Renting a car in St. Thomas is one of the best ways to see the whole island, at your own pace, and on your own schedule. Of course, we know you likely have some questions, and with 20+ years of running the VI Now Travel Guide we have an astonishingly good idea of what those questions might be! So, here are the top 15 questions we have received over the years on topics like where to rent a car in St. Thomas, what side of the road we drive on, to concerns about general road conditions on the island, and parking. Come on, keep reading, everything you want to know about renting a car in St. Thomas, coming up!
Q: Where can I rent a car in St. Thomas?
A: In St. Thomas there are a few national car rental companies, and several local companies. Some agencies are in the airport, others are just outside the airport, and there are a couple car rentals near the cruise ship docks. Here are some good choices. Reach out to them to check availability and to get a quote for your dates.
L & L Jeep Rental St. Thomas
Budget Car and Truck Rental
Discount Car Rental
Q: What side of the road do you drive on in St. Thomas?
A: In St. Thomas we drive on the left side of the road.
Q: What side of the vehicle is the driver’s controls in St. Thomas?
A: We drive vehicles made for the American market in St. Thomas, with the driver’s controls on the left side of the car.
Q: Do I need a 4WD vehicle in St. Thomas?
A: While St. Thomas is very hilly, with some steep roads, you do not need a 4WD vehicle to cover most of the island. If you are renting a villa or Airbnb in St. Thomas, and it has a very steep driveway, the owner or representative will likely suggest a 4WD.
Q: What type of vehicle should I rent in St. Thomas?
A: Car rental agencies in St. Thomas normally have a fleet that includes compact, full size, SUV, and jeep. A few have minivans and trucks. Which to choose is up to you, and dependent on the number of passengers in your group, your budget, and availability.
Q: Can I take my St. Thomas car rental over to St. John on the car barge?
A: Most St. Thomas car rental agencies allow their vehicles to be taken to St. John on the car barge, however its best to ask the agency you are renting from to be sure.
Q: How much is a rental car in St. Thomas?
A: Car rental prices are affected by size and type of vehicle, duration of rental and time of year (season vs. off season). It is best to contact a few car rentals, or visit their websites, and compare rates using the vehicle type you want and your dates.
Q: Will my current driver’s license, from outside the Virgin Islands, be accepted in St. Thomas?
A: Driver’s licenses from other US states and territories are valid for up to 90 days in St. Thomas. The Virgin Islands Bureau of Motor Vehicles has a temporary driver’s permit for visitors with international driver’s licenses. If you have an international driver’s license ask your car rental representative for more information on whether your license is sufficient or whether a temporary international driver’s permit is needed. A fee applies to temporary driver’s permits.
Q: How old do you have to be to rent a car in Thomas, and will any St. Thomas car rental agencies rent to a driver under 25-year-old?
A: Generally, the age to rent a car in St. Thomas is 25 years old or older. There are some agencies that will rent to a 23-year-old driver, but they must have a major credit card in their name, plus they must have full coverage on their personal auto insurance that will cover the rental car, and finally there is usually an additional surcharge per day for drivers under 25 years old.
Q: How are the roads in St. Thomas?
A: Oh, great question, there are plenty of jokes among St. Thomas residents about the roads. We make memes of the “famous” potholes, and some benevolent residents paint circles around major potholes with fluorescent spray paint for the sake of making them more visible and saving fellow driver’s shocks, bumpers, and teeth! Humor aside, roads in St. Thomas are paved. There are a few potholes, some months its worse than others, usually after the rainy months there are more potholes, and just before elections there are fewer potholes. There are street signs, the typical ones found in the USA, including Stop, Yield, One Way, Crosswalk, and so forth. Roads are generally painted with lines on the outer edges and down the middle, but there are many where the paint has long worn out and have not yet been repainted. Streetlights and traffic lights are common.
Q: What is the speed limit in St. Thomas?
A: The speed limit in St. Thomas for cars, pick-up trucks and motorcycles is 20 miles per hour within the town limits, and 35 miles per hour on all public highways outside the town limits.
Q: What are the rules of the road in St. Thomas?
A: The number one rule to remember is “Drive on the Left”! Another to remember is, “It is prohibited by the Virgin Islands law to pass handicap, school and senior buses when they are loading and discharging passengers.”. There are seat belt laws, laws for child-restraint seats, DUI laws, right of way, rules of the road for cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. If you want to read through all the rules, see the Virgin Islands Driver’s Manual.
