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Travel Guide to US Virgin Islands – How, Where & FAQs

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor September 19th, 2020 Posted in Caribbean Travel Blog, Travel Blog No comments

The United States Virgin Islands is an exotic group of islands situated in the Caribbean Sea, with this travel guide, it will help you be prepared before your journey.

It is considered a part of the United States of America since 1917. The U.S. Virgin Islands consists of three principal islands namely – St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas – plus 50 other smaller islands, cays, and islets, and they are all part of the Caribbean archipelago. No passport is required for Americans visiting these 3 Caribbean’s three main islands. Part of the Virgin Islands archipelago in the Leeward Islands, these isles have all the opportunities for an awesome holiday vacation and world-class snorkeling, pristine beaches, diving, deep-sea fishing, rich history, and a magnificent range of accommodations for couples, families, and adventurers of all kinds.

Tourists must visit the U.S. Virgin Islands for a great escape from life on the mainland. The United States Virgin Islands offer some of the most beautiful locales under the stars and stripes. Unfortunately, most Americans never get here. When sugar-cane production bowed out of the economy in the 1960s, the USA started developing the islands’ potential as a “holiday paradise” for Americans, and today more than two million visitors descend on the US Virgin Islands every year, the majority arriving by cruise ship or under sail – only about a third fly-in.

Questions and Answers about US Virgin Islands

Where is the US Virgin Islands?

These pretty islands are situated in the Caribbean. The arc of Caribbean islands begins off the coast of Florida and extends all the way to South America. The area includes hundreds of islands and cays. They are grouped by location into the Greater Antilles that includes the larger islands in the northwestern area (Cuba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Haiti/Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico); and the Lesser Antilles that includes all the other islands from the Virgin Islands in the northerly Leeward Islands, to the southeastern Windward Islands and the islands just north of Venezuela. The Virgin Islands are 40-50 miles east of Puerto Rico; and about 1106 miles southeast Miami, Florida.

Is it safe to travel to the US Virgin Islands?

These amazing Islands are a relatively safe destination. The small permanent populations are generally friendly and welcoming. However, St. Thomas is no longer as safe as it once was thought. Crime against tourists has been on the rise, and muggings are frequent. Wandering the island at night, especially on the back streets of Charlotte Amalie (particularly on Back St.), is not recommended. For a town of this small size, there is an unusually high crime rate. Guard your valuables or store them in hotel safes if possible.

St. Croix is safer than St. Thomas, random acts of violence against tourists in the past, even murder, have been known to happen. Know that most crime on the island is petty theft aimed at unguarded possessions on the beach, unlocked parked cars, or muggings (rarely violent) of visitors at night.

St. John is a bit different because there is no major town and most of the island is uninhabited. Muggings and petty theft do happen, but such occurrences are rarely violent. You are most likely to find your camera stolen if you leave it unattended on the beach.

How to Change Money in the US Virgin Islands?

U.S. dollar is used as the legal currency. Tourists can usually find a currency exchange window in Caribbean airports, and you can also exchange money at local banks. ATMs in the Caribbean also dispense local currency.

What is Unique about the US Virgin Islands?

St. Croix has a Danish influence that is ideal for visitors who want a relaxing experience. You can try horseback riding or golf on one of the island’s three golf courses. Some of St. John’s part is a national park. Its comfortable atmosphere is ideal for people who want to enjoy the island’s world-famous beaches like the Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, and Salt Pond Bay. It is truly a nature lover’s paradise.

If you spend just a few hours wandering on this island, you’ll realize that it’s well worth the trip. St. Thomas is blessed with one of the world’s most beautiful harbors. Also considered as the most visited port in the Caribbean, Charlotte Amalie offers luxurious dining, lively nightlife, and duty-free shopping.

What is the culture of the US Virgin Islands?

The U.S. Virgin Islands has a rich cultural legacy that lives on today. The flags of seven different nations have flown over these islands, leaving their distinct imprint on the people, history, culture, architecture, art, music, and cuisine. Take a stroll back in time through one or all of the historic towns. Visit the 17th and 18th-century forts, museums, and historic sites. Be immersed in the pulse of the local music and take part in the vibrant and colorful cultural displays during the annual carnivals and festivals.

With a tapestry of West Indian, African, European, and American influences you’ll be sure to experience the diversity. You’ll taste it in the local fare and cuisine that spans the region and the globe, you’ll see it in the architecture and art. And you’ll hear it in the captivating sounds of Quelbe music. You’ll feel the vibrant energy that permeates the spirit of all those that call these islands home.

What is the Geography of the US Virgin Islands?

The US Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico. Its geographic coordinates are 18°30′N 64°30′W. Map references include Central America and the Caribbean. There are no bodies of water on the land, there are no land boundaries, but there is 80 km of coastline. Maritime claims include 3 mi (5.6 km; 3.5 mi) of the territorial sea and exclusive a 200 mi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi) fishing zone. It has a tropical, humid climate, with temperatures moderated by trade winds. Its terrain consists of coral islands and is relatively flat. It has volcanic islands and is steep and hilly. Its lowest point in the Caribbean Sea and its highest point is Mount Sage at 521 meters (1,709 ft) above sea level. Its natural resources are negligible.

How to travel to the US Virgin Islands?

If you are planning to travel to the US Virgin Islands, here are some of the airlines that will take you here from these countries.

  • London: American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines offer flights from London to the US Virgin Islands.
  • USA: Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines offer flights from the USA to the US Virgin Islands.
  • Dubai: Emirates and United Airlines offer flights from Dubai to the US Virgin Islands.
  • Singapore: American Airlines and United Airlines offer flights from Singapore to the US Virgin Islands.

