St. John vs St. Croix: Battle of the Islands

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

The U.S. Virgin Islands is blessed with three beautiful islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. My husband and I explored all around St. John and St. Croix, which gave us a sense of what made these two islands unique. Each island has its own individual culture and attractions, so first-timers often ask which island is best. The answer all depends on your interests and what kind of traveler you are. I hope our experiences will guide you in figuring out which is right for you … St. John vs St. Croix.

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01- Beaches

St. John truly has some amazing world-class beaches such as Trunk Bay.

Think super soft white sand and turquoise waters … the quintessential Caribbean beach. We went to 11 different beaches during our stay in St. John, which is all detailed in my article 12 Top Things To Do in St. John.

Trunk Bay Beach in St John USVI

Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

St. Croix also has some beautiful beaches like Cane Bay, Isaac Bay, and Rainbow Beach, but they were not spectacular as the ones in St. John.

Rainbow Beach in St Croix

Rainbow Beach in St. Croix



02- Food

I think most will agree that St. Croix has some of the best food in the U.S. Virgin Islands!

From fine restaurants to food trucks to local eateries, St Croix offers up some of the best island food. One of our favorites was La Reine Chicken Shack, where we had the best BBQ chicken!

St. Croix even holds an annual foodie festival called the Taste of St. Croix, hosted by celebrity chefs.

La Reine Chicken Shack

La Reine Chicken Shack in St Croix

La Reine Chicken Shack Chicken, baked macaroni, baked beans

BBQ chicken, baked macaroni, & baked beans at La Reine Chicken Shack

Do not get me wrong.

St. John also has some amazing places to eat as well, but St. Croix definitely wins the food category.

One of our favorite meals in St. John was the grouper reuben at Miss Lucy’s. Weird combo, yes, but it works and it is incredible!

Grouper reuben at Miss Lucy's in St. John USVI

Grouper reuben at Miss Lucy’s in St. John USVI



03- Ambiance

St. John overall is a little more “touristy” and is denser than St. Croix. It can get quite crowded at the popular tourist attractions.

That is one reason we loved staying in Coral Bay in St. John, which felt more relaxed and had a fun “hippie vibe” compared to the busier parts of the island.

In contrast, St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and is more spread out and felt less crowded. You really feel the “island culture” while driving around in St. Croix and interacting with the locals.



04- Snorkeling Sites

We love snorkeling and have done many amazing snorkations.

Let me tell you … St John has NUMEROUS top-notch snorkeling sites, which can be mostly accessed offshore! No tour boat is required.

Expect lots of turtles, schools of Blue Tang, stingrays, beautiful coral, and even nurse sharks! 

Check out my St John Snorkeling Guide for all the 11 sites we discovered.

Turtle at Francis Bay in St. John USVI

Turtle at Francis Bay in St. John USVI

Snorkeling with schools of blue tang at Haulover Bay North in St. John USVI

Schools of blue tang at Haulover Bay North in St. John USVI

St. Croix also offers some unique snorkeling sites but just not as many as St. John.

One of our favorite sites was snorkeling under the pylons at Frederiksted Pier, which were coated with brightly colored orange, red, and yellow coral and all kinds of little sea creatures. 

Another must-visit St. Croix snorkeling site is Buck Island. One of the highlights was encountering a huge school of Jacks while snorkeling the underwater trail. 

Beautifully coral coated pylon at Frederiksted Pier St Croix USVI

Beautifully coral coated pylon at Frederiksted Pier St Croix USVI

Close up of School of Jack Fish at Buck Island in St Croix

Close up of school of Jack Fish at Buck Island in St Croix



05- Cost

In general, we found vacation rentals in St. Croix to be cheaper than St. John.

Grocery store prices were also cheaper in St. Croix than in St. John.

We went to four different grocery stores in St John: Starfish, Dolphin Market, Calabash, and Love City. Starfish was the largest of the three but still small. It offered the best prices in St. John but was still quite expensive.

Starfish Market St. John USVI

Starfish Market in St John

When we were in St. Croix, we got all of our groceries at the main supermarket, Plaza West (now known as The Market).

Surprisingly, they were not very expensive and offered a lot of great local produce at an affordable cost.

We also noticed they get quite a few bulk Costco items. They even had my favorite Kirkland organic strawberry spread. 

Local produce at Plaza West in St Croix

Local produce at Plaza West in St Croix

Kirkland items at Plaza West in St Croix

Bulk Costco items at Plaza West in St Croix



06- Topography & Properties 

St. John was incredibly picturesque with all of its curvy roads and hills.

Many vacation rentals are perched high up in the hills, allowing for some amazing panoramic views. We loved waking up every morning to an incredible view over Coral Bay from our St. John villa.

If you are still figuring out where to stay in St John, don’t miss my article below.

Our St John villa in Coral Bay St John

Our St John villa in Coral Bay, St John

Coral Bay as seen from the villa rental balcony

Coral Bay, St John as seen from our villa rental balcony

In contrast, St. Croix was relatively flat.

Although it does not offer dramatic views like in St. John, you can still expect some amazing views.

We stayed in Cane Bay in St. Croix in a villa that was perched on a cliffside over the ocean. Pretty spectacular!

Check out my article on Where to Stay in St. Croix for more details.

The Breakers at Cane Bay in St Croix

Our villa rental in Cane Bay, St Croix

The sunset as seen from The Breakers at Cane Bay in St Croix

The sunset as seen from our villa rental in St Croix

Another advantage St. Croix offers is its beachfront properties.

It is difficult in St. John to find accommodations right on the beach. This is not the case in St. Croix!



Final Thoughts

As you can see, you can’t really say St. John is better than St. Croix or St. Croix is better than St. John. It comes down to what you are looking for on a vacation.

If you want perfect pristine beaches, amazing panoramic views, top-notch snorkeling sites, and DIY adventure, St. John is your island.

If you are looking for more island culture, delicious cuisine, beachfront properties, and a wide variety of attractions, then start booking that villa in St. Croix.

We loved both islands for all of the above reasons!  

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Are you Team St John or Team St Croix?

Let me know in the comments below!

  1. Kent

    Excellent article for those considering the two islands … thank you for you thoughts you can pretty much disregard my trip advisor question… this was my exact question

    • Nichole

      So glad to hear this article helped. Happy to answer any other questions that might come up comparing the 2 islands.

  2. David

    Great info Nichole, many thanks for this! Your lists answered so many of the questions we’ve had. STJ is our happy place but certainly going to give STX a look for sure.

    • Nichole

      So glad to hear this post helped! I was in your same boat not too long ago trying to figure out if STX was worth it. STJ will always be my first love, but STX was a nice change up.

  3. Deb

    Nichole, great comparison. We are scheduled for st Croix in a few weeks and wish I would have seen this before. Should we try to do a day trip over to St John in your opinion.

    • Nichole

      Great question. I would not do St. John as a day trip. You would be wasting so much time going between the islands. To get to St. John, you would have to go back to St. Thomas first and then take a ferry over to St. John.

      At one point, there was limited direct ferry service between St. Croix and St. John, but I’m not sure if they are operating anymore.

      I would advise having an amazing time in St. Croix and enjoying St. John on another vacation.


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