If you’re vacationing on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, you’ve GOT to set aside some time to venture into the British Virgin Islands. Trust me…if you don’t, you’ll be missing out. Feeling a little overwhelmed about how to do day trips from St. John to the BVI? Not sure which islands to visit or how to get there? This post is for you! Here’s everything you need to know about day tripping it to the BVI from St. John:
The Lay of the Land
While technically two separate countries (part U.S. and part British), the Virgin Islands’ proximity and culture really make it feel like one destination. This means that traveling between the US and British Virgin Islands really isn’t that big of a deal. While it’s really one big island chain, the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix) are located at the southwest end while the British Virgin Islands (Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada, and about 60 smaller islands) are located at the northeast end. You will need a passport and you’ll have to pay exit taxes (plan to have about $45 cash per person) when you leave but otherwise, it’s a pretty routine and quick boat trip (depending on which island you’re headed to). Read this post for 22 things to know before you go to the BVIs.
Which Islands to Hit
The two most popular British Virgin Islands to visit on a day trip form St. John are Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda. While Tortola is the main island, it’s more of a bug and less likely to be your destination if you’re only going for a day. And Anegada is too far out to reach as a day trip from St. John. Those are the main islands but there’s also a smattering of smaller islands that many of the boat charters make stops at for snorkeling and lunch. Here’s the breakdown of the islands I would suggest visiting as a day trip from St. John:
Jost Van Dyke: If you’re only going to visit one of the British Virgin Islands, this is probably the one I would pick. It’s actually pretty close to St. John so it’s super quick to get there and you’ll have the perfect castaway experience. Jost Van Dyke is famous for its beach bars (read about 9 of my favorites here) and for the tiny size of the island, it has a surprisingly high number of them. It’s not hard to find an excursion from St. John to Jost Van Dyke. The most popular thing to do is drop anchor in beautiful White Bay and swim ashore for a drink at the famous Soggy Dollar. You also don’t want to miss Foxy’s in Great Harbour. Many tour companies include a stop in Great Harbour (especially if they have to clear customs) for Foxy’s before heading over to White Bay. If you’re chartering your won boat and looking for more to do on or around Jost Van Dyke, check out this post on what to do on Jost Van Dyke. Check out Sandy Cay, Sandy Spit, the Beeline on Little Jost Van Dyke and the Bubbly Pool.
Virgin Gorda: A trip to visit the Baths on Virgin Gorda is one the op of most people’s to do lists in the Virgin Islands so it’s not surprise that excursions from St. John to Virgin Gorda are pretty popular. I think the Baths are a must see destination (read more about it here), no matter how you get there. If you want to try it on your own (not as part of an excursion), there’s a direct ferry from St. John to Virgin Gorda on Thursdays and Sundays. It leaves Cruz Bay at 8:30 AM and returns at 3 PM and costs about $70/person round trip (plus exit taxes) but the trip takes just under two hours so you won’t have a TON of time to spend on the island but you can go a little more at your own place. The ferry docks in Spanish Town and from there the Baths are pretty close but you’ll need to take a cab. There’s a nice little restaurant at the top of the Baths with a fresh water pool that’s perfect for cooling off. Once you’ve explored the Baths, save a little time before you need to catch the ferry back and ask your cab driver to take you to the Savannah Bay overlook. It’s a do not miss.
Norman, Peter, & Cooper Island: This trio of small islands southeast of St. John are only accessible on a charter or excursion (no public ferries) but are perfect for a day of fun in the sun. The Bight on Norman Island is one of the most popular moorings in the British Virgin Islands and for good reason. It’s home to both Willy T’s (a kind of raucous floating bar) and Pirate’s Bight Restaurant (more family friendly). Off of Norman Island are also The Indians and The Caves, some of the most popular snorkeling spots in the Virgin Islands. Peter Bay is a pretty exclusive private island with a nice resort but Dead Man’s Bay (they have a high priced buffet there) is beautiful if you don’t mind the “hoity toity” vibe. For a more relaxed vibe, do lunch at the Cooper Island Beach Club. If you’re interested in hitting these smaller islands, you won’t have a problem finding an excursion that includes stops here.
The Best Excursions and Charters
Palm Tree Charters is a good option if you want to charter your own private boat for the day. This way, you’re in control of your itinerary! It’s about $695/day plus gas, gratuities, and customs fees ($45/person). This is a great way to see a lot of the smaller islands but I don’t believe they go all the way to Virgin Gorda.
The Bad Kitty does a four-island tour with stops on Virgin Gorda, Cooper Island, Norman Island, and Jost Van Dyke. This is probably the best bang for your buck tour. For $155/person all you have to do is sit back and relax while you’re shown the best sites in the BVIs.
Rock Hoppin’ Charters has options for pretty much everything you could want to do in the BVIs. They have day trips to Jost Van Dyke, the Baths, and the smaller islands as well. Most of their options are for full charters (groups of 6) but if you have a smaller party (and budget) they’ll work with you to try and find a share.
For the classic catamaran experience, try Kekoa’s full day sail to Jost Van Dyke. It’s about $125/person (plus $45 customs fees) and includes snorkeling stops along St. John’s north shore. This is the perfect excursion if you just want to waste the day away on White Bay.
And if you really want to go all out, do a full day charter with Love City Excursions. They will completely customize your itinerary and show you a great day. Charters from St. John to the BVI start at $800/day.
Have any questions about taking a day trip from St. John? Want to know more about any of the BVIs? Come on over to Facebook and let’s chat!
P.S. Some of these links are affiliate links, but you should know…I only recommend the best!