St. Croix is the biggest island in the US Virgin Islands. There’s a wide array of sights and activities waiting for visitors. The large area just means that there’s plenty to explore.
What St. Croix offers best is the relaxing and tranquil vibe that you can feel all throughout the island. If you want to unwind and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, St. Croix is a great destination to be in.
On the other hand, St. John is private and secluded. It has the same calming vibe that you can feel in St. Croix. However, St. John is the smallest island in the US Virgin Islands. There’s less to explore, but St. John does not fall short when it comes to taking someone’s breath away.
St. John is all about nature’s beauty. It’s hard not to immerse in it when you find yourself in St. John.
Between the two, it seems like they’re one and the same. But if you really get to know each one, you’ll find that one island will suit you better depending on what kind of experience you’re after.
Because of the size of St. Croix compared to its neighboring islands, you know that there’s a wide variety of things you can do and expect from it. It’s filled with beautiful things, from perfect Caribbean vibes to warm and welcoming people. There’s nothing more you can ask for in St. Croix.
St. Croix offers the best of both worlds. You can have a laid-back experience while diving on great adventures. On this island with diverse landscapes and attractions, you can enjoy some of the best activities ever. Despite being the largest US Virgin Island, St. Croix is one of the quietest. You can enjoy a simple and peaceful vacation in St. Croix if that’s what you’re up for.
What Makes St. Croix Unique?
St. Croix is known for its breathtaking beaches. In fact, the beaches in St. Croix are so beautiful that many here are considered the best beaches in the Caribbean. In St. Croix, beaches have such soft sand that you would love to sink your feet into them. They’re paired with clear turquoise waters that look like they came out of a photo.
You can expect the beaches in St. Croix to be secluded and calm, especially because most of these are considered hidden gems. Here are some of the best beaches to visit in St. Croix:
Jack and Isaac’s Bay Beach
Getting to these two beaches requires one to take a hike. However, the effort you need to put into seeing Jack and Isaac’s Bay Beaches is definitely worth it. These two are considered secret beaches in St. Croix, but they surely deserve all the recognition.
The view on these beaches will stun anyone. Looking at photos of beaches from postcards and photos online can be stunning already. But it’s a whole different thing when you see the Jack and Isaac’s Bay Beaches in person.
Since these two beaches aren’t as accessible compared to other more popular St. Croix beaches, do not expect there to be many amenities. There’s little to none that you can go to should you need something in this place. If you’re looking to just lay down and appreciate the beauty of the beach, this place is perfect for you.
Turtle Beach is one of the best beaches that St. Croix has to offer. It’s consistently ranked as one of, if not the best beach in the US Virgin Islands. The part of St. Croix where Turtle Beach is located is uninhabited, so you will need to take a short boat ride to get there. However, it’s all worth it when you’re able to relax in such a peaceful location.
The water in Turtle Beach is so clear it can be unbelievable at first sight. Turtle Beach offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. It’s something that truly should not be missed.
Turtle Beach remains untouched and uninhabited because it’s part of a national monument that is being preserved. The island where Turtle Beach is, as well as all the marine life in it, are protected.
Rainbow Beach is one of the calmest beaches in St. Croix. Located at the West End of the island, you can visit the beach if you’re looking to just lay down and unwind. However, it’s not only the tranquil atmosphere that Rainbow Beach offers.
In Rainbow Beach, you will also be able to feel a buzzing atmosphere. There are water activities that you can engage in. In fact, snorkeling is the best in Rainbow Beach because of the very diverse sea life paired with the shallow waters.
If you want to have a more fun day on Rainbow Beach, the beach is littered with fun bars and restaurants. There’s plenty of live music, delicious drinks, and welcoming people to help you make the most of your time here.
Sandy Point Beach
Do you like long walks while staring out into unbelievable stunning views? If so, Sandy Point Beach is the best beach in St. Croix for you. It’s a 3-mile (4.82 kilometers) stretch of silky soft sand paired with crystal clear waters. Like most of St. Croix’s beaches, it’s usually not crowded, so you can expect to have a big space only for yourself.
Since this beach is protected and maintained for turtle nesting season, you can’t expect a lot of amenities and facilities here. It’s also not open regularly because the island is putting measures to protect the beautiful beach. This makes the beach even more worth it when you get to visit it.
With the rich history of St. Croix, it’s easy to say that it’s a melting pot of cultures and traditions. With such a diverse population, there’s also a diverse set of cultural traditions. With these traditions come celebrations that enrich the mixture of cultures on the island.
