The US Virgin Islands Best Guide

St. John: Car Rentals

St. John is a small island with many beaches and areas of interest. If you would like to explore the island at your leisure, the best way to do it is by having your own mode of transportation. Many rental agencies are conveniently located in Cruz Bay, within walking distance of the ferry dock. Some agencies also have offices at the larger hotels.

Average prices on rentals range from $65 to $100 a day and differ depending on the time of year or season. A Jeep Wrangler will run around $70 to $80. Larger vehicles go for $80 to $100. The latter price is for a 7-passenger minivan. Special packages and discounts are available. Be sure to book early during the high season!

Driving on St. John

  • Driving in the Virgin Islands is on the left side of the road.
  • Vehicles are typical American cars with left-side steering.
  • U.S. driver’s licenses are valid for up to 90 days. Driver’s holding international licenses must purchase a temporary foreign driver’s permit. These can be purchased from the Virgin Islands Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Since doing this can be difficult for visitors, they are available from car rental agencies who are allowed to pre-purchase them and have them on hand to sell to visitor’s renting vehicles. They are usually $25.

Should I rent a car or use taxis?

The question of whether to rely on taxis or rent a car is a frequently asked one. Below are a few of the answers given by visitors on our Travel Forum.

  • “You really should get a Jeep if you want to see the island in its entirety. The roads are just awesome. I saw places I am sure the average person visiting did not.”
  • “We rent a vehicle on St. John. You could probably do fine without a vehicle staying at Cinnamon Bay just using taxis to get around. You might want to rent a vehicle for a couple of days to get around the island a bit more. If you’re not going in peak season, you can probably find a vehicle to rent just walking up to a few places in Cruz Bay in the morning. We wouldn’t get anything but 4WD. Most of the time you won’t need it, but if you need it and don’t have it, there’s no substitute. Roads are steep and windy. When they’re wet, they can be very tough.”
  • “I highly recommend you rent a car. On the other hand, I guess it really depends on how much you are going to want to get out and explore. The farther the distance your villa is from Cruz Bay, the less you’ll be able to rely on taxis. Cost wise, if you think you’re going to make 3 or more trips a day away from the villa, it’ll be cheaper to rent a car. Two trips a day and you’ll probably break close to even.”
  • “The roads are safe on St. John. Comfort level at driving on them depends on the driver. The roads are steep in some areas, narrow in others, pretty much all paved, street signs exist, limited parking in Cruz Bay, pretty good parking at beaches and attractions. It takes a little bit to adjust to driving differently then you are used to but after a few hours you should be fine.”
  • “St John roads are steep and winding but most people respect that and drive accordingly. Just watch out for the big dump trucks and cement trucks and give them all the room you can. Go slow, enjoy the views and you should have no problem and be able to enjoy the stories you can tell when you get back home.”
  • “We always rent a car. We don’t like being tied down to any one place.”
  • “I rented a Mitsubishi eclipse, a small, not much ground clearance, car. It presented no problem on St. John. After driving on St. John I can see that if the weather did not cooperate and the island got rain when you were there a jeep may come in handy as the hills are very steep and crooked. The roads get slick, I’m sure. Also, if you were going to take some roads less traveled that may be dirt or rocky a jeep may come in handy. Another note about our car experience when parking on the side of the road to go beach hopping some of the parking areas were nothing more than a worn out place into the trees. The drop off from the road was more than a few inches and our little car found it tough to get in out without scraping. I may also add that a car with a locking trunk was nice in that you could place anything of value inside and not have to worry about anything being gone when you got back.”
  • “If you drive slowly and enjoy the view it is not white knuckle. Roads have steep sections and sharp curves, but the drop offs aren’t that bad. Rent the car so you can see all the fantastic beaches. Biggest problem will be finding parking in Cruz Bay.”
  • “St. John is curvy and hilly – kind of a roller coaster ride. I’m a little afraid of heights, but I had no problems. Most of the roads are well paved and in good shape. On the drive from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay on the Centerline Road I got sick and tired of putting the foot on the gas, move to the brake to slow for the corner, turn, go 75 feet, and repeating the entire process. My leg was tired. No exaggeration; there must be a thousand curves between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. But don’t let the fact that the island is not suited to building straight highways deter you. It’s the most beautiful driving in the world.”
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