How to Get to St John: By Ferry, Barge, Boat, or Helicopter

by | Last updated Apr 19, 2024 | St. John

I have found the best places take a little effort to get to. The beautiful island of St. John U.S. Virgin Islands is one of them! There is no airport, so let’s chat about the best four options on how to get to St. John: ferry, barge, boat, and helicopter.

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01- Passenger Ferry 

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THREE FERRY ROUTES

Remember there is no airport in St. John U.S. Virgin Islands.

Don’t get confused. There’s a V.C. Bird International Airport (airport code ANU) in St. John’s, Antigua.

Do not accidentally book it!

You must fly into Cyril E. King Airport on the island of St. Thomas first BEFORE you can reach St. John. The airport code is STT.

Once you land on St. Thomas, you have four options to reach St. John: passenger ferry, car barge, private water taxi, or helicopter.

A Map of Passenger Ferry Routes from St. Thomas to St. John

Map of 3 Passenger Ferry Routes from St. Thomas to St. John

The first option to get to St. John is by passenger ferry.

You’ll need to get a shared public taxi or private taxi (CaribbaConnect or Big Love’s Taxi) to the dock first. You have 3 ferry routes to choose from on St. Thomas:

1. Crown Bay Marina: 5 minutes from the airport. $20 one-way. $5 per luggage piece. Limited ferry times.

2. Charlotte Amalie Blyden Marine Terminal: 8 minutes from the airport. $13 one-way. $4 per luggage piece. Limited ferry times.

3. Red Hook: 30 minutes from the airport. $8.15 one-way. $4 per luggage piece. Many ferry time options.

All ferry routes transport you to the docking location at Cruz Bay, St. John.

Here are the passenger ferry schedules.

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ONLINE BOOKING POSSIBLE

You can book online ahead of time to guarantee your spot.

02- Car Barge

A Map of Car Barge Route from St. Thomas to St. John

Map of Car Barge Route from St. Thomas to St. John

The second option that will take you to St. John is the car barge. Red Hook Car Barge is the only docking station, which is about 30 minutes away from the airport.

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THREE COMPANIES TO CHOOSE FROM

  1. Love City Car Ferries: $50 one-way or $65 roundtrip.
  2. Global Marine’s Tug Life: $50 one-way or $65 roundtrip.
  3. Big Red Car Barge Co.: $50 one-way or $65 roundtrip.

Here are the car barge schedules for all three companies.

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ONLINE BOOKING POSSIBLE

You can book your ticket ahead of time.

    1. Love City Ferries: Book on their online portal
    2. Big Red Car Barge Co.: Book on their online portal  
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OUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE CAR BARGE

St. John USVI car ferry

St. John USVI car ferry

The car barge is the option we chose. We booked our car with Amalie Car Rental. As soon as you step out of the airport, they are right there waiting with your Jeep.

I highly recommend them!

Amalie Car Rental Jeep in St. John USVI

Our Amalie Car Rental Jeep in St. John

We drove around 30 minutes to get to the Red Hook Car Barge. Since all car ferry companies are comparable, we did not pre-book online.

This allowed us the flexibility of taking whatever company had the next ferry when we arrived. In our case, it happened to be Love City Car Ferries.

Before we entered the car ferry loading area, we paid a nominal $3 VI government port fee. An attendant told us to reverse into one of the designated lanes in the loading area parking lot. Once the car barge arrived, we had to drive in reverse into a small space on the car ferry.

I’m glad my husband was driving!

You have to be somewhat coordinated to back the car up onto the ferry inches away from the cars in the other lanes. An attendant then collected our one-way fee.

They will try to convince you to save $35 and pay the round-trip fee of $65.

Do you what you wish, but we did not for the following three reasons:

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Reason #1

If you pay the roundtrip fee, you must come back with the same car ferry company.

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Reason #2

The car ferry companies operate at different times. If you happen to miss your car ferry (with the company you paid the roundtrip fee to) as you leave St. John, then you have to wait for their next ferry to enjoy the savings. Otherwise, if you go with the next available company (which will be with another company since they alternate), then you’ll have to pay another one-way fee.

