Some useful information about St. John. While it is a US territory and you do not need a passport travelling there from the mainland, a few things are different. Here are the basics, for more general Island and Travel Information head over to www.stjohn-info.com
St. John – Island Information
Driving on St. John
- We drive on the left side of the road (but cars have the steering wheels on the left, just like in the US. Also roundabouts are driven clock-wise, not counter-clockwise. Don’t worry it is not hard. The streets on St. John have only 2 lanes and there is not a single traffic light on the island. Just follow the other cars and remember to drive on the side where the steering wheel is.
- It is not uncommon for cars to stop in the middle of the road to start chatting to another car or pedestrian. Be aware of that, go slow and keep your distance so that you don’t hit someone from behind
- Also take care as a pedestrian when crossing streets, cars will be approaching from the other side!
- Island cars. The St. John climate is very hard on cars and car parts are hard to find, especially when too big to ship via USPS. You will see some very exotic repairs with duct tape etc. If someone is driving really slow or pulling over as you approach that is most like due to bad breaks, front end or other car trouble. Read more on island cars here.
Water / Toilets on St. John
- It is not recommended to drink the tap water on St. John, you can get sick from it. Buy Gallons of drinking water at Starfish or Dolphin Market, and then you can refill them for 60cents at the water machine just before the Tamarind Hotel.
- Water is collected rain water from cistern. It is a precious good, especially during dry season. Be mindful of it, don’t take long showers. Many toilets bear a sign
In this land of sun and fun, we don’t flush for number one!
- Don’t throw the toilet paper into the toilet, put it in the bin next to the toilet!
- Mosquitos are the most single annoying thing on the island. The stings itch and can also infect you with diseases. Bring bug spray, or long pants to cover up or try to build a mosquito trap.
- What many people don’t know is that normal sunscreen is very bad for the coral reefs. A recent study conducted on St. John has revealed the drastic destruction oxybenzone causes. Read all about it here.
Power Outages on St. John
- There is no Power Plant on St. John. The power comes through a giant cable in the ocean through Pillsbury Sound from St. Thomas. Power outages are frequent, they usually only last a few minutes but it can be hours or days as well, typically during Superbowl (past 2 years!). Having torches and candles ready and a solar charger for your phone is always a good idea!
- Cars often break down in this cruel climate and it is common for people who wait for a car part or don’t have one to hitch a ride. They will stand on the side of the road. However while on St. John, do not stick out your thumb, it is considered offensive, use your index finger to point into the direction you need to go.
- When entering a store or business or meeting someone on the street, it is considered very rude if you just jump right into asking a question. Always start with “Good morning”, “Good Day”, “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening” and a few nice words, e.g. enquiring about each others health.
- If you did not hear what someone said, saying WHAT? is considered rude. The polite way would be to say “Say again?” or “Please repeat”
- Everything is on “island time”. Do not expect the same efficiency as on the mainland. “5 minutes” island time can be anything from 15 minutes to hours. When sending a business enquiry via email, do not expect an immediate response. Many business owners work multiple jobs, especially during low season or there simply just might not be internet or power on that day.