Menu Close

Is a Four-Wheel Drive Vehicle Really Necessary?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Do I need to rent a vehicle on St. John? And if so, is a four-wheel drive vehicle really necessary? The short answer is that it depends on a few factors. Please read on to learn more.

Do I Need to Rent a Vehicle on St. John?

Let’s start with the basics. Do you need to rent a vehicle on St. John or can you rely solely on the taxis? It depends on where you are staying. For example, if you are staying right in Cruz Bay at Grande Bay, Gallows Point, Lavender Hill, or Cruz Bay Hotel, you can rely solely on taxis. If you are staying at the Westin, you can rely exclusively on the taxis. But there is a small caveat. It is challenging to get a ride beyond Maho Bay. So if you want to see more of the island, including Coral Bay, you will want to rent a vehicle. Or you can book an island tour with me. 🙂

Also, beware of accomodations described as being “an easy walk to town.” St. John is very hilly. Click here to read more about these easy walk to town properties. 

Do I Really Need Four-Wheel Drive? 

I would say yes. Our roads are very steep and winding. When it rains, these hills can be very slippery and tough to drive up without four-wheel drive. Certain roads and driveways also require four-wheel drive. These tend to be out in Coral Bay and beyond.

St. John has numerous switchbacks too. There are three just past Trunk Bay that you will have to traverse if you are driving to Cinnamon and Maho. You have to take these curves pretty tight, and four-wheel drives makes that so much easier. And when the road is wet, four-wheel drive is a must in this area. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen a panicked driver in a car slipping backwards in this area.

Gifft Hill (Route 104) also has some pretty serious switchbacks. Route 108 does too.

Should I Rent at the Airport? 

There are a few mainstream car rental companies located at the airport in St. Thomas like Thrifty, Dollar, Avis and Budget. I caution you from renting from these companies for two reasons. 1. They tend to oversell their cars. This means you may arrive and have no vehicle. 2. They sometimes tell you a vehicle is four-wheel drive and then they arrive and give you a car. I do not recommend renting a car. A Jeep or small SUV is a must in my opinion.

The Age-Old Debate: Should I rent on St. Thomas or St. John? 

I’m a proponent of renting on St. John. I understand that it can be easier to rent of St. Thomas, but I’m in the mindset that the car barges should be reserved for residents who need it for business purposes, to go to a medical appointment, for shopping, etc.

St. John Car Rental Companies 

Here is a list of St. John Jeep rentals on St. John. St. John Car Rental is my preferred company because the owners are some of my closest friends. We also hurricaned together at their house back in 2017. (Hurricaned is a new verb now – lol.)

  • St. John Car Rental: 340-776-6103
  • Aqua Blu Car Rental: 340-776-2782
  • Aquarius Car Rental:340-514-5262
  • Bougainvillea: 800-253-7107
  • C & C Car Rental: 340-693-8164
  • Conrad Sutton: 340-776-6479
  • Cool Breeze: 340-776-6588
  • Courtesy: 340-776-6650
  • Delbert Hill: 340-693-8819
  • Denzil Clyne Car Rental: 340-776-6715
  • Destiny Car Rental: 340-777-5337
  • Hospitality Rent A Car: 340-693-9160
  • Island Hopping Rentals: 340-228-2229
  • Just Sun Jeeps: 340-227-2235
  • L&L Jeep Rental: 340-776-1120
  • Lionel Jeep Rental: 340-693-8764
  • Mr. Piper’s Jeeps: 340-693-7580
  • O’Connor Car Rental: 340-776-6343
  • Penn’s Jeep Rentals: 340-776-6530
  • Slim Man’s Jeep Rental: 508-932-2737
  • Sunshine’s Jeep Rental: 340-690-1786
  • Varlack Auto Rentals: 340-776-6412

Bookmark this list at

So there you have it. I hope you found this information to be helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

And if you are looking for more information about my island tours, please visit Explore STJ is rated Excellent on TripAdvisor. We also just received TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice Award for the second year in a row! Woohoo!

Click here to read Explore STJ Island Tour’s reviews. 

Related Posts


  1. Gene Bourque

    Hi Jenn – great article, thanks. One small (or possibly not so small) issue is good to mention. I’m not sure it’s the same now, but about five years ago we learned that some car rental companies at the airport do NOT allow their vehicles to be taken to St. John. Definitely something to research before landing at STT and going to a rental company desk only to find out that vehicle you reserved must stay on St. Thomas! Keep up the great work and we would love to do a day tour with you when we return to our favorite island in the Caribbean!

  2. Paul Sauers

    Hello Jenn. Are there areas on the island where you are not permitted by the jeep rental places to drive ? Example Little Lameshur Bay area – the road gets quite rough near there. Thanks

  3. Pingback:Driving in St. John: Coral Bay to Bordeaux - Explore STJ

  4. Dorisland

    Thanks, Jenn, for the article. We have been to STJ many times (just missed Covid-time years), since 1990, always renting there (STT has enough rentals, and would rather support on-island companies!) from Bougainvillea, with no problem. A 4-wheel can relieve any weather problems, along with making stony roads easier to navigate, so would definitely recommend it. Hope to be there soon!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *