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30 Useful Things to Know Before Visiting the US Virgin Islands

  • Post author: Rachel Means
  • Post last modified: 2023-10-25

So, you’ve seen stunning photos of the US Virgin Islands, a fairytale Caribbean destination, and decided you MUST see it for yourself.

Congratulations on the decision! That’s the hardest part: deciding to go!

But now you’ve got some questions and are at a loss where to start. Don’t worry! You’ve got this!

We’ve rounded up all the important need-to-know information and travel tips to know before you go to the US Virgin Islands.

Get answers to all your pressing questions and be ready to rock your first trip to the USVI!

This is a comprehensive guide to visiting the US Virgin Islands. It is packed with valuable information for first time visitors to the USVI.

We realize you may not need to read all of it. Skim the table of contents below and jump straight to each question you have!

No time now to read it all now? Save it for later!

planning a trip to virgin islands

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Table of Contents

Where are the Virgin Islands?

The Virgin Islands are a grouping of Caribbean islands between Puerto Rico and Anguilla, on the eastern, Atlantic Ocean side of the Caribbean Sea.

A brief geography lesson: the Caribbean is split into two “island chains” or archipelagos: the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.

As the names suggest, the Greater Antilles are larger islands and the Lesser Antilles are smaller islands.

The Virgin Islands are right at that spot where the Greater Antilles transition into the Lesser Antilles.

Geologically, the Virgin Islands belong with the Lesser Antilles .

How did the Virgin Islands become a US territory?

The US Virgin Islands are today three main islands, St Thomas, St John, and St Croix, and several small surrounding islands.

Their story is typical of the Caribbean.

The islands were originally inhabited by native Caribbean tribes . St John has ancient petroglyphs that date back to these peoples.

Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the islands in 1793, putting the islands on Europe’s map.

Columbus’ Landing Site is part of the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve on St Croix.

European empires fought over and traded the islands until they eventually landed in Danish hands in the late 1600’s.

Sugar cane plantations tended by hundreds of African slaves powered the economy for nearly two centuries.

Slavery was abolished in the mid-1800’s , followed shortly by devastation from several natural disasters, and the economy collapsed.

Denmark was never able to resuscitate the islands’ economy.

The United States became interested in purchasing the islands in the mid-late 1800’s. Treaties were negotiated but never approved.

Finally, in 1917 at the beginning of World War I, the US convinced Denmark to sell the islands.

The official name of the US territory became the Virgin Islands of the United States.

What language is spoken in the US Virgin Islands?

American English is the official language of the US Virgin Islands and is widely spoken.

Locals can also speak Haitian Creole and usually a bit of Spanish , if the occasion calls for it.

What nationality are people born in the US Virgin Islands?

As a territory of the United States, people born in the US Virgin Islands are considered United States citizens .

However, since the USVI are a territory and not a state, only certain portions of the US Constitution apply.

What’s the capital of the US Virgin Islands?

The capital city of the US Virgin Islands is Charlotte Amalie , located on the island of St Thomas.

Do I need a passport to visit the USVI?

United States citizens do not require a passport to visit the US Virgin Islands. A government issued photo ID is sufficient, such as your US driver’s license.

All other nationalities will require a passport.

However, if you plan to take a day trip over to the neighboring British Virgin Islands during your stay, Americans will need a passport to enter.

planning a trip to virgin islands

What currency does the US Virgin Islands use?

The US Dollar is standard in the USVI, and most places will not accept anything else.

ATMs are few and far between if you’re out walking about, but most resorts usually have a few on their premises.

What time zone is the US Virgin Islands in? Do they follow Daylight Savings Time?

All three US Virgin Islands are on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) . That corresponds to UTC/GMT-4.

They are an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time used on the mainland United States’ east coast.

Daylight Savings Time is not observed in the USVI.

Do they take credit cards in the USVI?

Credit cards are accepted at the bigger resorts and restaurants , but some will charge a fee to take the credit card.

Many smaller vendors or local establishments accept cash only.

One workaround for this is to book tours/excursions online ahead of time. It’s still best to have some cash on hand.

Pro Tip : Taxis from the airport take cash only.

Safety and Cultural Norms

St Croix's mountainous north shore is a wall of undulating green against the deep blue Caribbean Sea

Are the US Virgin Islands Safe to Visit?

Yes, the US Virgin Islands are safe for tourists.

Common sense safety practices should be observed as you would at any other vacation destination, but we’ve never felt unsafe when galivanting around the islands.

Of course, there is always some amount of crime, no matter where you go in the world.

The most common incidents that impact tourists are breaking into cars to steal valuables or pickpockets in crowded settings like shopping areas or bars.

Watch your drinks at bars and resorts, and never walk alone at night. All common sense safety precautions.

Is it safe to drink the water in the USVI?

Yes, the tap water at resorts and hotels is safe for consumption. You can always ask the front desk, but if there’s an issue, they will let you know.

Fresh water can be scarce so most rental villas/homes collect rainwater into cisterns. Some have rigorous filtration systems; others don’t.

Your host may ask you to take shorter showers and drink bottled water instead to conserve the freshwater.

If you’re renting a home, be sure to ask.

Is it safe to take a taxi in the USVI?

Yes, taxis are generally safe to use in the USVI. Taxis are usually shared taxis in the Virgin Islands.

The St Thomas airport uses large, red, multi-passenger vans. St John taxis are exclusively safari-style trucks.

You likely will not be the only passenger in the vehicle, and it will likely make multiple stops before reaching your destination.

Agree to a fare with the driver before getting in the taxi.

Taxi stands are often available at popular beaches, in cities, and near ferries.

Alternatively, flag down a taxi you see coming by stepping to the road’s edge and holding your arm in the air.

Don’t step into the road, though; sometimes they’re full and will not stop.

Is it safe to drive in USVI? How are the roads?

Driving in the US Virgin Islands is mostly safe.

That’s not exactly reassuring, I know, but it’s better than saying “Driving in the US Virgin Islands is safe*.”

Let me explain the reasoning behind that asterisk/mediocre endorsement of driving in the USVI.

Driving in the USVI’s is very similar to driving in the US, and far better than the free-for-all traffic typical of Southeast Asia.

Pro Tip : Drive on the LEFT in the US Virgin Islands.

However, the quality of roads in the US Virgin Islands is just ok.

Each island has paved main streets in cities, residential areas, and to popular destinations.

St Croix even has a stretch of freeway to speed up travel between its two major cities.

These roads are usually in decent condition, with some potholes here and there.

The majority of roads outside of town, and sometimes even in town, are narrow, steep, and unmarked.

The mountainous terrain makes steep roads unavoidable, but the narrow width, often with no guardrail, is a bit unsettling the first few turns.

Pavement markings like shoulder lines and centerlines don’t exist outside of the cities.

You’ll find yourself sucking it in when you pass your first delivery truck on one of these roads, but you will get used to it.

Locals often get impatient and will pass slower drivers; never mind if it’s in a curve or not.

Some curves have mirrors to help see driveways or oncoming traffic, but those are less and less frequent as you get away from the cities.

Further out of town, paved roads disappear altogether.

The bigger tourist spots have paved roads, but some hikes and lesser-known hidden gems require a 4WD vehicle, or even an ATV .

Do we recommend driving in the USVI? Yes. Just take it slow and be careful.

Do Islanders expect a polite greeting?

Yes. It’s polite to begin any conversation with good morning, good afternoon, or good evening.

Even just walking up to a register at the store, this makes a world of difference.

Acknowledge the human being behind the counter with a smile and polite word. Small shop owners especially appreciate it!

Never fear, haters of small talk! Most locals will reciprocate with a good morning, etc. and leave you alone to browse.

This local custom may seem like just plain politeness to some of us, but it’s important enough to the Virgin Islanders that they put this reminder on every island’s tourist information map .

Be a polite citizen of the world. It’ll only take 2 seconds.

Is there a cultural dress code in the USVI?

Informally, yes. We hesitate to call it a dress code, which sounds strict.

There is no law against it that we’re aware of, but you will never see a local wearing just their swimsuit in town or at a restaurant .

This goes for men and women.

Throw on a dress or shirt and shorts before browsing the local shops or sitting down for lunch or dinner , even at a beachside restaurant.

Ladies, those see-through coverups that look so cute don’t count. Put on something opaque.

I haven’t seen anyone denied service because of this cultural faux pas, but I have seen a seating host or two mention it kindly.

You don’t have to agree with it, but please be respectful of local customs. Remember, you’re a visitor.

And it’s again important enough that this tidbit also shows up on island tourist maps and free publications.

A green cay sits in the aqua blue Caribbean waters off of St Croix's north shore

How many days do I need in the US Virgin Islands?

This depends if you’re trying to see all three in one trip, or taking it one island at a time. It comes down to what you want to get out of your trip.

Do you just want to step foot on each island, lay on a beach, and maybe see a museum or go for a hike, if you have time in between drinks?

Then sure, you can see all three islands in 4-5 days.

St Thomas and St John are only 30 minutes apart by ferry and could be “done” over a long weekend.

St Croix is further south and requires a short flight to reach the other two islands.

Keep that in mind if planning travel to all three islands in one trip; you’ll have to pay for a puddle jumper flight.

We recommend, and prefer, the slower approach: take a week per island.

This likely requires more than one trip, since most Americans don’t get more than 2 weeks of vacation per year, but it’s worth it.

Rushing around and between islands is not relaxing.

Staying in one place reduces time lost in transit between destinations and increases time spent sightseeing.

Which US Virgin Island is the best to visit?

All three of the US Virgin Islands can provide an amazing beach vacation with sunny days spent next to beautiful blue waters.

The real question here is what atmosphere are you looking for on your vacation?

Which island you choose can depend on several quantitative factors, like flight availability and cost, lodging preference, and shopping preference, to name a few.

But the biggest deciding factor between the three main islands is atmosphere, or vibe.

That intangible, qualitative measure can be the difference between having the time of your life or never wanting to return.

A lot of people ask is St Thomas or St Croix better, or is St John better than St Thomas. Those questions are useless unless you know what you want from vacation.

St Thomas is home to the capital city of Charlotte Amalie and has the most resorts and nightlife, very much a party vibe here or for those that live and breathe all-inclusives.

St John is the smallest island and two-thirds national park, with few resorts and no airport but spectacular beaches and a laid-back vibe.

St Croix is the middle child, further south than the other two but also the largest of the three, with its own airport and a mix of history, rum, and cruise ports.

Golden sunset with large fluffy clouds and a fading blue sky over a peaceful ocean and darkened Rainbow Beach St Croix

What’s the weather like in the Virgin Islands?

These islands are still a few latitudes above the equator and west of the Prime Meridian, firmly located in the northern and western hemispheres in the tropical zone.

Their latitude is close enough to the equator to ensure year-round warm temperatures while unbearable summer temperatures are tempered by ocean breezes.

Temperatures don’t change much unless there’s a storm.

Average summer temperatures are 89°F (32°C) highs and 80°F (27°C) lows. Average winter temperatures are 83°F (28°C) highs and 74°F (23°C) lows.

Not much difference!

The US Virgin Islands are subject to hurricane season , which is officially June through November every year, with the most active period for storms being in August/September.

It’s purely luck of the draw how easy or bad of a hurricane season they’ll experience.

Some years they get nothing while in 2017 they were hit by two back-to-back category 5 hurricanes (the worst level).

We have been in the USVI’s when a tropical storm passed through and can testify to the islanders’ sense of community and safety.

All the locals you meet will ask if you have food and water set aside in your room, just in case.

If your vacation falls within hurricane season, most importantly in late summer/early fall, we recommend travel insurance in case a hurricane forces you to reschedule.

What’s the best time of year to visit the US Virgin Islands?

Late spring to early summer is an ideal time to visit the US Virgin Islands.

Temperatures are warm, it’s the driest time of year, and hurricane season doesn’t start until June.

Peak season is winter and typically more expensive.

Late summer/early fall is the middle of hurricane season; still an enjoyable island experience but get travel insurance in case a hurricane changes your plans.

Transportation

Blue water of St John, USVI with a white wake trail behind a single speed boat

Do the USVI have public transportation, like buses or trains? Is it reliable?

Public transportation is available but often unreliable. There are no trains , but each city has a bus system.

The buses are often not on schedule , so leave early or have a good back up plan if you need to catch a ferry or flight.

Conversely, the ferries are always on time with the exception of inclement weather when it would be unsafe to run.

Many locals use the ferries as well to commute to and from work.

Are the US Virgin Islands walkable?

Not really. There are no dedicated pedestrian paths, no sidewalks outside of the centers of town, and not even shoulders along the roadway.

In cities like Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas, Cruz Bay on St John, or Christiansted and Frederiksted on St Croix, it’s reasonable to get from a city hotel/resort to a restaurant on foot.

But if your resort is on the outskirts of town or further afield, you need a shuttle, taxi, or rental car to get around.

Do the US Virgin Islands have Uber or Lyft?

No. There are no Uber or Lyft programs currently operating in the US Virgin Islands.

The closest you’ll find to a rideshare program are the shared taxis.

Which side of the road do they drive on in the US Virgin Islands?

All three US Virgin Islands drive on the left side of the road.

If you come across a roundabout, that means they work clockwise instead of counterclockwise.

Many American tourists don’t expect this, since the USVI are now an American territory, but it makes sense.

Like much of the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands still retain traces of British Empire influence.

What baffles British tourists is the cars.

While the US Virgin Islands drive on the left, the cars are all American imports with drivers on the left side of the car .

That’s backwards for UK drivers, who are used to driving on the left but having the driver on the right side of the car!

So, everyone has something to get used to when visiting and driving in the US Virgin Islands! 😆

Do you need a car in the USVI?

If you want to see the hidden gems, the beaches further away from the tourist centers, or any of the hikes or historical sites, you need a car.

We recommend getting a rental car to properly explore the USVI.

Driving may be awkward or scary at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of driving on the left.

The narrow and steep roads are just like driving in the mountains back home. Take your time, and you’ll be fine.

Don’t let impatient locals rush you. Let them go around.

It’s possible to visit the USVI without a car , but only if you’re content staying at your resort except for tours that pick up directly from your resort.

Do you need an international driver’s license to drive in the USVI?

American drivers’ licenses are accepted , but all non-US tourists will need to get a temporary USVI driving permit upon arrival.

There is no mention on the USVI DMV website that an international driver’s license is required to rent a car.

