The United States has one Caribbean paradise, and it is the U.S. Virgin Islands. Visitors can take a ferry between the three main islands and catch a glimpse of colonial history, indulge in unmitigated pampering, and enjoy sheer luxury. It is a getaway without limits.
Each of the islands is different and exclusive, making a vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands one of life’s great adventures.
About the U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are in the Caribbean within the Lesser Antilles; they start off the coast of Florida and stretch south to South America. The capital of all the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix is Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas.
St. Thomas was initially settled by the Danes in 1666 to control the island’s profitable sugar and cotton trades as they brought in African slaves to work the fields. A few years later, Denmark settled in St. John, then St. Croix. The English ousted the Danes in 1803, but the Danes retook the islands in 1815. The sugar plantations and rum production were thriving industries until the abolition of slavery in 1847. The majority of people living in the U.S. Virgin Islands are the descendants of those slaves. The pirate Blackbeard hid out here regularly.
The Danes transferred the islands to the United States in 1917, and they are still an unincorporated U.S. territory. That means that no passport is required when visiting.
St. Thomas is the liveliest and most sophisticated of the islands. It houses the capital and has fabulous shopping, the finest dining, and beaches surrounded by luxurious resorts.
St. Croix is the largest island and is filled with beauty. Its tropical landscape is only enhanced by its watersports and duty-free shopping. Come here for the perfect beach vacation.
St. John is a monument to unspoiled beauty and national parks.
Water Island is the smallest and newest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is very laid back, with only about 200 people living here. This is where to come for kayaking, fishing, and sailing. It’s the ideal day trip from St. Thomas. The island’s Honeymoon Beach has several bars to serve warm meals and cold drinks.
Language Spoken in the U.S. Virgin Islands
English is the main language of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Currency Used in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The currency of the U.S. Virgin Islands is the U.S. Dollar.
Things to Do in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands National Park (St. John)
The Virgin Islands National Park is probably the most visited destination in the Virgin Islands. Taking a ferry or cruise ship from St. Thomas is the best way to get there. The ferry runs all day for those who want a same-day return. The park takes up over nine thousand acres of St. John’s total of 12,500 acreages and includes offshore coral reefs and mangroves. This is where nature shines. The park’s Biosphere Reserve Project was established to protect the various ecosystems and is the only biosphere project in the Lesser Antilles. Camping is available in the park’s Cinnamon Bay Campground, with tents and cottages already set up. These are the sole accommodations in the park, and rangers can assist with establishing tours.
Magens Bay (St. Thomas)
Magens Bay might be the most celebrated beach in the Virgin Islands and the world. It stretches for one calm, scenic mile along the Atlantic and is replete with food stands and beach chairs. According to rumors, Sir Francis Drake hid here while waiting for passing ships that he could attack. The earlier in the day visitors get here, the more secluded the beach is – it does fill up quickly with locals jogging, doing yoga, or enjoying a swim. This beach is so stunning, that even the locals willingly pay the $4.00 entry fee.
Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge (St. Croix)
Sandy Point Beach is another one of the Caribbean’s best, most pristine beaches. It is also a turtle nesting site, where the leatherback turtle comes to nest. The beach is closed during the week and open on weekends during nesting season to protect the hatchlings.
Movie buffs may be aware that the final scene from the Shawshank Redemption was shot on Sandy Point Beach.
Estate Whim Plantation Museum (St. Croix)
History isn’t always pleasant, but it is invariably necessary. A visit to the Estate Whim Museum is a step back in time to St. Croix’s plantation life, with tours and exhibits highlighting life on a successful colonial sugar plantation. Find out how sugar was cultivated and processed and what the average day on a plantation was like.
The house has the original furniture and household items. Away from the main house, the tour continues to the cookhouse and domestic quarters. Visitors can stroll the lovely garden on their own and examine the many herbs for medicinal purposes.
The old sugar mill is the only one remaining on St. Croix. Visitors can see demonstrations of how sugar was extracted from the cane and processed inside the mill.
