St. John Vacation Rentals:
Your Ultimate Guide

Not sure where to start?

Take a stroll through our accommodations listings  and see what we have right here.

St. John is a small island but there is no lack of variety when it comes to neighborhoods with distinct personalities and the types of vacation rentals available in each of them.

We’ll start by defining the different types of lodging available before moving into a catalog of the different neighborhoods on St. John. We’ll share the pro’s and con’s of staying in each area, and the type of accommodation you can expect to find therein.

Maybe you prefer to hang your skivvies out somewhere with a bit more privacy?

St. John Resorts, Hotels, Villas and other Vacation Rentals

One type of vacation accommodation St. John does not have is the all-inclusive resort. Our condolences for those of you who like to travel in such fashion, but we believe the lack of all-inclusive offerings on St. John encourages more exploration of all that this special island has to offer.

The St. John Hotel

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While there isn’t the traditional Holiday Inn or Marriot-style hotel on St. John, you do have your choice of boutique hotel, budget inn or fancy resort.

Boutique hotels tend to be small with an emphasis on style, ambiance and charm while budget inns are clean and comfy but nothing fancy. It might include a restaurant on site. Maybe a pool. Your staff will be friendly and competent but there won’t be anyone to wait on you hand and foot.

The St. John Resort

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An upgrade from the traditional hotel with more land and amenities, think tennis courts, multiple restaurants, spa & fitness facilities, on-site beach, watersport rentals, and a variety of room types on offer. We have two of these on island. Neither are suitable for budget travelers and are geared toward people who enjoy staying resort-style on a large campus with plenty of organized activities and amenities. While both are upscale, one of St. John’s resorts caters to the elite.

The St. John Villa

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These private rental homes can range from modest to magnificent. They are often managed by one of the many vacation rental agencies on St. John but are sometimes managed by one or two people or even the owner(s) themselves. Renting a villa on St. John is an excellent way for multiple families to travel together and enjoy amenities like a private pool and a fully-equipped kitchen. They’re also great for couples looking for a small but well-appointed getaway with plenty of privacy.

One of our favorite villa rentals by owner, Villa Equinox in Fish Bay is great for multiple couples or families.
One of our favorite villa rentals by owner, Villa Equinox in Fish Bay.

The St. John Vacation Rental By Owner

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These aren’t quite fancy enough to be called a villa, either because they’re really more of a cottage, a lower-level apartment, studio or even just a bedroom with private bath. These St. John vacation rentals can often be found on Craigslist or Airbnb and have a varying level of amenities. They’re great for the budget traveler and are popping up more all the time in the Virgin Islands.

The St. John Vacation Condo

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These are privately-owned by folks who usually live off island but travel to St. John several times a year. Vacation condos on St. John come in many different varieties but are mostly on the Cruz Bay side of the island. With a condo building erected in just about every decade from the 1960’s onward, you have your choice from old St. John charm to mid-80’s modern, to Tuscan-inspired mega-constructs of the millennium. Prices and amenities vary accordingly, although most of these condos will have views worth face-bragging about, largely over Cruz Bay toward St. Thomas. Condos usually have full kitchens so that you can save some moolah and calories by cooking some meals for yourself.

Outdoor bathroom. Elegant Camping?

The St. John Shacteau

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A St. John specialty, these are basically indoor/outdoor studios. Your kitchen and bathroom may be open air, and your cooking options may be limited, but your stay will definitely allow you to commune with nature while still having a solid roof over your head. And screens on your windows too, if you’re lucky. These are usually rented out directly by owner, and depending on how well-furnished, the St. John Shacteau experience could even be considered glamping .

The St. John Eco-Tent

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Another St. John specialty, these are a step up from traditional on the ground/in a tent style camping but not quite fancy enough to be considered glamping. Available at Concordia, these are very modest wooden constructs that give you some privacy and cover but nothing like luxury, although they do have several types of unit available from the super basic to the cozily comfortable.

The St. John Camping Experience

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And if you’re really into roughing it, you can stay at the Cinnamon Bay Campground on the North shore. Now the only camping facility left on St. John (since legendary Maho Bay Campground closed a few years ago), the campgrounds are adjacent to a gorgeous beach. There are varying levels of sites to rent, from bare-bring-everything-with-you to furnished-tent-on-a-platform, to an actual rugged cottage, one or two of which are directly on the beach.


