The Virgin Islands. The Name just gives me tropical, peaceful and warm vibes (as corny as that sounds).
St John is known as the “Jewel of the Caribbean”. After searching for two weeks for tips on which island to stay and what to do, I figured St. John would be the perfect place for us. It is almost fully national park, so there isn’t much development, there aren’t many shops or restaurants (and where there are – they are awesome and adorable), and there are some of the most gorgeous beaches all within minutes of each other. When you take the ferry over here from St. Thomas (which was cruise central when I left – thousands of tourists pouring out of the boat day to day), you feel such a sense of peace and calm. It’s perfect.
Many people speak of St. John as one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean (and it totally can be). If you aren’t watching your budget, you can move through your cash pretty quickly here.
Here is a breakdown of the average cost for a couple for a one week trip to St John without hacks – without purchasing clothing or souvenirs, or even activities (just a quick google search can show you these rates are accurate) :
T H E NON – H A C K B R E A K D O W N
Flight: Flight into Tortola from JFK $1400 – $700 RT/PP for a reasonable duration one stop over flight
Ferries: Tortola to St John = $80 RT; St Thomas to St John = $40 RT
Rental Car (4 Door Jeep): $700/week no insurance (the lowest was $560 for two door SUV)
Hotel Room: $3000/week (For a 3 star standard hotel and up – some hotels on the beach were over $1200/night)
All Meals: $840 (2 people at avg $20/meal per person)
Breakfast: $15-30/person (*rates taken from local resort restaurants and cafes)
Lunch: $15 – $30/person+*
Dinner: $20-$40/person+ *
TOTAL: $6100 without activities, souvenirs, or extra drinks 😉
T H E H A C K
Flight: Flight into St Thomas from FLL $400 at $200 RT/PP (or $300 RT JFK to St. Thomas). Always check google.com/flights to see if there are any other airports nearby that are more affordable to fly into (and any other dates – one day before or after could save hundreds)
Ferries: St Thomas to St John $80 total = $40 RT
Taxis: $70 – $140/week – $10 – $20/day ($5/per person one way to beach or town)
Vacation Rentals: $2500+ per week for 2 to 3 bedroom high end rentals in high season ($830+ per room or per couple). You can get great weekly discounts, and much greater two week discounts. When we extended our trip, our host cut the rate by over 40% for the second week! There are also greater discounts for even more luxurious larger homes with 5+ bedrooms, and if travel in the low season – you can get an even better rate – probably save 70% on some listings. We are traveling in the high season so our options were still limited with over 80% of the island booked up.
All Meals: $250 groceries per week and $100-200 for smoothies or light meals here and there. Cook most of your meals and pack some to go snacks for the beach! When you want to dine out, enjoy some apps or smoothies and take in the atmosphere without spending a fortune. Eating home can help keep health goals on point for your trip as well.
TOTAL: $1730 total on the low end for a pretty luxurious trip in one of the hottest destinations in the world! Leaving a lot of budget left over for activities.
With a few travel hacks, you can have the same luxury experience as a high end trip yet save a fortune. The flights were the same, just to different islands – actually flying to tortola actually required a stop over – so the flight to St Thomas was the better option for comfort! The flight alone can save over $1000. Not renting a car will save another $500+ and we got to take the fun safari style taxis all over! By staying in a vacation rental as a group, with a kitchen, you can save thousands. In total, you can save over $4000 by just doing a little saving here and there! If you travel with two other couples, and you look at your savings, you may be able to save $12,000 or more and take some more trips this year!
PS: DON’T MISS OUT ON VIRGIN GORDA! Take a ferry for 90 PP (includes customs fees) or take the Bad Kitty boat tour (it’s epic – you won’t regret it!). Many people I spoke to on St Thomas had never even heard of the baths or virgin gorda – and it’s one of the coolest places to visit in the Caribbean.