Boat Charters on St. John
One of the most popular things to do when visiting St John is to get out on the water. The first question is USVI or BVI? The second question is sailboat or power boat? If you can’t decide between a power boat and a sailboat I recommend a day trip on a powerboat and a sunset sail. It’s the best of both worlds.
Do you have a passport? If not, you will need to remain in the USVI. A lot of the waters around St John are part of the national park. There are mooring balls and strict anchoring guidelines to help preserve the coral reefs. You can explore hard to reach snorkel places or enjoy the beauty of St John from the water.
Here are some recommendations for boats that leave from Coral Bay and do USVI trips. All the boats can accommodate a maximum of 6 passengers.
Busy Bee – Bryan operates this 26 foot World Cat (power catamaran). He offers a mix of per person priced trips and private half day or full charters. The most popular trip is the “Lap of St John” which is a full day trip that circles the island and stops at 4 hard to reach snorkel stops.
Kiote – Jimmy operates this 36 foot Pearson sailboat and offers a variety of trips including a half day, full day, sunset sail. He also offers a unique full moon trip.
Long Distance – Rick and Robin are long time owner/operators of this 40 foot Pearson Sailboat. They offer half day trips in the morning or afternoon as well as full day trip. They are snow birds, so they are available for charters mid-December through mid-April.
Knot-E-Buoys – This 26 foot Glacier Bay (power catamaran) is operated by captain Jason. He specializes in private half day and full day trips within the USVI. He also offers full day trips to the British Virgin Islands.
Mahiya – This unique 30 foot sailing catamaran is captained by Karl. The boat has a unique Polynesian look. He offers a variety of half day, full day, and sunset charters.
Serena Sea – This is one of the most unique looking boats in Coral Bay. It is easy to pick out this 30 foot wooden motor yacht in the harbor. Captain Mary offers a morning or afternoon “3 Hour Tour”. It is also one of the few boats that is permitted to take charter guests to Hurricane Hole to snorkel in the mangroves.
Fly Away Charters – Truman owns a fleet of three 26 foot Glacier Bay power catamarans. He focuses on private half day trips in the USVI and full day trips to the British Virgin islands.
Pirate Girl Charters – This 26 foot World Cat (power catamaran) is captained by Roberta. If you haven’t noticed by now, power catamarans are a popular choice for the Virgin Islands. They are designed to cut through the waves and provide a smoother ride. Robert offers private trips within the USVI and the BVI.
Pizza Pi – Okay, this isn’t a charter boat. But it is one of the most compelling and delicious reasons to keep your trip local. Pizza Pi is a boat that was refitted as a Pizza Boat (like a food truck). They offer delicious homemade pizzas. They rotate their menu every few months with different specialty pizzas. But there is always the build your own option.
British Virgin Islands
A few things to know about the British Virgin Islands. You will need a passport to travel to the British Virgin Islands. You pass through customs on Jost or Tortola and re-enter the US in Cruz Bay. Customs fees have increased significantly in the past few years and are around $45 per person in addition to the price of your charter. The most popular destinations are Jost Van Dyke, Norman Island, and Virgin Gorda.
Jost Van Dyke is the home to White Bay, featuring the Soggy Dollar Bar. Located off Jost Van Dyke are Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay which are tiny uninhabited islands reminiscent of the Corona commercials. Jost Van Dyke has a few hidden gems like the “bubbly pools”, but it is primarily a party island.
Norman island is the home to Pirate Bight, which is a nice beachfront lunch spot. Anchored off Norman Island is the Willy T, a floating bar. Also located off Norman Island is “The Indians” which is arguably one of the best snorkel spots in the Virgin Islands. A lot of charters offer trips within the “triangle” which is Jost/Norman/St John. All the Coral Bay power boats offer a triangle trip.
Virgin Gorda’s main attraction is “The Baths” which is made up of huge boulders that created natural grottoes that you can walk or wade through. Virgin Gorda is the furthest island an it can take over an hour by boat to reach. There are some smaller boas (26 foot) that offer trips to Virgin Gorda, but they are more susceptible to cancellation due to weather. If you’re limited to one week of vacation and want to go to Virgin Gorda you are better off booking one of the larger boats.
If you want to sail to the BVIs your destination is limited to Jost Van Dyke.
Kekoa is a 50 foot sail catamaran that offers a day trip Jost Van Dyke. They do a snorkel stop in the USVI before heading to White Bay for lunch. Kekoa leaves from Cruz Bay.
Pirate’s Penny and Stormy Petrol are two 42 foot power boats that are operated by the same company. Each boat takes a maximum of 12 passengers. They have two trips that visit Virgin Gorda and stop for lunch at Cooper Island. One of the trips stops at Jost Van Dyke. The other does a guided snorkel stop at The Indians. This trip is a great way to get the economy of a larger boat but the personal attention of a smaller boat. These boats leave from Cruz Bay.
Bad Kitty – For the most bang for your buck take their four island tour to Virgin Gorda, Cooper Island, Norman Island, and Jost Van Dyke. It is a 30 passenger boat with an open bar and party atmosphere. It also leaves from Cruz Bay.