St. John Vacation Rental Options by Neighborhood

In order to help you narrow down where you might like to stay, it will help to know if you have room in your budget to rent a vehicle. Some areas of St. John are simply impossible to stay on without access to wheels of your own. Although some locals do rough it like that, we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone on vacation. Even if you do fancy yourself a rugged traveler.

If you decide to skip the vehicle rental, you’ll want to stay in one of the areas that are near to bus and taxi access, indicated below. We also recommend our Guide to Getting Around St. John.

We’ll start at the ferry dock and move outward.
Buckle your seatbelt, please. We don’t want to get a ticket.



St. John Neighborhood: Cruz Bay, heart

This is where the ferry dock lands on St. John and hence, where the action. People of all kinds from tourists, commuters, and school children are busy arriving and departing.

It’s amazing how much hustle and bustle can fit inside just a few blocks. Restaurants, bars, shops and people from all walks of life are busy (or, in some instances, not-so-busy) doing their thing in town. Since the heart of Cruz Bay is but a few blocks wide, there are only a handful of accommodation options here.

Lodging Type Available: boutique hotel, mid-range to upscale vacation condos, a few short-term rental units by owner

Great For: Being right in the action. Super convenient to taxis, the ferry dock and the bus. You can walk to tons of different places within 5 minutes, tons more within 15.

Not-So-Great-For: Getting away from other humans and the noise they make. Potential to be loud at night. You will hear plenty of traffic noise from the boats and ferries in Little Cruz Bay and vehicles on the street too.  If your aim is to get away from people and man-made noise, you’ll want to consider other areas of the island.

View Possibilities: The charming street in front of you. St. Thomas.

Vehicle Required: Absolutely Not.

St. John Neighborhood: Cruz Bay, extended to include Frank Bay, Enighed, Bethany and Pastory

While this isn’t exactly the heart of Cruz Bay, you are still in St. John’s only “city”. The most active part of the island, you can easily walk to eat, shop, drink, or catch a ride on a taxi or the bus. Depending on how far out in Cruz Bay you’re staying, you’ll never be more than a 5 minute drive to the ferry dock.

Lodging Type Available: You have literally dozens of accommodation choices in this small area. Everything from funky little inns to the odd rented room to a range of condo types, seaside cottages, and one large resort.

Great For: Being right in the action, convenient, and with a lot more lodging options than the tiny heart of Cruz Bay. Plus, if you happen to be staying in one of Cruz Bay’s residential neighborhoods, you’ll get to feel a little of what it’s like to live on St. John among people who work and raise their families here. If the authentic experience is the kind of travel that appeals to you.

Not-So-Great-For: Again, getting away from other people and their noise. Also, if you sleep with windows open, you’re gonna hear a rooster or two in the morning. When there are big events going on like St. John Festival (our Carnival) or Love City Live, you will likely hear loud music late at night and into the morning.

View Possibilities: St. Thomas and its big city lights

Vehicle Required: Not really. You’ll be close enough to walk to Cruz Bay and taxis will gladly fetch you.

One of the many views from Cruz Bay toward St. Thomas.

St. John Neighborhood: Catherineburg

About a 10 minute drive outside of Cruz Bay on Centerline Drive, there are a few villas available to rent in the Catherineburg pocket of houses, just past the Catherineburg ruins on a very rough road that eventually connects with North Shore Dr. This neighborhood is established, lush, private and close enough to Cruz Bay for convenience but far enough out so you have that get-away-from-it-all-feeling.

Lodging Type Available: Villas of the high-end variety

Great For: Quiet, exclusive, amazing views

Not-So-Great-For: Being right in the action, walking to eat or drink, driving a small vehicle, saving money

View Possibilities: North shore and beyond, all the northern cays of St. John as well as Jost Van Dyke. Depending on how you’re sitting, also potential views of St. Thomas.

Vehicle Required: Yes, and four-wheel drive

St. John Neighborhood: Great Cruz Bay / Chocolate Hole / Hart Bay

Just past the Westin on Southshore Rd, this is where St. John starts getting very residential. Many locals live in this lovely, very conveniently-located part of St. John.

