St Croix and St John are two of the three US Virgin Islands (USVI), with the third being St Thomas. While St. Thomas is the most commercialized choice, both of these two other islands are popular and have their own extensive history, accommodations, attractions, and numerous things to do.
With beachfront locations, these Caribbean islands have some of the most beautiful, white-sand beaches you can expect out of a tropical vacation. Here is a guide on the main differences between St Croix and St John and why one might be better than the other, depending on what you’re looking for.
St John Vs. St Croix: Attractions & Things To Do
St John holds the only U.S Virgin Islands National Park in all of the USVI. So when it comes to outdoor attractions, it’s the king of the USVI’s. It also has quite a few historical attractions and tours. You can go night kayaking with glow-in-the-dark kayaks, go on a full-day sailing trip, and visit historic areas like the Catherineberg Ruins and Annaberg Sugar Plantation.
St Croix also has its share of famous landmarks like Buck Island Reef National Monument and the Christiansted National Historic Site. There are plenty of breweries, so you can go on beer and rum tours. You can also go on horseback riding tours, even if you’re a complete beginner. You’ll ride through pastures and rainforests and see the beautiful sights of the island.
You can rent private boat charters on either island, go on snorkeling excursions, scuba dive, and much more. No matter what option you choose, you’ll find plenty of things to do in St John and St Croix.
Verdict: Tie. You won’t ever get bored or run out of things to do no matter which island you visit. Both offer plenty of attractions, no matter what type of traveler you are or if you’re visiting with kids.
St John Vs. St Croix: Accommodations
You can find luxury resorts, beachfront hotels, and rental homes on both of these islands. However, you’ll certainly find fewer options in Saint John than in St Croix, given the area.
Saint John has two inhabited areas for tourists, Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. One downside is that the hotels and resorts in Saint John can get expensive, but of course, there as luxurious as you can imagine them to be. The Westin St. John Resort Villas and Gallows Point Resort are some of the best resorts to stay in St John. Meanwhile, places like the Concordia Eco Resort are one of the few cheaper options for budget travelers.
St Croix has multiple resorts and rental homes throughout the island. You can find accommodation for just about any budget. Some of the popular places you can stay in St Croix are The Buccaneer Hotel and the Hotel on the Cay.
Verdict: St Croix. If you’re on a budget, the hotels in St John might be a bit too expensive for your liking. Saint Croix offers more options that are also lower in cost.
St John Vs. St Croix: Beaches
Nearly two thirds of the land in St John is considered a national park, so when it comes to the outdoors and beaches, Saint John reigns supreme over St Croix and St Thomas. However, Saint Croix still has a plethora of beautiful white sand beaches to explore.
Some of the most popular beaches in St John include Maho Bay Beach, which is the perfect place to snorkel with sea turtles. This is where we took the image down below:
You can also visit Honeymoon beach, Cinnamon Bay beach, and Trunk Bay Beach. There are plenty of snorkeling sites at these locations and you can rent snorkel equipment at the entrance of St. John when you arrive by ferry. Coral Bay also has its own set of beaches and hotels.
Some of the famous beaches in St Croix include Frederiksted Beach, Rainbow Beach, Turtle Beach and Buck Island Beach. Turtle Beach can only be reached by boat or kayak, so rent one from one of the local shops. Since it’s uninhabited and hard to reach, you don’t need to worry about crowds. Cane Bay Beach and Protestant Cay Beach in Christiansted are other pristine beaches to explore.
Verdict: St John. Both have fantastic beaches, but St John’s outdoor landscapes and additional options make it the optimal place for relaxing and exploring the beaches.
St John Vs. St Croix: Dining & Shopping
A little shopping and trying new foods are some of the most fun things you can do on vacations. With the Caribbean sea surrounding the islands, expect some of the freshest and finest seafood options.
Restaurants like The Longboard (would recommend), La Tapa, and The Banana Deck are some of the most popular dining options in St John. Places like Blues' Backyard BBQ & Grill, Polly's At the Pier, and Castaways of St. Croix are some of the local favorites in St Croix.
While neither place has a commercial strip of jewelry stores like St Thomas, you can still find places to shop at both. St Croix has the “Mall Of Saint Croix,” which includes a mix of different stores but is not exactly something that would attract many travelers, but there are gift shops. Meanwhile, Saint John primarily offers local giftshops to get a souvenir to bring back home.
Verdict: Tie. Both have excellent and similar food options, and while Saint Croix has more shopping areas, it’s not exactly a typical shopping mall.
St John Vs. St Croix: Nightlife
Saint John and Saint Croix both have numerous bars that don’t close until later at night. While you might not find many nightclubs on either island, bars are a different story since there are quality options.
Joe's Rum Hut and Beach Bar are two population options in Cruz Bay, St John. If you’re located in Coral Bay, check out Skinny Legs for an upbeat island vibe.
St Croix also has its fair share of bars and restaurants for eating at night. It’s also the only island in the USVI to have a casino, The Divi Carina Bay Casino. Live music is quite popular, and crab races are a favorite community activity. Christiansted is the town to be in if you’re looking to have fun at night in St Croix.
Verdict: Saint Croix slightly beats St John. There are some bars in St. John, but Christiansted has more options, and since it’s more populated, you also get a more energetic vibe.
Which Is Better?
The best US Virgin island for you depends on what you’re looking to get out of your tropical vacation. St John is the perfect place for you to spend a lot of time doing outdoor recreation like hiking, snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving. St Croix might be a better destination if you want more historical sites, diverse dining options, or go bar hopping. Regardless, you can find similar activities in either of these two places, so it’s up to you to choose the one that best fits your needs.
For an amazing mix of the two, seriously consider St Thomas. For reference, here is a comparison between St Thomas and St John. While it receives the most tourists, making it more commercialized, it also has its array of scenic beaches, a thriving nightlife, and jewelry and retail stores.
While both of these US Virgin Islands have certain things where they’re better than the other, you won’t disappoint no matter which US virgin island you visit. You can also easily visit both on your vacation. The best part is that you don't need a passport to visit any of them.
If you’re in St John, take a ferry from Cruz Bay to Red Hook, St Thomas, then a taxi to downtown Charlotte Amalie. From downtown Charlotte Amalie, take the ferry to Christiansted, St Croix, which takes around 1.5 hours.
If staying in St. Croix, take a ferry from Gallows Bay Dock to downtown Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. Then you may need to take a taxi to the ferry in Red Hook, St Thomas, to get a ferry to the entrance in Cruz Bay, St John.
The ferries between Red Hook and Cruz Bay run hourly each day, while the ferries from downtown Charlotte Amalie to Cruz Bay may only run once every couple of hours.