The rental car companies have these temporary permits, but some are more lax than others about officially enforcing it.

Driving rules in the USVI are generally the same as in the United States, of course, with the exception that driving is flipped to the left side.

Note that talking on the phone while driving is illegal unless using a hands-free device.

Can I take my rental car from St Thomas to St John?

Yes, but this usually only makes sense if you’re staying on St Thomas but want to day trip to St John.

Getting to St John from St Thomas is simple.

Catch the vehicle ferry from Red Hook, St Thomas to Enighed Pond, St John, just south of Cruz Bay.

Roundtrip vehicle ferry tickets cost about $50, and they stay on schedule.

If you’re staying on St John, rent a car on St John instead of from the St Thomas airport, and save yourself the hassle and logistics.

Miscellaneous Facts

Do you have to go through customs when returning to the us from the us virgin islands.

Yes. You are allowed a $1,600 duty-free exemption if you were away for more than 48 hours.

Pro Tip : Airlines on St Croix allow up to 6 bottles of alcohol to fly home for FREE as its own piece of checked luggage. Both Cruzan and Captain Morgan have rum distilleries on St Croix, and many people stock up on hard-to-find flavors while visiting.

Do you tip in the US Virgin Islands?

Yes, tipping culture in the USVI is the same as the United States. Generally, tip 15-20% in restaurants and taxis.

Resort employees may or may not accept tips, depending on resort policy.

Can I use my cell phone in the USVI?

Sure. Whether or not you get hit with a roaming fee depends on your carrier.

Signal is typically fine in the cities and spotty or non-existent the further away you get.

Also, beware of using your cell on the north side of St John and your phone accidentally connects to a cell tower on nearby Tortola instead.

Tortola is part of the British Virgin Islands and will certainly incur a roaming fee!

What’s the drinking age in the US Virgin Islands?

The legal drinking age in the USVI is 18 years old.

Now you’re prepared for your first trip visiting the US Virgin Islands!

More USVI Resources

  • How to Get to St John in 3 Easy Steps
  • Fun Things to Do in St John
  • 20 Best Beaches on St John
  • Unforgettable Things to Do in St Croix
  • 17 Best Beaches on St Croix

Happy travels!

Headshot of Rachel Means at Clingmans Dome in Smoky Mountains

About the Author : Rachel Means

With six-figure student loan debt and only 10 PTO days per year, Rachel started traveling the world. A decade later, she’s paid off her loans, changed careers, and been to 36 US states and 14 countries. She’s an expert at planning and budgeting for travel and loves to help others do it, too! Read her full story here.

Multiple blue hues in the Caribbean waters off St John with a text overlay

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Thanks! Very useful information!

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How to plan a trip to the US Virgin Islands

Dec 19, 2014 • 7 min read

Fringed by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and Caribbean Sea in the south, the US Virgin Islands is the Caribbean island fantasy that many holidaymakers long for.

Turquoise waters nibble sweetly at white-sand beaches generously sprinkled among many islets and cays – it’s little wonder the archipelago draws sailing enthusiasts from around the world. Heck, if you’re an American citizen you don’t even need a passport to get here. For those who prefer to bed down on land rather than water, the islands of St Thomas, St Croix and St John are the most popular bases for indulging in sun, sea and sand.

Trunk Bay Beach, St John. Image by Bill Ross / Fuse / Getty

St Thomas – the action island

St Thomas is the bustling heart of the US Virgin Islands, where forest-clad mountains jostle for space with impressive all-inclusive resorts that lead to vibrant harbors and stroll-worthy beachfronts, cosmopolitan fine-dining and glitzy shopping. Welcome to the bazaar.

Defining experiences

Charlotte Amalie, the capital and largest city of the US Virgin Islands, is one of the busiest and most beautiful ports in the Caribbean . But head downtown and you will get a glimpse of the island’s colonial past as a Danish colony.

Proud heritage monuments such as the fiery red Fort Christian and golden Frederick Lutheran Church offer pops of color along the waterfront and down cobblestone streets. Continue the historical trail by climbing Charlotte Amalie’s ‘step streets’, which cut through almost all of the hills ascending from the harbor area.

Outside of town, the exhilarating zip-line tour over the rainforest offered by Tree Limin’ Extreme ( ziplinestthomas.com ) can be combined with a tour of the historic St Peter Great House & Botanical Gardens ( greathousevi.com ), the highlight of which is a nature trail resplendent with waterfalls, tropical birds and more than 150 species of Caribbean plants and fruits.

Fiery Fort Christian in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. Image by Diane Macdonald / Photographer's Choice / Getty

Where to party

Hanging out – or “limin’”, as the locals call it – is a lively affair on St Thomas, filled with music, dance and general irreverence.

Shimmy to the rhythm of a steel pan or Calypso musical performance at Coconut Cove ( ritzcarlton.com ) or catch a show at Iggie’s Bolongo Bay , where the colorful costumes, characters and pulsating music offer a snapshot of the razzle-dazzle of St Thomas’s annual Carnival celebrations.

Where to chill

Magens Bay is the most popular of the island’s 40 beaches, and it's just a hop, skip and a jump from Charlotte Amalie. This mile-long stretch is often crowded, but what’s not to love about a heart-shaped beach? Avoid the crowds by waiting until mid-afternoon to go for a swim.

Coki Beach  near Redhook has crystal-clear waters beloved by thousands of multicolored fish. Dip beneath the waves on a scuba-diving tour or float on top with a snorkel and fins for a closer look at the Caribbean ocean’s bounty; gear rentals can be arranged right on the beach.

Where to eat

For a local dining experience, head to Gladys’ Café  in downtown Charlotte Amalie for tender jerk pork, stewed chicken with rice peas and fried yellowtail snapper. Douse your dinner in Gladys’ homemade hot sauce and then, if your taste buds can take it, pick up a bottle to take home as a souvenir.

Where to stay

The historic Hotel 1829 ( blackbeardscastle.com ) in downtown Charlotte Amalie is the expansive former mansion of a French merchant. It has bags of antique charm and cozy rooms that open to beautiful gardens full of tropical plants. It's also home to a two-story waterfall fountain cast from 12,000 amber stones.

Getting there & away

The Cyril E King International Airport  is in Charlotte Amalie, and is the islands' biggest international airport (though international flights also run to St Croix).

St John — the unplugged island

Nature haven, walkers’ wonderland, scuba-diving sweet stuff… If St Thomas is the wired big brother, St John is the archipelago’s chilled-out little sister. With two-thirds of the island protected as a national park, this is the island that outdoor enthusiasts make a beeline for. Relax, unwind, maybe explore. Repeat.

Crumbling sugar mill ruin on St John, Virgin Islands National Park. Image by Michele Falzone / AWL Images / Getty

The great outdoors and the Virgin Islands National Park take center stage on St John, both above and below the water. Trunk Bay Beach is a lovely scenic arch of sand (so popular it charges an entrance fee), home to a 225-yard underwater snorkel trail.

There’s also excellent snorkeling at Salt Pond Bay Beach ( seestjohn.com ) and trails to explore on land. Ram’s Head Trail ends on a 200ft-high cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and a sea-level trail takes you to the rocky shores of Drunk Bay.

Salomon Beach can be reached from the Lind Point Trail, which starts behind the National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay. Its winding path brings you to a palm-tree-lined beach so secluded that some think clothing is optional.

Head to Coral Bay in the east of the island for callaloo (stew made of spinach and okra) or fried fish at Miss Lucy’s beachfront restaurant. On Sundays, diners settle in early for Lucy’s famed jazz brunch.

Befitting St John’s reputation for natural living, Concordia Eco-Tents in the island’s East End area, offers imaginative wood-framed eco-tents strung together by boardwalks up a steep hillside. Killer views and yoga classes complete the picture.

St John has no international airport or cruise port. To get there, it’s a short four-mile ferry ride (departing every hour) from the St Thomas docks at Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook. Passengers disembark at Cruz Bay, a pastel-hued ferry port close to a clutch of stores, restaurants, car-rental firms, dive shops and bars.

St Croix – the culture island

Seven different national flags have, at one time or another, flown over St Croix.  Amid the cultural melee, Spanish, French and Danish influences have all played a part in making St Croix the culture capital it is today. The “big island”, as it is often simply called, may be the largest of the US Virgin Islands but still has small-town charm.

On the St Croix heritage trail. Image by MyLoupe / UIG / Getty

Two hundred sites of historical interest criss-cross the island and together they make up the St Croix Heritage Trail – a self-guided driving tour through the historic sites and natural areas of the island (pick up a heritage trail map,  stcroixlandmarks.com , to plan your route).

Highlights include the dungeons, cannons and custard-colored citadel of the Christiansted National Historic Site ; the Estate Whim Plantation Museum ; and Fredericksted, aka Freedom City – the site where slaves were emancipated under the former Danish West Indies.

Take a tour of the rum distillery where locals' favorite elixir  Cruzan Rum has been produced for more than 300 years and see firsthand how it is made.

Wreck-diving around St Croix. Image by Steve Simonsen / LPI / Getty

Beneath the sea, Buck Island supports an 18,000 acre coral reef teeming with fish and sea turtles, a sea garden and an underwater snorkeling trail; above water, it’s thronged with wildlife including brown pelicans. You can visit on a day tour from Christiansted.

Cane Bay is a popular day-tripping beach for families but it’s also rated one of the top dive sites in the Caribbean. Scuba junkies flock here to dive a spectacular wall, which slopes from 40ft to more than 3,200ft under the sea.

Singh’s Fast Food serves up rotis stuffed with chicken, beef and shrimp as well as popular street foods such as doubles (sandwiches filled with chickpeas and spices). For a treat on a hot day, try a scoop of guava or gooseberry ice cream made with fresh local fruit at Armstrong’s ice-cream parlor in Frederiksted, where one family have been churning up the sweet stuff for more than 100 years.

Carringtons Inn ( carringtonsinn.com ) is a lovely former private home in Christiansted. Sitting atop a hillside, this adults-only gem has five spacious poolside rooms with expansive views of the Caribbean Sea and historic harbor city. Homemade breakfast is dished up daily and the inn is well-located for horseback riding, snorkeling, diving and golf nearby.

You can fly directly into St Croix's Henry E Rohlsen Airport (6 miles southwest of Christiansted) from the US or, if you decide to island-hop, take a seaplane that departs from the dock in downtown Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas, which arrive on St Croix in as little as 20 minutes. There is no ferry service between St Thomas and St Croix.

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Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands

This trio of islands in the Caribbean Sea—St. John, St. Croix, and St. Thomas—is famous for its dreamy beaches, world-class snorkeling and diving, and pristine beaches. It’s also a snap to get to from most of the 50 states, with plenty of non-stop flights that can be fairly inexpensive. Best of all? U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to visit. Travelers can find accommodations for all types of trips, whether it's a family getaway or a romantic retreat. St. John , for example, is known as the "Beverly Hills of the Caribbean," thanks partially to its more remote location (visitors must arrive on a boat or ferry from Charlotte Amalie). St. Thomas, meanwhile, is perhaps the most popular island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It's a popular port of call for cruise ships , and is the most likely place to get a flight. And vacationers seeking exceptional food and a slightly more quiet island escape should head to St. Croix. The largest of the main islands, St. Croix is known for its burgeoning food scene (and an always-excellent West Indian curry). Whether you're island hopping or looking for a lengthy, low-key beach retreat, travelers can find everything they need from a Caribbean vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A History of Colonization

These islands—about 50 small islets and cays in addition to the three largest—have been claimed by many nations over the centuries, including Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands. Most recently, the Danes claimed St. John and St. Thomas in the late 17th century, followed by St. Croix in 1733.

Denmark developed plantations, grew sugar, and used first criminals, then African slaves for labor. The early 19th century witnessed a decline in the sugar industry on the islands, along with slave revolts.

Slavery was abolished in 1848, and in the 1860s, the United States began negotiations for a purchase of the islands. It came to fruition in 1917, so the U.S. Virgin Islands will celebrate a century of U.S. possession in 2017.

Things to See

On St. Thomas, visit the synagogue —the oldest American synagogue in continuous use and a national historic landmark—where the floors are made of sand.

Be sure to get out on the water and see all the beaches, particularly on St. Thomas (Magens Bay is great for kids) and St. John (where Trunk Bay remains world-renowned).

See the sprawling botanical garden on St. Croix, and keep a look-out for various types of enormous sea turtles, such as the hawksbill, and the hard-to-find leatherbacks. But please, don't touch the wildlife.

If you’re curious about the history of the island, wander the brick-lined alleys of downtown St. Thomas during the daytime, including Market Square. This was the site of slave trading, and the painful separating of families.

Activities on the Islands

Adventurous travelers love ziplining here, while the more leisurely prefer chartering a boat, eating slow West Caribbean lunches, and sipping wine. If you need a workout, look for the famed “99 steps” in Charlotte Amalie, the capital city of the Virgin Islands, which lead to Blackbeard’s Castle. Constructed in the 1660s by the Danish military, it's a great spot for a view.

If you're visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, you should also listen to live music and go out for tropical drinks. St. John is the least settled of the three isles, so you’ll likely stick to your hotel or B&B while there, but spontaneous shows tend to spring up all over these islands. On St. Thomas, check out the live Sunday afternoon jazz at open-air bar Fat Turtle .

Snorkeling and diving are top-notch here, with gorgeous reefs that lure visitors worldwide (the Virgin Islands Coral Reef Monument is a terrific spot for donning your goggles). And don’t miss the sprawling national park on St. John, where you can snorkel, camp, and hike along mountain paths to hidden coves.

Places to Stay

Whether you decide on an all-inclusive option , a ritzy hotel on St. Thomas (which has the poshest places), or a quiet bed and breakfast on St. John, there are plenty of places to stay in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Point Pleasant Resort is away from the hubbub of downtown on St. Thomas, and its location on the east side of the island makes for easy jaunts to St. John. Rooms are done in tasteful Caribbean decor (wicker furniture, tropical prints) and boast large balconies. And at the Ritz-Carlton —a larger, more imposing hotel known for pampering guests—travelers will find a more refined take on island design. Expect private balconies or terraces, marble baths, and contemporary finishes.

Meanwhile, the 16 rooms, sprawling gardens, and knockout views of Estate Lindholm on St. John are available to those willing take the 20-minute ferry over.

