Sunset on St John

What You Need to Know About Renting a Car on St. John

September 9, 2020

The US Virgin Islands consists of three islands: St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. Out of the three, St. John is the smallest, covering an area of less than 20 square miles. Since that’s the case, you may wonder why the island is home to so many car rental agencies. The answer is actually quite simple: St. John is a lovely Caribbean Island, and taking in all that it has to offer requires four wheels. As you navigate through St. John's winding roads, here's everything you need to know to make your journey seamless and unforgettable.

St John Car Rental Overview

While many tourists might consider using public transport, taxis, or even mopeds, the allure and practicality of having your own vehicle in St. John are undeniable. The freedom to follow your own itinerary, the ability to seek out hidden treasures off the beaten path, and the sheer joy of driving through the picturesque landscapes make renting a car an unparalleled choice for experiencing St. John in its fullest glory. Whether you're here for a few days or an extended stay, having a car ensures every moment is spent adventuring and creating treasured memories.

Driving in St. John

If you are used to straight, well-lit and beautifully paved roads, it will likely take you a little time to acclimate to driving in St. John. The roads range from traditional blacktop to unpaved trails, and vehicles drive on the left side of the road. However, unlike Great Britain and most other countries where motorists drive on the left, the vehicles in St. John have their steering wheels on the left just as they do in other parts of the United States. The way to avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of the road is to remember the adage “people in the U.S. Virgin Islands drive shoulder to the shoulder.”St. John, with its scenic beauty, offers an idyllic yet occasionally challenging driving environment. Here's what you need to be aware of to ensure your driving experience is both pleasurable and safe.

Vehicles also travel far more slowly in St. John, and the speed limit on the island is only 35 mph. While a police officer is unlikely to pull you over for speeding, herds of goats, nomadic donkeys and locals making their way on foot will prevent you from going much faster than the posted limit – even if you wanted to. Bear in mind that speeding will probably be the last thing on your mind as you will be surrounded by some of the most breathtaking views in the world.

You will want to keep your wits about you while driving on St. John as the hills are steep and there are many twisty stretches of road. If you rent a vehicle with a manual transmission, it would probably be a good idea to practice some hill starts before you set off. While gas prices on St. John are higher than they are on the mainland, you won’t spend too much at the pump because you won’t be covering many miles.

The most valuable driving tip for visitors to St. John is to pull over whenever a local or “safari” taxi appears in the rear-view mirror and allow them to pass. Also, don’t get upset if other drivers keep beeping their horns at you because this is how people greet each other in the USVI.

The Need for Four Wheels

Given the hilly terrain and the sheer number of attractions, having a car proves immensely superior to bikes or scooters. Not only does it offer comfort, but four wheels provide stability on uneven terrains, ensuring your excursions remain uninterrupted by transportation challenges.

Road Conditions

Expect diversity in the road conditions on St. John. Unlike the straight, well-lit, and immaculately paved roads you might be accustomed to, St. John's roads are a mix of traditional blacktop, unpaved trails, and mountain paths. It's a unique driving experience that allows you to embrace the natural beauty around you fully. Of course, you must remain vigilant, especially at night or in areas less frequented by tourists.

Left Driving with a Twist

While many territories that drive on the left have cars with the steering wheel on the right, St. John surprises with its left-hand drive vehicles. This setup can be initially disorienting for many. It helps always to remember the golden rule: “In the U.S. Virgin Islands, drive shoulder to shoulder.” This helps you align with the local traffic flow and avoid confusion.

Speed and Scenery

The serene pace of St. John is reflected in its speed limits. Capped at 35 mph, driving here is more about enjoying the journey than rushing to a destination. Frequent encounters with nature, from herds of goats to ambling donkeys and locals enjoying a leisurely walk, emphasize this relaxed pace. The island's breathtaking vistas will captivate you, making the journey as rewarding as the destination. The island's winding roads, coupled with its steep hills, make for a thrilling drive.

