The Ins and Outs of Wifi & Cell Phone Service on St.John
“Oh no! My text won’t go through. My cell phone keeps saying emergency calls only. Are you kidding me? I can’t even find wifi?”
Lasting memories should be about crystal blue waters and warm winds not hundreds of dollars worth of roaming charges, failed uploads and missed messages.
Realizing that there is no service to stay in contact with your family, friends, and even work could be a nightmare or an opportunity for a forced “device detox”. This is something commonly experienced by many visiting the little gem we call (Love City) St. John, USVI. So if you’re not prepared to completely disconnect, you might be wondering if there is something one can do before taking that special trip that you’ve been dreaming about all year? First-
Which cell phone carriers work in the US Virgin Islands?
On the mainland, the major cellphone carriers are AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile. Here on St. John the major cellphone carriers are AT&T and Sprint.
Verizon does work on the island but offers spotty service throughout. Local’s tip: The best spot for Verizon is in the Cruz Bay area which is also the main harbor on the island. If your cell phone provider is Verizon it’s important to know that your cell phone will work off of one the other networks here (AT&T/Sprint). To help understand how the Verizon service worked on the island I made contact with one of their representatives. The lovely young lady who I spoke to informed me “We do not usually have roaming charges since we have far better coverage than most of our competitors”. (Sounds positive!) She also informed me that “If roaming charges are charged, it is based on the carrier whose network your phone used to get the service.” (Mmmmmm) Most importantly she informed me that “It can take 45 days for them (the carrier) to request payments, so they can appear on your bill two months later. (A nice souvenir?) If you place a call using an AT&T cell tower, they get to set the roaming rate. So it is important that you keep this information in mind when planning your trip. I do suggest that you contact Verizon yourself and see if there are any suggestions they can give as a temporary option while on vacation.
Who ever is your provider, it’s always wise to call prior to your trip just like you would call your credit card company and let them know of your travel plans. Many providers offer travel packages for extra data.
*For those of you with T-Mobile as your cell phone provider, there is no service in the Virgin Island according to one of the company’s representative.
Work-around tip: As a suggestion, an inexpensive pay as you go phone can be purchased from both AT&T and Sprint. Both companies provide great options as far as pricing.
While you’re deciding how many pairs of shoes to bring, be sure to place cell phone service on the top of your pre-vacation to-do list.
Find Wifi Hot Spots
If you haven’t made arrangements with your carrier in advance, chances are you will be roaming and using lots valuable data. You and your family may start to feel the data pinch even after a few days. Best way to catch a break and save a few pennies – FIND THE WIFI HOT SPOTS!
Your first location to look out for is when you arrive is at the Red Hook Dock on St. Thomas, USVI to catch the ferry to St. John. There on the wall as you enter the line to purchase your ticket is a sign that says “Free Wifi”. The name of the network you will be looking for in your wifi options is Varlack Ventures. Computer Express also provides free Wi-Fi in the Red Hook, St. Thomas terminal.
Upon arrival to Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI you’ll find that Computer Express offers free Wi-Fi service in the Frank Powell Park.
As you explore the many fabulous restaurants on St. John, you’ll find that some also provide free Wi-Fi to their customers.
In Cruz Bay
- High Tide Bar & Grill
- Joe’s Rum Hut
- Viva Cantina
- The Longboard
- Tamarind Court
In Coral Bay
- Miss Lucy’s Restaurant (Coral Bay heading towards the South Side of the island)
- Skinny Legs Bar & Grill
Always keep in mind when visiting these locations that you must be a patron at that restaurant to receive the wifi password. But trust me, it’s a fair trade, all these locations offer great food, great views, and have great staff.
So, now you have all the information you need to stay in contact with family and friends, post those cute pictures on Facebook and not end up with a cell phone bill the size of your mortgage. I do have one last tip to share that will make all the difference to whether or not you have lasting positive memories of your trip to the Virgin Islands. Put that electronic device down once in a while and enjoy all the beauty of the island that you came to explore!!!
About Gyasi Liburd
Growing up on the island of St. John and now raising my 3 kids here, I am still amazed every day by its beauty. One of the best feelings in the world is to be able to quickly escape to a wonderful view of the ocean, sit under the sun and enjoy the calmness, peace and tranquility. Yes, I love my island!
I have a wide breadth of experience in all facets of the tourism industry. I’ve worked in the villa management business, the ferry business, the retail business and now for one of the biggest grocery store businesses on St.John. I’ve learned that in a second it’s possible to meet the greatest people you will ever meet on the planet. Everyone has a story and I love hearing them all!
I hope to share my stories and experiences as a Virgin Islander and give you a glimpse of what it’s like to live and raise a family here. Please ask me questions in the comment sections and I’ll do my best to get back to you quickly.