St. John is the smallest of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) – St. Croix, St. Thomas, and the gem, St. John – and is recognized as one of the most beautiful places in the world due to its green hills, breathtaking beaches, and turquoise waters. Located in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, the island is 19.6 square miles. St. John is an unincorporated territory of the United States, uses the US Dollar, and offers restaurants and recreation for its 4,100 residents and millions of annual visitors who come to our beautiful island from all over the world.
About St John – Table of Contents
- Where Is St John?
- Map of St John
- Nearby Islands
- Beaches & Bays
- Video of St John
- Live Cam St John
- Weather on St John
- High Tide & Low Tide
- Time Zone
- Population and Demographics
- Island Attire
- History of St John
- Government & Politics on St John
- Safety on St John
- Hospitals and Healthcare
- Food and Drinks
- Celebrity Homes
- Environmental Information
- Services, Facilities, Utilities
- Join the Conversation Forums
- More Helpful Resources
- FAQs About St John
Nicknamed “Love City,” the laid-back island of St John is home to some of the most pristine, unspoiled beaches anywhere in the world. More than 2,000,000 tourists visit the USVI annually, and guests to our shores call it the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. From the warmth of the trade winds to the friendly smiles of the locals, St. John is welcoming to guests from all over the world.
Every personal interaction whether in person or in writing must start with a greeting. “Good Day”, “Good Afternoon”, etc, should always be offered before you get to the business at hand. Locals will think you are rude if you don’t properly greet them first.
Where Is St John USVI?
St. John is one of several islands in a group known as the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands are located in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. They are divided into the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). This English-speaking territory of the USVI is located about 50 miles to the southeast of Puerto Rico and 1,100 miles south of Florida. At its closest point, St. John is just ½ mile from the British Virgin Islands.
St John USVI Coordinates:
- Latitude: 18.3368° N
- Longitude: 64.7281° W
St. John is an unincorporated territory of the United States, with 4,170 residents. The largest settlement is Cruz Bay, with a population of 2,700.
It’s important to note: this US Virgin Island is actually called St. John, not St. John’s. Easily confused, St. John’s is the capital of Antigua which is another Caribbean island and an entirely different country. The capital city of Newfoundland, Canada is also called St John’s.
St. John is located just four miles east of St. Thomas (10.44 km, 5.63 nautical miles), the location of the territory’s capital city, Charlotte Amalie, a very popular cruise ship port. It is also four miles southwest of Tortola, the capital of the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The most populous island in the USVI, St. Croix, just 40 miles to the south of St. John, has its own distinct feel with varied colonial architecture and rum distilleries to tour. Most days you can see St. Croix from the southern shores of St. John.
Other nearby Islands include:
- Beef Island, BVI
- Jost Van Dyke, BVI
- Virgin Gorda, BVI
- Anguilla, British Overseas Territory
- St Kitts & Nevis
Map of St John USVI
How Big Is St John USVI?
The USVI comprises about 50 small islands, with St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, and Water Island being the largest four. More than 4,000 people call St. John home as permanent residents. Cruz Bay is the largest “city” on St. John, and home to nearly 70% of the island residents.
St John USVI in Square Miles
- St. John island is approximately 19.6 square miles – 13.5 miles long and 6 miles wide with some of the curviest roads where one will be rewarded with amazing vistas!
- The highest elevation is 1,277 feet at Bordeaux Mountain.
St John Beaches and Bays
St John is host to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches including the legendary Trunk Bay, part of the Virgin Islands National Park and known for its pristine sandy beaches, coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving, and helpful amenities that include a snack bar (serving alcoholic beverages), public restrooms and showers.
It’s tough to choose the best beaches on St John, but here are some of our favorites:
- Trunk Bay
- Honeymoon Beach
- Klein Bay
- Maho Beach
- Cinnamon Bay
Some locations offer beachfront overnight campgrounds, so you never have to leave the beach! Or, stay at the lovely Villa Calypso and walk to the Klein Bay beach in just a few minutes!
Video About St John
Explore the allure of St John in this 18-minute overview St John USVI video.
St John USVI Live Cam
Our St John USVI Webcam provides a stunning live video camera feed from the St John luxury villa rental property of Villa Calypso, looking onto the breathtaking views of Klein Bay and Ditleff Point. We highly recommend that you start your vacation in advance by checking it out with an umbrella drink in hand, until you can join us at Villa Calypso in person!
St John USVI Weather
Temperatures for St John USVI range from 77℉ (25℃) to 84℉ (29℃) degrees in the winter months 82℉ (28℃) to 88℉ (31℃) degrees in the summertime.
The average temperature is 78℉ (25.5℃), with the high rarely reaching 90℉ (32℃) nor dropping below 70℉ (21℃) . The high season is December through April with little rain during this time. Hurricane season is July through November, historically with only four major hurricanes hitting the island each century.