Practical Tips and Local Etiquette

For those unfamiliar with manual transmissions, especially in hilly terrains, a bit of practice on hill starts can be invaluable. Also, prepare for slightly steeper gas prices compared to the mainland US, though the compact size of St. John ensures you won't be burning through fuel too rapidly. Respect and patience on the road are paramount.

Also, if you notice a local or a “safari” taxi in your rear-view mirror, it's courteous to pull over and let them pass. And if you hear a honk, it's just the island's way of saying "Hello!" – a warm gesture of greeting amongst the USVI residents.

Car Rental Companies in St. John

When it comes to finding a USVI car rental, you won’t find major car rental companies like Avis, Hertz or Alamo in St. John. However, you will find several local businesses that will be happy to rent you a new or late-model vehicle for exploring the island. The following is a list of the island’s most popular and best-reviewed car rental agencies.

St. John Car Rental
Location: P.O. Box 566, St. John, VI 00831
Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Every Day
Phone: (340) 776-6103
Website: St. John Car Rental Contact Page

Celebrating over four decades in business, St. John Car Rental has been honored as the “Best Car Rental on St. John” by the Virgin Islands Daily News, a testament to its status as the island's oldest car rental company. Their extensive fleet features everything from compact cars to spacious models that seat up to seven passengers, all equipped with four-wheel drive and automatic transmission for seamless navigation of the island's varied landscapes. Situated conveniently in the center of Cruz Bay, they provide complimentary parking for customers. Additionally, their website is a treasure trove of guides and FAQs designed to enrich the travel experience for visitors.

Courtesy Car and Jeep Rental

Location: 300 D Enighed, St John, USVI 00831
Hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Every Day
Phone: (340) 776-6650
Website: Courtesy Car and Jeep Rental

Founded in 1992, Courtesy Car & Jeep Rental caters to St. John's terrain with a versatile fleet. From the intimate 2DR Jeep Wrangler to the spacious six-passenger Ford Explorer, they have a vehicle for every group size. All models, like the popular Ford Bronco or the roomy Dodge Durango, have automatic transmissions and 4x4 capabilities for a secure, comfortable ride. Courtesy's customer service is top-notch, offering a free shuttle and expert local advice. As a family-run establishment, they're a top pick for dependable vehicle rentals in St. John.

Conrad Sutton Car Rental

Location: St John, King St, Cruz Bay, St John 00830, U.S. Virgin Islands
Hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Every Day
Phone: +1 340-776-6479
Website: Conrad Sutton Car Rental

For over 40 years, Conrad Sutton Car Rental has been a staple in St. John, providing visitors with various models of vehicles, including rugged Jeeps and versatile Cherokees, to navigate the island's diverse landscapes. Every vehicle in their well-maintained fleet features 4WD and automatic transmissions for dependable travel. They enhance the rental experience with perks such as free parking in Cruz Bay, unlimited mileage, and the convenience of hotel pickup and drop-off services. Located just a block from the Cruz Bay Ferry Dock, their convenient location makes vehicle collection and return straightforward.

Cool Breeze Jeep & Car Rental
Location: 86J4+JF2 St John, N Shore Rd, Cruz Bay, St John 00830, USVI
Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Every Day
Phone: 340-776-6588 / 340-693-3232
Website: Cool Breeze Jeep & Car Rental

Located just a 2-minute walk from the Ferry Dock in Cruz Bay, St. John, Cool Breeze Jeep & Car Rental has been a go-to spot for car rentals in both St. John and St. Lucia for over 25 years. They have a wide variety of vehicles to choose from, everything from the nimble Jimny to the roomier Honda Pilot and Kia Sorento. This awesome selection and their knack for understanding the unique needs of the two islands earned them the 2017 St. Lucia Business Awards for Corporate Social Responsibility. More than just cars, Cool Breeze is all about great service, reliability, and giving back to the community, making them a favorite for many.