And on St. Croix, The Buccaneer remains a hotspot, thanks to its 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, and three private beaches. Travelers can also book a room at Starfish Cottage at Judith's Fancy, a cozy space with a full kitchen and wraparound porch, perfect for large families and groups.

Where to Eat

While visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, you're going to want to look for—and ask about—the local fish. Don't leave without trying specialties like conch fritters and Caribbean lobster, grouper and flying fish. Also look for jerk chicken, roast pork, pepperpot, and goat stew on restaurant menus.

St. Thomas has many options for upscale restaurants, such as Oceana , which is right on the water and serves bouillabaisse, pork rillettes, and a fantastic mushroom-leek tarte tatin . Travelers can also tuck into classics at Gladys’ Café , where the hot sauce is homemade. And St. Croix seems to be having something of a culinary awakening . At Balter, for example, diners might find cured balcony and fresh herbs from the restaurant's private garden.

Secrets of the Islands

One local told Travel + Leisure that rum is cheaper than Coca-Cola on these islands—so the drinks are correspondingly strong, for which a lot of tourists are not prepared. Think twice before you order a second round of rum punches for the table.

Everyone says “good morning,” “good afternoon,” and “good evening," on these islands, so to waltz up to a busboy, waiter, or local without greeting them first is considered the height of rudeness.

How to Get There—and Get Around

No matter where you're headed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, travelers must fly into either St. Thomas or St. Croix, both of which have airports . If you're bound for St. John, however, be prepared to take a 20-minute ferry or chartered boat.

The main islands in the archipelago, especially St. Thomas and St. Croix, are also popular ports of call for cruise ships. Consider taking a Caribbean cruise if you're keen on seeing this string of islands.

Taxis are very expensive, often charging upwards of $30 per head for a short drive, so consider renting a car if you’re here for more than a day. Just be prepared to drive on the left side of the road, and know that local drivers tend to think of stop signs as suggestions. When using local buses, ask before boarding to ensure you’re not boarding a “taxi bus,” which is more expensive than the "safari” or “tap-tap” buses, on which locals simply stomp the floor when they want to get off.

Currency and Where to Shop

United States currency is the thing. Most stores and restaurants will accept credit cards, but not always American Express. In the open-air plazas, bring cash for spontaneous purchases like knock-off designer tote bags.

There’s excellent shopping to be had here, particularly for jewelry and locally made specialties such as hot sauce, rum, linens, china, and crystal. Keep in mind that it’s duty-free , which can make all the difference on your return trip home. Travelers have an allowance of $1,600, so keep a good record of what you’ve purchased—and know that St. Thomas is the place you’ll find the most variety.

On St. Croix, look to Christiansted’s boardwalk and Frederiksted’s Strand Street for the best souvenirs. If you're on St. John, check out the shops in Coral Bay, Wharfside Village, and Mongoose Junction.

When to Visit the U.S. Virgin Islands

Most visitors arrive between December and April, seeking a respite from colder climes, but one local suggests not overlooking the summer months. During June and July, kids are out of school and will befriend your own children on the beach—particularly at places like shallow-waved Magen Bay on St. Thomas. And you can often get your kids onto the beach for as low as a single dollar.

Regardless of when you book your trip, anticipate temperatures in the 70s and 80s year-round, with most rain falling during hurricane season and peaking in the autumn months.

Island Life Mexico

U.S. Virgin Islands Visitors Guide

How to get there, things to do & more.

Updated March 2024

US Virgin Islands Visitors Guide: How To Get There & The Best Things To Do In US Virgin

Welcome to US Virgin Islands

Looking for a Caribbean destination that offers the perfect blend of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation? Look no further than the U.S. Virgin Islands! Comprised of three unique islands – St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John – each offers its own charm and attractions. St. Thomas boasts world-class shopping and dining, while St. Croix is known for its rich cultural history and stunning beaches. St. John is perfect for outdoor adventurers, with two-thirds of the island preserved as a national park. Our guide will take you through some of the top things to do in USVI. We will also give you tips on when to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, the weather to expect, and how to stay safe during your travels. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the local culture of this breathtaking island nation!

Looking for a Caribbean destination that offers the perfect blend of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation? Look no further than the U.S. Virgin Islands!

Comprised of three unique islands – St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John – each offers its own charm and attractions. St. Thomas boasts world-class shopping and dining, while St. Croix is known for its rich cultural history and stunning beaches. St. John is perfect for outdoor adventurers, with two-thirds of the island preserved as a national park.

Our guide will take you through some of the top things to do in USVI. We will also give you tips on when to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, the weather to expect, and how to stay safe during your travels. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the local culture of this breathtaking island nation!

U.S. Virgin Islands Map

US Virgin Islands Map

US Virgin Islands Visitors Guide: Green Iguana

A Bit Of History

For 3,000 years, the U.S. Virgin Islands were inhabited by the Ciboney people who first arrived from South America, followed by the Arawak, and then the Caribe tribes. Europeans arrived around 1625, when the English and Dutch began a 20-year-long struggle for power over the island of St. Croix.

The English ultimately surrendered but managed to establish rule in 1672. The islands continued to be traded off for a few hundred years until they were eventually settled by Denmark. Around 1685, the Danish approved St. Thomas as a safe haven for pirates, which they thought would benefit local business.

In 1916, the United States purchased the islands from Denmark for strategic military positioning during World War I.

US Virgin Islands Guide. The Best Things To Do In The US Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands Today

The United States granted citizenship to all inhabitants of the islands in 1927, but voting rights were not secured until 1936. Revisions were made to these acts in 1954 to give more power to the local government, although the islands are still ruled by U.S. law. Today, the U.S. Virgin Islands are some of the most prosperous islands in the Caribbean.

Is US Virgin Islands Safe?

Are The US Virgin Islands Safe?

The US Virgin Islands is overall a very safe place for travel, just be cautious as the crime rate has risen slightly on St. Johns island over the past few years. While theft and violent crime are not common, petty crimes and occasional assault against tourists do happen on rare occasions.

Visitors should be more concerned about accidental injuries rather than violent crimes, however. The islands have all sorts of high-risk level excursions and activities aimed at tourists, and it isn’t uncommon for injuries to happen.

Where are the US Virgin Islands?

US Virgin Islands Caribbean Map

click map to enlarge

The U.S. Virgin Islands are in the northeastern Caribbean Sea about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico and west of St. Barts , St. Kitts and Antigua .

The islands are comprised of three large landmasses: St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. There are also numerous smaller islands and cays.

US Virgin Islands Visitors Guide: Cruz Bay

The Best Time to Visit the US Virgin Islands

Looking for the best time to go to the US Virgin Islands? Temperatures range from mid 80s to low 90s year-round in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, there are dry and wet seasons as well as the Atlantic hurricane season, which travelers should be aware of.

December – March

December to March brings the largest crowd as the island’s breeze begets the most hospitable weather. The temperature ranges from the mid-70’s to high-80’s, and the rain is minimal.

April to June

April to June is the best time to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands as it is less crowded and the weather is nice. The temperature is relatively consistent around this time, ranging from the mid to high 80s, and the chance of rain is unlikely.

July to November

While you may be able to find a great deal from July to November, you do risk having your trip canceled or cut short due to peak hurricane season. The rainfall is also the highest during these months, which makes most outdoor activities difficult.

  When Is U.S. Virgin Islands Hurricane Season?

U.S. Virgin Islands hurricane season begins June 1 and goes through the end of November, with peak months being September and October. During this time, tourism slows because travelers can expect tropical storms and heavy rains. In the Virgin Islands, the average rainfall is five to six inches a month from September through November. The U.S. Virgin Islands are affected by a hurricane every four to six years, while a hurricane directly hits land around every eight years. Be sure to check weather reports before your trip, and we always recommend getting travel insurance during these months just in case of inclement weather.

planning a trip to virgin islands

How to Get to the US Virgin Islands & Around

There are a few ways to get to and around the U.S. Virgin Islands.

planning a trip to virgin islands

Arrival by Air

There are two international airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cyril E. King Airport (STT) is located in St. Thomas and Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX) is in St. Croix.

Both nonstop and connecting flights are offered by many U.S. airlines and interconnecting flights between islands are also available. Most flights make connections in San Juan, Puerto Rico. That connection takes around 30 minutes to St. Thomas and 20 minutes to St. Croix.

  Search for great deals on flights here .

planning a trip to virgin islands

Arrival by Cruise

The major cruise port in the US Virgin Islands is in St. Thomas, specifically the Havensight Pier outside of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. Both St. Croix and St. John also accommodate cruise ships.

A cruise visit to the Virgin Islands is an excellent way to get a taste of what these beautiful islands offer. There are many different cruise lines that offer stops in the U.S. Virgin Islands, such as Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruises and Royal Caribbean.

  Search for great deals on cruises here .

planning a trip to virgin islands

Shuttles in US Virgin Islands

Shuttles or private transport can be pre-arranged to pick you up and take you from the airport to your accommodation.

St Thomas and St Croix airport transfers are ideal for solo travelers, couples, families, or large groups. The number and type of vehicles are assigned based on the size of your party, and all of the drivers and vehicles are fully licensed and insured. Airport transfers are around $79 per person for a round trip.

  You can easily book ground transportation from the airport to your hotel here .

planning a trip to virgin islands

Getting Around by Car

It is easy to get around any of the large islands by rental car. You can rent cars at either of the two international airports. Renting a car while visiting the islands is hands down the best way to explore.

Rentals typically cost around $53 per day for an economy car and $67 per day for a standard SUV. While luxury SUVs cost around $100 per day and all terrain vehicles are about $170 per day.

You’ll need to drive on the left side of the road. Speed limits do vary on the islands, so make sure to take your time and enjoy the views. All U.S. drivers can drive for up to 90 days as long as they have a current driver’s license.

  Search for great deals on rental cars here .

planning a trip to virgin islands

US Virgin Islands by Taxi

Taxis are available by both land and water to transport you around the islands. Taxis are available at the airports, as well as cruise docks and on popular streets.

They are a popular option in St. Thomas, but are not metered. Instead taxi rates are per person and by destination. There can be additional fees based on factors such as luggage and waiting.  Keep in mind that the majority of taxis in St Thomas are cash only.

planning a trip to virgin islands

Ferries in US Virgin Islands

If you are interested in island hopping in the U.S. Virgin Islands, ferries are a great way to do that. Ferries from St. Croix or St. Thomas can easily take you to the island of St. John and back.

Ferries typically cost around $75 per person one way, and about $120 for a round trip ride.

planning a trip to virgin islands

Things to Do in St. Thomas

St. thomas top highlights.

St. Thomas island has something for everyone!  Here are just a few of the activities to enjoy in St. Thomas!

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin Islands: Skyride Paradise Point

Take the Skyride to Paradise Point

This short gondola ride will take you up to the highest peak in the islands’ capital city, Charlotte Amalie. From this vantage point, you will experience panoramic views that overlook Water Island and Puerto Rico in the distance. There is also a restaurant, bar, and gift shop at the top! This ride is around $25 for adults and $17 for children 12 and under.

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin Islands: Diving Snorkeling

Go Diving or Snorkeling

It is no secret that the U.S. Virgin Islands has some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean. You can observe various coral types, sea turtles, an array of colorful fish, and so much more! Not surprisingly, there are an abundance of beaches with great DIY snorkeling opportunities. However, boat snorkeling and diving tours tend to explore much more of the beautiful reefs.

  Check out a number of excellent snorkeling day tours in St. Thomas here .

  Scuba diving options abound. Here is a great beginners Discover Scuba Dive while this top rated two tank dive is for certified divers only.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Standard health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country so travel insurance will cover any emergency medical needs as well as trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), flight delays, missed connections and more. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here .

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Visit Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden

Visit the Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden

For the nature and flower-loving tourist, the Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden offers beautiful blooming orchids, lilies, palms, and so much more! A stroll through the gardens can be relaxing for the whole family.

With lizards scurrying about and butterflies floating gracefully by, this experience is sure to leave you feeling enchanted and mesmerized. There are also several animal attractions, such as parrots, peacocks, tortoises, and chickens.

  For those without transportation, this inexpensive 2 hour tour to the gardens includes hotel pick up and drop off.

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Be Pirate

Spend the Day as a Pirate

The Virgin Islands are famously known to have been a safe harbor for pirates back in the day. Today, you can spend the day as a pirate and visit many historical pirate sites, such as Blackbeard’s Castle. This tower was originally created in 1679 as a watchtower for the Danes but was taken over in the 18 th century by pirate Blackbeard.

Near Blackbeard’s Castle, you will find the famous 99 steps. These were originally built by the Danes to make it easier to climb the steep hillsides and is a popular location for a photo-op today. End your day in a natural pirate fashion by sipping one of the plentiful rum drinks at any of the local restaurants.

  Visit Blackbeard and Bluebeard’s castles as part of this half day group tour .

  Want to try something really different? Check out this popular night time pirate treasure hunt !

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Relaxing Beach

Relax on the Beach

One of the best activities on any island is relaxing on its beaches, and St. Thomas has one of the best! On the northern coast of the island is Magens Bay (pictured above), known to be one of the most photogenic and swimmable locations in the Caribbean.

Visitors love the snow white sand and crystal clear water. You can check this beach out on your own, or you can join one of a variety of tours that visit Magens Bay by land or boat!

  Check out a number of great Magens Bay tour options here .

  For more great beach ideas, check out our Best Beaches In U.S. Virgin Islands Guide!

Things to Do in St. John

St. john top highlights.

Here are just a few of the activities to enjoy in St. John!

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Explore Virgin Islands National Park

Explore Virgin Islands National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park comprises two-thirds of the island of St. John. Nature-lovers will enjoy exploring more than 20 trails, relaxing on the various beaches, or adventuring into the waters for boating and snorkeling excursions.

While some believe the island is best explored by boat tour , there are land based tours available as well that visit many of the lovely parts of the island.

  Hit the water in this popular small group boat tour to see many parts of the island or hire a private boat to take your group exploring on your own!

  Check out this top rated 2.5 hour tour and this 4 hour tour in an open air tour taxi. The 4 hour tour visits 7 different beaches!

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Discover Bays

Discover the Bays

St. John is home to several bays with gorgeous panoramic views that shouldn’t be missed. Trunk Bay  (pictured above), nearby the Virgin Islands National Park, has fluffy white sand beaches and mesmerizing turquoise water.

