Yes, the Virgin Islands are expensive, but you don’t have to be rich and famous to visit St. John! If you are smart with booking and flexible with time, you can make a St. John vacation on a budget work.
There are lots of bargain flights into St. Thomas from the US. Search for cheap flights online and subscribe to newsletters and price alerts from “Cheap On Air” and the likes. Accommodation is significantly cheaper in the “low” season, between April and November. You can visit St. John any time of the year, only September is awefully quiet with many places being closed. For more on when to visit check this article.
Budget Accommodations on St. John are Inns & BBs and Campgrounds. A night at the Inn at Tamarin Court starts at 110$ for a room that sleeps 2 in the low season, camping is cheaper, but you will be encountering bugs mosquitos and maybe scorpions. Make sure you have bug spray etc. and a really good tent if you go for a bare pitch.
Check out Tentsile for some great tents. Also, please note it is not allowed to camp or make campfires inside the National Park.
Many St John Activities are free!
Other than that, there are many activities on St. John that cost nothing. Access to all National Park beaches except for Trunk Bay is free. As is Snorkeling, Hiking, Swimming. Renting a powerboat is expensive, but with a dighy or paddleboard you can also explore the island from the water at a cheaper price.
Food on St. John
Food however will be much more expensive than home as almost everything on St. John is imported. Sometimes it is cheaper to eat out (from 10$ for a dish without drinks) than buying groceries and cooking a meal (unless you catch your own fish).
The absolute bargain to eat is a Chick Filet Sandwich to go at Joe’s Rum Hut (4$).
There are 3 supermarkets in Cruz Bay St. John: Starfish, Dolphin and the one across from the Westin. If you just go in there and load your cart with the things you buy at home, you will be shocked by the total. If you head to all 3 and only buy what is on offer or things that are locally produced, you will be ok. Chicken, Eggs, Carrots and Potatoes are among the local produce and reasonably priced, everything else is imported and pricey. That said, cigarettes and liquor are cheap on St. John and many bars have great happy hour specials (usually before 6PM).