Planes, Vans, Ferries, and Jeeps, Oh My! (Or How to get to and around St. John)
Everyone going to St. John first arrives on St. Thomas and travels to St. John by ferry or private boat (unless you’re Kenny Chesney, who zips in and out via helicopter from the Myrah Keating Clinic just outside of Cruz Bay). Commercial flights and private charters go in and out of the Cyril E. King airport on St. Thomas (airport code STT), which was recently given a facelift with additional shops, more restrooms and seating in baggage claim, and useful directional signs. Arriving guests are escorted through the exitway to baggage claim, where you can rent a car from one of the rental counters or grab a taxi. The dispatcher in charge should be obvious, ask for Red Hook and await further instruction. I always find it useful to grab a drink to go at the bar before herding up with the others. Unless you’re paying for a private lift, the taxis don’t leave until the van is full and most don’t allow passengers to have open beverages on the ride.
The drive to Red Hook takes approximately 35-45 minutes and the inside of the ferry terminal is pretty clearly marked (another recent improvement). Purchase your ferry ticket to St. John ($7 one-way + luggage fee) then hit the restroom (recently expanded) or grab a drink at the bar, which has a nice selection of just about anything cold. Keep your hunger and pass on the hot dogs in the case, trust me. Ferries leave for St. John every hour on the hour, from 6:00am until midnight, every day of the week. The ride over to St. John from Red Hook takes 15-20 minutes and arrives in Cruz Bay, where you can grab an open-air taxi and head up the famous North Shore, hop on the island bus for a buck (heads to Coral Bay and Salt Pond via Centerline Road), or rent a jeep by the day or week from any one of a number of local car rental shops.
If you’re behind the wheel, remember to we drive on the left. Why the USVI went left is another post (and a big debate), so just follow the island rule and drink right, drive left. And keep a keen eye on the road for wild donkeys, goats, and sheep – they didn’t get the memo.