St. John Car Rental Rates for 2023

To plan your budget effectively for a trip to St. John, it's helpful to have a rough idea of the car rental rates. Cool Breeze Car Rental provides a comprehensive list of their vehicles and seasonal rates that can guide you in estimating the cost of renting a car on the island. Below is a table reflecting the rates from Cool Breeze Car Rental, giving you a snapshot of what to expect in terms of pricing for the year 2023:
[Insert Table Here]
Please note that these rates are subject to change and may vary based on availability, special offers, and other factors. It's always a good idea to check the latest rates on the official website and book in advance to secure the best deal.

St John Car Rental Tips

When it comes to securing a rental car in St. John, savvy travelers are always on the lookout for the best deals. Cheap car rentals don't necessarily mean compromising on quality. With a bit of research and early planning, you can strike the perfect balance between affordability and top-notch service. Let's go over some tips to ensure you get the best car rentals and an optimal driving experience on the island.

    Book Early: Especially during peak tourist seasons, the demand for rental cars in St. John can be high. Ensure you book your vehicle well in advance to secure your desired model and the best rates.
    Size Matters: Think about the size of the vehicle you need. Are you traveling solo, as a couple, or with family? Tailor your choice to your needs.
    Four-wheel Drive: Given the hilly and occasionally rough terrain of St. John, opt for a vehicle with four-wheel drive.
    Insurance: Always check what’s covered by your rental agreement. It's wise to take additional insurance, especially when driving in unfamiliar territories.
    Familiarize Yourself with the Vehicle: Before setting off, take a few moments to understand the vehicle's controls, especially if it's different from what you're used to.
    Inspect the Car: Before leaving the rental lot, inspect the car for any existing damages and ensure they are documented.
    Gas Up Early: While there are gas stations on the island, they might not be open late. It's always a good idea to fill up the tank early in the day.
    Carry Change: You might come across paid parking or tolls, so keep some change handy.
    Respect Local Driving Customs: As mentioned, honking is often a friendly greeting. Drive patiently and respect the relaxed island pace.
    Maps and GPS: While St. John isn't a vast island, it's still easy to get turned around. Keep a map or GPS system at hand.

Types of Vehicles To Drive in St. John

    Choosing the right type of vehicle for your St. John adventure is important; it can elevate your experience from merely adequate to extraordinary. Whether you're traveling solo or with a group, cruising the city streets or venturing off-road, here are the best options tailored for every kind of traveler and journey:
    Compact Cars & Sedans: Ideal for solo travelers or couples. They are fuel-efficient, easy to maneuver, and perfect for short distances or city driving in Cruz Bay.
    SUVs & Jeeps: Given St. John's hilly terrain and some rugged paths, an SUV or Jeep is a popular choice. These vehicles offer better road clearance, stability, and space for those looking to explore more remote areas or travel with a group.
    Pickup Trucks: These are versatile for those who might need to carry equipment, such as diving gear, or are planning on off-the-beaten-path adventures.
    7-Seater Vehicles: For families or larger groups, vehicles like the Honda Pilot or Kia Sorento are perfect. They offer ample space for passengers and luggage, ensuring everyone travels comfortably.
    Manual vs. Automatic: While many rentals offer automatic transmissions, if you're comfortable with a stick shift, it can be a good option for the hilly terrains of St. John. However, always ensure you're confident in your driving skills, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the local driving conditions.

Remember, your chosen vehicle should align with your comfort level, the number of passengers, the amount of luggage you have, and your plans on the island. Whatever you pick, drive safely, and enjoy the beauty of St. John!
Want to read more about USVI transportation? Check out our travel details page here if you do.

Visit The Hills at St John for an Unforgettable Vacation

We hope you found our car rental information handy and encourage you to use it during your tropical island stay. To elevate your vacation experience, secure your St John reservation at our 22-villa destination, The Hills. Looking for a US Virgin Islands car reservation? We can help you find the best deals when you book a stay with us. For more information about our luxe rentals in the “Beverly Hills of the Virgin Islands,” you can contact us at 800-727-6610 to hear more.

©2024 The Hills. All rights reserved.
By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram