Best Places to Stay in St. John: 2023 Review of Boutique Properties
The answer to Where are the best places to stay in St John? will depend on what you are looking for in a vacation. With over 400+ vacation rentals scattered over the island, how do you even begin to sift through all the choices? I do an insane amount of research planning our vacations (more hours than I care to admit!). I’ll walk you through the most popular six areas to stay in and which properties are worth your consideration. Let’s go find your happy place on the beautiful island of St. John!
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Map of Best Places to Stay in St. John
Map of best places to stay in St. John
FYI: St. John is 2/3 national park, so there’s not much room for resorts. This fact makes it incredibly unique compared to other Caribbean destinations. With only three resorts (Westin, Gallows Point Resort, and Lovango Resort) and a handful of Inns and B&Bs, where do people stay?
Most people will stay in either Cruz Bay (western end of the island) or Coral Bay (eastern end of the island).
There are little neighborhoods sandwiched in between as shown in the map above, but those are the two main areas.
How do you decide which neighborhood is best for you?
And what are the best places to stay in each neighborhood?
Let’s break it down.
01- Coral Bay / Carolina / Bordeaux
View of Coral Bay from our villa rental
My husband and I love staying in Coral Bay, so I’m going to be a little biased!
You will notice people are either strongly Team Cruz Bay or strongly Team Coral Bay.
REASONS FOR STAYING IN CORAL BAY
#1 Jaw-dropping Views
Most of the vacation rentals in Coral Bay are perched high in the hills, which allows for incredible panoramic views. The higher, the better!
#2 Closer Access to the Top Snorkeling Spots
After snorkeling all over St. John, we found our favorite spots were much closer to Coral Bay than Cruz Bay (Waterlemon Cay, Little Lameshur to Yawzi Point, Haulover North, etc)
#3 Less Busy, More Isolated
Coral Bay is much quieter and “chill” than Cruz Bay. It kinda has a laid-back, hippie vibe. There are a lot of goats and donkeys walking around, sometimes even creating a temporary roadblock on the roads. We loved the relaxed feel. Think more Tulum than Cancun if you’ve been to Mexico.
#4 Home to a Floating Taco Bar & Island's Best Made Cocktail
A floating taco bar? Yep. Tell me where else can you do that in the world? Discover Lime Out. Coral Bay is also home to Skinny Legs, who arguably makes the best cocktail on the island, the Painkiller.
Calichi at Picture Point
You will swoon over the incredible views and resort-style pool! This private enclave of six 1-2 bedroom villas is pretty incredible. Modern, fresh, clean, floor-to-ceiling windows, and with plenty of natural light. You will find a lot of the rental properties in St. John are not very modern. This property is a rare exception.
I am a sucker for an incredible view. Views overlooking Coral Bay will draw you right in. This cozy 2 BR rental is equipped with its own private pool. The interior is bright and airy. Not as modern as Calichi but still a solid choice at a great price point. Oh, and all the reviews are 5.0 on Vrbo, which is extremely hard to come by!
Anchorage Aweigh is another fantastic 2 BR vacation rental option. We stayed here and spent many happy hours on the wraparound balcony overlooking all the boats dotted along Coral Bay. Not as modern as the places we usually stay in, but at the price point it worked out great. In addition, they really have a fantastic pool! Renting a Jeep is a must. The drive up is not for the faint of heart.
Outdoor space at Anchorage Aweigh: the villa we stayed at in Coral Bay
02- Cruz Bay
Best places to stay in St John: Cruz Bay
REASONS FOR STAYING IN CRUZ BAY
#1 More Restaurants, Bars, Shopping, & Nightlife
If you stay right in Cruz Bay, all the restaurants and bars are at your fingertips. The close proximity to all the action means you do not have to worry about driving back long distances on hilly roads at night. Enjoy happy hour, have dinner, and then walk back to your rental.
#2 Great Sunsets
Because of its location on the western side, Cruz Bay offers some stunning sunsets as you sip on that great cocktail and start planning your next trip back.
#3 Better Grocery Store
I think my husband and I checked out almost every grocery store on the island: Starfish Market, Pine Peace Mini Mart, Dolphin Market, Calabash, and Love City Market. Starfish in Cruz Bay by far had the best selection of produce, bread/pastries, everyday times, and alcohol.
St. John Escape
End unit, so lots of light! Incredible view overlooking the harbor. All the restaurants and bars are within a short walking distance. Forget the car. Love the modern, updated fresh decor. King-sized bed and AC in every room, which is very hard to come by in some of these rentals. All 5.0 reviews on Vrbo!
This 1 BR vacation rental is part of a boutique collection of suites located within the Grande Bay Resort, so you also get access to the community pool and fitness room.
The historic and family-owned Estate Lindholm is one of the few inns located on the island. With only 17 rooms, the feel is intimate, private, and adults-only. All rooms get incredible views of Cruz Bay harbor. Don’t miss checking out the Haulover room, the new penthouse on the third floor!
Breakfast is included. Very personalized attention. Short but hilly walk to all the restaurants and bars in Cruz Bay. Incredible TripAdvisor reviews (5.0) and Google Reviews (4.9)!
03- North Shore
One of the North Shore beaches: Cinnamon Bay Beach
REASONS FOR STAYING IN NORTH SHORE
#1 Next to World-Class Beaches
The North Shore Beaches (like Trunk Bay) in St. John USVI are ranked among the best in the WORLD! If you are a beach bum, a North Shore vacation rental will be your happy place.
#2 Range of Properties
You have a range of properties to choose from including everything from a tent at $155/night with direct beach access to a very swanky, luxurious 7-bedroom rental at $4,000+/night in the exclusive Peter Bay area. Quite the range, huh?
#3 Short Drive to Cruz Bay
Although not within walking distance, all the restaurants and nightlife of Cruz Bay are a short drive away. There are even taxi stands at Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay Beach, which will take you to Cruz Bay for around $10. Current taxi rates can be found here.
This is my kind of place! Unique and exotic, this 3BR (all king-sized beds!) Japanese-inspired house is perched high in the forest canopy of St. John National Park. Only a 5-minute walk to Hawksnest Bay Beach. The 5.0 Vrbo reviews speak for themselves.
Another spectacular 2 BR vacation rental perched among the tree canopy in the coveted North Shore section. No other houses in sight. The personal plunge pool faces west, great for spectacular sunsets! I love the fact it has a screened-in dining area, so you can enjoy dinner outdoors without the mosquitoes.
Minutes from the beach and a short drive from Cruz Bay. Oh, and they have an outdoor shower! If you read any of my lodging reviews you know I love an outdoor shower (Boardwalk in Aruba and Reethi Faru in the Maldives!). 5.0 Vrbo reviews!
04- Chocolate Hole / Rendezvous Bay / Fish Bay
Best places to stay in St. John: Chocolate Hole, Rendezvous Bay, Fish Bay
REASONS FOR STAYING IN CHOCOLATE HOLE
#1 Quiet but Still Close to the Action
These little neighborhoods are just outside of Cruz Bay, with Fish Bay being the farthest (about 15 minutes).
#2 More of a Community Feel
The vacation rentals in these little neighborhoods are mixed in with residential homes, giving more of a “community feel.”
#3- Fantastic Views
A lot of the properties are perched high up in the hills offering gorgeous views of the turquoise bays below.
Villa Chez Shell
Cute as a button. Think beach cottage chic. White wooden ceiling beams, seashells, and soft pastel colors. This 2 BR (both king-sized beds!) vacation rental has a beautiful pool overlooking the harbor. Lots of windows and natural light. This place could be booked for the fantastic view alone. Short drive into Cruz Bay. 5.0 Vrbo reviews.
Not many places can offer you jaw-dropping 180-degree sunset views! This elegantly decorated 3BR rental has a spectacular pool and hot tub. It boasts travertine floors, a mahogany-beam ceiling, and Restoration Hardware-looking linens in soft neutrals. Adults-only residence. 5.0 Vrbo reviews!
Love the aesthetic of this modern cozy 1 BR villa with an outdoor shower. It even includes a private plunge pool! Its location offers fantastic sunset views since it’s perched on the hillside. Super convenient location. Only 3 minutes from Cruz Bay. A perfect intimate couple’s getaway. Incredible, hospitable hosts. Stellar 5.0 Vrbo reviews.
05- Calabash /John’s Folly / Salt Pond
Best places to Stay in St John: Salt Pod Bay (pictured: Salt Pond Beach)
REASONS FOR STAYING IN CALABASH
Located on the Coral Bay side, the overall vibe is much more laid-back and quiet.
#2 Closer to the Top Snorkeling Spots
The top snorkeling spots are a stone’s throw away. These neighborhoods are near excellent snorkeling spots such as Salt Pond Bay.
#3 Next to the Best Hike on the Island
The Ram Head hiking trail is an incredible hike and not be missed. Easily accessible if you stay in this location.
Mason Miele Pool House
The 1 BR property is so close to the ocean, you could basically fall right in. It’s that oceanfront. That means you get to enjoy the sound of those soothing, crashing waves. It reminds me of our St Croix cliffside rental. It does not get more relaxing than that.
Enjoy those breezes, which usually means fewer bugs! The owner has done an incredible job decorating. Beach cottage meets farmhouse chic. The colors are cool-toned and relaxing. Oh, and there’s a 30’ salt-chlorinated lap pool to get your exercise in, which you will need because one of my favorite restaurants is next door … Miss Lucys. Don’t miss the grouper reuben. 5.0 Vrbo reviews.
06- East End
St John donkeys on the East End
REASONS FOR STAYING IN THE EAST END
#1 Truly Remote
This is the most remote part and least populated area of St. John. You will likely see more donkeys than people
#2 Home of Haulover Bay
We snorkel all over the world. It’s an understatement to say we love snorkeling. So of course we had to snorkel all the spots in St. John, and Haulover Bay was one of our favorites!
#3 Home of Hansen Bay Beach
If you want to avoid the craziness of the North Shore beaches, check out the gorgeous Hansen Bay Beach. Operated by donations from a lovely lady named Thalia, your day is going to be great. Stay in this neighborhood, and you’ll have close access to this incredible beach.
This quiet, very private 2BR rental has a beautiful saltwater pool and outdoor lounge space. The interior is bright and cheery. Great outdoor shower. Plenty of ceiling fans because there is no AC! Despite this fact, this property still gets 5.0 Vrbo reviews. Close to excellent snorkeling.
Final Thoughts on Best Places to Stay in St. John
To summarize …
– If you love amazing beaches, stay on the North Shore.
– If you love a hippie, laid-back vibe with incredible views, a few fantastic bars and restaurants, and access to the top snorkeling spots, stay in Coral Bay,
– If you love the nightlife, great restaurants, happy hour sunsets, and walking back from dinner, stay in Cruz Bay.
We are avid snorkelers and hikers and love dining at unique, cool places (Skinny Legs, Miss Lucys). That is why my husband and I are on Team Coral Bay, but each to their own!
Need help figuring out your St. John itinerary? Don’t miss my article below.
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