Please Rent Your Vehicle on St. John

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Ahh, the age-old question… Should I rent my vehicle on St. John or St. Thomas? I understand the appeal of renting over on St. Thomas. You can start your vacation immediately as opposed to taxiing over to Red Hook and hopping on the people ferry. You can stop for groceries at the bigger stores, etc. Today, however, I am going to strongly encourage all of you to rent your vehicles on St. John. The main reason – the car barge.

We lost two of our four barges to the hurricanes. The Mister B ended up half under water, and is currently being repaired from what we hear.The Island Vic was a complete loss. Love City Car Ferries is currently working to replace it.

So that leaves us with just the General II and the Captain Vic. That means that we only have two barges to haul away all of the trash on the island, to move construction materials between islands, to deliver food, to ferry people to St. Thomas who need to travel there by car for work or supplies. And what happens when one breaks down or is pulled for maintenance? We’re down to one. And this has been happening often lately.

Last night, for example, I had a friend who landed at 3:30 p.m. He was transporting his dog home who evacuated after Irma. At 7:30 p.m., he was still waiting on a barge over in St. Thomas. We were down to one again, he said.

A few weeks back, the same thing happened to a friend of mine who owns a real estate company here on island. She got to the dock in Red Hook a little after 3 p.m. She did not load onto the barge until after 9:30 p.m. I’m not sure about all of you, but that’s not how I’d like to start my vacation.

One thing I’d like to point out is that the barges are not leaving anyone stranded in Red Hook, so a big thank you to them for that.

The Jeep rentals companies here on St. John are open. St. John Car Rental has been renting vehicles since the storms. L&L is open. Cool Breeze is open. Conrad Sutton is also open. Just to name a few…

The majority of phone lines are still down on island, so you will have to email for a reservation. And please be patient, our internet isn’t up to America speeds yet, so it takes time to go through emails.

Hopefully this helps during your vacation planning. Have a great Tuesday everyone!

34 thoughts on “Please Rent Your Vehicle on St. John”

    • Good point, AJ. We always rent our vehicle on St. John and take the people ferry from St. Thomas. Thanks for bringing that up. We must all spend what we can on island when we visit next year.

  1. Jenn, I totally agree with you. We have been coming to St. John every year for two weeks for the past 20 years.

    We always rent from St. John Car Rental. It doesn’t make sense to rent from St. Thomas. If you break down or get a flat tire, you are pretty much on your own.

    See you at the end of April.

  2. I would be more than happy to give the St John car rental companies my business if they were close to being competitive. I will be there 11 days and to use a company on St John will double the amount I spend on a car to over $1000. $500 over the St Thomas price plus taxis to and from the airport to Red Hook is considerable. I do get the groceries and supplies on StJ.

    • Gib, I think you need to shop around a bit. I just made a spot check on what you said about rates. I did it because I couldn’t believe I was spending that much more money on STJ than I would have on STT. I know you said you are renting for 11 days, but I simply looked at the weekly rates to get an apples-to-apples comparison. Besides, I don’t want to do the math to price it exactly for your particular trip.

      I looked at Amelia for a summer rate for a 2-door jeep and found a rate of $550. Then I looked at STJ Car rentals. They don’t put their rates on line. If they don’t want to answer one of the most frequently asked questions on their site, something is wrong. I don’t have the time to ask for a quote, so I closed that site. Sunshine was my next try. I could not find a car on their site for more than $510 for a week.

      That is, of course, not two times higher as you said. It is lower. I suppose if I surveyed all the rent car agencies on STT and STJ, I could probably find one STT company that is lower than one STJ company. Half the price? I don’t think so. Why would anyone pay $1,000 for a weekly rate when there is one nearby that rents for less than $500?

      By the way, the taxi drivers could probably use the additional work also. If I am spending 10 or 12 days on STJ, $20 is not that big of a deal.