Lodging Type Available: Villas, vacation rental by owner rentals from the affordable to the grand

Great For: Families. Quieter and further away from downtown but still close enough to reach the ferry dock in less than 10 minutes by vehicle. There’s a little more space and a lot less noise.

Not-So-Great-For: Being right in the action. Being away from it all.  Avoiding bugs at dusk and dawn if you’re staying near the salt ponds and mangroves in the area.

View Possibilities: South toward St. Croix, Southwest toward Puerto Rico, East toward Ram Head, the hillside and homes across from you, the bay in front of you

Vehicle Required: Not necessarily, although it would be much more convenient. This area is close enough to Cruz Bay that taxis will still happily fetch you. If you really like to use your legs, you could always walk to the Westin and catch a taxi from there.

St. John Neighborhood: Rendezvous / Klein / Fish Bays

There’s a steep hill with a sharp left turn on Southshore Rd, after which you are officially in the Fish Bay section of the island. If you’re coming from Cruz Bay you will actually have a stop sign, at which you will take a right into Fish Bay proper. There is no outlet, so you leave the same way you come in, giving the neighborhood a secluded feel.

People usually refer to the whole area as Fish Bay, and get more specific on whether they’re above Rendezvous, Klein, Reef or Fish itself as needed. This is another very residential part of St. John, home to many former statesiders who live, work and raise their families on the island. It’s a very quiet, close and clean neighborhood.

Lodging Type Available: Lodging choices are largely villas, but a few apartment and room rentals as well. While you won’t find the budgetiest-of-the-budgety options here, villas in Fish Bay do run from nice and cozy to grandly luxe.

Great For: Families. Quieter and further away from town but still close enough to reach the ferry dock in about 15 minutes by vehicle. There’s a lot more space and a lot less noise.

Not-So-Great-For: Being right in the action. Resort-style accommodations. Traveling on a strict budget. Avoiding bugs at dusk and dawn if you’re staying near the salt ponds and mangroves in the area.

View Possibilities: South toward St. Croix, Southwest toward Puerto Rico, East toward Ram Head, the hillside and homes across from you, the bay in front of you

Vehicle Required: Yes

View to the South over Fish Bay
View to the South over Fish Bay

St. John Neighborhood: Gifft Hill

Gifft Hill is another residential neighborhood that connects Southshore Rd (Rte 104) to Centerline Drive (Rte 10). There are some very steep and curvy turns on this not-so-long road. There is a school located on the road, several homes and is a main thoroughfare on the island.

Lodging Available: Villas, cottages, shacteaus, little rental apartments or studios

Great For:  Being close to Centerline Dr so you can get to any part of the island quickly but still be far enough outside of Cruz Bay to never get any noise from city events. Also good for getting that local livin’ feeling.

Not-So-Great-For: Feeling like you’re getting away from it all. Resort-style amenities.

View Possibilities: The valley, North toward Jost Van Dyke and St. John cays, West toward St. Thomas, South toward St. Croix

Vehicle Required: Yes.

St. John Neighborhood: North Shore

This is the best-known part of St. John, and for good reason. The string of beaches are out-of-this-world amazing, as are the views from several overlooks. Much of the North shore is inside of the National Park, which is why it’s not lined with major hotel chains. (Blessedly.) There are, however pockets of areas where you can rent a place to stay. And truly, from the most exclusive resort and grandest villa to a tent in the woods.

Lodging Available: Super luxury resort, super luxury villas, rustic cottages, tents

Great For:  Being close to (as in, right in the middle of) all the North shore beaches, being close to the taxi route and a direct drive to Cruz Bay

Not-So-Great-For: Being right in the action.

View Possibilities:  woods, beach, one of the bays in front of you, the cays north of the island

Vehicle Required: Not necessarily. If you’re staying at Cinnamon Bay Campground, there is a taxi stand there so it’s pretty easy to get to Cruz Bay or one of the other beaches on the North shore. If you’re staying at Caneel Bay, you only need a vehicle if you want to spend time on the island’s East side, but let’s be honest…budgetary concerns are probably not important to you anyway, nor to the person staying at one of the luxury North shore villas.

St. John Neighborhood:  Bourdeaux/Carolina

These “top of the mountain” neighborhoods on the Coral Bay side of the island are the most rainforest-y part of St. John and home to many people who live and work on here.