Best Islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Visitors get to St. John by taking a flight to St. Thomas and a ferry to St. John. December through April are the busiest months on the island, and, consequently, the most expensive. That is when the weather is at its best, and visitors come to escape the chilly winters elsewhere. Come during the summer months of May through July and save plenty.
The second smallest island in the U.S. Virgin archipelago, St. John is an island paradise kept in stunning shape by its national park. When in St. John, the most likely place to stay is Cruz Bay, where the clear waters and white beaches attracted divers and snorkelers. There is excellent seafood dining such as conch fritters and crusted scallops. Cruz Bay has a vibrant nightlight, with bars playing live music and karaoke at the Dog House Pub.
Duty-free shopping is everyone’s favorite activity, and many visitors stop by the upscale stores for a bargain on a Waterford or a Rolex.
Coral Bay is on the opposite side of St. John. It also has gorgeous beaches and a few bed and breakfasts, but it is quieter. Visitors come here more to relax than to hunt down a bargain or go bar hopping.
St. Thomas is the heart and pulse of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It insists it has the most gorgeous harbors anywhere, and so far, it hasn’t lost the argument. The beaches of St. Thomas are fabulous, as is its cultural side. The history of the U.S. Virgin Islands comes to life in the island’s museums and colonial architecture. St. Thomas is home to the islands’ capital Charlotte Amalie, with its exquisite dining, one-of-kind nightlife, and more duty-free bargains. Relax, shop, or take a submarine ride – St. Thomas encompasses all of life’s pleasures. For the best view, take a skyride 200 meters above the city.
The Coral World Ocean Park welcomes families to play with the sea lions, turtles, and other sea creatures. The park includes the Marine Gardens gallery which encompasses 21 aquariums.
Golfers will love the renowned Mahogany Run, a challenging course with such difficulties at holes 13th through 15th, anyone who can play through without a penalty stroke receives a special award.
Anyone near or on the water will likely see over 500 different species of fish and perhaps some turtles hatching.
St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, with two distinctly different Danish-styled towns, Christiansted and Frederiksted.
Christiansted is the larger of the two, with delightful hotels, shops, great restaurants, and plenty of water sports. Take a snorkel or dive trip with one of several water sports companies located in town. Gallows Bay is the main area for dining and shopping.
Frederiksted is smaller and more relaxed than Christiansted, and its Victorian charm can be enjoyed in a day. The city has Ford Frederik, built as protection against pirates. To honor freedom, this fort fired the first shot to celebrate America in 1776.
The Best All-Inclusive Resort or Hotel in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Bolongo Bay is a beachfront hotel with stunning ocean views. It is the U.S. Virgin Island’s first all-inclusive hotel, with great meals and premium cocktails included.
The Bolongo Bay provides every imaginable entertainment to its guest, including special catamaran cruises. Complimentary snorkeling, diving, and kayaking gear are available. The weekly Booze Hunt Snorkel has guests diving for hidden rum bottles in the ocean. Or they can swim with the turtles. For a bit of romance, there is the Harbor Sunset Cocktail Sail around Charlotte Amalie before returning to the Bolongo.
And still, the Bolongo Bay offers so much more.
The Best Resort or Hotel for Couples in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort in Christiansted, St. Croix, treats its guest to a free breakfast buffet, watersports, eight tennis courts, and two pools. The resort faces three beaches and has an 18-hole golf course. Fortunately, it is close enough to downtown to enjoy even more activities, such as visiting the Cruzan Rum Distillery or the Divi Carina Bay Casino.
The special Romance Package includes a snorkeling trip, a cabana for one day with a picnic lunch, lunch and dinner with wine, two Infinity Bracelets, and champagne and snacks as a welcome gift, along with a room upgrade.
Best Resort or Hotel for Families in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas has luxury rooms with balconies facing the beautiful Great Bay. Club Level rooms include a private concierge and a Club lounge.
Guests dine at the resort’s four restaurants and can indulge in daily rum tastings, tai chi, and yoga classes. The resort’s luxury catamaran is available for excursions around the island.
The Ritz Kids Club provides special sailing and windsurfing lessons for children. Entire families can join in the outings. Children between the ages of 5 to 12 can play supervised games and engage in arts and crafts.
Teens have their own room with television and computer games.