St. Croix is one of the happiest places in the US Virgin Islands because of the endless parties and energizing celebrations. Here are some of the celebrations to enjoy in St. Croix:
The Mango Melee is a highly anticipated event in St. Croix. The Mango Melee and Tropical Fruit Festival aim to enrich the appreciation for the queen of all tropical fruits, the mango. However, other tropical fruits are also given the highlight.
During this event, there are many smaller events like competitions and seminars. These smaller events help include everyone in the festivities.
During the annual Mango Melee, people are taught how to grow and use mangoes and other tropical fruit. Along with learning these lessons, people are able to raise funds for the island itself. Of course, a festival like this is not complete without the electrifying parties!
The Jump Up Festival is a traditional street party in St. Croix. This happens in downtown Christiansted 4 times each year. There’s one on the Friday after Thanksgiving, every February, every April or May, and every July. Both locals and visitors deem this street festival, that’s much like the Carnival, as their favorite St. Croix social event.
During the Jump Up street festival, streets are blocked off for the party that lasts late into the night. Restaurants and shops are also open until the party ends. In addition to these, there are also live bands and a large number of festival-goers. This festival is truly energizing and something that you should not miss if you plan to visit St. Croix.
Christmas Boat Parade
St. Croix’s annual Christmas boat parade is a well-known event in the US Virgin Islands. It’s a kickoff not only for the holidays but also for the busy tourist season of St. Croix. It’s a family-friendly celebration that everyone flocks to because it’s the grandest and largest boat parade in the whole Caribbean.
During this time, it’s a unique experience to watch the boats in the water paired with the beautiful lights of the historic harbor of Christiansted. Everyone is in it because the shops, vendors, and restaurants are open until late, even offering parade specials on their products.
In St. Croix, there’s more than digging your toes in the sand while drinking your favorite rum. Because of all the best that nature has to give, there are many exhilarating activities that you can enjoy.
Make the most of your tropical vacation by exploring as much as you can about St. Croix. Here are some of the activities that you should not miss in St. Croix:
Kayaking in Glowing Water
One thing that makes St. Croix special is that the island has not one but two bioluminescent bays. These bays glow as a natural occurrence that is caused by the high concentration of glowing microorganisms. If you love kayaking, this will be an even better experience.
Book a nighttime kayaking tour in either of the two bioluminescent bays of St. Croix. There, you will be able to see for yourself this breathtaking occurrence.
Enjoying the Snorkel Trail
In the Buck Island Reef National Monument in St. Croix, you can experience the world-famous underwater snorkeling trail. There’s an overflowing diversity of marine life on Buck Island. You can access the underwater trail through a snorkeling tour. The tour will be able to give you more information and knowledge about marine life in the Caribbean.
In the snorkeling trail and in Buck Island in general, you will also be able to encounter endangered species like the hawksbill turtle. This experience is truly one of a kind, considering that Buck Island is one of only three underwater national parks in the United States.
Drinking with the Pigs
Maybe it’s something that you won’t believe in, but St. Croix boasts some (nonalcoholic) beer-drinking pigs! Hidden away in Mt. Pellier Hut Domino Club, pigs are more than happy to drink that bottle of beer you’re holding.
This attraction started more than 2 decades ago when a pig stole a beer and drank it. Ever since then, people have started giving the pigs nonalcoholic beer from them to drink. Now, you can purchase drinks for the pigs to consume.
Offroading With History
In St. Croix, you can also take in the beautiful sceneries by driving an ATV along the hilltops and through forests. You will be able to get a full view of what St. Croix has to offer.
More than that, you will also learn about the island’s rich history. There are many historical attractions and sites that you can drive through with an ATV. This is the perfect time to enjoy the sights and learn from history.
The Best Sunrise
If you’ve ever watched a sunrise, you know that it’s a stunning sight. However, the sunrise in St. Croix is something else. In St. Croix, you’ll get to be the first in the United States to see the sunrise.
Point Udall is situated in the easternmost part of the United States. Above Point Udall, there’s a sundial known as the Millennium Monument. It was built for the Year 2000 New Year’s celebration. From the Millennium Monument, you will be able to find a trail that will lead you to Point Udall.
Point Udall has a magnificent panoramic view of the island of St. Croix. However, on clear days, you will be able to see most of the Caribbean. This place is famous for tourists wanting to see the first sunrise of the New Year. However, many flock to this site on any other day of the year to enjoy a beautiful view of the sunrise.
St. John is the smallest island in the US Virgin Islands. However, it’s the island that most preserves its history and natural land. Of all three main islands of the US Virgin Islands, St. John is the most pristine and most untouched. A trip to St. John will make you feel like you’re the first person to ever set foot there.
Despite being the smallest and least visited of all islands, St. John is probably one of the best gems of the Caribbean. You get not only a calming tropical vibe but also a luxurious atmosphere to enjoy your vacation. All visitors to St. John create memories that never leave them and are close to their hearts.