There is also a 225-yard snorkeling path that is abundant with coral and fish. On the East End of St. John lies Hansen Bay, which offers serene waters and great snorkeling with glimpses of turtles and stingrays.

In the north is Maho Bay , which is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. It offers glittering white sands shaded by towering coconut trees. Cruz Bay, on the west coast, is one of St. John’s most lively ports with 28 miles of restaurants, stores, and bars.

Lastly, Salt Pond Bay in the South, is a moderate hike from the road, which brings you out to a protected cove that offers a more private beach experience and pristine snorkeling.

  This top rated  4 hour private tour in an open air tour taxi visits Trunk Bay, Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay as well as 4 other beaches.

  This popular small group boat tour visits Cinnamon Bay, Hansens Bay and Salt Pond Bay.

    Hire a private boat to see all the bays you want in a customizable tour!

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Go Hiking Kayaking

Go Hiking or Kayaking

With two-thirds of the island being a national park, there are numerous kayaking locations and jungle hikes in St. John. Easy hiking trails include Drunk Bay and Lind Point, while slightly more advanced trails are Cinnamon Bay (pictured above), Reef Bay, Johnny Horn, and Bordeaux Mountain Trail.

No matter which bay or trail you choose, you are sure to see beautiful greenery, breathtaking views, and maybe even some wildlife.

  Get active with this Honeymoon Beach eco hiking and snorkeling tour .

  Night kayaking is also very popular.

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Take Sunset Sail

Take a Sunset Sail

Sunsets are the perfect time to set sail off the coast of St. John. Numerous sunset sails offer food, champagne and an experience not to be missed. While some sunset tours set out for an hour and a half and include champagne and hors d’oeuvres, other lengthier experiences include a stop on Lovango Cay where guests can have dinner at the private resort before sailing back to the mainland under the moonlight.

  This 1.5 hour sunset tour includes champagne, hors d’oeuvres and an open bar.

  This 4.5 hour experience includes champagne, hors d’oeuvres and an open bar on the sailboat and several hours on the beautiful Lovango Cay for dinner. Note that dinner is not included.

Things to Do in St. Croix

St. croix top highlights.

Here are just a few of the activities to enjoy in St. Croix!

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Salt River Bay National Park and Ecological Preserve

Salt River Bay National Park and Ecological Preserve

This national park preserves watersheds, forests, and marine environments that are home to many endangered species. There are also many prehistoric and colonial-era archeological sites, such as the Columbus landing site.

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Visit Buck Island

Visit Buck Island

This island is about one and half miles off the coast of St. Croix. It is about nearly 200 acres of land surrounded by over 700 acres of a coral reef system. This island is a heaven for snorkelers, divers, and jungle adventurers!

The Best Things To Do In US Virgin: Visit Caribbean Museum of Arts

Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts

For art-lovers or those wanting to escape the sun for a bit, the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts is a great place to visit. There is an ongoing home exhibit, as well as visiting exhibits that rotate throughout the year. Check out their website for the newest exhibitions.

Where to Stay in US Virgin Islands

There are all types of accommodations in the US Virgin Islands. From all inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For great hotel info and recommendations, check out our US Virgin Islands Hotel Guide or our US Virgin Islands All Inclusive Resort Guide.

US Virgin Islands Hotel Guide: Mafolie Hotel, St. Thomas

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our US Virgin Islands Hotel Guide

What to Eat in the US Virgin Islands

You can find a wide range of wonderful bites to eat in the US Virgin Islands. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, check out our US Virgin Islands Restaurant Guide .

US Virgin Islands Restaurants Guide

For great restaurant recommendations, check out our US Virgin Islands Restaurant Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a checklist to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Trip Guide .

What to Pack For Your Mexican Vacation

Check out our guide for what to bring on your Caribbean vacation!

Islands, Beaches, Cuisine and More

US Virgin Islands Hotels: The Best Hotels in U.S. Virgin Islands

Share This Post

This post has 9 comments.

This guide is such a lifesaver, thanks for posting it. I especially like the night kayaking and sailing tips! So so great 😀

We also love the botanical gardens in St. Thomas. Good recommendation.

I will definitely be taking all the sailing tips into consideration when planning my trip this summer, thanks for the advice!

My kids really enjoyed Blackbeards’ Castle! Thank you for the great advice and tips!

Glad you enjoyed it!

This is the best guide for the US Virgin Islands I have yet to come across, great job!

I look forward to experiencing the Virgin Islands National Park during my next visit! Thanks for the tip!

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Virgin Islands National Park Travel Guide

With pristine beaches, secluded coves, and snorkeling spots, Virgin Islands National Park is one of the most beautiful of the US national parks. The to-do list also looks a lot different.

Sip on tropical drinks in the shade of a palm tree, go stand up paddle boarding, go snorkeling, spot sea turtles, and visit the historic landmarks. If you like hiking, you can do that, too.

In this guide, we share with you everything you need to know to plan the perfect visit to Virgin Islands National Park, including the best things to do, when to visit, and how to plan your time.

VIRGIN ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

Founded: August 2, 1956

Annual Visitors: 200,000 in 2022, making it the 11 th least visited park that year.

Size: 15,000 acres

Location: US Virgin Islands

Zion National Park

Top 10 Experiences

Visit Trunk Bay Beach. Trunk Bay is often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so if you visit one beach in the national park, Trunk Bay gets our vote. While here, you can also snorkel the Coral Reef Underwater Park Trail.

Hike to Ram Head Point. This is our favorite hike in Virgin Islands National Park. This trail runs past several beaches, a salt pond, and up to a fabulous viewpoint of Saint John, so the views are constantly changing and there is never a boring moment on this trail.

Leinster Bay Trail & Waterlemon Bay. Hike the Leinster Bay Trail to Waterlemon Bay and spend the afternoon at one of the park’s best snorkel spots. If you want more great views, hike to the Windy Hill Greathouse Ruins.

Spend some time at Maho Bay Beach. This long stretch of beach is one of the best places to spend a day in the national park. From the shops that sit across the street from the beach, you can rent paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, lounge chairs, and souvenirs. There are several food trucks selling food and a tiki bar. And in the early morning or late afternoon, you might be able to spot sea turtles. What more do you need?

Hike the Reef Bay Trail. On this challenging hike, you can visit ancient petroglyphs, more sugar plantation ruins, and several beautiful beaches.

Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins. The Annaberg Plantation was one of 25 sugar plantations on Saint John. The windmill that was built here was one of the largest on the island. You can also get a stunning view of Waterlemon Bay from these ruins.

Visit Cinnamon Bay Beach. This is another beautiful, white sandy beach and a great place to go snorkeling.

Visit Denis Bay. Denis Bay is a small, secluded beach that can only be reached by boat or on foot. Since the parking lot at the trailhead is small, this beach tends to only have a handful of people. So, if you are looking for a quiet, off the beaten path beach to visit, put Denis Bay at the top of your list.

Visit the overlooks along North Shore Road. North Shore Road runs along the north coast of Saint John. Along this road, you can visit the overlooks for Trunk Bay, Maho Bay, and Caneel Bay, for some of the prettiest views of the US Virgin Islands.

Honeymoon Beach. If you are looking for another beach to spend the day, Honeymoon Beach is good one. You can rent a cabana for the day, get lunch at Bikinis on the Beach, and take advantage of the beach bar for tropical drinks.

Learn More about the Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands Itinerary

7 day us virgin islands itinerary: st. thomas & st. john.

Featured image for “7 Day US Virgin Islands Itinerary: St. Thomas & St. John”

St. Thomas and St. John are two of the three main  US Virgin Islands.  These two islands sit side by side and are connected by a short ferry ride, and together they make a fantastic Caribbean getaway. 

On this 7 day US Virgin Islands itinerary, visit Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, and St. Thomas.

How to Get to Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park is located on Saint John. To get here, fly to Saint Thomas and then take the ferry to Cruz Bay, Saint John. Passenger ferries leave from Red Hook or Charlotte Amalie. Car ferries leave from Red Hook.

There are several car ferries that travel between Red Hook and Cruz Bay: Love City Car Ferry, Global Marine’s Tug Life, Big Red Barge Company, and Boyson, Inc.

The first and last ferries of the day tend to be the fullest. If you plan to take the last ferry of the day, get here at least 30 minutes to make sure you get a spot. You can also reserve a spot in advance on the Love City Ferry.

If you are traveling by boat, you can also anchor in the bays in the park.

Best Time to Visit the Virgin Islands

Average temperatures do not vary much over the course of the year. During the winter months, daytime highs range from 80 to 84 degrees and during the summer months, it gets up to 90 degrees. August is typically the hottest, most humid month of the year.

The winter months are one of the best times to visit the park. Daytime temps are their coolest (in the low 80’s) and this is the dry season, with rain being unlikely. Since this is peak season, hotel prices are their highest and beaches can be crowded.

Spring and fall are nice times to visit, with lower crowds and lower prices. Just be aware that July through October is hurricane season, so travel plans could be disrupted during this time for tropical storms.

Virgin Islands National Park appears in our  Best US National Parks Month-By-Month series  as a great park to visit in January , February , and December.

National Parks in January

National Parks to Visit in January

National Parks in February

National Parks to Visit in February

National Parks in December

National Parks to Visit in December

How Many Days Do You Need?

Ideally, plan on spending three days in Virgin Islands National Park. This gives you enough time to visit the highlights, spend some time at several different beaches, and hike a trail or two.

This park is best enjoyed slowly. One of the best things to do in Virgin Islands National Park is to spend some time on the beach, do a little snorkeling or paddle boarding, and simply relax. If you pick a beach like Maho Bay Beach or Honeymoon Beach, you can rent beach equipment, order lunch, and have a painkiller or two (or three).

If you only have one day in Virgin Islands National Park, drive North Shore Road visiting the overlooks, and spend some time at Trunk Bay, Maho Bay Beach, or hike the Leinster Bay Trail to Waterlemon Bay beach.

With two days in Virgin Islands National Park, spend day one either hiking the Reef Bay Trail or Ram Head Trail in the morning and then get your beach time in the afternoon. On day two, spend the day at Trunk Bay or Maho Bay Beach.

With three days in Virgin Islands National Park, follow our suggestions above for two days. On the third day, hike another trail, visit the quieter, more remote beaches like Denis Bay or Little Lameshur, and/or go snorkeling in Waterlemon Bay, if you have not done that yet.

Virgin Islands National Park Map

Virgin Islands Map

Virgin Islands National Park in Photos

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48-Hour Itinerary

48 Hours in the U.S. Virgin Islands: The Ultimate Itinerary

planning a trip to virgin islands

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The U.S. Virgin Islands—comprised of St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix—is a beloved Caribbean getaway. Whether you're interested in the nightlife and restaurants or underwater and outdoor adventures, there's no shortage of things to do while visiting the U.S.V.I. Even if you're only visiting for a short period of time, it's possible to get a sense of everything the islands have to offer. We've compiled a prime selection of the best sites and attractions to see in all three major islands (as well as Water Island and Buck Island) in this 48-hour itinerary. From island-hopping to sunset sailing, read on for how to spend the ultimate weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands—and get ready to start planning your next trip.

Day 1: Morning

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8:30 a.m.: Check-in at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas and enjoy a poolside seafood breakfast at Bleuwater to fuel up for your day ahead. The most populated island, St. Thomas is the major tourism hub in the U.S.V.I. making it the ideal base for a trip. It's home to the Cyril E. King International Airport (Charlotte Amalie) and frequently-operating ferry services to St. John and St. Croix (Red Hook).

10 a.m.: After breakfast, hail a cab to Red Hook to catch the 10-minute ferry to Water Island, where you can explore the beautiful Honeymoon Beach and go paddle-boarding in the crystal-clear waters. Check out the vibe at Dinghy's Beach Bar & Grill and maybe order a rum cocktail or two—when in the Virgin Islands, after all. (We suggest the Cream Dinghy, a local frozen favorite that uses Cruzan Rum). Just make sure you don't lose track of time, as you must catch the 12:15 p.m. ferry back to St. Thomas.

Day 1: Afternoon

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1 p.m.: To visit all three of the major islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands during your trip, it's important to make a day trip to St. Croix in the afternoon of your first day. We suggest making an afternoon visit to Buck Island National Monument, an uninhabited 176-acre island located just north off the coast of St. Croix. Head to Marriott Frenchman's Cove Dock at 1 p.m. to embark on a three-hour sailing tour of Buck Island aboard a 54-foot Catamaran. During your adventure, you will snorkel at Frenchman's Reef and explore the Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge.

4:30 p.m.: Head to the capital of St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie, to explore the local landmarks and taste the local flavors of the island. The city was established in 1681 by Danish settlers and travelers can still explore the 17th-century architecture and ruins of this historic city. We suggest climbing the 99 steps (there are actually 103) to Blackbeard's Castle and enjoying the city's picturesque views. Additionally, if you have a bit of an appetite, stop by Gladys’ Cafe, in the Royal Dane Mall, for some Caribbean cuisine and to buy a bottle of the local hot sauce.

6 p.m.: It's officially happy hour, and we recommend celebrating with a craft beer tasting in Historic Frenchtown. The Caribbean may be famous for its rum, but one visit to  Frenchtown Brewing will have you interested in the local hops, as well.

Day 1: Evening

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6:30 p.m. : Hop in a cab from downtown Frenchtown and head inland towards Crown Mountain Road for the next stop on your journey. Continue the happy hour revelry with a visit up to the historic Mountaintop bar, home to the world's first banana daiquiri. Enjoy your drink while catching an aerial view of St. Thomas at sunset. If you're lucky, visitors can see straight across to Tortola and Virgin Gorda (among other islands in the British Virgin Islands), as well as Puerto Rico.

8 p.m.: Next, head over towards the Mahogany Run Golf Course to enjoy a divinely delectable feast at Old Stone Farmhouse , located in the hills overlooking Charlotte Amalie. Afterward, enjoy more cocktails in the rum courtyard, and enjoy the outdoor ambiance of after-dinner drinks beneath the stars.

Day 2: Morning

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10 a.m.: For our second day of adventuring, we're headed to St. John, an island renowned for its natural beauty and gorgeous white-sand beaches. Catch the 10 a.m. ferry for a 20-minute ride from the Red Hook Ferry Terminal in St. Thomas to the Cruz Bay Ferry Dock in St. John.

