St. Thomas vs. St. John: US Virgin Islands Face-Off

The US Virgin Islands are a hugely popular Caribbean destination, especially for U.S. citizens looking for a sunny destination to travel to passport-free.

This island group is made up of three beautiful islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. While they all are wonderful, which one is right for you?

In this article, we will compare St. Thomas vs St. John to help you decide which is the best destination for your trip.

Aerial shot of Northore Road beaches in St. John, US Virgin Islands

St. Thomas vs St. John: Overview

These two amazing US Virgin Islands have plenty of similarities and are both great contenders for a dreamy vacation filled with sun, sea, and sand. They both offer sunny, warm weather all year round (although it can be stormy during hurricane season).

Since both St. Thomas and St. John are U.S. territories, the primary language is English, American citizens don’t need a passport for entry, and the currency is the U.S. dollar. This makes it easy to experience all the beauty of the Caribbean without the hassle of extra paperwork, dealing with a foreign language, or having to exchange currency.

St. Thomas vs. St. John: Resorts and Hotels

When it comes to the choices available in terms of accommodations, St. Thomas is the clear winner on this one. As the most popular US Virgin Island among visitors, St. Thomas boasts a wider range of resorts and hotels, including luxury and 5-star options such as the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas.

St. John still has a good range of accommodations, but since the island is the smallest of all three US Virgin Islands and isn’t as popular as St. Thomas, there are fewer places to choose from here. You can find a small range of resorts, hotels, and luxury villa rentals across the island.

St. Thomas vs St. John: Beaches

One thing you’ll likely want to experience on your Caribbean vacation, is, of course, the beach. Both islands feature beautiful beaches with bright white sands and glorious turquoise waters.

As St. Thomas welcomes more tourists than St. John, it is more developed. Because of this and the large number of resorts, most of the best beaches on St. Thomas actually lie within the grounds of private resorts and are reserved for use by their guests. 

Don’t despair if you’ve elected to stay in a hotel or villa though; there is still a great range of beaches open to the public all across St. Thomas, including Coki Point Beach, Sapphire Bay, Magens Bay Beach, and Lindquist Beach. All of them are beautiful, though due to the number of cruise ships that dock here, these beaches (in particular Magens Bay Beach) can become quite crowded when cruise ships are present.

Calm waters on Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas

As St. John is much smaller than St. Thomas, there are fewer resorts. This means that although there are also fewer beaches, most of them are accessible.

The majority of St. John’s beaches are actually protected within the National Park, so they are kept pristine and undeveloped. If you want to experience a secluded slice of sandy paradise, St. John may be your best choice.

If you’re looking for the best beaches on St. John, you’ll want to head to the most famous area, a long stretch along North Shore Road. However, there are other great beaches scattered around the island. Some of the most popular beaches are Maho Bay, Honeymoon Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Hawksnest Bay, and Trunk Bay.

St. Thomas vs. St. John: Cost

Costs on your trip will consist mainly of accommodations, followed by food and transportation. Since St. John is so small and the number of accommodations there is limited, hotel prices tend to be higher. St. Thomas is the better choice if you’re looking to keep costs low, as there is a wide range of accommodations at all price points.

The average cost of a night in St. Thomas is around $250, and it can range from $80 to $570 per night, depending on the level of luxury you’re looking to enjoy. The average cost of accommodation in St. John is an average of $371 per night, ranging from around $170 to $500 per night. 

Taxis and food are at similar price points on both islands. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you’re planning on traveling to St. John, you will need to take a ferry or hopper plane over from St. Thomas, which is an extra expense.

St. Thomas vs. St. John: Safety

Both St. Thomas and St. John are relatively safe destinations.

In St. Thomas, the crime rate is moderate, making it generally on par with other popular tourist destinations. As tourism is such a large part of the island’s economy, precautions are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors, so you can feel safe walking around the major tourist areas during your visit.

That said, it’s important to stay vigilant and use common sense, as petty crimes such as pickpocketing can occur here, but overall, this island is relatively safe.

St. John is actually the safest of all the US Virgin Islands, and very little crime occurs here (with the exception of some petty crimes, which can take place just about anywhere). Many visitors report that they feel safe walking around in St. John day and night, but it’s important to stay vigilant, particularly if you’re traveling solo or are a female traveler.

Some things to keep in mind to ensure your safety in both of these destinations include:

  • Lock your apartment or hotel room doors and windows at night and when you leave, to protect from break-ins.
  • Lock your car doors if you opt to rent a car, and don’t leave any valuables where they can be seen.
  • Stay away from secluded areas at night, and try not to walk around alone unless absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t carry a lot of cash or wear expensive jewelry when out and about.

St. Thomas vs. St. John: Best Time to Visit

As these two islands are in such close proximity to one another, they both experience the same weather, so the best time to visit is also the same.

To truly get the best out of your trip to St. Thomas or St. John, visit between April and June. The weather at this time of year is quite mild, and both islands experience little to no rainfall during these months.

Peak season in the US Virgin Islands runs between December and March, so visiting during the shoulder season just after allows you to experience beautiful temperatures, better prices, and fewer crowds.

St. Thomas vs. St. John: The Final Verdict

If you’re planning on taking a trip to the US Virgin Islands, we would recommend visiting both St. Thomas and St. John (or if possible all three, including St. Croix). Island hopping is a great pastime in the Caribbean, and being able to do this passport-free is a dream!

That said, both St. Thomas and St. John are equally stunning destinations, with gorgeous sights, beaches, and plenty to explore and discover. You’ll find that St. Thomas has a little more on offer though, due to it being more developed. If you’re planning on going out to restaurants, want a great range of resorts to choose from, or if you’re traveling on a budget then this is the destination for you.

If, however, you’re looking for a lesser developed island, then St. John may be the better choice. 

Empty Cinnamon Bay Beach and surrounding hills in St. John

Now that you’ve read our comparison of St. Thomas vs St. John, which one do you want to visit? Let us know in the comments!

Still not sure which is the best island for you? Head on over to our Contact Us page to get in touch with one of our trusted travel advisors. They can help you plan your dream vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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