Lodging Available: Villas and shacteaus from modest to amazing

Great For:  Views of Coral Bay and beyond, being close to Coral Bay and the Eastern-most beaches on the North shore (Francis, Maho)

Not-So-Great-For: Being close to Cruz Bay, resort amenities

View Possibilities: Coral Bay and the BVI beyond, the homes and hillsides across from you

Vehicle Required: Yes.

St. John Neighborhood:  Coral Bay

People who love Coral Bay LOVE Coral Bay. And to those who love rural quirk and charm, Coral Bay is a kind of idyllic retreat. Far from boring (this neighborhood attracts some of the most interesting people you’ll meet), Coral Bay is definitely Cruz Bay’s less-sophisticated counterpart, despite being the historical port and area of commerce on the island. There are several restaurants and stores to patronize, several boat charters also operate out of Coral Bay harbor and this is where you can go for a horseback ride.

Lodging Available: shacteaus, villas from modest to fancy, cottages, a few apartment and room rentals

Great For:  donkey and goat lovers, people who like a slower place and more rural feel, people who want to be far away from all things busy

Not-So-Great-For: being in the action, resort amenities,

View Possibilities: Coral Bay, Bourdeaux, the hillside and homes surrounding you

Vehicle Required: It’s way more convenient to have one and we highly recommend it, but you can get by without renting wheels if you want to save some dough. You can get to Cruz Bay by bus. You can also hitchhike.

St. John Neighborhood:  Calabash Boom / John’s Folly / Salt Pond

When you reach Coral Bay on Route 10, you’ll be at “the triangle” where you can either go right and head South toward Salt Pond or go straight and keep heading to East End. On the way to Salt Pond (the SE corner of STJ where Ram Head is located), you pass through Calabash Boom and John’s Folly. These are little residential areas where many old land-owning St. Johnians families have lived for ages.  There are also some vacation homes tucked away here and there.

Right before you reach Salt Pond Bay, Concordia Eco Resort is situated to your left.  They offer affordable, eco-tent lodging overlooking Salt Pond and Drunk Bay. Concordia has a nice restaurant with regular live music, including a very popular open mic on Mondays.

Lodging Available: a handful of villas from modest to grand,  Concordia eco-tents and cottages

Great For:  Being away from it all. The only loud noise being the roosters twice (or so) a day.

Not-So-Great-For: Being in the action. Resort amenities.

View Possibilities: Drunk Bay, Salt Pond Bay, Coral Bay, East End, Norman Island (BVI)

Vehicle Required: Probably. We highly recommend it, anyway. Even though you are on the bus line, which goes all the way to Salt Pond. So, if you’re staying at Concordia, you could get away without having a vehicle by taking the bus.

On top of Ram Head looking back toward Salt Pond Bay and Concordia (that cluster of white buildings)
On top of Ram Head looking back toward Salt Pond Bay and Concordia (that cluster of buildings)

St. John Neighborhood:  East End


The most remote part of St. John, the East End of the island is actually closer to Tortola than it is to Cruz Bay. The least populated, quietest and driest part of the island, it sometimes seems there are more goats and donkeys than people.

Also home to some St. John tourist treasures, taking a drive to East End is totally worth doing on your trip. But staying that far out only appeals to a certain type of person. The kind that really REALLY likes their space. A tip for staying way out east: provision up before heading out if you don’t want to drive 15 minutes either way for your creamer.

Lodging Available: Villas from modest to fancy, cottages

Great For:  People who love to get away from people, those who enjoy a long scenic drive

Not-So-Great-For: People who want to be conveniently-located to anything, people who do not like to drive

View Possibilities: Tortola to the North, Sir Francis Drake channel and the chain of British Virgin Islands to the East, or to the South, the Salt Pond side of the island

Vehicle Required: Oh yes.

View from East End toward Norman Island and the rest of the BVI’s beyond


Want to book the best VI vacation ever?

Follow these 6 steps and you can’t go wrong.

Our local experts share 10 questions you should ask before booking.

Check out our St. Thomas Vacation Rentals: Your Ultimate Guide.

If you’re feeling uncertain, contact us maybe we can help or even get you a good deal.

Do you have more questions (or answers) about St. John vacation rentals?

Let us know in the comments below what we missed!