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St. John Car Rental-4WD needed?

McFail

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We have a July week at the Westin. There are 4 adults, including my retired parents, and 2 kids aged 9 and 2.

Reading through the posts here I think our best bet is to rent on St Thomas and take the ferry across.

Not having been to St John I don't know if we can get away with a minivan or need a 6 passenger SUV like a Durango. Two cars are impractical because I don't want my dad driving on the wrong side of the road.

Having been to St Lucia I've seen tight and twisty roads. Those were the worst case that I have seen of all the islands I have been to. I don't mind going safe and slow.

So, do I need to drop some more cash for the SUV? It looks to be about $150 more for the week. I am just using some budget numbers for the time being.

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks!
 

LisaRex

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I wouldn't drive anything but an SUV or Jeep if I planned on driving on St. John because of the hairpin inclined turns. Good tires and brakes are also essential.
 

learnalot

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We have a July week at the Westin. There are 4 adults, including my retired parents, and 2 kids aged 9 and 2.

Not having been to St John I don't know if we can get away with a minivan or need a 6 passenger SUV like a Durango. Two cars are impractical because I don't want my dad driving on the wrong side of the road.

Thanks![QUOTE\]

I would say it depends on how much exploring you want to do. If you stick mostly to the resort, you could get by without. We do a lot of exploring and we did opt for 4 wheel drive.
 
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jerseygirl

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St. John is a US. territory and they drive on the right side.

Nope, St John (and St Thomas) are both "stay left" territories.

Just remember: 'Drive Left Drink Right," which is quite a tasty libation!
 

DavidnRobin

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If you plan on driving on wet roads (which is hard not to do since it will rain 20% of the time) - I would rent a 4WD. IME - Amalie Car Rentals (on St Thomas) offer the best service and best vehicles - they cost more, BUT make up for it in service/vehicle quality (IMO).

Regardless - check brakes, tires, A/C and that the vehicle can be locked securely - you may be amazed about the poor condition of rentals in the USVI.
 

Sea Six

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you may be amazed about the poor condition of rentals in the USVI.

Ain't that the truth! I was just there last week and my friend who lives there said he was glad he had 4WD because the roads get slippery when wet. Doesn't help going downhill, but sure helps you go up. If you've never been there, the roads are quite wicked.
 

ekinggill

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Last trip we had a big group and we rented a mini-van from Avis in STT. No problems with the steep roads with switch-back curves.
 

SpikeMauler

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I agree with DavidnRobin. I wouldn't want to be driving around St John in a the rain on some of those roads without a 4WD vehicle. We rent a Jeep every year just for that purpose. Someone posted a video of a 2WD car trying to climb a switchback on a wet road. Trying being the key word...
We rent from Discount Car Rental on St Thomas. They(last March)had all new Jeep Wrangler 4dr Unlimited's in great shape.
 

jimf41

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The 4WD thing is really overrated IMO. First of all it hardly rains at all in the USVI in July when the OP said he was going. Second my advice is don't travel to the beaches on rainy days, why would want to go to the beach in the rain? Third a 2WD car or van is just fine on any of the paved roads in St Thomas or St John in dry weather.

If the weather is such that a 2WD car is slipping on the inclines but a 4WD car can make it up the hills then you really shouldn't be driving on the roads at all. You are driving at the absolute limit of adhesion on the vehicle. Remember that a 2WD car has only one wheel driving a 4WD has two wheels driving unless you lock it into 4WD low and then you probably won't make it around the hairpins due to wheel hop.

If you really want to be safe see if you can rent an Audi with Quattro or a VW or Subaru that employ a Haldex clutch similar to Audi's Quattro. Then you can have 4WD with all four wheels driving all the time with no wheel hop.
 

DavidnRobin

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Doesn't rain in July? Subaru, Audi and VWs with Haldex clutch as rentals in the USVI? Really??? please let us know what rental agencies have those...

Gifft Road (behind the Westin) on the way to Centerline? Back road to Maho/Frances? Road to Lameshure Bay? Between the north-side bays in the rain with bus taxis flying by?

For those reading this and planning to rent in the USVI for the 1st time - my advice would be (again) would be to rent 4WD - and carefully inspect brakes, tires. If you decide that a 2WD works for you - go for it the 2nd time.

YMMV
 
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Carol C

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I will have to respectively disagree - we gave gone in June for 6 years now (June is one of the dry months) and it does rain commonly. Renting an Audi or Subaru or VW in the USVI??? Have you been there - I have never seen any of these as rentals... Have you ever driven up/down Gifft Road (the one south of the Westin)? Or the turns between the north side beaches - or the back road to Maho/Frances? Or gone to Lamshure Bay when the roads are wet? I suspect not.

How is the weather in April? I have a friend who has a place there and has invited me to come down in April. I've never been to St John, and I want to make sure I don't go during the rainy season. TIA for your opinions if you've been in April! :hi:
 

DavidnRobin

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Every month is a good month to be in STJ - even during Hurricane season as long as there is not hurricane. April is fantastic - but it will rain - as it is common to rain in the islands, but when they say 20% chance - what that means is that if you stand in the same spot for 1 day - you will have a 20% chance that you will get rain upon.

I would advise to not pass this opportunity to go to STJ - it is special place - as long as you like beaches, hot weather and turquoise water that is 88F
 

jimf41

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Doesn't rain in July?

2.42 inches of rain for a month is not a lot of rain. Compare it to the NYC area at 3.57 inches, Chicago at 3.68 inches or Houston at 4.36 inches.

Subaru, Audi and VWs with Haldex clutch as rentals in the USVI? Really??? please let us know what rental agencies have those...

None that I know of. You might find a VW if you look hard enough. The OP said he only wanted to rent one vehicle. A jeep wrangler holds 4 people at $527 from Avis. You aren't going to get 4 adults and two kids one of which needs a car seat in that vehicle. Avis will rent you a Dodge mini-van that seats seven comfortably for $413 or about $100 less.

Gifft Road (behind the Westin) on the way to Centerline? Back road to Maho/Frances? Road to Lameshure Bay? Between the north-side bays in the rain with bus taxis flying by?

Well if you want to go off-roading on dirt trails then yes, I think you should get a 4WD vehicle. St John has a suffiecient amount of paved highway to get around without having to rent a 4WD though.

For those reading this and planning to rent in the USVI for the 1st time - my advice would be (again) would be to rent 4WD - and carefully inspect brakes, tires. If you decide that a 2WD works for you - go for it the 2nd time.

Inspect the brakes?? Really?? Just how do you do that without pulling a wheel?
YMMV

Every month is a good month to be in STJ - even during Hurricane season as long as there is not hurricane. April is fantastic - but it will rain - as it is common to rain in the islands, but when they say 20% chance - what that means is that if you stand in the same spot for 1 day - you will have a 20% chance that you will get rain upon.

I would advise to not pass this opportunity to go to STJ - it is special place - as long as you like beaches, hot weather and turquoise water that is 88F

Well we agree on one thing. St John is an absolutely beautiful Island and should not be missed.
 

SpikeMauler

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Found a video to give you(the OP)an idea what the switchbacks are like. This video is of the North shore road between Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay. If you plan on visiting Cinnamon or Maho you'll be driving these switchbacks. We do it every year with no problem(with the Jeep in 2WD) but never had to navigate it in the rain going up(I'd throw it in 4WD). Last year leaving Cinnamon it started to rain, but that was on the way down. Still kinda scary though. Anyway, check out the video and their website. Type in "Jeep cam" in the search box if you want to watch more videos of driving on St John.

http://www.on-stjohn.com/2007/12/03/jeep-cam-north-shore-road-part-4
 
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