Want to feel like you’ve arrived in a far-flung paradise, yet only traveled a few hours to get there? Look no further than the US Virgin Islands. As a US Territory, the islands don’t require a passport – and there are direct flights from several east coast gateway cities. So, why USVI?
You’ll have Three Major Island Choices
Within the USVI, travelers have the choice of many island experiences. The three biggies – St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix – are the largest and most popular destinations. Nature lovers flock to St. John, of which two-thirds is a protected national park. There’s hiking, through twisted trees and spiky cacti, past petroglyphs and historic sugar mills. Then, there’s snorkeling from pristine beaches – no airports or cruise-ship docs here, just a whole bunch of sea turtles.
Set 40 miles south of the other US Virgin Islands, St. Croix is the biggie. There’s a more authentic “island life” vibe here, as opposed to more touristed (despite being smaller in size) St. Thomas. Bop between Christiansted, the largest town, and Frederiksted, where most visiting cruise ships dock. If you’re seeking varied scenery (from mountains to coastal plains), local life, marine wildlife, historic forts and scuba diving, this is the place for you.
St. Thomas is all hustle and bustle. There are numerous options when it comes to amenity-packed, beachfront resorts, water sports for every age and interest level and a lively burst of cruise-ship traffic. Sightsee (check out Black Beard’s Castle), swim and snorkel, windsurf and kayak – or just find a powdery, white-sand beach and relax. Charlotte Amalie – the capital – is known throughout the Caribbean for its great dining, nightlife and duty-free shopping.
And there’s more – the US Virgin Islands boasts about 50 more, smaller islets and cays you can visit by land or boat.
You Can Island Hop Like a Jetsetter
Speaking of all those islands, it’s fun to bop around to at least a few of them during vacation. Take a boat charter, ride on a ferry or even take a short flight between islands. Make it a day trip, or spend a few nights at various islands to change things up a bit. Check out Water Island, a recent addition to the USVI – nothing fancy here, just one of the archipelago’s most beautiful beaches, Honeymoon Beach.
It’s a Great Homebase for Sailing in the Caribbean
If you are going to some island hopping, consider chartering a boat or yacht for a day – or even for a week! There are numerous operators that specialize in this mode of Caribbean sightseeing – and it feels downright indulgent. Whether crewed or barefoot, water-sports platforms, spacious cabins and lounging areas, there’s a USVI chartered yacht vacation awaiting you.
It’s Far Enough Away, Yet Offers the Comforts of Home
English-speaking and dealing in US currency, the US Virgin Islands allow you to travel there with ease. Tipping etiquette is much the same as in other parts of the United States – 15 to 20 percent standard and more for great service. One thing to note: Virgin Islanders dress more conservatively that some beach destinations in the continental US – don’t wear your bathing suit or sandals anywhere other than the beach if you don’t want to stand out as a tourist.
Ready to go? We can help you choose the best US Virgin Island for you or arrange a tropical getaway that includes several islands.
- Lisell Travel