11 a.m. : While taxis work well for navigating St. Thomas, we suggest renting a car when you arrive on the island of St. John, as the Virgin Islands National Park is best explored on wheels. Head to the Visitor's Center in Cruz Bay to get an overview of hikes and activities, and prepare to be overwhelmed by the gorgeous mountaintop vistas you'll find while exploring the winding roads of the island's National Park. The Virgin Islands National Park accounts for 60 percent of the total land-mass of St. John and is simply a must-visit for travelers.

Day 2: Afternoon

12 p.m.: After visiting the park's visitor's center, enjoy lunch at Woody’s Seafood Saloon , a popular seaside shack located along Cruz Bay in St. John. We suggest Caribbean classics such as the conch fritters and the rum punch. Also recommended on the menu is a B.B.C.—a Banana and Baileys concoction invented in the nearby British Virgin Islands.

1 p.m.: While the environment at Cruz Bay is simply breathtaking, the most scenic shoreline on the island of St. John is found 10 minutes further down the coast, in Trunk Bay.  Trunk Bay is one of the most photographed beaches on the planet, and travelers should set aside an hour or more to enjoy sunbathing in this picture-perfect slice of paradise. Travelers can either pay to snorkel at Trunk Bay or head up to Waterlemon Cay, home to some of the best snorkeling in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Waterlemon Cay is also located within Virgin Islands National Park and is a 12-minute drive from Trunk Bay.

3:30 p.m.: Finally, travelers should return to Cruz Bay to enjoy happy hour on the salt-stained wooden terrace at  The Longboard  in St. John. Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. and features The Longboard's world-famous frozen painkillers (a signature drink and a necessary indulgence when visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands).

Day 2: Evening

4:45 p.m. : The U.S. Virgin Islands are famous for their sailing and conditions are always optimal due to reliable trade-winds and the archipelago's geographical composition. Plus, the views can't be topped—you'll find the true meaning for the islands' nickname of "America's Paradise." Though there's no shortage of possibilities for sunset sailing (and daytime sailing, for that matter, as well), we suggest signing up for the hour-and-a-half Champagne sunset sail that departs from the Westin St. John at 4:45 p.m.

6:30 p.m: After you've returned to dry land, we suggest checking out the sophisticated rum bar at 1864 , located in Mongoose Junction (a seven-minute cab from the Westin dock). Continue your rum-tasting journey of the U.S. Virgin Islands by ordering the Bird of Paradise, a cocktail mixed with house-infused grilled pineapple rum. 

7 p.m.: After your pre-dinner rum cocktail, get ready to sample the inventive wine menu over at The Terrace , a French-inspired restaurant located in Cruz Bay, St. John. (The wine list has been the recipient of multiple Wine Spectator Awards). The outdoor terrace overlooks the gorgeous Cruz Bay and is the perfect destination to toast the end of your trip. Plus, it's conveniently located right beside the ferry terminal for your return trip home to St. Thomas.

9 p.m.: After your meal, catch the 9 p.m. ferry from Cruz Bay (a short walk from The Terrace) to your final destination in Red Hook, St. Thomas. But be sure not to miss it: This is the last ferry of the evening. (Ferries operate until 10 p.m. on Fridays). If you're up for it, head over to Secret Harbour Beach Resort for one final round of cocktails at the  Cruzan Beach Club , a tiki bar that boasts bottle service and outdoor cabanas overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

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The Complete 6 Days in U.S. Virgin Islands Itinerary

In this 6 days in U.S. Virgin Islands we visit the 3 main islands, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands territory.

How many days do I need in the US Virgin Islands?

planning a trip to virgin islands

If you would like to visit all three US Virgin Islands we recommend visiting for a minimum of 5 days to get a good experience of each island. In reality you could easily spend 2 to 3 days on each island to fully explore what it has to offer. For the purpose of this complete guide we recommend to spend 6 days in USVI.

Read More: The best things to do in Miami during a layover

The majority of tourists stay on the islands anywhere from three days to a week, not including their travel days. Depending on how many days you have available it might be best to take day-trips to one of the other islands, which is doable between St Thomas and St John.

Is the Virgin Islands dangerous?

The USVI are relatively a safe destination, like any other touristic destination you must be aware of your surroundings and be careful. It is common for purse snatching and pickpocketing as well as people stealing items on the beach or breaking into rental cars.

Is it expensive to visit the US Virgin Islands?

planning a trip to virgin islands

Yes! In my experience it is one of the most expensive islands I have visited in the Caribbean. Hotel rooms depending on the island can vary from $150-$1,000 per night, while taxis are charged per person and the prices range between $10 and $20. In out trip, we spent $2,000 per person including airfare for our 5 day trip to the USVI. We could have done it for less but it is not a cheap destination. Also, be aware that in St John they only accept cash, so please bring your ATM card and plenty of cash.

Here is our expenses breakdown:

  • Airfare: $638.44 per person round trip (1 carry on each way) RDU- STX
  • Hotel: $340 (2 nights St. Croix) and $1,362.42* (St. Thomas)
  • Transportation: $50 per person per day**
  • Food: $40 per person a day
  • Attractions: Beaches are free.
  • Ferry or Plane ride: $120 round trip ferry ride from St. Croix to St. Thomas or $200 round trip plane ride.
  • Ferry St. Thomas to St. John: $16 round trip.

** We could have found a cheaper hotel. It is not worth paying that much for a resort as all the beaches on the islands are public and the resort experience offered little more than a regular hotel.

** Depends on how many attractions you want to visit around the islands.

What is the best time to visit US Virgin Islands?

planning a trip to virgin islands

The islands have an average temperatures of 70s and 80s degrees Fahrenheit year round. That being said, it is best to avoid the hurricane season between September to November. The best time to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands is December through March, as the weather is drier and you can enjoy blue skies most of the time.

Which U.S. Virgin Island is the best for you?

planning a trip to virgin islands

If you do not have enough time to complete this itinerary and are wondering which island you should visit on your next trip to the US Virgin Island then it is important for you to know what each island has to offer.

Each island has its own attractions and personality. The best island for you depends on your interests and what you would like to get from your visit. For Instance, St. Thomas is known for being the most popular destination, as it has the main cruise ship port within the US Virgin Island. It is known for its shopping options, upscale dining, beautiful landscapes and fun nightlife.

The best things to do in St. Thomas are riding the  St. Thomas Skyride , walking around Charlotte Amalie, visiting the Coral World Ocean Park, taking a tour of the Bluebeard’s Castle or the Haagensen House and swimming at any of their famous beaches such as Magens Bay or Coki Beach.

St John is my favorite of the three islands by far, as it is more of a secluded destination where you can immerse yourself in nature and enjoy beautiful landscapes and go for hikes at the  national park .

To get to St John you must take a ferry from St. Thomas, which takes about 20 minutes each way. You could definitely do a day trip or stay for the length of your trip.

Some of the best things to do on St. John are hiking the trails from beach to mountain top, snorkeling at Trunk Bay, visiting the remains of sugar plantations, going diving, spending time at the beaches or even just taking a two hour tour to the best viewpoints in the island.

The best things to do in St Croix , on the other hand are cultural and historical based. It is the largest island within the US Virgin Island territory but the least visited one as it is about 2 hours away by Ferry from St Thomas and about 30 minutes flight. When visiting St Croix, the best thing to do is start your adventure in the city of Christiansted. From there you can visit the historic fort or visit the  Buck Island . Buck Island is one of the only three underwater national monuments in the United States. While in St Croix make sure to visit Captain Morgan Rum distillery, and Rainbow beach. If you are in luck you could take a Bioluminescent Bay kayak tour.

What hotel to stay at in the US Virgin Islands?

planning a trip to virgin islands

  • Saint Croix Hotels: We stayed at King Christian Hotel in Christiansted. It was one of the cheapest options we found in the island. We paid $170 a night and to be honest it was NOT worth it. It is a really old hotel and if you have the extra cash we recommend staying at the Sand Castle on the Beach . It is more pricey ($230 a night), but it is more up to date in its amenities. The only thing to have in consideration is that one is located in Christiansted while the other hotel is located in Frederiksted. Depending on what you are planning on doing, choose the right hotel for you. If you want to visit Buck Island and the fortress then Christiansted is a better option, but if you want to spend time at the beach then Frederiksted is the way to go. The distance between the main cities is less than 20 minutes and the taxi ride is about $30 each way.
  • Saint Thomas Hotels: We stayed at the Secret Harbour Beach Resort . It was super pricey ($600 per night) for no reason. Yes, it was a nice hotel but no added value. The beaches in USVI are public, meaning you can go to any resort and use the beaches. I would recommend staying at a different hotel near a beach or in the heart of Charlotte Amalie and take a taxi to the beach.
  • Saint John Hotels: We did not spend the night so we could not give you a valid recommendation. Yet, here is a list of hotels you could look at.

The Complete 6 Day Itinerary To Visit The US Virgin Islands

We have created this 6 day itinerary to the US Virgin Islands based on our trip. We built this vacation around the fact that the best flight deal we found was flying into St. Croix and leaving from St. Thomas. If you only have 5 days to explore USVI, I recommend 2 days in St. Croix, 2 days in St. Thomas and 1 day in St Johns. If you have less than 5 days then focus on going to St. Thomas and St John, keeping in mind that the most beautiful beaches are in St. John. We hope this Itinerary for US Virgin Islands helps you plan your dream vacation to USVI.

Day 1: Flying to St. Croix

planning a trip to virgin islands

The first day out of your 6 days in U.S. Virgin Islands, depending on what time you arrive to St. Croix, I recommend exploring Christiansted. Take a stroll around the downtown area and visit the historic fort. If you have a full day consider taking a snorkeling tour or visiting one of the rum distilleries such as Capitan Morgan .

If you are adventurous take a Bioluminescent Bay kayak tour at night.

Sleep: Frederiksted or Christiansted .

Day 2: Exploring St. Croix

planning a trip to virgin islands

On your second day in the island you can visit  Buck Island , which is one of the only three underwater national monuments in the United States. Another great thing to do is to spend the day at the beach. We recommend visiting Frederiksted and going to Rainbow Beach, Dorsch and Sandy Point Beach.

Taxi in St. Croix:

Alex’s Taxi Service: (340) 778- 3420, (340) 514- 8811 or [email protected]

Day 3: Exploring St. Thomas

planning a trip to virgin islands

You can either fly or take the ferry to St. Thomas from St. Croix, depending on your budget and your preference. The Ferry takes about 2 hours and can be very wavy, while the airplane ride is about 30 minutes. The difference in price is $60 for the Ferry compared to $100 for a flight.

planning a trip to virgin islands

Once in St. Thomas I recommend to take a viewpoint tour from the airport that easily takes you to the top things to do in St. Thomas. We visited the Mountain Top Bar where you must try the signature banana daiquiri, about 5 viewpoints, Magens Bay Beach, Coki Beach, and Sapphire beach. The tour does not include time at the beaches, you only stop to take a photo. We paid $30 per person and it took about 2.5 hours. We requested to add some of the beaches, so make sure to let your driver know you would like to stop there for photos.

planning a trip to virgin islands

After your tour, check in at your hotel and then head towards Charlotte Amalie. Here make sure to visit the Oldest Synagogue in the US, visit the Government House, and to climb the 99 steps landmark. These unique stairs were built out of ship-ballast brick during Danish colonial times and from above your will get fantastic view of St. Thomas.

planning a trip to virgin islands

For the afternoon you can head back to one of the beaches or get some rest back to your hotel.

Sleep: Secret Harbor or anywhere St. Thomas

Taxi in St. Thomas:

planning a trip to virgin islands

Thomas Aubrey: (340) 998 2661 or [email protected]

Day 4: Spending the time on the beach or going scuba diving

planning a trip to virgin islands

Our favorite beaches are Magens Bay Beach, Coki Beach, and Secret Harbor. We recommend to just spend the day at either of these beaches and relax. You must include one of these beaches on your 6 days in U.S. Virgin Islands.

Day 5: Exploring St. John

planning a trip to virgin islands

Take an early Ferry to St John and take a tour of the best things to do in St John including the main viewpoints on the island. The tour takes about 2.5 hours and it takes you to the most beautiful viewpoints in the national park and beyond, as well to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation. The tour cost $25 per person. The tour took us to Maho Bay, Cinnabon Bay, Trunk Bay, Hawks Nest Bay, and Honeymoon Beach.

After that you can go back to Hawks Nest beach, Maho Bay Beach, or Trunk Beach. If you want to fly your drone then I recommend going to the Westin Beach, as drones are not allowed within the national park. You can go hiking or relax at the beach. The most popular beach in St. John is Trunk beach but if you want the chance to swim around turtles we recommend going to Maho Bay.

Once you are done exploring the area, hiking, snorkeling, diving or relaxing at the beach you can take the ferry back to St Thomas.

Day 6: Flying out of St. Thomas

planning a trip to virgin islands

Depending on your flight you can spend some time at the beach before heading home. If you have an extra day, we recommend to stay 2 full days in St. John.

Let us know if this Itinerary for US Virgin Islands was helpful or if you have any other suggestion we can add to this guide below in the comments.

We hope this guide helps you build your own itinerary and have a blast on 6 days in U.S. Virgin Islands vacation!

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4 Days in US Virgin Islands

How to Spend 4 Days in USVI (Itinerary)

Want a taste of the Caribbean without leaving the US? Head on over to the US Virgin Islands, no passports are required for US Citizens, and they also accept US visitor visas! St Croix is the biggest of the Virgin Islands, but for this article, we are going to concentrate on St Thomas, St John, and Water Island. Here’s how to spend 4 days in USVI, especially if you’re strapped for time.

Note – we did travel to St Thomas and the other US Virgin Islands during the coronavirus pandemic. For up to date information, please visit the official USVI health portal .

4 Days in USVI (an itinerary) 

Here’s more posts about our usvi trip:, day one: st thomas usvi , day two: a day trip to water island usvi.

  • Day Three: Day Trip to St John USVI

Day Four: Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas:

More 3 or 4 day trip ideas:.

  • Getting to the Virgin Islands 

Are 4 Days in USVI Enough?

How do you get around st thomas us vi , where to stay in charlotte amalie, a 4 day trip to st thomas usvi, share this:.

