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One Day in St. John: Things to Do & See

Trunk Bay beach, St John

So you have only one day to spend in St. John. Maybe you’re visiting by cruise ship, or perhaps you’re staying over at one of the St. Thomas resorts. In today’s post, we are going to tell you how to best spend one day in St John when visiting via the St Thomas to St John ferry.

Plan on taking the ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay early in the day 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

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. Choose from a variety of signature Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters brews or even a cocktail latte like an Almond Joy, a delicious concoction of coconut rum, Amaretto and chocolate. Then head back over to the taxi area and ask to visit Trunk Bay.

Cruz Bay Landing’s Coffee House & Creamery

The cost of 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 Trunk Bay, 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.

The cost to visit Trunk Bay

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.

Trunk Bay, home of the underwater snorkel trail

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.

Inside a doorway at the Cinnamon Bay Sugar Factory

By now, it’s mid to late afternoon which means it’s happy hour somewhere. Walk over to the Cinnamon Bay campground, which is just across the street, and hop in a taxi back to Cruz Bay. Looking for a spot on the water with a great view? Then look no further than The Beach Bar or High Tide.

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. Grab one for $2 off during happy hour at The Beach Bar, which runs daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Are you more of a wine drinker like me? Then wander over to High Tide, home of the best wine pour on island. (I totally made that up, but it’s so true!!)

Happy hour is from 3-7pm daily at The Beach Bar.
High Tide is located right beside the ferry dock.

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 Lime Inn. (I recommend making a reservation in advance for the St John’s fine dining restaurants.)

Want to know more about Cruz Bay restaurants, including their exact location? Then please check out our restaurant map at

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.

Sunset captured from The Windmill Bar’s webcam

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

What does a perfect day look like for you in St John? Leave your thoughts in our comments section or over on our social media pages. You can also share this post by clicking the share buttons below.


1 Comment

  1. Jeanette Paige

    I’m so happy to be reading and enjoying your writings once again, thank you.
    My favorite spot,which was not there 40 years ago when I started staying on island, looks amazingly better than I imagined after back to back hurricanes 2017. That was my last year. 😭
    Trunk Beach shoreline is remarkably different. Still pretty but, not as it was.

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