St. Croix Vs St. John (Which Island To Visit)

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Last updated: May 3rd, 2023

Located in the heart of the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands encompass everything that makes this region world-renowned. The warm turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and carefree island lifestyle are everywhere.

Visitors worldwide come to St. John and St. Croix for prime snorkeling spots, scenic hiking trails, and world-class accommodations. Both islands are prime examples of what people mean when they say island paradise. They can both serve as a romantic getaway or a family-friendly destination. 

Whether you want to get away from it all and connect with nature or luxuriate with 5-star accommodations and dining, St. John and St. Croix has you covered. If you’re curious how these two islands compare and which one to vacation in, here is a complete St John vs. St Croix comparison guide. 

1. Beaches/Snorkeling 

Finding a slice of paradise is easy in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Between St. Croix and St. John are miles of pristine sand beaches and what seems like endless calming blue water. 

Trunk Bay
Trunk Bay Beach

St. Croix is a popular destination all around, with plenty of fun activities and shopping for visitors. It has a few snorkeling spots of note, such as Buck Island Reef, Cane Bay, and Davis Bay, but they are a little more spread out and require more transportation to get to and from. However, beaches like Rainbow Beach and Turtle Beach are gorgeous, with soft white sand and crystal clear waters. 

There are abundant snorkeling locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but St. John is far and away the best option. Much of the coast of St. John is peppered with ideal snorkeling locations, which feature shallow, warm waters and heaps of biodiversity like sea turtles, rays, and coral reefs. 

There are literally dozens of prime snorkeling locations on St. John, many of them with soft, white sand entrances to the water. The island even has an underwater snorkeling trail in Trunk Bay Beach

sea turtle
Sea turtle

If you are visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands for the beaches and snorkeling, St. John should be number one on your list. Beginners and experts can find ample opportunities to explore here.

2. Attractions/Activites

When it comes to attractions and activities, St. Croix and St. John are on equal footing. Both islands provide a host of opportunities for outdoor fun, including parasailing, boating, jet skiing, and ziplining, with incredible views.

paddleboarder St John

If you prefer your activities and attractions to center around the natural beauty of the area, St. John is a great choice. The Virgin Islands National Park includes plenty of options for fishing, boating, hiking, and snorkeling. You can easily access these activities and several beaches or pay for guided tours in St. John from local experts.

For those who enjoy spending time in a modern island town setting, St. Croix provides some of the hustle and bustle of a small American city in the middle of an island oasis. Still, you’re never far from water activities or a scenic hike. Plus, you can try some fantastic food tours for local cuisine and delights. 

There is no shortage of things to do between St. Croix and St. John. Both islands have equal opportunities to make memories of a lifetime with friends, family, or just that special someone.

3. Hiking Trails

If you’re looking for some of the top hiking trails in all of the Caribbean, St. John should be your go-to choice. Within the Virgin Islands National Park, there are more than enough trails to choose from that feature some of the most breathtaking views on display of the surrounding islands, including St. Thomas and St. Croix and Virgin Gorda and Tortola of the British Virgin Islands.

st john hikes
Ram Head Trail Cliff

Whether you want to hike through plantation ruins, waterfalls, vibrant forests, beaches, or to the top of a mountain, St. John has options to suit you. The Ram Head trail and Reef Bay Trail are incredibly popular. 


St. Croix shouldn’t be counted out and does have a few hikes, including Jack and Isaac’s Bay Preserve Trail and Goat Hill overlook. All these are free to visit and offer varying degrees of difficulty, from mountainous climbs to sandy strolls.

However, St Croix can’t beat the large number of trails within the Virgin Islands National Park. 

4. Accommodations

St. Croix and St. John have quite similar accommodations. The US Virgin Islands offer all inclusive resorts, beachfront villas, and secluded bungalows and cottages.

Starting off with St. Croix, there are beachfront hotels to the west and north and an island resort called The Hotel on the Cay, just off the coast near Christiansted. Whether you’re looking for a comfortable place to rest every day or a resort with a packed amenities list, you can find one in Saint Croix.

St. John embraces nature’s beauty with properties built in the traditional Caribbean style. Much of the island is an untouched natural beauty, and the accommodations were carefully built to harmonize with nature. The villas, gatehouses, and estates all feel like places out of time but perfectly located. There is even a campground near Cinnamon Bay beach for overnight camping.

It all comes down to a matter of preferences, as the surroundings on both these tropical islands are an awe-inspiring backdrop for any kind of stay. Back to basics, classic hotel all the way to all-inclusive 5-star treatment, you can find a little of each on St. Croix and St. John.

5. Dining/Food

There is no shortage of dining options on St. Croix and St. John islands. The popularity of both has brought a wide selection of world-class cuisine to rival anything you might find anywhere else on the planet. Talented chefs and restauranteurs have flocked to the Caribbean to bring global style and taste to visitors and locals.

lime out
Lime Out

St. Croix has loads of options around Christiansted and Frederiksted. Whether you’re looking for BBQ or pub grub or want to take advantage of the abundant seafood, there’s something for every taste and price point between these hubs.

When visiting St. John, you can find equally great options in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. There are places for traditional American fare like burgers and fries or kick up the spice some with BBQ or regionally influenced tacos or some fancy steak. 

Some of the well-known beaches in St John will also occasionally have a food truck on the road. For a unique experience, check out the Lime Out VI restaurant near Coral Bay, a taco restaurant on the water you swim or kayak up to. 

In addition to the independently run dining establishments, many of the all-inclusive resorts and classic lodging properties have in-house dining options that are top-notch. If you want to take the guesswork out, these locations provide great bang for the buck.

6. Shopping

If you’re shopping for necessities or luxury items, it’s nice to know where you might be better off visiting. Both St. Croix and St. John have options, depending on what you’re looking to shop for.

Still, Saint Croix is the better choice if you want to shop around. Christiansted, in the center of St. Croix, has a large selection of shops to choose from, including art galleries, clothing stores, and markets for fresh produce and other food goods. On the island’s west side, you can find Frederiksted, which has a similarly large selection of stores.

Cruz Bay
Cruz Bay

Saint John only has a few towns with stores that can serve general needs, but most of the island is the unoccupied wilderness of the Virgin Islands National Park. Stop by Cruz Bay on the west side of the island (ferry entrance) or Coral Bay on the east side of the island. This is where you can rent any snorkeling gear or other things for watersports. You can also find a nice souvenir to take back home. 

When it comes down to it, St. Croix allows the most variety of clothing, keepsakes, and luxury items..

7. Overall

Personal preferences matter when choosing a tropical vacation destination. The US Virgin Islands are famous for a reason, and St. Croix and St. Johns can provide any type of experience you’re after. Each island has strengths that lend to one type of vacation over the other.

st croix view
View of St Croix

If you want luxury, over-the-top fun, dining, and shopping, consider St. Croix. There is a little bit of big-city energy between Christiansted and Frederiksted, all while embracing an overall relaxed island vibe.

St. John is the perfect place for outdoor activities, soaking in the sun at the beach and some of the best snorkeling in the world. You can really unwind and have a carefree time here. It’s a relaxing escape from it all as a standalone destination or as a stop on your itinerary.

Best of all, you can visit both on your trip. Each is only a short one-stop ferry ride away from the other, with the stop being made in St Thomas as most of the ferries begin and start here.  

You can visit to let loose and party or leave your cares on the mainland and escape it all, watching the worries wash away with the gentle blue waves.

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