  • 4 Days in USVI (Itinerary)
  • Water Island USVI (Day Trip from St Thomas)
  • How To Explore USVI on a Budget
  • Arrive at STT Airport (St Thomas) at 2:40 PM, and catch a shared taxi to the hotel.
  • Check in to the hotel: Bunker Hill Hotel (in our case)
  • Have dinner at Green House 
  • Go back to hotel/unpack/chill, decompress, catch up on some TV shows

Limestone Beach Water Island USVI

  • Take the ferry from St Thomas Crown Bay to Water Island
  • Rent a golf cart to drive around the island 
  • Hit the following tourist sites: Fort Segarra, Limestone Beach, Honeymoon Beach, Dinghy’s, Virgin Islands Campground & see the tower house 
  • Dinner at Sugarcane Grille, St Thomas 

Day Three : Day Trip to St John USVI

  • Ride a surfari to Red Hook from Charlotte Amalie 
  • Take the ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay in St John 
  • Take a shared taxi to Maho Beach. Snorkel and look for sea turtles 
  • Take taxi back to Cruz Bay, have a shake or a quick lunch 
  • Go to the US Virgin Islands Visitor Center and hike to Honeymoon Beach and Salomon Beach 
  • Souvenir shop
  • Take the ferry back from Cruz Bay to Red Hook
  • Take surfari back to Bunker Hill Hotel (see a review about our stay at the Bunker Hill Hotel) 
  • Hike up 99 Steps to get to Blackbeard’s Castle to enjoy the scenery 
  • Visit Fort Christian in Charlotte Amalie
  • Walk around the shops in Charlotte Amalie 
  • Lunch at Sammiches 
  • Take a taxi back to the airport to go home 
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Getting to the Virgin Islands  

St John and Water Island do not have airports, so your best bet will be flying from the US Mainland or Puerto Rico to STT (Cyril E. King Airport), otherwise known as the St Thomas Airport. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from the British Virgin Islands to St Thomas, with daily trips available. Don’t forget to bring your passport if you do go from BVI to USVI and vice versa. 

Water Island is covered in a different post, but the only way to get there is by ferry from St Thomas, leaving from Crown Bay Marina. St John is also only accessible by ferry from St Thomas, leaving from Red Hook. You’ll find more details on getting to these separate islands on their own posts- Day Trip to Water Island and Day Trip to St John USVI. 

In all honesty, 4 days in the Virgin Islands is not enough. Given that my husband arrived late and there’s really not much to do on our first day but to grab dinner and to stock up on supplies, we technically only had 2 ½ days in total to spend between 3 US Virgin Islands. 

If you could spend a week in St Thomas or the area, then go for it. There’s plenty to do if you love beaches, hiking, and nature across St Thomas, Water Island, and St John. However, if you have a job and are only traveling every weekend, then 4 days may be enough. 

Remember that St Thomas hosts a big cruise port, and chances are, if you are taking a cruise in the Caribbean, one of our ports of call will be to Charlotte Amalie. One of the reasons why we designed our itinerary this way is for this exact reason – that we will probably go back to St Thomas by cruise ship one way or another.

So Coki Point, Magens Bay, and a lot of other beaches in St Thomas will probably have to wait until our next visit to the island. Water Island and St John are doable on day trips if on a cruise as well, so these are also options to consider if you’ve been to the US Virgin Islands before. 

Water Island Ferry USVI

Shared taxis are affordable, but the surfaris are amazing value for money. At $2 per person, they pretty much take you to a few of the popular spots in St Thomas a quick walk from the cruise ship terminal. 

These surfaris go to Red Hook, Sapphire Beach, Lindqvuist Beach, and Coki Beach, with Red Hook being the final stop before the surfari turns around to go back to Charlotte Amalie. There are quirks to where the surfaris stop, as there are not a lot of signs that tell you the bus stops there. If you see a waiting shed, that’s most probably a surfari stop, or if you see a small divet by the side of the road, then that’s also a stop. 

If unsure of surfari routes, or if it does pass by, ask some of the locals. They are more than friendly and accommodating to us and showed us how to get a surfari from the Cruz Bay marina back to Bunker Hill Hotel. 

There were two hotels that we were considering in Charlotte Amalie. On our first planned trip to St Thomas, we were supposed to stay at the Galleon House, but Hurricane Irma came over and rained on our parade. We were supposed to fly a week after Irma landed over the US Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane, and we found out there was not a lot of water nor electricity available on the islands, and there was debris left from the hurricane. So we hastily canceled that trip and booked Grand Cayman instead.

Fast forward to May 2021, and we were looking for another place to stay on another planned trip to St Thomas. Through the Citi Thank You travel portal, we saw that the cheapest rooms for Bunker Hill hotel were around $85 (without tax), and we can redeem our Thank You points at a valuation of 1.25 cents per point. 

After comparing Bunker Hill and Galleon House, the views from the restaurant in Bunker Hill won us over, so we booked Bunker Hill hotel. There’s less of a hilly walk in Bunker Hill compared to Galleon House as well, so that’s a plus if bringing luggage. 

We talk more about our stay at the Bunker Hill Hotel on another post, linked here as well. 

4 Days in US Virgin Islands

So that was our four-day trip to USVI, hitting three islands: St Thomas, St John, and Water Island. It is very doable, and you don’t need to pack a lot of places to visit at once. American tourists tend to favor vacationing in St Thomas since it’s easily accessible by plane or by boat (cruise ship, or a sailboat), and many go multiple times in their lifetime. 

There is no need to try and see everything and cram it all in one trip. After all, one goes to the Caribbean and hits the beaches to relax and to explore a new place. For us, our definition of exploring a new place means embracing ourselves in the location, and not jetting from one place to another to take a picture for the sake of saying “we’ve been there”. 

Hopefully, this post about a 4 day trip to the Virgin Islands helped you in your travel planning. If we missed on any other cool locations or you would like to suggest more places for us to visit the next time we go, then feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Day trip to Water Island USVI

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The Ultimate Guide to Virgin Islands National Park — Best Things To Do, See & Enjoy!

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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 63 U.S. States Visited: 9

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Keri Stooksbury

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The Ultimate Guide to Virgin Islands National Park — Best Things To Do, See & Enjoy!

Where Is Virgin Islands National Park?

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Virgin Islands National Park is a tropical island park located on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This national park is teeming with breathtaking wildlife, historical landmarks, a rich cultural history, white sand beaches, and turquoise waters just waiting for you to explore. Each year over 300,000 visitors come to Virgin Islands National Park to discover the beauty and wonder of the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

How To Get to Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park is located in the Caribbean Sea. The majority of the park is located on St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, but a small portion stretches into the nearby island of St. Thomas. This national park covers 7,259 acres of land and 5,650 acres of submerged land. 

When visiting Virgin Islands National Park, most visitors will fly into St. Thomas. After arriving in St. Thomas, guests will need to take a ferry for the final leg of their journey. Take a look at the most popular airport option when visiting Virgin Islands National Park. 

Cyril E. King Airport (STT)

Cyril E. King Airport is where most guests fly into when visiting Virgin Islands National Park. This airport is located on the southwestern side of St. Thomas. 

This airport offers direct flights and connecting flights to and from many U.S. cities and cities in the Caribbean, such as Antigua, Atlanta, Boston, the Dominican Republic, Miami, New York, and Orlando. The airlines serviced by Cyril E. King Airport include American, Delta, Frontier, Cape Air, and United. 

It is not possible to drive to the Virgin Islands National Park. Those who visit this national park must arrange a flight and take a ferry to the park. A car is needed to explore the park, so visitors must rent a vehicle in the Cruz Bay area. 

There is no train service available to Virgin Islands National Park.

VITRAN is a bus service that provides transportation around St. John. For those who don’t want to worry about the stress of renting a car and navigating, this transportation is a great option. Not only is it less stressful to take the bus, but it is also affordable, with all fares costing a dollar or less. 

Visitors coming to Virgin Islands National Park will need to use the ferry service. Ferries run from Cruz Bay St. John to Red Hook St. Thomas on an hourly basis from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. With these long hours and hourly trips, the ferry is a convenient way to make it to Virgin Islands National Park. 

The best way to get around Virgin Islands National Park is by private vehicle. There are 2 roads that make their way through the park and lead to all the fun. Another way to explore the park is on foot, but you may end up getting tired after a bit of hiking. Bicycles are not recommended as the roads are steep, narrow, and winding.

The National Park Service offers interactive and printable maps to help you plan your adventures at Virgin Islands National Park. 

What To See and Do in Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park is an incredible island park with an abundance of activities and sights to enjoy. Whether you prefer spending a day soaking in the rays of the sun, hiking to historic sites, or snorkeling, there is something for every adventurer to enjoy at this national park.

Salomon Beach

The U.S. Virgin Islands have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so while you are visiting Virgin Islands National Park, spending time on the beach is a must. The beaches at this national park are pristine with white sand and turquoise water and surrounded by lush forests, making it a perfect place to relax in a tropical paradise. 

Some of the most popular beaches in Virgin Islands National Park are Trunk Bay Beach, Hawksnest Beach, and Cinnamon Bay Beach. Each beach offers something unique such as coral reefs, exceptional snorkeling, a campground, restaurants, excellent areas for wildlife viewing, and picnic areas.

Spending a day on the sandy shore, taking in the sights of the mesmerizing wildlife, and soaking in the warmth of the sun is the perfect way to spend a day at Virgin Islands National Park.

It’s no surprise that boating is a popular activity at Virgin Islands National Park. Kayaking and paddling opportunities also abound at this island park.

Boating is one of the best ways to explore the park and take in outstanding views of the turquoise waters and the wildlife below the surface. Sea turtles and tropical fish happily dance below the boat, making a wonderful show for you to enjoy above. 

Whether kayaking, paddling, or riding in a motor boat, this national park is a perfect one for enjoying the sights from the water.

Virgin Islands National Park is a paradise for anglers. The waters of this national park are home to several exciting species, including Nassau and goliath groupers, mackerel, tuna, conch, and Caribbean spiny lobster.

There are strict guidelines for fishing in these waters, so be sure to check the fishing guide before venturing out. Permits for fishing are required and can be obtained at the National Park Service offices, which are located in Cruz Bay. 

There are over 20 hiking trails at Virgin Islands National Park, from leisurely strolls to strenuous treks. Hiking through this national park is one of the best ways to discover the natural beauty and wonder of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Some of the most popular trails include the Peace Hill Trail, the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail, the Ram Head Trail, and the Reef Bay Trail. Hikers are able to enjoy wildlife views, historic landmarks, and uninterrupted views of the sea and surrounding landscapes. It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to hiking or a pro; you will find a trail that is perfect for you at Virgin Islands National Park.

Peace Hill Sugar Mill

There is a rich history on the island where Virgin Islands National Park is located. Today, guests can explore a significant number of historic sites , including ruins of old plantations, windmills, and factories.

The leading historic site is Annaberg Plantation. Long ago, this plantation was the largest sugar-producing estate on the entire island of St. John. Over 600 enslaved people lived and worked on this plantation. 

Today, this area is featured on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, as many of the enslaved people used the nearby Leinster Bay waterfront to escape to freedom. The remains of an ancient windmill and animal mill can be toured today. Visitors can learn about the history of this plantation and the nearby factories and the iconic waterfront that led so many to freedom. 

Reef Bay Sugar Plantation, Annaberg Plantation, America Hill, and Peace Hill Windmill are some of the top historical sites that visitors can tour at Virgin Islands National Park. Not only is this national park a wonderful place for outdoor fun, but it is also educational and teaches about a difficult time in American history.

Virgin Islands National Park offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. This is one of the top activities for visitors to participate in when visiting this national park.

Snorkeling at Virgin Islands National Park provides an up-close look at the tropical fish, sea turtles, coral reefs, and sharks that make their home in the waters surrounding this park. There are several different areas that offer excellent snorkeling opportunities. Francis Bay is a great option for beginners who are just learning how to snorkel. Leinster Bay, Waterlemon Cay, Brown Bay, and Salt Pond Bay are some of the other popular areas throughout the park.

Be sure to respect the wildlife, including the coral reefs, so that you do not damage their ecosystem. It is wise to read up on the snorkeling regulations before setting out for your adventures.

The Cruz Bay Visitor Center is one of the best places to visit before starting your adventures at Virgin Islands National Park. This visitor center is small but very informative. It features exhibits about the park, park rangers who are eager to answer any questions you may have, maps and resources, and a gift shop for buying souvenirs.

There are also excellent exhibits about the nearby Coral Reef National Monument. You won’t want to miss out on this visitor center when visiting Virgin Islands National Park. 

Best Times To Visit Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park is a remarkable place to visit any time of the year, but there are some times that are better than others if you are hoping to experience a particular event or activity. Whether you want to visit for snorkeling or hiking, relax on the beach, or to learn from historical sites, there are best times to visit for each of these activities.

Many people choose to visit the Virgin Islands National Park in the winter months. The best month to visit in the winter is in December. The temperature is comfortable, with the highs reaching 80 degrees and lows dipping into the upper 60s. There is also a lower chance of rain in December, which can help you make the most of your visit. If you are planning a winter trip, plan to come in December for a fantastic experience. 

A national park vacation without crowds is a dream come true for most travelers. If you are hoping to experience a less-crowded park, plan to come in the month of November. This is the month before peak season begins, so you will be able to explore the park at your own pace without worrying about crowded situations. Plan your trip in November and enjoy a solitary experience at Virgin Islands National Park. 

Little Cinnamon Beach

Weather can enhance or dampen a trip, no matter where you are visiting. If you want to experience ideal weather at Virgin Islands National Park, plan for a trip in March. This is the month with the lowest amount of precipitation for the year. The weather is also enjoyable, with temperatures in the low 70s and 80s. A March trip is best if you want to visit Virgin Islands National Park and enjoy the best weather of the year. 

Saving money while traveling is possible with proper planning and research. If you want to save money when visiting Virgin Islands National Park, plan to come in the month of September. Once Labor Day has passed and students have returned to school, the park sees a dip in numbers.

Flight and accommodation rates are typically lower at this time of year, making a trip to the Virgin Islands National Park much more affordable. Not only will this help your budget, but saving money while traveling makes the trip even more fun.

Virgin Islands National Park has a regular schedule of programming throughout the year, but there are also several events that take place on an annual basis that visitors love to attend. There’s an event for everyone, from swimming and cycling races to cultural festivals. Let’s take a look at some of the top annual events at Virgin Islands National Park. 

