Leave your passport, pack your swimsuit and experience beautiful white beaches, swaying palm trees and refreshing cocktails when you head over to U.S. Virgin Islands, which is composed of three distinctly different islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. A trip to “America’s Caribbean Paradise” is not just accessible and convenient – it is also affordable with cheap flights departing daily. You can shop, dine, bathe in the sun, and enjoy various watersport.
St. Thomas: The Rocky City
Called “Rocky City” due to its hilly horizon, St. Thomas is a famous luxury getaway. It is one of the Caribbean’s major sailing centers with numerous yachts tied up in the harbor throughout the year. St. Thomas is accessible by both cruise ship and airplane. Contrary to the other islands, St. John and St. Croix, that cultivated their plantations, St. Thomas became a thriving seaport and later one of the world’s most beautiful harbors. You can charter a yacht to cruise between islands or just book a regular day sail to get your sea legs. You can also put your dancing shoes on with St. Thomas’ bustling nightlife.
Choose between hundreds of beach bars, sports bars, karaoke and dance bars, etc. You can go dancing, listen to live music or DJ’s or even play some team trivia. You can go drinking with friends even as you are soaking up the sun. Bring home shopping bags as you trail the duty free shops lined in the streets and alleys of St. Thomas. You can also put on a water jetpack for a unique experience – strap a marine engine on your back courtesy of St. Thomas Jetriders to hover and fly 30 feet above water. You’ll feel like one of the Jetsons in a Caribbean paradise. Don’t miss climbing the famous 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie to get a breathtaking view of the Caribbean. You’ll definitely feel alive when visiting St. Thomas.
St. John: The Love City
Honeymooners and nature lovers will enjoy St. John as it has more than 7,000 acres of dedicated parkland and plenty of pristine beaches. The “Love City” is the smallest of the three islands with no airport and is accessible mainly by ferry. The beaches of St. John are legendary for its beauty. Cinnamon Bay offers watersports activities, including snorkeling, windsurfing and kayaking. You can also wander the half-mile loop Cinnamon Bay Trail. Cinnamon Bay is also a campground where you can put up a tent for the night and enjoy the solitude with your loved one. Spend the night stargazing as you listen to the sound of the ocean. For a day of picnic and barbeque, you can head over to Hawknest Beach, where you can also enjoy the snorkeling sites a few yards from the shore.
Maho Bay is another popular beach in St. John with its calm and shallow waters attracting families and couples. Perhaps the most popular in the U.S. Virgin Islands is Trunk Bay. It has soft white powdery sand and an underwater snorkeling trail maintained by the National Park. If you are planning to stay more than a day in St. John, then consider staying at Caneel Bay. It is an eco-resort that will not spoil you with today’s technology such as TV or phone lines. But you will be surrounded with luxury with its dreamy bedding, wood furnishings, a bathroom with native stone and every morning there is a big breakfast buffet on the open-air Caneel Bay Beach Terrace. For dinner, bring your date to ZoZo’s at the Sugar Mill. Among the ruins of the sugar mill you will find St. John’s flagship fine dining. Your date and your taste buds will be thanking you afterwards. Truly, it’s hard not to fall in love with the beauty of St. John.
St. Croix: The Twin City
This retreat is just a couple of minutes away from the bustling St. Thomas but is also accessible by plane through its own airport. There are two towns situated on each end of the island therefore earning its nickname The Twin City. St. Croix is a U.S. Virgin Island’s cultural heart combining bohemian spirit with a diverse and multicultural population. It is the largest out of the three islands but gives a small town vibe compared to St. Thomas. It was previously a sugar plantation with organic farms now flourishing in the highlands. It is the best place to visit if you want to see the region’s past with much of the 18-century Danish occupancy reflected in its architecture.
Despite being the largest, it is also the least visited out of the three islands but you will be surprise with what the island has to offer. You can take the St. Croix Heritage Trail to experience 72 miles of the island’s Danish colonial past including a visit to the Estate Whim Plantation Museum. The longest and most pristine white sand beach of U.S. Virgin Islands can be found on St. Croix. The Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is only open to the public during weekends from 10:00am to 4:00pm since it is the nesting ground for the endangered leatherback turtle. The redemptive scene of “The Shawshank Redemption” was actually filmed at Sandy Point! You can also see the largest mangrove forest in the Virgin Islands at Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve. If you’re looking for premier lodging, book a room at The Buccaneer, the island’s oldest hotel. You will be rewarded with sweeping views and three beaches. You can even book a villa for a more intimate and private experience.
Whichever island you choose to stay, U.S. Virgin Islands will give you that Caribbean experience without the high cost or distance from your home. No need for your passport, all you need is a dose of wanderlust.