St John High Tide and Low Tide
Looking for daily or weekly times high and low tide on St John USVI? Tideschart gives you current tidal information for Cruz Bay in St John.
St John USVI Time Zone
The timezone is Atlantic Standard Time and the USVI doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time. (In the winter the USVI is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and in the summer, the USVI is the same as EST)
Island time is real. Expect that things will take longer and breathe, relax and be patient. Life can be sweeter at a slower pace, especially if you adjust your expectations.
Education on St John
Public school in St. John is available from grades K-9. For grades 9-12, students take the ferry to St. Thomas, making for a very long day for our local students.
Private schools are available for K-12 on St. John.
Colleges & Universities – Currently, there are no college campuses on St John. Students wishing to attend typically travel by ferry to nearby St Thomas for education programs at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI).
Paying Taxes on the Island
- There is no sales tax in the USVI.
- Residents of the USVI pay income taxes to the USVI Government that mirrors the US IRS tax code. There are no city or state taxes.
- Businesses pay a 5% gross revenue tax. Property taxes are significantly lower than those on the mainland.
St John USVI Demographics & Population
The St John USVI population is just a little over 4,170 residents, primarily of Afro-Caribbean and West Indian descent. St. John is normally a quiet, quaint place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. During December through April, the population swells, which is good for the island, as tourism is the strongest part of the local economy.
The commercial hub of Cruz Bay has a population of around 2,700, where guests can find restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and other businesses that cater to the local residents and visitors alike. Many of the high-end villas are located in close proximity to the convenience of Cruz Bay. Villa Calypso is just a 7-minute drive to Cruz Bay.
The average household income in St. John is approximately $40,000, which is 75% of the average on the mainland, yet the cost of living is higher than the mainland. A 2-bedroom apartment — if you can find one, is about $2500/month.
In recent years the number one problem on St. John is housing for the service workforce and for locals. Many have been priced out of the rental market by long-term apartments converting to short-term rentals, creating a labor shortage as locals can’t find a place to reside. It is a growing problem locally that is being tackled by the government and entrepreneurs alike.
Local Resort Casual Attire
St. John is a laid-back island with no dress codes even in the nicer restaurants. “Fancy” here means a shirt with a collar for the men and a sundress for the women. There is a law in St. John that requires that cover-ups or t-shirts and shorts be worn over bathing suits except on the beach. The same law says that men cannot appear bare-chested in public. Please cover up so no one is offended.
Housing in St John
Most establishments and homes do not have street addresses but are known by names like 15A-3-7B which makes one rely on good directions (turn left at the blue house with the pink trim). There is a severe housing shortage on St. John as many apartments that formerly housed local service personnel are now being used as short-term vacation rentals.
Currency In St John USVI
Since the island of St John is a territory of the United States, it follows that the currency of St. John is the US Dollar. Visitors are encouraged to bring plenty of cash in case of periodic power outages when credit card use and ATM availability might not be an immediate option.
Need cash? Bank Machines & ATMs on St John
St John USVI Language
The language of St. John is multilingual, with English as the primary language. Virgin Islands Creole, Spanish and French are also spoken.
Food and Drinks on St John
You can find nearly every type of cuisine on St John. While you can still find some traditional island dishes like callaloo, conch fritters, rotis and johnny cakes, people come to St. John from around the world for the outstanding cuisine. From fresh fish and lobster caught in the ocean that day, to fresh sushi. organic green salads and veggies, to traditional burgers and grilled fish sandwiches, St. John has a variety of restaurants to impress any palate.
If you’re looking for fantastic dining in St John USVI, we’ve got plenty! Keep in mind that most restaurants stop serving dinner at 9pm and reservations are highly recommended!
Famous People with Homes on St John
The US Virgin Islands have been home to a number of celebrities from TV, film, sports, music and beyond. Just a few of the elite list known to frequent or live in St John include:
- Kenny Chesney
- Kelsey Grammer
- Eric Idle
- Kevin Bacon
Is St John USVI Safe?
St. John is one of the safest islands in the entire Caribbean. However, be smart and protect your valuables.
- Pedestrian Safety -When walking in downtown Cruz Bay, use the sidewalks as much as possible. The roads are narrow and drivers can be unpredictable, especially when driving on the “wrong” side of the road. If you want to walk for exercise, we recommend that you choose a trail rather than walk on the roads, as the curvy, narrow streets do not have pedestrian or bike lanes and can be very busy at times.
- Swimming & Water Safety – Life jackets are always recommended for water activities like kayaking and boating. When snorkeling or scuba diving, always have a designated dive buddy.
Environmental Info for St John
What makes St. John so very special is that over 60% of the island falls under the protection of the Virgin Islands National Park, one of the most beautiful and pristine treasures on earth.
