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Both St John and Turks and Caicos are magnificent Caribbean destinations. St John is unique since two thirds of the island is protected as Virgin Island National Park.
Turks and Caicos Islands are extraordinary as each has its own distinct flavor.
In this article, we will provide a detail and comprehensive comparison of these two islands to help you decide which one is right for your next vacation.
As a general rule, St John is ideal for a visitor who loves beaches and interesting in water based activities such as snorkeling. Alternatively, Turks & Caicos is perfect for a visitor who wants to explore several small islands with more nightlife, beaches and easier access to major cities.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two magnificent Caribbean islands compare. Contribution to this article was made by individuals who visited both islands on vacation.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Which Island Is Bigger
Turks and Caicos is the larger of the two islands. Being a British Overseas Territory, Turks & Caicos is a group that consists of 40 different islands and cays.
The island group is 366 square miles but only 8 of these islands are inhabited. The population of Turks and Caicos is also bigger than that of St John being 39,408 respectively according to Worldometer at the time of writing.
Contrastingly, St John is part of the overseas Caribbean territories of the United States of America. This group is called the US Virgin Islands and the other major islands consist of St Croix, St Thomas and Water Island.
St John is only 19.6 square miles and according to Virgin Islands Now, the population as per census completed in 2000 was 4,197 individuals. The majority of the population lives in Cruz Bay. Additionally, the highest point is Bordeaux Mountain which is 1,277 feet.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Entry Requirements
St John is an overseas US territory and hence traveling to the island is deemed as an internal flight.
Therefore, no passports or visa are required for US citizens to enter the island. St John is located very close to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and is easy to access via ferry or charter boat. US citizens are required to have a passport to enter the BVI.
On the other hand, US citizens are required to have a valid passport for entry into the Turks & Caicos and proof of a return ticket.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Which Island Is Easier To Access
Access from major international cities is easier to Turks & Caicos than St John. This is due to the presence of an international airport in Turks and Caicos.
There is no airport in St John. Visitors to the island usually arrive via the Cyril E King Airport in St Thomas. Access to St John is only by ferry service.
Providenciales International Airport is located on the island of Providenciales and is the gateway for international flights to Turks and Caicos.
There are several direct and non-stop flights from many international cities. These cities include New York, Atlanta, Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago and Dallas.
This makes travel to and from the islands seamless via Jet Blue, American Airlines, United, Delta and Air Canada.
British Airways offers flights from London Gatwick twice weekly to Turks & Caicos. This flight has a layover in Antigua for about one hour.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Does The Currency Differ
As a US overseas territory, the official currency of St John is the US dollar. This is the same for all the islands in the US Virgin islands.
Despite being a British Overseas Territory, the official currency of the Turks & Caicos Islands is also the US dollar.
Therefore, the currency used in both islands is the same.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Which Island Is Safer
St John is the safer of the two islands and is also the US Virgin Island with the lowest crime level.
According to the St Thomas Source, since the pandemic there has been an increase in crimes within the US Virgin Islands. The territory recorded 49 homicides in 2020, two on the island of St John. There were 27 in St Croix and 20 in St Thomas respectively.
Generally the crime rate in Turks & Caicos is moderate when compared to other Caribbean islands such as Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica. According to US Department State, Overseas Advisory Council, the number of murders increased from 4 to 10 in 3 years. One US citizen was among the victims in 2018 while two US citizens sustained serious injuries from shooting.
Nevertheless, as with every other country due care and diligence must be exercised in both destinations. Avoid leaving value items unattended and visible in vehicles. Secure valuable items in vaults and safes at your hotel.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Can You Island Hop To Other Islands
St John is the island that provides greater island hopping opportunities. If a passenger ferry is not available directly from St John, individuals can commute to St Thomas or charter a private boat to other islands. Ferry services are available to St Croix and Water Island and the BVI.
On the other hand, if you are in Providenciales you can easily find ferries to North, South and Middle Caicos islands. However, there are no passenger ferries to other islands such as the Bahamas from Turks and Caicos.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: How Does The Landscape Differ
The landscape of St John and Turks and Caicos are extreme opposites. As stated above, in St John, two third of the island is Virgin Island National Park.
St John is green, hilly and lush in look and feel. The roads are narrow and some visitors may find them challenging to navigate.