Beach Power Swim

The Beach Power Swim is an annual event that takes place in Virgin Islands National Park each year in May on Memorial Day weekend. This event is sponsored by Friends of Virgin Islands National Park and has been taking place for 20 years . 

Participants in the Beach Power Swim can choose their preferred distance and swim from Maho to Cinnamon, from Maho to Trunk Bay, or from Maho to Hawksnest, which is the complete course and 3.5 miles long.

The Beach Power Swim is an event that locals and visitors look forward to each year at Virgin Islands National Park. If you enjoy swimming in tropical waters, you won’t want to miss this exciting event.

Folk Life Festival

Folk Life Festival

The Folk Life Festival is one of the most significant events that takes place in Virgin Islands National Park. This event takes place in February and celebrates the cultures and traditions of the original people of the park. The festival features craft demonstrations, music and stories, dancing, traditional food, and events for locals and visitors of every age. This celebration helps to teach about and preserve the culture of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Paddle the Park Race

The Paddle the Park Race takes place at Maho Bay in Virgin Islands National Park each year in November. This paddle-boarding event is sponsored by Friends of Virgin Islands National Park. 

Visitors of all ages enjoy the Paddle the Park Race. There are 3 courses to choose from, depending on age and ability, and each of them starts and ends on Maho Bay Beach. Courses range from 1 mile to 5 and a half miles. 

The Paddle the Park Race is an event that is loved by locals and visitors of all ages. Participating in this event is a special way to enjoy the beauty of Virgin Islands National Park. 

Where To Stay in Virgin Islands National Park

There are many places to choose from when it comes to planning where you will stay when visiting Virgin Islands National Park. There are lodging options within the park boundaries and close by as well. Let’s explore the different places most visitors stay when visiting Virgin Islands National Park.

The only option for lodging within the boundaries of Virgin Islands National Park is to camp in the developed campground. Sleeping under the stars is an extraordinary way to experience the beauty and wonder of this national park. Check out the one and only campground at Virgin Islands National Park and see if this is where you want to make your home base during your national park vacation. 

Cinnamon Bay Campground

Cinnamon Bay Campground

Cinnamon Bay Campground is a beachfront campground that offers a wonderful place to settle during your visit to Virgin Islands National Park. Cinnamon Bay Campground offers a lovely mix of camping and paradise.

Visitors can choose from camping in an eco-tent that accommodates 2 to 4 visitors. These tents offer electricity, a comfortable bed and linens, picnic tables, and cooking kits. For campers traveling in a group, there are group areas available for camping altogether. 

There are also bare sites where visitors can pitch their own tent or rent a tent from the campground. This is for more traditional-style camping, and visitors will need to provide their own bedding, cookware, and sleep gear.

One other option for camping at Cinnamon Bay Campground is to rent a cottage. The cottages offer a more traditional style stay with walls and a roof. They offer comfortable beds and bedding, indoor and outdoor dining areas, and electricity. These cottages accommodate 4 guests. 

Breakfast and dinner are served at the on-site restaurant, and lunches are available at the food truck on the property. When guests aren’t dining, the restaurant area is used for socializing.

There are 2 areas that are popular for guests who want to stay outside the boundaries of Virgin Islands National Park. Each of these towns offers a wonderful place for a home base during your national park vacation.

St. John is the most popular area for guests to stay during their trip to Virgin Islands National Park, as it is the island where the park is located. This town has many options for lodging, dining, and recreation. 

The town has several options available for a home away from home while vacationing. From campgrounds to luxury hotels, from all-inclusive resorts to private rentals, there is something for every traveler on this island. 

Food enthusiasts are in for a treat when staying in St. John. There are dozens of locally-owned restaurants, delis, cafes, and bars. Whether you crave freshly-caught seafood or authentic cultural cuisine, you can find exactly what you crave on this island. 

St. John is an incredible place for recreation. This island offers the best snorkeling in the Caribbean as well as opportunities to spend the day on the white sands of the beach and watch wildlife under the sea and on the coast. There are many artisan shops and boutiques for those who enjoy shopping and historic places to explore, like Annaberg Sugar Plantation .

With its close proximity to the Virgin Islands National Park and endless opportunities for fun, food, and lodging, St. John is an ideal location to set up a base camp while visiting this national park.

St. Thomas is an island near Virgin Islands National Park, and many visitors with family or on a budget choose to stay here during their trip to this national park. There are many accommodations, restaurants, and activities available. 

Accommodations are plentiful and include both chain and locally-owned hotels, beach resorts, bed and breakfasts, and private rentals. No matter the experience you seek, you will find the perfect lodging solution in St. Thomas. 

There is no shortage of places to eat, with gourmet restaurants for fine dining as well as casual spots such as pizza parlors, pubs, cafes, bars, and diners. With so many places to dine in St. Thomas, you may find yourself having a hard time choosing where to dine each day, but one thing is for certain: you will not be disappointed in your selection. 

St. Thomas has plenty to offer when it comes to recreation and entertainment. From white sand beaches to kayaking, and from charted boat tours to visiting aquatic dive centers, there’s something for every visitor to enjoy. 

Where To Eat In and Near Virgin Islands National Park

There aren’t many places to grab a bite to eat within the boundaries of Virgin Islands National Park, but there are several options near the park. No matter what you find yourself craving during your visit to this national park, there’s a restaurant that will hit the spot.

1864 The Restaurant

If you are in the mood for a luxurious dinner experience during your visit to Virgin Islands National Park, plan to dine at 1864 The Restaurant . This fine dining establishment serves lunch and dinner daily.

The menu features fresh, local seafood, a raw oyster bar, hand-rolled sushi, and a long list of wines and signature drinks. Some of the most popular menu items include the New England Style Clam Chowdah’, the fresh oysters on the half shell, and the Caribbean-spiced mahi mahi. 

1864 The Restaurant has an amazing atmosphere, excellent customer service, and dishes that will leave you wanting to come back again and again. Be sure to add this remarkable restaurant to your itinerary when visiting Virgin Islands National Park.

The Beach Bar is a landmark on St. John and is located on Cruz Bay Beach. This restaurant is open daily from 10 a.m. to late at night, with brunch offered on Saturday and Sunday. 

The menu includes dishes with freshly-caught seafood like conch fritters and crabmeat wontons, as well as juicy burgers, tacos, and crisp salads . The menu also has an exciting drink menu featuring classic favorites and signature drinks. Popular drinks at The Beach Bar include the Bushwacker, Painkillers, and the Bloody Mary.

When visiting Virgin Islands National Park, you won’t want to miss The Beach Bar. It’s a great way to unwind and enjoy a delicious meal after a long day of exploring the park.

North Shore Deli is located on St. John, just 1 minute from Virgin Islands National Park. This restaurant serves breakfast and lunch daily and offers unmatched customer service. 

The menu features signature Caribbean dishes made with slow-roasted meats, fresh-cut salads, and desserts that will take your breath away. Popular dishes include Asian peanut noodles, curry chicken salad, and signature salads. There are also several options for diners who have a vegetarian or gluten-free diet. For a quick and delicious meal while visiting Virgin Islands National Park, stop by North Shore Deli. 

Sun Dog Café is the top restaurant in Cruz Bay and only 1 minute from Virgin Islands National Park. This open-air restaurant serves brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks daily, with live music twice weekly.

The menu offers a mix of classic favorites and original dishes with options for gluten-free and vegetarian diners. Customers rave about the coconut shrimp tacos, the Shrimp Vera Cruz, fish tacos, and the Caribbean jerk chicken quesadillas. 

Not only is Sun Dog Café a top restaurant in Cruz Bay, but it also goes above and beyond to provide stellar customer service to each of its diners. Amazing food, unbeatable customer service, and convenience to the Virgin Islands National Park make Sun Dog Café the perfect place to grab a bite to eat. 

Leatherback Nesting

1. A New National Park

Virgin Islands National Park was established in 1956 as the 29th U.S. national park. 

2. Orignal People of the Park

Humans originally arrived in the U.S. Virgin Islands 2,500 to 3,00 years ago, but it was about 1,000 years ago when the islands really grew in population. The original settlers of the park were nomads who relied on hunting and gathering. Later, the Taino people settled the area.

They established villages in many different areas of the park, including Cinnamon Bay, Caneel Bay, and Coral Bay. Today, petroglyph carvings and artifacts can be seen at the archeological sites in the park. These artifacts are clues to the past and tell the story of the original people of the area.

3. A Pirate Place

Long ago, pirates moored their ships in the inlets and near the shores of the beaches of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of the noteworthy pirates that operated in this area years ago included Captain Kidd, Black Sam Bellamy, Tempest Rogers, and Jean Hamlin.

4. Discovered by Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus discovered the U.S. Virgin Islands on his second voyage to discover the New World.

5. An Abundance of Animals

The Virgin Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of animals. This national park has 22 mammal species, 140 kinds of birds, 302 kinds of fish, and 7 types of amphibians. Some of the animals that are often seen at Virgin Islands National Park include deer, donkeys, sheep, mongoose, pigs, bats, pelicans, and iguanas.

6. What’s in a Name?

Christopher Columbus originally named these islands Las Once Mil Virgenes after Saint Ursula’s 11,000 Virgins. Later, the name was shortened to Las Virgenes or The Virgins.

7. Celebrity Status

There is an island off the east of St. John named Norman Island. This island is where the infamous book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is set. 

8. Endangered Species

There are several animals that live in Virgin Islands National Park that are listed on the endangered species list. Some of these animals include the leatherback turtle, green turtle, and hawksbill turtle. These turtles nest on the beaches of the park, which are protected to help the turtle population. Another endangered animal that lives in Virgin Islands National Park is the Virgin Islands tree boa. These snakes are typically found in the coastal forest among the rocks and soil. 

9. Ready for a Close-Up

Virgin Islands National Park has been used in several blockbuster hits as a setting. Some of the well-known movies filmed in this area include “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” a popular American soap opera, has also been filmed in this area since 1987. 

10. Highs and Lows

The highest point in Virgin Islands National Park is Bordeaux Mountain. This mountain reaches 1,277 feet in elevation. The lowest point in the park is at 0 feet above sea level, which is the Atlantic Ocean. 

Virgin Islands National Park is one of the most breathtaking parks in the National Park Service. From snorkeling in the turquoise waters to exploring ancient ruins, and from hiking incredible trails to relaxing on the white sand beaches, there’s no shortage of excitement at this national park. Book your trip to Virgin Islands National Park and discover what brings in over 300,000 people each year from around the world come to this island park.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to enter virgin islands national park.

For general entry, there is no fee at Virgin Islands National Park. Fees are collected for different areas and activities, including visiting Trunk Bay and overnight mooring.

How many days should I plan to stay at Virgin Islands National Park?

It is recommended to stay a minimum of 3 days when visiting Virgin Islands National Park. This length of time allows for hiking, snorkeling, boating, and relaxing on the beaches.

What is the weather like at Virgin Islands National Park?

It is typically for the weather to be hot, windy, and cloudy at Virgin Islands National Park. The temperature varies from 74 to 89 degrees.

What is the busiest time to visit Virgin Islands National Park?

The busiest time at Virgin Islands National Park is from December to April.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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  • Last Updated On
  • August 21, 2023

Itinerary: US Virgin Islands Exploration Guide

Janik Godoy

Embarking on a family retreat to the US Virgin Islands?

While designing the dream trip might seem challenging, we’re here to simplify the process.

In this article, we’ll map out a thoughtful itinerary for the US Virgin Islands, ensuring every day of your holiday is filled with enchantment.

The US Virgin Islands serve a recipe of thrill, serenity, and everything in between.

This utopia offers unspoiled beaches, crystal clear waters, vibrant rainforests, and age-old historical sites.

Through the lens of this itinerary, the US Virgin Islands will be at your fingertips.

Explore the highlights of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, shaping indelible family memories.

So, have you got your sunscreen ready?

Make the most of your well-spent family vacation.

With this guide, you’re all set to embrace the very best of this exquisite tropical paradise.

Itinerary: US Virgin Islands Best Time to Visit

Itinerary: US Virgin Islands Best Time to Visit

Peak Season

The islands are a year-round destination, but certain times of the year are better than others, depending on your preferences.

The peak season in the US Virgin Islands is from December to March.

During this time, the weather is warm and sunny.

That means plenty of activities and events keep the whole family entertained.

On the downside, this is also the busiest time of the year, so prepare for crowds and higher prices.

Shoulder Season

If you’re looking for a quieter and more affordable time to visit, consider traveling between April and June.

During this shoulder season, you can expect mild weather and fewer crowds.

Plus, flights and accommodations are usually cheaper during this time.

Remember that the US Virgin Islands are at the highest risk for hurricanes in early fall.

If you’re planning a trip during this time, keep an eye on the weather forecast and consider purchasing travel insurance.

Getting There and Around

Passport requirements.

Before planning your trip to the US Virgin Islands, ensure you have a valid passport.

US citizens do not need a passport to travel to the USVI .

But they must bring proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or a government-issued ID.

Non-US citizens need a passport and a visa if required.

Arrival by Air

The most convenient way to reach the US Virgin Islands is by air.

Cyril E. King International Airport (STT) is the main airport in St. Thomas, served by major airlines such as Delta, American, and United.

You can take a taxi or rent a car from the airport to get to your hotel or resort.

Arrival by Sea

Another option to reach the US Virgin Islands is by sea.

The islands are served by ferries that connect St. Thomas, St. John, and Water Island.

Different companies, such as Native Son, Inter Island Boat Services, and Transportation Services VI, operate the ferries.

The ferry ride takes around 20 to 30 minutes.

It’s also a great way to enjoy the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

Transportation on the Islands

Once you arrive in the US Virgin Islands, you have several options to get around.

Taxis are available on all three islands.

They are a convenient way to travel if you don’t want to rent a car.

The taxis are metered, with government-regulated rates.

If you prefer to rent a car, there are several rental car companies in St. Thomas and St. John, such as Avis, Budget, and Hertz.

If you want a more eco-friendly way to get around, you can rent a golf cart on St. John.

The golf carts are allowed on the roads and are a fun and efficient way to explore the island.

Island Overview

The US Virgin Islands is a tropical paradise with crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, and plenty of activities for everyone.

It consists of four main islands: St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, and Water Island.

St. Thomas is the most populated island in the US Virgin Islands and its central tourism hub.

It’s the ideal base for a trip to the USVI and offers plenty of family activities .

Explore the historic city of Charlotte Amalie , home to many shops, restaurants , and historical sites.

