Trunk Bay St. John USVI

St. John Budget Travel

Enjoy America's Paradise without
busting the bank

St. John on a budget.

St. John in the US Virgin Islands has always been a popular spot with the rich and famous. Kenny Chesney sings about it, Alan Alda spends his holidays there and the islands two main resorts, the Rockefeller built Caneel Bay and the luxurious Westin certainly fit this theme.

What many people don't realize is that it is possible to take a very nice budget trip to St. John, even for a family.

The first and largest financial hurdle is getting there. St. Thomas will be your air destination, with St. John accessed after by ferry. Air fare to St. Thomas varies wildly but a little bit of research and planning ahead can find some deals. Two things that you will want to do is sign up for fare alerts on a site like Travelocity and entering not just your city but a couple of other airports that you might consider flying from. Airlines will occasionally have short sales and this will alert you when this happens. The other thing to do is, if you are near a city they service, sign up for alerts from Spirit Air, they have some incredible sales to the Caribbean, St. Thomas included.

Because buying plane tickets is the biggest expense, you'll want to do that first, once the tickets are secured (preferably a few months ahead of time), your next step will be to find a place to stay.

If you are traveling with children, the first place to look at is the Cinnamon Bay campgrounds. Prices there vary, a family of four can get a bare campsite for setting up a tent for $41 a night year round, an actual tent for $92 to $114 a night depending on the season and cottages from $104 to $144 and up depending on the season and cottage location. The advantage to staying at the campgrounds is that everything needed is there and there are always lots of other kids for the little ones to play with.

Singles, couples and small groups of friends can also find deals, condo and guesthouse space can still be found for $100 a night or less depending on the time of year, some example being Tropical Palms Condo (Cruz Bay, near the action) and Sweet Plantains Guesthouse (Coral Bay, nice and quiet).

Food is expensive on St. John. You can save a lot of money by packing food in your luggage. Think dried foods as canned goods tend to be heavy, also buying a big box of your favorite Granola or energy bars can save a fortune in snacking. Plan on doing a lot of drinking while visiting? Bring powdered Hurricane mix or the like and buy rum at a local liquor store on convenience store, a liter of Cruzan Rum can be purchased for around $4.00, hanging out at beachside bars can be fun but you will spend a lot eating and drinking there. If you must eat out, shop. There are specials to be found, roadside stands selling Patee, the local specialty and a few places selling burger and fries combos for under ten dollars.

Transportation is decent on the island and a lot can be saved by not renting a car, the bus from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay is only a buck and there are group taxis that will run you out to the beaches from the ferry landing for fix rates that are posted in the cabs. Depending on where you stay, it is entirely possible to use only the bus and your feet for transportation.

In the end, the rich and famous love laid back St. John, but if you are a budget traveler, it is still possible to enjoy America's Paradise without breaking the bank.

© 2013 The Beach, US Virgin Islands