      • Jimg, I can get a discounted rate through Avis that no one is offering on StJ so shopping around is exactly what I did. Plus, summer rates are a bit different from January when we will be there! You posed a good question, why would someone pay twice as much? Not me.

        Like I said, we do support the island. That is why we are still going in early January, to support the island. We could have canceled when United canceled our flight but we didn’t.

        • STJ rental companies are competitive with their STT peers. The rates in the winter are, of course, higher. Everything is higher in the winter. The relationship between STJ and STT companies’ costs are similar all year long.

          You didn’t tell us that you were bringing a special US rate that you no doubt earned due to your business relationship with Avis. Why would a VI company try to compete with a special mainland rate that a few people get stateside?

          To tell us that the STJ companies are not competitive is a bit disingenuous I think.

          • You didn’t ask. Its a rate from being a member of a motorcycle group in the states, not a business. If Avis in a US territory honors it why wouldn’t STJ vendors. I’ll wonder if they honor any discounts? You forget to read the part about the rest of the businesses we support during this visit and the 10 other years we have traveled to STJ.

  3. I agree 100% with Jenn and AJ. I have never rented a vehicle on STT. The barge link between STT and STJ is, at its best, fragile. I am sure that there are rental companies on STT who have a problem with this, but we need to support our friends on STJ.

    Please rent your car and buy your gas on STJ.

  4. We rented a jeep from Aqua Blu the week before the storm. We booked with them because they had the best price for a Jeep rental. But, we didn’t expect the level of service that they provided. From asking us before we arrived to provide important info (i.e. driver’s license, insurance), the process was easy and quick. They called us when we were on the ferry so that they could meet us at the ferry dock. But, best of all, when we had to leave early because of Irma, they came in at 5:30 AM so that we could return the Jeep and drive us to the ferry dock. Amazing service. When we return to St. John, we will only rent from Aqua Blu.

  5. This is great advice, but I do have a question. We are coming in January. We have done both scenarios (renting on STT and STJ) but are now coming with our 9 month old baby, so had planned to rent on STT so we could put her in a car set at the very beginning. Do you have any advice for how to travel to the people ferry with a wee one? I don’t believe the van taxis would have them, but perhaps there is a way to arrange them in advance. Just wondering if anyone else has ever encountered this.Thank you!

    • I suggest that you call Rachel Brown (340-771-2986) and ask her what she does in her private taxis and what she recommends. Perhaps she has a car seat she uses. She may be able to tell you what the public taxis use – if they have anything at all.

      Have a great trip!

      • Jimg, Rachel is supposed to be a well kept insider secret! Now you’ve spilled the beans. She’s a fantastic private car service for almost the same price as those open safari taxis. And she is sooo much faster from the airport to Red Hook. We along with our friends and guests have come to love her. People, give her a try and you will never go back to safari taxis on STT airport runs.

  6. Completely agree. But it might help if you could get the jeep rental companies to relax on the “top down” rules. We were chased through town by an overly vigilant owner and won’t rent there again.

  7. Will be making my 12th trip to STJ in April. Have rented both ways and would STRONGLY advise renting on STJ, not STT. Rates are about the same and if your rental should break down you do NOT want to deal with a rental company on STT. Take it from one who knows!! LOL

    • I agree, over 29 years have rented both ways …renting in STT saves money on the trip to St John but what if you have a problem.. Also when I rented from St Thomas I found mysterious minor damage ( broken tail lights ) on St Thomas cars ( they have different licence plates ) Always wondered if they were targeted

  8. If you are coming in the next year or so, please rent your vehicle on St. John. I know it can be an inconvenience for some, but the barge situation is rough. We depend on the barges to get food, materials, etc to the island and also getting the mountains of garbage off the island. With the loss of the barges, and the loss of Tropical Shipping office on St. John, we are strapped. Not only would you free up the barges for more critical items, you would also have on island service should you need a repair. The roads are pretty bad in spots, and there is often debris in the road, flats are happening pretty frequently.

