St. John is an ideal destination for family vacations. In fact, there are few better places to take your family than a Caribbean vacation. Ideal for water sports, beach time, adventure, as well as resorts that cater specifically to families with an array of swimming pools, restaurants, and child-care options. Activities ranging from hiking and shopping to snorkeling and eco-adventures provide everything needed to make St. John a memorable family vacation.
This is the first question to consider when booking your family vacation to the USVI. A number of major airlines have regularly scheduled nonstop flights from cities all over the US into St. Thomas, which is the major international gateway to the Virgin Islands. From St. Thomas, you’ll take a ferry to St. John.
Public ferries between St. Thomas and St. John run at regular times all day long.
The Red Hook ferry dock is about 10-12 miles from the St. Thomas airport. If you’ve just landed on St. Thomas with your family, it’s easiest to take a taxi from the airport. Depending on the traffic, the cab ride on St. Thomas could take 30 to 45 minutes, so make sure to build taxi time into your schedule when planning your travel.
Many St. John hotels have several beaches to choose from and all have very calm waters, which makes snorkeling easy and enjoyable. Plus, many resorts will provide snorkeling gear, so you can go whenever you want without having to plan too far in advance. Snorkeling off the short beach at Frank Bay, close to Cruz Bay, offers opportunities to see tropical fish, barracuda, jellyfish, and even turtles.
The Baths on Virgin Gorda, which is just a quick boat ride, are amazing and should definitely be on your itinerary. The Baths are a beach with huge limestone boulders, which form tide pools, arches, tunnels, and grottos. They are an amazing site and very popular tourist destination. Caneel Bay offers a tour there and lunch at their sister resort, Little Dix Bay.
Paddleboarding has become popular and can be enjoyed by kids and adults. There are several paddle boarding guides in St. John so you don’t have to worry about figuring out where to go alone.
Love City Excursions is another great way to spend your time as a family on St John, allowing you to explore the BVI and St John. They offer half-day private charters to the British Virgin Islands and from St John, giving you a chance to snorkel on some stunning beaches, and stopping to eat at some incredible restaurants.
St. John is made up of two-thirds national park, so it’s a great place to get your kids out on a hike, even just a short one. You can take a hike with a guide or explore areas on your own. Renting a jeep and touring the island is considered a must on the island. Not only is St.John full of gorgeous scenery, but you can also see wild donkeys, chickens, and mongoose. Having your kids experience natural and wildlife in a safe way is a great opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. You can drive completely around the island in just one day, and even make time to stop at a local place for lunch.
Cruz Bay is a great spot to explore and kids will love getting to pick out some souvenirs at Mongoose Junction. It’s a cute town with lots of shops and entertaining spots.
Renting a villa can keep costs down and also provide comfort for kids of all ages. Not only will you have more space and privacy, but it is easier to make meals for the kids and offer them a routine they are more accustomed to.
Excursions booked through your resort almost always include transportation. If you’re staying at a private home or villa and prefer not to drive, hiring a taxi or driver for the day can be affordable in the USVI. It’s also a great way to get insight into the local culture — drivers are usually knowledgeable, well connected, and full of inside tips. If you have car seats, let the driver know in advance.