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Reason #3

It will limit you to one company’s schedule. I don’t know about you, but I maximize every second of my vacation. Instead of timing my last day based on a specific car ferry company’s schedule, I was able to enjoy my last few hours in St. John because it didn’t matter which car ferry company I took going back.

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CAR BARGE TOP TIPS

I loved the fact that once we arrived in St. John on the car ferry, we drove right off and were ready to explore right away.

Here are my top three tips:

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Tip #1

The car barge companies advise arriving at least 30 minutes prior to the departure time. Allow plenty of time when going back to St. Thomas because you don’t want to miss your flight!

If there are local workers who need to cross, they will likely get priority over you, which could mean you are taking the next ferry. Do not cut it too close.

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Tip #2

If you use the car barge, note you drive to the Theodore Eric Moorehead Marine Facility to get on the car ferry NOT the Cruz Bay Ferry Dock!

Two separate places.

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Tip #3

Load up on groceries at Starfish Market right there in Cruz Bay before you head over to your vacation rental, so you’re ready to go!

If you are still trying to figure out where to stay in St. John, do not miss my article below which goes through all the best properties!

03- Private Water Taxi 

It’s more expensive than the passenger or car ferry, but if you want to operate on your own schedule then book a private water taxi.

Here are your four options:

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#1- DOLPHIN WATER TAXI

Dolphin Water Taxi will drive you 30 minutes from St. Thomas airport to Red Hook.

Then you take a private water taxi to Cruz Bay, St. John for $85 per person one-way. If you are staying at the Westin in St. John, they will drop you right off at the resort for an additional $40.

More info is on the official website.

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#2- LAST MILE WATER TAXI

The staff will meet you at the St. Thomas airport and take you to your 40’ Custom Built Gold Coast Yacht Wave Piercing Catamaran either in Crown Bay or Red Hook. Then you’re off to St. John!

$125 per person each way from Crown Bay.

$100 per person each way from Red Hook.

More info is on the official website.

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#3- ST. THOMAS WATER TAXI

Pricey!

One-way transfer from Crown Bay Marina in St. Thomas (5 minutes away from the airport) to St. John starts at $525 and from Sapphire Beach Marina (40 minutes from the airport) in St. Thomas to St. John starts at $250.

These prices do NOT include the cost of the taxi you would need to get from St. Thomas airport to the marinas.

More info is on the official website.

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#4- SEAHORSE LAND & WATER TAXI

Great reviews online. You must contact them for a quote. They do state pricing starts at $462+ with a 4-person minimum, which includes the land and water taxi.

More info is on the official website.

04- Helicopter

Helicopter

Not the actual helicopter

Helicopter? Yep, you can fly up to 8 passengers via a 15-minute helicopter ride from St. Thomas to St. John.

Caribbean Buzz is the operator. Contact them directly for a quote.

The price range is listed as $$$$ on their Facebook page, so this premium VIP service does come at a cost.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several options to choose from. Most people will use the passenger ferry or car barge.

We loved the car barge. No waiting for a taxi at the airport.

Our car rental was right there waiting for us. Driving up onto the car barge was a straightforward process. Once we arrived in St. John, we were ready to start exploring right away. Easy, breezy.

Navigating the windy roads past herds of donkeys in our Jeep and exploring the island is one of our favorite things to do in St. John!

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Questions on how to get to St. John?

Let me know in the comments below!

4 Comments
  1. Morgan Locke

    There is now a new private service to St John as well, called The Last Mile Water Taxi. Utilizing one of Dohm’s Water Taxi’s prior flagship vessels, we will be offering private transfer originating right from baggage claim in STT airport.

    Reply
    • Nichole

      Thank you for the update. I’ve included Last Mile Water Taxi as another transportation option in the post.

      Reply
  2. Ashley

    This is an amazing post! I have been struggling with which way/which company and this is the only place I have found all of the options and links listed in one place. We will definitely rent with Amalie! Thanks so much! Going to read your other St John’s posts now…

    Reply
    • Nichole

      Thank you so much for the kind feedback! You will love Amalie. Fantastic customer service. Enjoy your trip! 😊

      Reply

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