Q: How is the parking situation in St. Thomas?
A: Parking in St. Thomas is pretty good. In downtown Charlotte Amalie there is a paid, by the hour, parking lot called Fort Christian Parking Lot, and there are 1-2 hour max parking spots throughout town. In shopping areas there is designated customer parking. At attractions there is designated customer parking. Two beach parks have paid parking, resort beaches generally have some public beach access parking but at most its limited, and at other beaches it is more of an open parking situation. In Red Hook, free parking can be challenging, though the main shopping areas have designated customer parking, they fill quickly. The Red Hook Ferry Terminal has a two-level paid parking lot, and there are several paid parking lots in Red Hook. Biggest tip, pay attention to signs in parking areas. If a parking sign downtown says 30-minute parking or 1 hour parking and you overstay the limit, you may come back to a parking ticket. If it is a shopping area or attraction parking lot and says customer only parking and you park there and go somewhere else, there is likely a security guard around paying attention, and you may come back to a boot on your tire.
Q: And finally, Do I really need a car in St. Thomas, can I just use taxis in St. Thomas?
A: The question of whether to rely on taxis or rent a car is a frequently asked one. Over the years that we have published the VI Now Travel Guide we have heard a variety of comments from visitors, some in favor of renting a car while in St. Thomas, and some against. You may have considered some of the pros and cons yourself but to help you run through the debate, here are some of the most popularly voiced opinions.
“Rent the car. You will want to get around and taxi fares will eat you up, not to mention the inconvenience of finding one if you are not at the popular locations.”
“A rental car is convenient and you’ll see much much more of the island. If you’re a AAA member ask for their special rate. It was well worth the freedom.”
“We used taxis for most of our transportation. It can be costly, but if you plan your outings properly and hit all attractions within the same area at one time, it’s easy to minimize the damage to the wallet. With just the two of us, the week’s costs were somewhat comparable to renting a car at book rates. If traveling as a family or group of more than two people, a car rental would likely be the more economical choice. Taxis are everywhere, so there is never any waiting or inconvenience in finding a ride. I would advise knowing the published fare prior to boarding. Most drivers were honest and helpful, but we did have two try to request a fare in excess of the published rate, including our first ride from the airport to the resort.”
“Other than driving on the left side of the road, you should have no problem driving on St. Thomas. I survived driving five years in the 2nd worst congestion in America, Washington DC. I can tell you driving in St. Thomas is a cakewalk compared to that. How much trouble can you get in when the speed limit is 35mph. The potholes, taxi drivers and occasional hill may challenge you. The good news it is hard to get lost on a small island. I personally like the freedom of driving myself and not having to deal with a taxi driver. One thing to consider is motion sickness. My wife lasted one day of being slung around in the backseat of a hot taxi with a driver who had no concept on how to brake and we were off to the car rental place. Had a jeep for the rest of the week and we loved it, Good Luck and have a great vacation.”
“On a recent vacation to the beautiful St. Thomas, I found the islanders that we came in contact with very friendly. However, their driving habits make me wonder. Most speed limits range from 10 mph to 35 mph. But many drivers tailgate and speed excessively. Given the nature of the steep and winding roads, I think it becomes a dangerous condition. Many visitors are not use to driving on the left, the condition of the roads and the driving habits of the local people. On the other hand taking cabs can be very costly.”
“My advice would be: rent a car. Drive cautiously and defensively. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. Stay far to the left and always approach corners as though there might possible be someone stopped in the street around the bend.”
“Driving on the left takes a lot of concentration, especially in the more congested areas. The roads aren’t well marked. The island is mountainous, so there are a lot of switchbacks and steep inclines. We rented a car so that we could eat dinner out at different restaurants and such. It became real clear real quick that we couldn’t go out and have a leisurely dinner with some drinks, wine, etc., and then try to drive back in the dark. We ended up having big breakfasts in (we rented a condo so we had a kitchen) and late lunches out, so that we were back before dark and could enjoy cocktails without stressing out. Next time, (and we will return) even though it is probably more expensive, I’m letting the taxis do the driving.”
So, there you go, your “Top 15 St. Thomas Car Rental Questions” have been answered. Hopefully reading through this article helped you decide whether renting a car in St. Thomas is the right choice for you.
Now, go check out some fun things to do in St. Thomas!