as you make your way through its 84 square miles. It’s the biggest of the USVI, and it’s also less touristy. 

St. John Overview 

St John epitomizes Caribbean beauty, which ensures you’ll always remember it. As a busier island, it might be a bit trickier to find solitude, but it’s definitely available! One of the things that truly sets St John apart is the emphasis on wildlife and hiking opportunities. St John is home to Virgin Islands National Park, which covers approximately 60% of the island.  

Are St John or St Croix activities right for you? Read on to find out! 

1. Visit Breathtaking Beaches 

St Croix offers 23 beaches for your enjoyment. Meanwhile, St John features 17 different beach opportunities. If your top reason for visiting the USVI is to lay around in the sun and soak in some waves, you might think that St Croix is your best choice. However, just because St John has fewer beaches doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely ideal for beach lovers. After all, St John is the island that’s been photographed again and again. If you’re looking for beauty, we’d choose St John every single time!  

2. Go Turtle Watching 

Are you planning your trip around seeing sea turtles? St Croix has several nesting beaches that will definitely make your dream come true! Of course, as a nesting beach, you’ll be required to give the turtles some space. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see tons of these adorable critters, though. 

St John has one main beach that the sea turtles flock to. Therefore, heading to Maho Bay is an absolute must! You’ll be able to see the turtles in their natural habit, and you may even be able to go snorkeling with them. Other beaches where you may see turtles include Francis Bay, Leinster Bay, and Salt Pond Bay. 

3. Have a Caribbean Wedding 

Both islands host beautiful weddings, but each one has its own unique style. St Croix invites you to say “I do” at an old sugar mill, perhaps after you’ve gotten off a horse. St John, meanwhile, offers breathtaking beach weddings. Alternatively, you can get married at sea on a sailboat. 

4. Pick Up Unique Gifts 

If you’re looking for an unusual Crucian souvenir, the place to visit is Christiansted, St Croix. You can find everything from handmade jewelry to Crucian rum. The first $1,600 worth of items are duty-free too, so you’ll be able to stretch your budget. 

Speaking of duty-free shopping, you can make your budget stretch even further on St John. They don’t impose a dollar limit on duty-free purchases, so you can splurge to your heart’s content. Unique, individualized shops await you. Go to Mongoose Junction to shop at a mall filled with art and fare-trade tropical gifts.  

5. Pick the Perfect Restaurant 

When it’s time to have a fine dining experience, you’ll have several places to choose from. St Croix’s most elegant dining options include Balter, Duggans Reef Restaurant, The Courtyard Restaurant, The Palms at Pelican Grove, and The Terrace. 

Not to be outdone, St John offers places to wine and dine your date. Consider eating at Dave & Jerry’s Island Steakhouse, Extra Virgin Bistro, La Tapa, or The Terrace Restaurant (same name as a St Croix restaurant but a different place). 

6. Enjoy the Nightlife 

Are you looking to let loose? St Croix has 10 bars that are ready to serve you. Your best bet is to go to Christiansted, where you’ll find live music and maybe even a crab race. Good times, good music, and good food abound on St Croix! 

St John has more of a laidback vibe than St Croix, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to go out at night. With eight unique bars and plenty of live music, you’ll still be able to get your groove on. In fact, go to Cruz Bay, and you’ll probably find lots of people hanging out in front of the local bars. 

7. Hike Across the Island 

St Croix’s hiking opportunities combine the island’s natural beauty with the chance to learn more about the area’s history and ecology. Pick a trail and follow it, and it just might take you to the ocean, a sugar plantation ruin, or the top of a ridge. Hiking isn’t the number one reason people go to St Croix, but you’ll definitely find several trails to wander off on. 

As the home of Virgin Islands National Park, we’ve got to give the hiking edge to St John. After all, there are 22 different trails, and each of them provides something unique to see. You’ll also find every level of difficulty, ranging from the easy Lind Point Trail to the challenging Reef Bay Trail. Follow the right trail and you’ll even end up looking at ancient petroglyphs and a stunning waterfall!   

8. Charter a Yacht 

Would you like to leave the island temporarily for some deep-sea yachting? Caribbean Soul Charters and UC Yacht Charters are just two of the options you’ll find waiting for you on St Croix. Board a ship and set out for a long, leisurely cruise. Most yacht charters last between three and seven days, and you’ll see tons of quiet bays and small, laid back towns. 

St John is more into powerboat rentals and charters, which typically stay out for only one day. If this is more your speed, you can book a charter with at least 17 different companies, including Island Roots Charters and One Love Charters. They’ll give you a great taste of sea life, but they’ll also return you to shore more quickly so you can enjoy the rest of your vacation. 

9. Have Fun Diving 

St Croix has diving opportunities for every experience level. You can also fit in a nighttime dive off Frederiksted Pier, see colorful hard and soft corals, and view the magical sea life. Marine life viewing includes seahorses, frogfish, and batfish. Sign up to go out with a dive operator, and they’ll take you to see the best of the best! 

St John features world-class diving. You’ll be able to take in sunken boat wrecks, caves, and much more. You’ll find more than a dozen dive sites close to the island, along with plenty of qualified dive instructors to accompany you on your journey. See marine life such as blue tangs, turtles, bright parrotfish, schools of fry, etc. Even if you’ve never dived before, St John is the perfect place to learn!   

10. Play a Round of Golf or Pickleball 

Is golf your thing? St Croix has got you covered. There are three golf courses here, and each of them is quite different. First off, there’s the championship caliber Carambola Golf Course. If you want to be challenged, you should definitely try a game there. Next is Buccaneer Golf Course, where golfers are allowed to practice their game until sunset. There’s also a fully stocked pro shop. Finally, The Reef Golf Course is a moderately challenging course that also allows for beginners. 

St John might not offer golf, but pickleball fever has taken over the island! Pickleball is a much easier, and much more affordable, sport to get into than golf. The game is played on reconfigured tennis courts in Cruz Bay and doesn’t require the same level of athleticism as tennis. Grab a pickleball paddle and discover why it has become one of America’s fastest growing sports!  

Choosing an Island 

The odds are high that you won’t have enough time to fit in St Croix and St John, especially since they’re located 42.1 nautical miles away from each other. Therefore, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each island to reach your decision. 

St Croix is a much larger island, but it doesn’t attract the same level of tourists. If you really love golf, though, it may be the place to go. St John, on the other hand, is smaller but has all the natural beauty to make it a wise choice. Where else can you spend part of the day in the Virgin Islands National Park and the rest of the day playing pickleball?  

Book the Perfect Vacation Rental 

Choosing an island is difficult enough. Therefore, instead of browsing through tons of hotels, why not book a vacation rental villa? Your villa will allow you to cook your own meals in its fully equipped kitchen! Plus, our villas have uniquely beautiful features that you simply can’t find at a hotel. Book your dream villa today from Vacation VI!

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