Top 10 Options for Getting Around St. Thomas
A big part of planning your vacation to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands is figuring out how to get around. From catching a taxi, island hopping by ferry, to budget friendly public transportation, here are the top ten ways to get around St. Thomas.
1. Rent a Car in St. Thomas
Renting a car is one of the top choices for getting around St. Thomas. There are car rental agencies located at St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport, just outside the airport, near the two cruise ship docks, and at some resorts. Rental car choices in St. Thomas generally include compact, full size, SUV, jeep, minvan, and truck.
2. Take a Taxi in St. Thomas
Taxis are abundant, well organized, and reliable in St. Thomas. They are readily available at the airport, cruise ship docks, resorts, and at popular beaches and attractions. Licensed taxis are regulated by the VI Taxicab Commission, including having fixed rates per person by destination.
3. Ferry Service from St. Thomas
St. Thomas is a popular base for island hopping by ferry. Public ferry service in St. Thomas is timely and reliable. You can take a ferry from St. Thomas to St. John, St. Thomas to St. Croix, and St. Thomas to Water Island. Ferry service from St. Thomas to the main islands of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is also normally available, however due to COVID it is extremely limited. There is a car barge from St. Thomas to St. John.
Resort operated ferries in St. Thomas include the private Westin ferry for resort guests traveling between St. Thomas and the Westin Resort, St. John. Lovango Resort & Beach Club operates a ferry between St. Thomas and Lovango for use by its resort, restaurant, and beach club customers. The Marriott’s ferry takes passengers between the Frenchman’s Cove Resort and St. Thomas’ main town, Charlotte Amalie. More on Resort Ferries in St. Thomas
4. St. Thomas Water Taxis
Water taxis in St. Thomas are a popular choice for those seeking personal service, when ferry options do not work with a traveler’s schedule, and when the destination is not accessible by ferry. You can take a water taxi from St. Thomas to St. John, and St. Thomas to the various islands of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Due to COVID, water taxi service between St. Thomas and the BVI is restricted.
5. St. Thomas Island Hopping by Boat
The best way to island-hop from St. Thomas to neighboring islands and cays, on your own schedule, is to rent a boat with captain and have them help you plan the itinerary and destinations. Choices include powerboats, sailboats, and catamarans. The most popular choices are half day and full day trips from St. Thomas. If a day is not enough, consider an overnight trip, or a yacht charter.
6. Flying from St. Thomas to Neighboring Islands
Travelers can fly from St. Thomas to St. Croix, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, and to other Caribbean destinations. Taking a helicopter is an option for getting from St. Thomas to St. John, which does not have an airport, and for traveling to some of the neighboring small islands and cays. Airplanes, seaplanes, and helicopters are available from St. Thomas.
7. VITRAN St. Thomas Public Transportation
The Virgin Islands public transit system in St. Thomas is called VITRAN. The bus fare is $1, and there are discounted fares for seniors and students with ID. VITRAN routes travel through main commercial areas which includes going by some resorts and attractions, though a short walk from the bus stop may be required. VITRAN buses are easy to spot. They are generally blue and white, have VITRAN in big letters, and a destination indicator with route number above the windshield. Public buses in St. Thomas are a good option for travelers on a budget, those that support the environmental benefits of public transit, and those that like the opportunity to chat with residents while on vacation. Three things to be aware of, VITRAN does not cover the entire St. Thomas island, so check the routes to see if it can work for you. Second, VITRAN has a reputation for being late, so leave plenty of time or use another transportation option if on a tight schedule. Thirdly, a VITRAN Plus service is available for passengers with disabilities. Documentation that passenger is ADA paratransit eligible in the state or jurisdiction in which they reside is required along with completing an application (which should be done before arrival to the island).
8. St. Thomas by Scooter, Motorcycle & Bicycle
There is usually only one shop that rents scooter and motorcycles on St. Thomas at any given time. St. Thomas is not a bicycle friendly island due in part to its hilly nature and lack of bike lanes or trails. It is however possible to explore parts of the south side of St. Thomas by bicycle, primarily along the harbor front and around downtown Charlotte Amalie.
9. Walking in St. Thomas
The infrastructure in St. Thomas has not, in recent decades, been designed for pedestrians. There are some sidewalks but not yet enough, there is currently only one official hiking trail, there are not yet any pedestrian-priority spaces, and vehicles are presently allowed everywhere a public road exists. The shopping areas at Crown Bay, Havensight and Yacht Haven Grande have become popular walking areas, for residents and visitors, due to the present lack of other options. The Charlotte Amalie harbor seawall, which has long been a popular walking strip, has recently been expanded through the Veterans Drive Improvement Project, a major roadway initiative. The project includes a new expanded promenade with promises of enhancements for pedestrians. Downtown Charlotte Amalie and neighboring Frenchtown can be explored on foot. Hitchhiking in St. Thomas is at your own risk.
10. Dollar Rides, St. Thomas' Other Public Transportation
St. Thomas has a public transportation/taxi mash up method of getting around, it is called the “dollar ride “, “dollar taxi “, or “dollar run “. The dollar ride is a popular choice among island residents that rely on, or prefer to use, public transportation. It is an underregulated public transportation system, with a set fare. Dollar rides are $1 for short trips, like anywhere within downtown St. Thomas, and $2 for longer cross-island trips. In a nutshell and in very general terms, the St. Thomas dollar ride route is operated by taxi drivers, mostly in older safari buses, and generally along the previously mentioned VITRAN public bus route, often pulling into or near the VITRAN bus stops.
Safari buses are trucks, but the truck bed is retrofitted with a covering and there are bench seats for passengers. The sides are open air, and there are no seat belts. Be aware that some taxi drivers use their safari buses to operate as actual taxis (see taxi section above). A taxi and a dollar ride, however, are not the same rate. Confused yet? If in doubt, ask other people waiting at the bus stop for help, if there are no other passengers around to ask, then ask the driver if they are a dollar ride, before boarding. Also ask where its heading, to make sure it is going the way that you want to go.
You made it to the end of the top 10 ways to get around St. Thomas, and I am guessing you might just have one more question, and its “Does Uber or Lyft operate in St. Thomas?” The answers are, Uber does not exist in St. Thomas, Lyft does not exist in St. Thomas. There is currently no hail a ride or ride sharing company operating in St. Thomas.