Girlfriends Getaway: Taking the Ferry to St. John from St. Thomas, USVI

Taking the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John - 20 minutes of insanely great views!
Taking the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John – 20 minutes of insanely great views!

Sometimes I can’t believe I’m not 10 years old. What I mean by that is that I still possess childlike enthusiasm for things that other adults might not find as exciting as do.  Take for example, the ferry ride from St. Thomas to St. John, USVI.  On my recent trip to the US Virgin Islands, I was looking forward to sitting on the upper deck of the ferry and taking in the view.  While it’s not a quiet catamaran ride with a few friends on the open water, the views are nonetheless spectacular. Some might see it as transportation, but I saw it as a chance to enjoy even more of the USVI.   On your trip to USVI, grab your friends and take the ferry over to St. John for the day or if you have the time, spend a few days in St. John.  

When you’re ready to depart for St. John, you can depart from either downtown Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook.  The Red Hook ferry has more frequent departures, but is a little farther out of town. Whichever one you decide on, you’ll want to be sure you get on the right one.  We left from the Red Hook ferry terminal, which is an easy 20-minute ride across the beautiful blue scenic waters to Cruz Bay, St. John.  

TSG Tip: While there are several opportunities to enjoy an adult beverage or two in any of the restaurants and bars near and even inside the ferry terminal, I highly suggest you hold off on drinking until you arrive in St. John.  This is a ferry that you’re taking and not a cruise ship so you’ll be stuck in your seat for 20 minutes on possibly choppy waters.  You won’t find any employees willing to hold your hair back if you get sick, you know? 

I previously wrote about taking the ferry so if you haven’t read it yet, go do that ASAP!  Nothing much has changed except the rate is now $7 one way for non-residents or $14 roundtrip and luggage is $4.00 each. You can catch a ferry to St. John from the Red Hook Ferry Terminal starting at 5:30 am, 6:30 am, 7:30 am, and then every hour on the hour until midnight.  When you arrive, you may or you may not see anyone working the ticket desk.  Don’t panic and instead, get in line because once the employee shows up, the line will form and will get quite long.  You’ll need to pay for your ticket and if you have any large bags you’re bringing with you.  They charge a fee for suitcases or large bags that won’t take with you to your seat.  Once you have your ticket, wait until around the time for you to board the ferry and ask the employee collecting tickets which ferry is yours.  

From there you’ll walk over to the boat, hand over your bag (if you have one) to the employee collecting luggage, and you can either sit on the lower deck, which is air conditioned or you can sit on the upper deck. As I’m always looking for a golden photo opportunity, I practically bolted for the top deck and found a seat immediately near the front.  There’s nothing better than great views and sunshine on the open water.

When it comes time to return to St. Thomas, don’t forget about the two different ferries. My ride back to St. Thomas was also a ferry departing from Cruz Bay, but this time I went to downtown Charlotte Amalie.  The ride was about 40-45 minutes in length total, but you should decide what works for you.  As I was going back to the airport immediately after my arrival into Charlotte Amalie, it was a quick ten minute ride.  The ferry is a little more expensive at $13 one way for non-residents or $26 roundtrip and luggage is $4 each, but if you’re trying to get back into the downtown area, this is definitely the best way to go.  

TSG Tip: There are far fewer ferries to downtown Charlotte Amalie than Red Hook from St. John. They leave at 8:45 am, 11:15 am, and 3:45 pm, which means it is imperative that you pay attention to the time so you don’t miss the ferry. This ferry runs along Pillsbury Sound from Cruz Bay and then along the south coast of St. Thomas for a different view than the ferry from Red Hook. 

Whether you sit in air conditioned comfort in the lower section of the ferry or up on the top deck, the quick 20-minute ferry ride from Red Hook will take you away from the hustle and bustle of St. Thomas and right into relaxing Cruz Bay in St. John.  On your approach you’ll see the lush green scenery of St. John and sailboats in the harbor and you’ll immediately sense a different vibe from this USVI island. 

Next time we’ll focus on St. John, USVI and all it has to offer.