With its small size, you will expect there to barely have anything to explore. However, you will be surprised at just how much the island can offer you. Every part of St. John is an adventure waiting to be unfolded.
What Makes St. John Unique?
The Virgin Islands National Park
Two-thirds of St. John is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, which is an underrated national park. It boasts historical and natural attractions that will attract the attention of anyone.
Here are some of the interesting things you will find inside the Virgin Islands National Park:
The petroglyphs of the Virgin Islands National Park are a rare but fantastic sight that you should not miss if you’re visiting St. John. These petroglyphs are allegedly from the Taino people. The Taino people are said to have inhabited the island long before any British settlers.
Although the purpose of these carvings is unknown, they are said to be carved more than a thousand years ago. The real charm of these petroglyphs is the nature that surrounds them. Around these carvings is a waterfall that goes down to a valley.
Sugar Plantation Ruins
The Virgin Islands National Park has a great number of sugar plantation ruins in it. However, the most preserved one is the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins.
These plantation ruins give a glimpse of the dark history of St. John. There was a time when sugar plantations were a common thing in St. John, and enslaved people were running them.
The Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins are well-maintained compared to others. That is why it’s only in this place with informational signs detailing the history of the area.
Ram Head Trail
The most popular hiking trail in St. John can be found inside the Virgin Islands National Park. The Ram Head Trail offers a great adventure away from the tranquility of St. John. It’s hidden away in the southern part of St. John.
In this trail, you will be led to a rocky head that passes through some of the most unique landscapes of St. John. The trail starts at Salt Pond Bay which offers a spectacular view with its inviting crystal clear waters. Sometimes, you will feel like it’s better to observe the Bay rather than hike the trail, but both activities are very much rewarding.
You can expect nothing more than such diverse wildlife inside a national park. The Virgin Islands National park does not fall short of natural resources. Here, you will find more than a hundred species of birds, around 300 species of fish, and more than 700 species of plants.
There are more species than you can possibly remember. Seeing all this wildlife is a testament to how beautiful nature is when it’s preserved the way this national park is.
Visiting the beach is definitely on top of anyone’s list when visiting St. John. With the pristine condition of every beach, it’s hard to ignore them, calling for you to appreciate them.
Some of the best beaches in the Caribbean can be found in St. John, so you know that you’re in for a treat. Here are some of the must-see beaches of St. John:
Hawksnest Bay Beach
Clear waters and a dramatic shoreline that’s enough to fill your eyes. This is what Hawksnest Beach is all about. Even if it’s sunny, you can enjoy the beach because there’s plenty of shade underneath the seagrape trees.
Although Hawksnest Beach isn’t as protected as the other beaches on the island, it’s still a worthy place to go to. Despite being a popular beach, it feels intimate and quiet. You can enjoy an afternoon of just lazing around on this beach, and you will still feel fulfilled.
Trunk Bay Beach
Trunk Bay is considered as one of the most popular beaches in St. John. The beauty of Trunk Bay beach is similar to one that you will see on a postcard. People flock to this beach because of the soft sand and clear waters. It’s also well-maintained, with complete amenities and facilities.
What really charms people in Trunk Bay Beach is what’s underneath the breathtaking waters. When you snorkel, you will be able to see the protected coral reefs. Along with this, many different species of marine wildlife are also present, such as the Leatherback Turtle.
Leinster Bay and Watermelon Cay
Just north of the famous Coral Bay, you can find the Leinster Bay and Watermelon Cay. Some of the best snorkeling experiences in St. John can be found in Leinster Bay. What’s also interesting about this place is that it’s connected to the Annaberg sugar mill ruins.
The Leinster Bay and Watermelon Cay are protected, which is why it has a lot of different wildlife, such as turtles, eagles, and nurse sharks.
An Eventful Island
St. John is known for its tranquil atmosphere, but behind all the calmness and quietness of the island is a festive atmosphere. There are many events that happen annually in St. John that enrich the culture of the island. It’s also a great way for tourists to see more of what the island has to offer.
Here are some great annual events in St. John:
St. John Festival
What’s amazing about the St. John Festival is that it runs for a whole month. It has been celebrated on the island for more than six decades, and each celebration is meaningful and vibrant. This is the perfect display of local culture on the island.
The St. John Festival starts with pageants and different performances. These performances ultimately lead up to Emancipation Day and Independence Day. On the last day of the festival, you can hear music and fireworks all over the island.
Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta
The Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta boasts many different boats that go island-hopping sailing. This event is made possible every year by the Coral Bay Yacht Club that sponsors the event. The day is packed with many different activities, but the highlight is watching all the boats on the breathtaking waters of St. John.
