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Visiting St. John for Just One Day? Here’s What to Do!

Numerous people are only able to spend one day visiting us here in St. John. Perhaps you’re visiting via a cruise ship or maybe you’re staying over in St. Thomas, and you only plan on taking the ferry to St. John once. Here is an itinerary that will help you get the most out of one day in St. John.

Let’s start with logistics – the ferry. I suggest taking the ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay early in the morning to fully enjoy everything St John has to offer. The first ferry leaves Red Hook at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and at 6:30 a.m. on the weekends. There is a 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. boat daily, and then the ferry leaves Red Hook every hour on the hour beginning at 9 a.m. Tickets cost $8.15 per person, per way. I suggest taking either the 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. ferry over to maximize your time in St John. You can save time by buying your tickets in advance at

The St John ferry dock in Cruz Bay. (This is an older pic before construction began.)

Once you arrive at the ferry dock, numerous taxis will be waiting to whisk you away on your St John adventure. But before we do that, wander across the street and over to the park, and grab yourself a coffee from Cruz Bay Landing’s Coffee House & Creamery. Walk a block further and grab a latte or another type of specialty drink at Downtown Sips. Looking for a coffee or perhaps a mimosa on the water? Walk right next to the ferry and check out High Tide.

Downtown Sips is located about three minutes from the ferry dock.
The view from High Tide is pretty incredible!

Want to know where these restaurants are located? Check out Explore STJ’s searchable restaurant map at

If you only have one day in St. John, it’s pretty hard to not choose Trunk Bay as the beach to visit. It’s consistently ranked one of the top beaches in the world, and with good reason. The cost of a taxi from Cruz Bay to Trunk Bay is $12 if you are traveling alone or $9 per person if you are traveling with two or more people. The majority of our taxis are open air safari trucks, so you can enjoy the views and a nice breeze as you travel along the north shore and out to the beaches.

The trip out to Trunk Bay is breathtaking. You will drive past three overlooks and a handful of beautiful beaches and bays along the way. Ask your driver in advance to stop at the Trunk Bay overlook, so you can snap a pic at one of the most beautiful spots on St John.

The view from the Trunk Bay overlook

The taxi ride from the ferry dock to Trunk Bay takes roughly 15 minutes. It costs $5 per person to visit Trunk Bay. (It is the only beach within the Virgin Islands National Park that has a fee to enter.) Children 15 and under are free, as are military card holders. You can also use a National Park pass to enter with the exception of the “red” annual pass.

Trunk Bay has food, beverage, showers and restrooms, as well as chair and snorkel rentals. It is home of the famous underwater snorkel trail, which is located to the left of the cays if you’re looking out toward the water. Once you arrive at Trunk Bay, you will quickly see why it is consistently ranked one of the top beaches in the world.

Does is get prettier than this?!
Happy Hour starts in the morning at Trunk Bay!
There are 32 rotating items on the menu at Trunk Bay.

Spend a few hours at Trunk, and then head back to the taxis. They are almost always waiting in the parking lot. And if a taxi isn’t there when you walk out, no need to worry. One usually arrives within minutes.

Trunk Bay taxi in parking lot

By now it is likely early afternoon, and many of you – like me – enjoy a good break from the sun. Hop in a taxi, and ask to be dropped off at the Cinnamon Bay Sugar Factory, a quick five-minute drive up the road.

Cinnamon Bay is one of the oldest plantations on St. John. The site includes a horse mill, bagasse shed (where crushed sugar cane stalks were dried before they were used for fuel in the boiling process), a factory building and two cemeteries among other items.  Walk along the boardwalk for a bit, discover the area’s rich history while enjoying the sounds of nature. And when you’re done, walk across the street to the beach and check out the remnants of the oldest Danish building on St. John.

The boiling house at Cinnamon Bay
The building that once stood here was built back in 1680.
I love Cinnamon Bay later in the day.

By now, it’s mid to late afternoon which means you’re probably looking to head back to Cruz Bay. Ask the taxi to drop you off at Mongoose Junction. There is shopping, dining and happy hour specials, so basically something for everyone. 🙂

Mongoose Junction is less than 10 minutes (by foot) from the ferry dock.

Now a trip to St John wouldn’t be complete without sampling one of the island’s most popular drinks – the Painkiller. It’s a refreshing concoction of orange juice, pineapple juice, a coconut mixer and a ton of rum. And I mean a TON of rum. You can grab one pretty much anywhere, but I think Painkillers taste better on the beach. Are you more of a wine drinker like me? Then wander back over to High Tide, home of the best wine pour on island. (I totally made that up, but it’s so true!!)

Toes in the sand, drink in my hand. Enjoy a seat in front of the Rum Hut.

By now, you’ve had a full day of fun, sun, history and some rum, so chances are, you’re ready to take the ferry back over to St Thomas. The ferry from St John to St Thomas leaves every hour on the hour during the afternoons and evenings until 11 p.m.

Still have a little left in you? Then check out one of Cruz Bay’s amazing restaurants for dinner. We have so many great options to choose from like the very casual Roti King food truck and Uncle Joe’s BBQ to fancier, fine dining spots like The Terrace and Extra Virgin Bistro. (I recommend making a reservation in advance for the St John’s fine dining restaurants.)

And lastly, for those of you who love a good sunset view like me, take one last taxi ride up to The Windmill Bar, which is just two miles outside of town. The cost is $12 if you are traveling alone and $9 per person, per way. The sunset tonight is at 6:33 p.m.

Sunset captured from The Windmill Bar’s webcam

So let’s recap: Ferry –> Coffee or a cocktail –> Trunk Bay –> Cinnamon Bay Sugar Factory & Cinnamon beach views –> Mongoose Junction –> Happy Hour –> Dinner and/or Sunset Views = A completely full day on St John!

Want someone to personally show you around the island? Then please consider booking an island tour with me! I offer full and half day tours. I am proud to say that Explore STJ continues to be rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor and Google. Together we can sightsee, check out the beaches, historical sites, perhaps you can indulge in a beverage at a tiki bar or two, but most importantly, we will have fun! It’s never too early to book! Learn more at or email me at

Looking to take a St. John island tour?

Learn more here –> Full & half days available. Rated “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.

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