Thanks to a generous donation of 5600 acres by Laurance Rockefeller in 1956, today more than 7000 acres of the 12,500-acre island is protected by the Park, along with more than 19 square miles of offshore coral reefs. That’s especially impressive considering the island is only 19 square miles!
Because of the protection offered by National Park status, St. John has some of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in the world. With crystal clear waters, lush forests, and rocky and white sand beaches, St. John is home to migratory birds, including hummingbirds and cuckoos.
The Caribbean Sea hosts endangered hawksbill and green turtles, corals and anemones, manta and stingrays, sharks, dolphins, and endless schools of brightly colored fish. Even migratory humpback whales can be seen swimming in the bays of St. John in the winter months.
Services & Facilities – Electricity, Water, Internet, Mobile Phones
Cell phones with plans from the 48 states work in the USVI. Just so you’re not charged roaming fees, it might be a good idea to call 611 from your cell phone and let your provider know that you will be traveling in the USVI.
High-speed internet is available at most of the villas, restaurants, and even in the park in downtown Cruz Bay.
All water for the villas on St. John comes from rainwater, caught from rooftops, and sent to the cistern below the villa. Water is our #1 most precious resource with only 38” of rain per year! So, please conserve water!
- Restaurants, bars, and most high-end villas have three or four-step water filtration so drinking the tap water, which comes from the cisterns, is safe.
There is no power plant on St. John and all electricity comes from a huge cable run underneath the ocean from St. Thomas.
- Power is about 6 times more expensive on St. John than in most of the rest of the US, so conservation is a priority. Please turn off A/C and lights when you’re not in a room.
- Power outages can happen at any time and are sometimes caused by large iguanas falling on power lines or generators.
History of St John USVI
The US Virgin Islands were originally home to the Taino, Arawak, and Carib peoples. Petroglyphs and artifacts found at Cinnamon Bay indicate a Taino presence on St. John from about 700 to the late 1400s. Through the centuries, ownership has changed back and forth between various countries.
The late 17th century brought pirates frequenting the Virgin Islands, a name taken from Christopher Columbus’ visit in 1483, where he was chased off by indigenous Caribs. He named the islands “Las Once Mil Virgenes” for the 11,000 virgin followers of St. Ursula. That was soon shortened to “Las Virgenes”. In 1917 during the first World War, the US Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark for $25 million. The deal provided great benefit to both Denmark and the US, as the US wanted protection from Germany moving into the area so close to the US southern shore during WWII, and in exchange, the US recognized Denmark’s claim to Greenland.
St John Government and Politics
As a US territory, the head of the executive branch of the local government for St John and all of the US Virgin Islands is the Governor, who works alongside the lieutenant governor, overseen by the Office of Insular Affairs of the US Department of the Interior. A judicial, executive, and legislative branch all take part in running the local government.
The islands also operate elections with multiple political parties. However, US residents in the US Virgin Islands are not currently eligible to vote for the President of the United States. The USVI does have one congressional seat, but the position is non-voting.
Hospitals and Healthcare Clinics on St John
St. John is a healthy place to live with plenty of outdoor exercise and fresh air. There are two fitness center facilities on the island. St. John has the Myrah Keating Community Health Center which provides comprehensive primary healthcare as well as 24-hour emergency services and an outpatient clinic.
Locals rely on comprehensive health centers, private physicians, and if needed, access to the St John Heliport for quick helicopter transportation to a hospital in St. Thomas, including the Schneider Regional Medical Center.
Join the Conversation About St John USVI
Ready to share your love of St John or have a specific question about the islands? Join the online community in a St John USVI Forum to contribute your experiences or find the answers you need.
St John USVI Forums – Connect with the online community about St John.
More Resources from Villa Calypso
Frequently Asked Questions About St John USVI
Without a doubt, the allure of St John comes with its stunning beach locations like the pristine sand and waters of Trunk Bay, part of the Virginal Islands National Park.
Unlike nearby St Thomas which does see larger surges in crowds as a major cruise ship port, St John offers solitude and sanctuary away from the big crowds. If you're imagining times when you can stroll alone on a Caribbean beach, St John offers you an excellent opportunity for that on one of their many coastline gems throughout the seasons.
If you are a US Citizen, you will not need a passport to visit St John, since it is a territory of the United States. You will however need a “REAL ID” or a birth certificate with a raised seal if you do not have a passport. You will need a passport to visit the nearby British Virgin Islands, which you may very well want to do, so we highly recommend having your Passport with you. International guests will need to clear US Customs and Immigration, most commonly through arrivals at St Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport (STT).
When departing the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. Immigration requires all persons, including Americans, to provide proof of citizenship. This can include a passport, or a certified copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal, or a REAL ID.