On the other hand, Turks and Caicos have a flat topography. The islands are arid and coral based. Due to its flatness, visitors may find the road network easier to adapt to than St John.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos- Which Island Has Better Beaches
Both islands have award winning beaches so it really depends on your desire. If your preference is to visit beaches that are pure and unspoiled then St John is the better destinations as due to its status as a National Park, the beaches are untouched.
On the other hand, Grace Bay Beach is the pride of Turks and Caicos and it has won many awards both regionally and internationally. Grace Bay Beach is part of Princess Alexandra National Park and known for its calm and turquoise waters.
However, the difference is that there are many high rise and luxurious hotels located along its shoreline. Visitors who want beaches that are all natural and nature lovers will prefer St John. Individuals who do not mind high rise buildings will love Grace Bay.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Which Island Is Better For Nightlife
Turks and Caicos have the more vibrant night life of the two destinations. There are more restaurants, beach bars and casinos that are not present in St John. There is also a golf course for enthusiasts of the sport.
Additionally, every Thursday night there is a Fish Fry where individuals can buy food from local vendors. Souvenirs and various forms of crafts are also on sale. Turks and Caicos also stands out in the Caribbean as an island for fine dining.
Annually, a food and wine festival is held where top chefs and wine connoisseurs from the Caribbean and around the world meet in Turks & Caicos to display their culinary craft.
Alternatively, being a small island night life on St John is laid back with the main spots for entertainment located in Cruz Bay. Reggae bands are the main form of entertainment with other live performances.
Quiet Mon Pub, The Tap Room and Dog House Pub are some of the well-loved places for entertainment in St John.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos: Which Island Is Better For A Honeymoon
If luxurious and all inclusive accommodation is on your wish list for a Caribbean honeymoon, then Turks & Caicos is the better destination. There are several options that you can choose from such as the private island resort named Ambergris Cay to beach front hotels such as Club Med Turquoise and Blue Haven Resort.
Contrastingly, there are no all-inclusive resorts in St John. However, there are villas, cottages, inns and resort like options available. The Westin St John is the closest property to the typical Caribbean resorts.
There are restaurants, bars, spas and pools available. Grande Bay Resort and Lavender Hill are also other options that you should explore if visiting for a honeymoon.
St John Vs Turks & Caicos- What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In Turks & Caicos
Kite Boarding– the beach waters and wind conditions makes the island an ideal spot for kite boarding.
Long Bay Beach is one of the popular spots on the island for this activity. There is a kiteboarding school on the island where tutors will provide you with a lessons as well as equipment rental.
Beach Hopping– Only 8 of the 40 islands and cays of Turks and Caicos are inhabited. The others are private cays where you can go and enjoy a private beach day on your own island. This makes the destination unique and one of the many reasons why the islands are favored by celebrities.
Unique Things To Do In St John
Visit Mongoose Junction- is a shopping mall located in Cruz Bay built incorporating the vegetation and Danish history of St John. At Mongoose Junction you will find a variety of shops which includes art gallery, delis, jewelery shops and more.
Explore Annaberg Plantation Ruins- St John was a producer of sugar in the 1780’s and Annaberg plantation was one of the 25 factories on the island. The ruins are protected by the Virgin Island National Park and a key feature that stands today is a windmill. A historic must see if you visit St John.
Hike-With two third of the island being a National Park, there are numerous hiking trails of varying difficulties. Ram Head Trail is one of trails with a moderate difficulty level but features glorious and scenic views.
On the other hand, if you are interested in seeing historic markings and carvings, the Petroglyph trail which is relatively easy and short which is along the Reef Bay Trail is one that you should explore.
On a whole, St John is a great choice for a traveler whose priority is enjoying the beach, hiking and snorkeling in a peaceful and tranquil environment. On the other hand, Turks & Caicos is perfect for a visitor who wants to stay at an all- inclusive resort and enjoys parasailing and kiteboarding.
If you are contemplating traveling to St John, Turks & Caicos or the rest of the Caribbean, cruising is an affordable option to consider. I have recently completed an informative course by cruise specialist, Emma Cruises which you should check out titled How To Cruise For Less.
This course provides detail tips and techniques on how to save money while cruising onboard, onshore as well as the importance of insurance. So if you if you are considering a cruise for your next Caribbean vacation, check out How To Cruise For Less.
Need More Information?
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