Cruz Bay view

5 Best Cruz Bay Activities

Hi there traveler!

If you’re thinking about a day trip to St. John, then you absolutely need to read this post on the best of Cruz Bay.

St John is the smallest of the three main islands in the USVI. It’s super chill and laid back, and definitely open to longer stays. But many people opt to stay on St. Thomas and take a ferry over just for the day. If you’re one of those day-trippers, no worries. You can have an amazing time no matter how long you stay.

There are two routes from St. Thomas to Cruz Bay, St. John. From Red Hook to Cruz Bay takes about 20 minutes, and from Crown Bay to Cruz Bay takes about 30 minutes. So really where you catch the ferry depends on where you’re staying on St. Thomas.

But enough boring logistics. Let’s get into the fun stuff! So…

What Are the Best Activities in Cruz Bay?

1. Dining

Ceviche with plantain chips

You could spend the whole day eating and drinking if that’s what your heart desires (and I’ll be honest, that’s typically what I’m thinking about!)

There are many MANY restaurants and bars to enjoy.

I suggest taking an early morning ferry and getting breakfast at Our Market Smoothies. They chop up the fruit fresh for you, and you can take it and start exploring or sit and people watch for a bit.

Cruz Bay offers both casual and fine dining options. You can also find a variety of flavors.

Of course there’s tons of fresh seafood. But you can also find BBQ, Mexican, Asian, West Indian, typical bar and pub foods, Italian, pizza… the list goes on.

For lunch I recommend picking a bar with a great view (there are many). Find yourself a seat at The Beach Bar or High Tide Bar & Seafood Grille, try a Painkiller (official Virgin Islands cocktail) and conch fritters, and make some new friends.

For happy hour visit The Longboard for some of the best cocktails and ceviche you’ll ever have. Dinner there is also a great option, but they don’t take reservations and it fills up fast. So expect to wait a bit.

If you’re looking for fine dining for dinner, try The Terrace. They have amazing fresh seafood options as well as a variety of other meats (if you’re not feeling seafood, try the rack of lamb). And, of course, the view is amazing.

Another great choice is Morgan’s Mango. They celebrate the melting of cultures that have touched the islands with each dish. They pay homage to Cuba, Jamaica, and Martinique flavors while also keeping it local.


2. Shopping

Mongoose Junction shopping center

Take a stroll to Mongoose Junction for a little shopping. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the ferry.

This plaza is touted as St. John’s premier shopping destination, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful outdoor shopping center with a few different levels and plenty of dining options available.

The center was designed and built by a local architect and his team, using local materials. The open courtyards are beautiful with all the lush plant life.

It’s a great place to walk around, although I recommend making a few purchases too 😉

There’s a variety of stores here: Art shops and home decor shops if you’re looking to take something home for yourself. There are quite a few clothing stores: souvenir t-shirts, swimwear (that rash guard you forgot to pack), and 1 or 2 upscale clothing shops in case you want to dress a little nicer for dinner.

Check out the jewelry shops and find that special piece you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Mongoose Junction is home to The Tap Room, the local brewer’s brewery and pub. Enjoy a craft beer from St. John Brewers out on one of their patios, you won’t be disappointed. And if you’ve got the kids with you, there are some craft sodas as well. So there’s truly something for everyone.

There is also shopping closer to the ferry if you don’t make your way to Mongoose Junction.

If you want to stick closer to the ferry dock, or just want to do a little shopping before your departure time, Wharfside Village is literally steps away.

Wharfside Village is a small collection of low-rise complexes with jewelry, souvenirs, and clothing. These shops are nestled in with the bars and eateries right off the beach.

It’s super convenient and you’ll definitely find something you like.


3. Watersports

Kayak group tour

St. John is excellent for all things water related.

When you get off the ferry, you can immediately head to Low Key Watersports in Wharfside Village for some beach rental gear (even beach tents for shade).

There you will find snorkel gear for all sizes at great daily rates. (They even have prescription masks for the glasses wearers… which is pretty awesome if you can’t wear contacts and don’t want to miss out!)

If you prefer something a little more action-y, they also offer diving excursions.

For certified divers, there are daily trips. There’s a two-tank package where the experienced captain will take you to an optimal location based on the winds that day. This is a half-day excursion (about 3-4 hrs) so plan accordingly.

If you want to get certified there are packages for that too. Check their website to find out which package fits your needs specifically.

Another option for water sports is Arawak Expeditions.

Arawak Expeditions is located in Mongoose Junction and they offer so so much.

You can rent snorkel gear there as well. But you can also book a half day kayak and snorkel trip with a guide, which is an amazing time.

Interested in fly-fishing? They’ve got you. Paddle boarding? That too.

This company really offers a lot. They’re family operated, have been in business for decades, and are environmentally and culturally sensitive as well. So you can feel good about patronizing their business.


4. Gambling

Yes, Cruz Bay has a casino.

Cruz Bay at night

The Parrot Club is located right off the beach just steps away from the dock.

It’s a great place to take a break from the sun on a hot day. Cool down with a fruity cocktail and play a little Black Jack or Poker.

Or enjoy some gambling after dinner while you wait for your ferry to take you home.

Who knows? You could win big and make back all the money you spent that day!

The Parrot Club has a full bar. It’s completely indoors with AC, so it truly is a refuge.

The club offers video slots, Black Jack, Poker, Roulette, and Keno (which is kind of like a mini lottery).

The music’s good and the people are friendly. It’s a great spot for day trippers to experience a little night life entertainment before the ride home.


5. Rent a Jeep

View from an outlook

Now admittedly this one is going to take you out of Cruz Bay. But it’ll all be worth it when you’re enjoying the rugged landscape of the island and experiencing the gorgeous vistas from every angle.

Visit St. John Car Rental for your Jeep. Or if you have a larger group, they can also accommodate with other, larger SUVs.

The facility is conveniently located near the dock. So you can grab some breakfast and head on over to pick up your Jeep.

They also have the space to allow for free parking if you want to explore the bay itself before you get started on your trek.

Check out their website to find out more information and make a reservation.

Many people don’t realize ahead of time that they drive on the left side of the road in the Virgin Islands. So make sure to pay attention to the FAQs page on the website!

What’s nice too is that they also have an island guide on their website with helpful suggestions on beaches to visit and their favorite restaurants.

I recommend renting your snorkel gear and hitting up a few of those suggested beaches.

FYI: there are wild donkeys outside of Cruz Bay. And they WILL come up to you just to say, hey 🙂 Please do not feed or pet the donkeys, and drive safely!

Look at this cutie!


Well my friends, that’s it!

You’ve got yourself more than enough plans for an excellent day trip to Cruz Bay, St. John.

So much so that you might have to come back (or spend a couple nights over) just to get it all in.

Cruz Bay really truly offers so much to any visitor. You can’t go wrong.

The food is great. The people are awesome (you’ll definitely make some friends along the way). And the views are stunning!

If you’re staying on St. Thomas, don’t hesitate to schedule one of your days around a visit to St. John. You won’t regret it!

Ferry ride companion

Happy Vacationing!