  9. Just an FYI for anyone deciding which company to go with. I used St. John Car Rental last year, right by the ferry, fast in and out, good price. Will use them again in March.

    • Used them last two trips, great service, competitive price. Also recommended by many rentals, btw. Waiting for price by emailing them did not ruin the process. It is an island after all not a major city!

  10. We’re going to be a party of 7 arriving in STT on 12/29 and plan to rent jeeps in St. John. Is there a car/ taxi service we could have meet us at the airport and take us to Red Hook?

  11. We always use Budget on STT and will continue to do so no matter what. They have newer, nicer vehicles and they are much more corporate: It’s like renting from Budget at any airport in the mainland. When I did use STJ rental agencies in the past, it felt like using a nickel and dime, mom and pop operation. I support STJ in every other way, but never when it comes to vehicle rentals.

  12. I have rented on STT once and STJ once. I waited over an hour for the company on STT to bring me my vehicle, missed the last car ferry and had to come back the next day to get my vehicle. When I rented on STJ the price was competitive and I had my butt in the drivers seat within 30 minutes of getting off of the ferry. For the $30 or so more (factoring in fare for the car ferry vs people ferry) it was money well spent, my time is worth more than that.

  13. I have a reservation at Dependable on STT for a 4dr Wrangler in Feb for $391/wk with fees. I, like a someone above, am renting on STT because I have a 1 year old traveling with us. That being said, I could make it work with a private taxi, but I don’t see that I could get even close to that price on STJ, especially when factoring in the taxi. Is there a secret to getting a good price on STJ? Is Dependable cheap because of low quality?

  14. Sunshine Jeep Rental and Courtesy Jeep Rental are both great… I have rented with them on St John many times… Walking distance to the Ferry and they will also pick you up.

  15. I am so surprised folks even consider renting on St Thomas. First you miss the experience of getting to Charlotte Amalie or Red Hook and getting on the passenger ferry to St John which is the beginning of your wonderful trip to an island that has no golf courses, no airport and not a lot of big resorts, Then you miss the chance to support one St John car rental company, each who is there to help visitors and homeowners alike. Been coming to St John for 30 years and it never even occurred to me to not rent on the island I am coming to!! Lately I rent from L and L and they are convenient, respectful, sweet,and professional. I simply can’t imagine renting on St Thomas. Sorry just being honest!

  16. I’ve done both multiple times and have had pleasant experiences with both. Here are two not so pleasant experiences with both which, in conclusion, will support the NOSJ article.

    STT Rentals- budget and dependable have both flaked on me on STT and left me stranded. Gave away my car and only told me once I landed at the airport. I had a great experience with Amalie Car Rental but couldn’t get her to return my calls last time I tried to rent again from her. Rent A Motion picked me up at the airport and had hassle free service but I came when the car barges were broken or confiscated and were down to one and sat at Red Hook for 5 hours.

    STJ- You just have to know who to rent from. I’ve had good experiences with L and L, STJ Car Rental, Mr. Pipers and Aqua Blu. Conrad Sutton and the lady who work there are probably the two meanest human beings I’ve ever met. So mean in fact that it became pretty entertaining, but never endearing.

    If the car barges are working, I’d rent on STT. But how are you to know if they will be working months in advance at the the time of your booking? Locals will tell you that relying on car barges has been a really bad bet over the last few years. They break, get confiscated, fail inspections, etc which can put them out of the water for weeks, months and even years, leaving the islands with one, small slow one pretty frequently. Not worth the risk. I hate the taxi across STT. Whatever happened to that ferry close by the airport? I think it was called Crown something or other.

    Anyway, for the reasons stated above, I’ve concluded that renting on STJ is a much safer bet. Just choose your rental place carefully.

  17. I am traveling with a party of 9, we thought of renting a safari truck from Cool Breeze. Does anyone have any information or opinion on these trucks?

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