What is the Car Barge?
In the US Virgin Islands, in place of bridges or tunnels, we use ferries and barges to travel between islands. The car barge between Redhook, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John operates 7 days a week making it possible to travel with your own set of wheels for a day of relaxation or errands. The car barge is just what it sounds like; a barge for cars. You back your vehicle onto the boat and ferry to a new island.
The Best Way to get to St. John
If you visit St. John you have the option to come via passenger ferry (which we recommend) and rent a car once you arrive. There are several companies right within walking distance from the ferry port such as Varlack Auto, Hospitality Jeep Rentals, St. John Jeep Rentals and L&L. You also have the option to rent your vehicle at the St. Thomas Airport and make your way to the east end (Redhook) for the car barge. Before you make your reservation, make sure that your rental agency approves of your vehicle going to St John and double check your flight arrival is at least 3 hours before the last car barge scheduled.
Living and vacationing on the remote island of St. John is wonderful for many reasons; the beaches are absolutely beautiful, the Virgin Islands National Park makes up 70% of the island and the community is strong and independent. It is not, however, the land of conveniences or affordable groceries (or diapers, shampoo, tooth paste.. see where we are going?) which brings us, with gratitude, to the car barge traveling to St Thomas.
St Thomas; Bigger, Bolder but still Beautiful
Currently, St Thomas has a few options for bigger, box-like stores such as Price Smart (a Costco-inspired bulk store), Home Depot, K mart (actually, TWO kmarts!) and Food save? There is also a Walgreens, Wendy’s, Subway, KFC, Dominos AND a little Caesar’s inside of the Tutu Mall Kmart. So a few more recognizable names that might accompany you on a utilitarian errands day.
St. Thomas is not just for running errands though! There are several beautiful stops worth making like the famous Magen’s Bay, Paradise Point and Coki Beach just to name a few. There is some great opportunity for shopping the water front in Charlotte Amalie as well as higher end shopping in Yacht Haven Grand . St Thomas is also home to the Cyril E King airport, the main hospital, the courthouse building (hello destination wedding– marriage licenses!) social security office and import/export couriers.
Many of our Morningstar guests over the years enjoy a great day of [is]land cruising and beach hopping via car barge. We recommend packing a cooler (there are no open container laws in the USVI but legal BAC levels do apply and you must wear a seatbelt) for a day on St. John. A dry change of clothes and any other necessities will come in handy as you will have your very own “home base” for the day. Trunk Bay offers amenities including showers so it may be best to finish your beach day here, clean up and hit Cruz Bay for happy hour or an early dinner before the last barge.
Which Barge to Take and What Time
There are two companies that operate the alternating car barges and they offer one way tickets for $35.00 as well as round trip tickets for $50.00 and must be paid with cash or check. Please be very cautious of the ticket timing. This is not a guarantee that your vehicle will fit on any given time on the ticket so please buffer your arrival to wait in line. There is a $4.00 port fee for vehicles departing at Thomas, also cash so be sure to hit the ATM if you’re low on cash! Happy barging everyone!