Transportation on St. John, US Virgin Islands

The last week of January is a great time to get out of Pennsylvania and visit somewhere warm. Maggie and I caught a flight out of Lehigh Valley International Airport at 6AM on a 12 degree Saturday morning. We found ourselves on St. John at 3PM that afternoon (include one hour for the time zone change). The weather was in the low 80s and the humidity was about 80%. What a great getaway. The trip included the puddle jumper from Allentown to Philly, a 747 to St. Thomas, and a 50 minute ferry boat ride to St. John.

St. John is a very different world. They drive on the wrong side of the road but the steering wheel is still on the correct side. The roads are narrow and generally very curvy and steep. About 70% of the island is a US National Park. The rest of the island seems to be packed together and I understand there is a moratorium on new building. You can rebuild on existing foundations but nothing new. Most of the island is filled with hills and deep valleys. What areas of the island that are not US National Park are filled with vacation houses and the services to support them.

Parking is a problem on the island. The number of cars on the island is limited and I was surprised that there were very few mopeds or motorcycles. While the harbors were crowded with expensive boats, the cars on the island were pretty plain. The native people on the island lived clearly at the lower end of the economic spectrum. There were lots of weekly visitors, but there were also a lot of what I perceived as the super-rich.

The beaches and water and mountains are definnitely some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. We decided not to rent a car and had no trouble getting around with the taxis and shuttles. It was a wonderful get-away. For a few photos paste this link into your browser.

Pete Terry

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