How to travel in US Virgin Islands-Transport in US Virgin Islands

  • Taxis: Licensed V.I. taxis are labeled with a placard or license plate. You’ll see hordes of them in downtown Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas or by the docks in St. John and St. Croix, and they’re a great way to move around the islands.
  • Trains: Unfortunately, there is no railway system in the country
  • Public buses: Most US Virgin Islands buses are actually large vans the locals call taxi buses. These buses drive on no regular schedules and pick up waving roadside passengers along their predefined routes.
  • Private transfers: Car Rental If you want to enjoy the freedom of having your own vehicle during your visit, all of our islands offer many options for car and scooter rentals.

What’s the food like in the US Virgin Islands?

Perhaps though, one of the best ways to explore the U.S. Virgin Islands and experience the warm hospitality is through your taste buds. Caribbean cuisine on the islands is heavily influenced by the long history of previous inhabitants creating a fusion of West-African, European and Danish flavors. The eclectic dishes are meat and fish-heavy and highlight the freshest produce the islands have to offer and it’s not uncommon to stumble upon a food festival taking over the streets. The Virgin Islands are so ballyhooed for their beaches, boats and trade winds that their cuisine normally takes the back seat, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sharpen your knife and fork. Curried meats, hot-spiced soups, and hulking shellfish are on the menu, with mango-sweetened microbrews and fresh-from-the-barrel rum to wash it down.

What is the weather like in the US Virgin Islands?

The U.S. Virgin Islands has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. In the capital, Road Town, typical daily maxima are around 32 °C (89.6 °F) during summer and 29 °C (84.2 °F) in the winter.

Typical daily minima are around 24 °C (75.2 °F) in the summer and 21 °C (69.8 °F) in the winter. Rainfall averages about 1,150 mm (45.3 in) per year, higher in the hills and lower on the coast.

Important things to pack for a trip to US Virgin Islands

Clothing: Stick to natural fabrics such as cotton, and go for the light-weight, light-colored items. Linen shorts of khakis and t-shirts or tank tops. The bathing suit is of utmost importance.

  • Shoes: Paired with athletic shoes or hiking boots, flip flops or sandals, you can’t go wrong.
  • Toiletries: Bring toiletry bag (and ziplock bag per TSA regulations for any liquids/soaps).
  • Health kit: It is always advised to bring first aid kit and essential medicines with you.
  • Hat and sunglasses: Other beach necessities include a sun hat, sunglasses.

10 Amazing places to see and things to do in the US Virgin Islands

1. Visit Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix

Photo by NOAA Photo Library CC BY 2.0

Beautiful Buck Island and its surrounding sea gardens are one of the most visited attractions on St. Croix. The reef here features elkhorn coral grottoes and is one of the best dive sites in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

2. Explore Virgin Islands National Park, St. John

Photo by mark byzewski CC BY 2.0

A Caribbean jewel, Virgin Islands National park attracts more than one million visitors each year, making it the single largest tourist attraction in the entire archipelago. The park covers two-thirds of the emerald island of St. John and includes hiking trails, protected bays, stunning beaches, underwater sea gardens, petroglyphs, and the ruins of historic sugar mills.

Suggested Tour: St John Island and Trunk Bay Beach Tour

3. Explore the Baths

Photo by kansasphoto CC BY 2.0

Virgin Gorda, the beach is tiny, the water rough, and the crowds plentiful. After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. It’s beautiful.

Suggested Tour: Day Cruise to British Virgin Islands from St Thomas or St John

4. Enjoy paradise on Anegada

Photo by ScubaBear68 CC BY 2.0

Anegada in the BVI is a coral atoll with a few hundred people living on it. Few ferries go to the island (only three per week), and most people who get up here tend to come via their own boats. This keeps the crowds down.

Suggested Tour: Anegada Animal Adventure

5. Magens Bay, St. Thomas Tour

Photo by Martin Stiburek CC BY-ND 2.0

Fringed by green hills and coconut palms, Magens Bay has been named one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by many travel publications. The sea is calm along the horseshoe-shaped bay and excellent for snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and other water sports.

Suggested Tour: Budget Magens Bay Beach

6. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

The capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie (named for a Danish queen) is one of the most popular cruise ports in the Caribbean.

Suggested Tour: Charlotte Amalie Self-Guided Audio Tour

7. Enjoy the food and music of Redhook

This port town on St. Thomas has some of the better restaurants and bars on the island. You’ll find live music, a delicious beer and burger bar called Tap and Still, and energetic clubs.

8. Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas

Coral World Ocean Park offers an interactive marine experience on the island of St. Thomas. The park features an underwater observatory, a tropical nature trail, the Marine Gardens Aquarium, and a huge glass-enclosed coral reef tank.

Suggested Tour: Skip the Line: Coral World Ocean Park General Admission Ticket

9. Blackbeard’s Castle, St. Thomas

At the top of the famous 99 steps, Blackbeard’s Castle is a five-story masonry tower and the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.

Suggested Tour: Shopping And Sightseeing Excursion

10. Heritage Trail, St. Croix

The St. Croix Heritage Trail is a 72-mile self-guided driving tour of the island’s historical and natural attractions.

Final thoughts on the US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands - Carnival Splendor Cruise -Caribbean Trip Kach and Jonathan

White sand beaches, excellent diving and snorkeling, turquoise crystal-clear water, scenic hiking, lots of boating opportunities, and heavily poured rum drinks. There are a fascinating number of things to do on the islands — life here is not all hammocks and piña coladas. From festivals to diving too strenuous hiking trails to hidden tide pools, each of the islands in the area has plenty to offer to keep you busy if a full day at the beach isn’t your thing.

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]