A History to Match
Yes, St. John has all these breathtaking sights and spectacular natural wonders. However, St. John is even more interesting because of its long and rich history that matches the island’s beauty. The island of St. John doesn’t only preserve nature but also its rich history. It does not forget its dark past but uses it to be more aware of the present.
From the petroglyphs alone, we can already see that St. John has been occupied for a long time already. It’s an interesting sight to see and something that will make you wonder about the history of the island.
For those interested in diving into the history of the island, you can visit the Elaine Lone Sprauve Library and Museum. It’s hard to miss this building because of its bright yellow facade. The building isn’t always open. But when you do catch it at the right moment, you’re free to come inside and see the documents and records that show the rich history of the island.
Which Is Better – St. Croix or St. John?
Both St. Croix and St. John are quiet and calm islands to visit in the US Virgin Islands. Whether you decide to see only one or both, you will have a wonderful time. Choosing which is better is all about your preferences.
When it comes to an untouched and pristine destination, St. John is the obvious winner. Between the two islands, St. John is more protected and preserved. In St. John, you will be able to experience raw nature at its best. It feels like you’re on a private island, immersing yourself in nature.
Overall, St. John is a great place to enjoy the beach and hike. Any activity that makes the most of nature is best in St. John.
On the other hand, St. Croix is more populated and diverse. It also boasts a calm atmosphere, but in St. Croix, you will find more things to do and more places to explore. If you’re looking for a more vibrant and energizing atmosphere, St. Croix is the place to be.
In St. Croix, there are more amenities and accommodations, and you will have more to do. If you want to do more than relax and be one with nature, St. Croix is your best bet.
At the end of the day, you only have to consider what you prefer your tropical vacation to look like. It’s even better if you can fit in both destinations for the best Caribbean adventure ever.
Is St. John or St. Croix Safer?
Between the two islands, St. John is deemed safer than St. Croix. This makes sense, especially considering that St. John is the smallest of all main islands in the US Virgin Islands. Of all islands in the US Virgin Islands, St. John experiences the lowest crime rate.
Despite these statistics, it does not mean that St. Croix is not safe. Both islands are safe to travel to. It’s only important to remember that we have to put in some measures to ensure that we have the safest and best time on our vacation when traveling.
How Far Is St. John From St. Croix?
Since these two islands are in the same territory, they are not too far away from each other. They are not near each other, too, so travel from one island to the other can take some time. St. John is 43.38 miles (69.82 kilometers) away from St. Croix.
Can You Get to St. John From St. Croix?
Yes, it’s possible to get from St. John to St. Croix. The fastest way to get from one island to the other is through a flight that takes more than 2 hours.
Can You Do a Day Trip From St. Croix to St. John?
Considering that the two islands aren’t exactly near to each other, it will be hard to have a day trip from St. Croix to St. John. You may not be able to enjoy one of the two islands if you plan a day trip. It is not impossible, but if you want to make the most of any of the islands, it’s best to take your time in them.
If you take a ferry ride, you have about only 6 to 7 hours to explore the island of St. John. Even though it’s a small island, there’s much to explore.
How to Get to St. John From St. Croix
There are two ways to get from St. Croix to St. John. You can either take a plane ride or a ferry ride. The plane ride will take a lot faster than the ferry ride, but it’s also more expensive than a ferry ride. It’s also possible to take a ferry and then a plane ride if you plan to stop by in other places.
If you plan to take a plane ride, you can ride from the St. Croix seaplane base to the St. John seaplane base. The flight will take you around 2 hours and 20 minutes.
If you plan to take the ferry, it will take you at least 4 hours. The ferry starts from Gallows Bay in St. Croix and goes to Cruz Bay in St. John.
Is There a Ferry From Saint Croix to Saint John?
Yes, there is a ferry that goes from St. Croix to St. John. However, the ferry trips don’t happen every day. They are limited, so it’s best to schedule your ferry ride ahead of time.
How Long Does It Take to Sail From St. John to St. Croix?
Sailing from St. John to St. Croix is an exciting experience. It will take you anywhere from 4 to 5 hours to get from one island to the other.
How Far Is St. Croix From St. John by Boat?
By boat, St. Croix is approximately 42 miles (68 kilometers). The final distance you travel by boat will depend on which part of St. Croix you’re coming from.
How Long Does It Take to Get to St. Croix From St. John?
The travel time from St. John to St. Croix depends greatly on what mode of transportation you plan to take. A plane ride will take less time, while a ferry ride will take longer.
If you take a plane ride, you will arrive at St. John in only a little more than 2 hours. On the other hand, if you take a ferry ride, it will take you around 4 to 5 hours.