St. John US Virgin Islands
Packing List

Vacation Travel Tips

Essential Packing Lists

Planning Your Trip

Saint John is a small, relatively quiet island in the Caribbean. More than half of the island is Virgin Island National Park. Most of what there is to do on the island has to do with nature and the National Park. There are a number of hiking trails and many beaches with coral to snorkel around.

We recommend going sometime around January when the heat isn't oppressive. There are rental jeeps available on the island. Book well in advance -- waiting for the shuttle buses on the island can be a drag.

Groceries are very expensive on the island. One option is to ship a box of non-perishable food to your destination ahead of your arrival.

Our Experience on St. John

We stayed in Eco Tents on the south east corner of the island. The tents were perched on stilts on the side of a hill and had beautiful views of Drunk Bay and Saltpond Bay. From this little peninsula we had postcard views of sunrise and sunset. This location was convenient for snorkeling around the coral in Saltpond Bay and hiking the Ram Head Trail.

Getting around the island is pretty easy if you have a rental jeep. Just remember to drive on the left side of the road. And take it slowly! The roads are incredibly twisty, narrow and hilly and there are goats and donkeys everywhere.

We didn't ship any food ahead of our stay and ended up paying a small fortune for basic food items at the little markets on the island. There are a number of great places to eat on St. John. We especially enjoyed conch fritters at Vie's Snack Shack on the East End of the island and dinner at Sweet Plantains in Coral Bay. If you eat at Sweet Plantains be sure to try the award winning desserts.

The best snorkeling we had was at Waterlemon Cay. It's a little difficult to get to, but there are far fewer tourists, the coral is larger and more plentiful and there was much more wildlife. We encountered giant starfish, stingrays, sea turtles, reef squid and countless fish.

Map of St. John US Virgin Islands

Must-Pack Items

If you can get it through airport security, bring your own insect repellent. The can we bought on the island was $9!

We forgot our beach towels and had a hard time keeping our eco hotel towels dry in the humid tropical air (no air conditioning in our tent). We recommend the super absorbant, fast drying towel below.

There was no electricity, so no TV weather forecast where we stayed. The little wind up emergency radio below had a weather band so we could find out if there was going to be rough water and schedule our snorkeling for other times. Here's why I love this radio: It has AM and FM and Weather bands, can be powered by the crank dynamo or the built-in solar panel, and has a built-in flashlight. You can even charge your cell phone (connected by a USB cable) by turing the crank.

Universal Packing List

This packing list contains stuff we bring on just about every trip.

A carry-on shoulder bag contains:

Toiletry bag from LL Bean contains:

Electronic Gear (all in a gallon ziplock)

First Aid & Miscellaneous Items (all in a gallon ziplock)