The island also has plenty of beaches, including Magens Bay Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

St. John is known for its natural beauty and is home to the Virgin Islands National Park.

The park covers over 60% of the island and offers plenty of hiking trails, beaches, and snorkeling opportunities.

Trunk Bay Beach is a must-visit and is known for its underwater snorkeling trail.

St. Croix

St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, offering a mix of historical sites, natural beauty, and cultural experiences.

The island has plenty of beaches, including Sandy Point Beach, which is also a nesting site for endangered sea turtles.

The island is also home to the Christiansted National Historic Site, a great place to learn about the island’s history.

Water Island

Water Island is the smallest of the US Virgin Islands, known for its secluded beaches and quiet atmosphere.

The island is only accessible by ferry and has plenty of swimming, snorkeling, and hiking opportunities.

Honeymoon Beach is a popular destination known for its crystal-clear waters.

Accommodation Options

The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas is a popular choice if you’re looking for a luxurious stay.

This resort offers stunning ocean views, a private beach, and a variety of amenities, including a spa, tennis courts, and multiple dining options.

But keep in mind that this is one of the more expensive options in the area.

Budget-Friendly

For a more affordable option, consider staying at a hotel in Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas.

The Hotel Caravelle is a popular choice, offering comfortable rooms and a central location perfect for exploring the island.

Another option is the Company House Hotel, which offers a charming boutique experience.

Villa or Condo

Traveling with your family?

Renting a villa or condo may be a good option.

Many of these rentals offer multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, and plenty of space for everyone to spread out.

Check out websites like VRBO or Airbnb to find the perfect rental for your family.

Outdoor Adventures

Beaches and snorkeling.

If you’re looking for outdoor adventures in the US Virgin Islands, you’re in luck.

The US Virgin Islands are known for their beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, making them the perfect destination for snorkeling.

Trunk Bay in St. John is a popular spot for snorkeling.

It has a marked underwater trail that takes you through vibrant coral reefs and schools of colorful fish.

Coki Beach in St. Thomas is another great spot for snorkeling, with calm waters and various marine life.

Hiking Trails

If you’re looking to explore the islands’ natural beauty on foot, there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from.

The Virgin Islands National Park in St. John offers over 20 hiking trails.

These trails range from easy strolls to challenging hikes through tropical forests and scenic coastlines.

The Reef Bay Trail is a popular choice, taking you through a lush forest and past historic ruins before ending at a secluded beach.

Water Sports

Love water sports?

Buck Island in St. Croix is a popular spot for sailing and snorkeling, with crystal-clear waters and various marine life.

Honeymoon Beach in St. John is an excellent spot for kayaking, with calm waters and stunning views of the surrounding islands.

Waterlemon Cay is another popular spot for kayaking, with clear waters and the chance to spot sea turtles and other marine life.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed outdoor activity, golfing is a great option.

The Mahogany Run Golf Course in St. Thomas offers stunning views of the ocean and challenging holes that will test your skills.

The Buccaneer Golf Course in St. Croix is another popular choice, with a scenic course that winds through lush tropical foliage.

Sightseeing and Attractions

Charlotte amalie.

Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the US Virgin Islands and is a must-visit for any traveler.

The city is known for its historic architecture, duty-free shopping, and bustling harbor.

Stroll along the waterfront and admire the colorful buildings and boats bobbing in the harbor.

If you’re a history buff, visit Fort Christian, the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands .

Built in the 17th century, the fort now houses a museum with exhibits on the island’s history.

Virgin Islands National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park is a stunning natural wonder that covers over 60% of the island of St. John.

The park has pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical forests.

Take a hike on one of the park’s many trails, go snorkeling in the coral reefs, or simply relax on one of the park’s beautiful beaches.

The park is also home to historic ruins and cultural landmarks, including the Annaberg Sugar Plantation and the Reef Bay Trail.

Coki Point

Coki Point is a beautiful beach on the island of St. Thomas that is popular with locals and tourists.

The beach is known for its crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and soft white sand.

It’s a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

There are also several beachside restaurants and bars where you can grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.

Fort Christian

Fort Christian is a historic landmark in Charlotte Amalie that dates back to the 17th century.

The Danish government built the fort to protect the island from pirates and other invaders.

Today, the fort houses a museum with exhibits on the island’s history, including its colonial past and the impact of slavery.

Blackbeard’s Castle

Blackbeard’s Castle is a historic landmark in Charlotte Amalie that dates back to the 17th century.

The castle was named after the infamous pirate Blackbeard, who was said to have used the tower as a lookout point.

Today, the castle is open to visitors and offers stunning views of the harbor and the surrounding islands.

Food and Drink

Bar and grill.

When planning a trip to the US Virgin Islands, you might wonder what kind of food and drink you can enjoy during your stay.

If you’re looking for a casual spot to grab a bite and a drink, you can’t go wrong with a bar and grill.

These laid-back spots offer a range of options, from burgers and fries to fresh seafood and salads.

Some popular bar and grill options in the US Virgin Islands include The Tap & Still in St. Thomas and Off the Wall Beach Bar in St. Croix.

Top Restaurants

For something a little more upscale, you might want to check out some of the islands’ top restaurants .

Frenchtown Bistro in St. Thomas is known for its fresh seafood and creative cocktails.

Meanwhile, the Cruzan Beach Club in St. Croix is a lovely spot for a romantic dinner with a view.

Of course, no trip to the US Virgin Islands would be complete without trying a painkiller.

This signature cocktail is a blend of rum, pineapple, orange, and coconut, and it’s the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.

You can find painkillers at pretty much any bar on the islands.

But some popular spots include The Beach Bar in St. John and Duffy’s Love Shack in St. Thomas.

If you’re a beer lover, you’re in luck. The US Virgin Islands are home to several local breweries.

Some notable options are the St. John Brewers and Leatherback Brewing Company.

These breweries offer a range of craft beers, from IPAs to stouts, and they’re a great place to hang out and enjoy a cold one with friends.

Main Street

Main Street

Main Street in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, is the best place to start your shopping adventure.

This bustling street is lined with shops and boutiques selling everything from jewelry and clothing to souvenirs and artwork.

You’ll also find several historic sites along the way, including the Fort Christian Museum and the St. Thomas Synagogue.

Malls and Shopping Centers

If you’re looking for a more traditional shopping experience, head to one of the many malls or shopping centers throughout the islands.

The Havensight Mall in St. Thomas is a popular choice, with over 100 stores and restaurants to explore.

You’ll also find several smaller shopping centers on St. Croix and St. John, each with its unique selection of shops and boutiques.

Farmers’ Markets and Craft Fairs

For those looking to support local businesses, check out the various farmers’ markets and craft fairs throughout the year.

These events offer a chance to meet local artisans and purchase handmade goods, including jewelry, pottery, and artwork.

The party is just getting started when the sun goes down in the US Virgin Islands.

One of the best things about the nightlife in the US Virgin Islands is the beach bars.

These bars are located right on the sand, so you can enjoy a drink while watching the waves.

Some popular beach bars include the Tap Room on St. John, serving delicious local brews, and the Caribbean Saloon on St. Thomas, with a great happy hour.

Looking for something a little more lively?

Head to one of the island’s nightclubs.

Red Hook on St. Thomas is known for its block-style parties, while Charlotte Amalie has plenty of live music.

Frenchtown is another vibrant spot for nightlife, with a renowned dining scene and plenty of bars.

No matter where you go, be sure to try a Painkiller.

British Virgin Islands

The Baths

You might also want to take a day trip to explore nearby islands.

The British Virgin Islands are just a short boat ride away from the US Virgin Islands, offering a completely different experience.

Explore the beautiful beaches, go snorkeling or scuba diving, or even hike to see stunning views.

One of the most popular destinations in the British Virgin Islands is The Baths.

It’s a unique rock formation that creates pools and grottos for swimming and exploring.

You can take a ferry from St. Thomas or St. John or book a day trip with a local tour company.

Puerto Rico

Another option for a day trip is to visit Puerto Rico.

This neighboring island is home to a rich history and culture, beautiful beaches, and natural wonders.

Explore the historic Old San Juan, hike the El Yunque rainforest, or relax on the beaches of Isla Verde.

To visit Puerto Rico, you’ll need to bring your passport and clear customs.

You can take a ferry from St. Thomas or book a day trip with a local tour company.

Island-Hopping

If you want to explore multiple islands in one day, you can also consider an island-hopping tour.

These tours typically take you to several different islands, allowing you to see the best of each one.

You can visit St. John, St. Croix, or even some of the smaller, more secluded islands.

Many tour companies offer island-hopping tours, so you can choose the one that best fits your interests and schedule.

Travel Tips

The US Virgin Islands can be an expensive destination.

But there are ways to save money and stay within your budget.

One way to save money is to visit during the off-season, which runs from mid-April to July when prices are generally lower.

You can also save money by staying in a vacation rental instead of a hotel and cooking your own meals.

Be sure to also check for discounts and deals on activities and attractions.

The US Virgin Islands are generally safe, but it’s always important to take precautions when traveling.

Keep your valuables secure and out of sight, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

It’s also a good idea to stay in well-lit areas at night and to be aware of your surroundings.

The US Virgin Islands use the US dollar as their official currency, so there is no need to exchange money.

But be aware that some establishments may not accept credit cards, so it’s always a good idea to carry some cash with you.

Parting Words

Parting Words

Congratulations.

With this itinerary, the US Virgin Islands are one step closer.

From the stunning beaches to the exotic cuisine, you will never run out of things to do and see on the islands.

Make sure to pack your sunscreen, swimsuits, and comfortable shoes.

You will need them to explore what the beautiful islands have to offer.

Don’t forget to try the local food, including the famous conch fritters and the delicious seafood.

Remember to take plenty of pictures and capture all the beautiful memories you will make during your trip.

We hope this guide has helped you plan your perfect trip to the US Virgin Islands.

Safe travels, and have an amazing time.

Related: What is the Best Time of Year to Visit the US Virgin Islands

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do i need to explore the us virgin islands.

To fully explore the US Virgin Islands, you should plan to spend at least five days. It will give you enough time to visit the must-see attractions and enjoy the beautiful beaches. However, if you have more time, you can spend up to two weeks exploring all the islands.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit The US Virgin Islands?

The best time to visit the US Virgin Islands is from April to June or November to mid-December. The weather is perfect during these months, and the crowds are smaller. However, remember that the US Virgin Islands are a year-round destination, and you can enjoy the islands anytime.

What Are Some Must-See Attractions In Saint Thomas?

Saint Thomas has many must-see attractions, including Magens Bay Beach, Blackbeard’s Castle, Coral World Ocean Park, and Charlotte Amalie. You can also take a scenic drive around the island and enjoy the beautiful views.

What Are Some Recommended Itineraries For A 5-Day Trip To The US Virgin Islands?

For a 5-day trip to the US Virgin Islands, you can spend two days in Saint Thomas, two days in Saint John, and one day in Saint Croix. It will give you enough time to explore the islands and enjoy the beautiful beaches.

Which Is The Best Virgin Island To Visit?

All the Virgin Islands are beautiful and have something unique to offer. Saint Thomas is the most popular and has the most tourist attractions. Saint John is known for its natural beauty and beaches, while Saint Croix has a rich history and culture.

What Is The Cheapest Time Of Year To Visit The US Virgin Islands?

The cheapest time to visit the US Virgin Islands is during the low season, from mid-April to mid-December. During this time, you can find great deals on flights and accommodations. However, the weather can be a bit hotter and more humid during this time.

Itinerary: US Virgin Islands Exploration Guide

Stuck on the Go

St. Thomas Itinerary, USVI: How To Spend 6 Days in Paradise

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Looking for the ideal St. Thomas Itinerary for your trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands?

St. Thomas, USVI, holds a special place in my heart. It was one of my most memorable family vacations, the first place I traveled without my parents and then where I spent my honeymoon.

So, since I’ve had the chance to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands multiple times, I created a complete St. Thomas itinerary to share what’s so special about it!

A cocktail on a bar at Magens Bay in St. Thomas, USVI.

It holds the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure and is an amazing, underrated spot for a couple’s getaway. Combine that with the ease of getting there from anywhere in the south or along the east coast of the US, and it makes one of the best honeymoon islands near the U.S.

This itinerary will show you the best way to spend a week in St. Thomas, followed by some of my top tips for enjoying this island.

Day 6 – Beaches and Fishing

Sapphire beach resort, marriott’s frenchman’s cove, how do you get around st. thomas without a car.

Disclaimer: This post ma y contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this link, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for keeping Stuck On The Go going!

General Tips for Visiting St. Thomas, USVI

  • St. Thomas is a US Territory, and they use US currency, so you do not need a passport (though it may be handy if you want to take a day trip to the British Virgin Islands).
  • They drive on the opposite side of the road, but the steering wheel is still on the left side of the car (weird, right?).
  • I have never felt unsafe in St. Thomas, but I take some precautions. I don’t go into Charlotte Amalie at night, and I’m usually with another person when I leave the resort.
  • If you’d like to see more of the USVI, it’s easy to take a ferry to St. John, and you can visit St. Croix by a short plane ride. But I think St. Thomas has enough to fill your USVI itinerary for at least a week!
  • If you choose not to rent a car, bring plenty of cash for taxis. There is no ride-share service like Uber or Lyft.

One Week in St. Thomas (6-Day Itinerary)

This St. Thomas guide follows exactly how my husband and I spent our honeymoon in the US Virgin Islands because it honestly could not have been more perfect.

You’ll notice there are only 6 days, and that’s because in this St. Thomas Itinerary, we have not included travel days. You should expect to spend one day on each end of the trip flying to/from the islands.

Day 1 – Day Trip to The British Virgin Islands

a group of sailboats and houseboats on the bay of St. Thomas

Jump into island life full-force and take a British Virgin Islands day trip. Two companies that I have gone with are New Horizons & Breakaway Charters – though it looks like they are no longer running this tour – and Stormy Pirates . I would highly recommend either company.

You must bring your passport if you want to go on this excursion. This is one of the best tours in St. Thomas though, so I can’t recommend it enough.

Before you leave the marina in Red Hook, stop by Lattes in Paradise and grab a breakfast sandwich and morning brew. I loved it so much that we went back again for breakfast later in the week.

As soon as you get on the boat, the captain or first mate will go over safety precautions and then offer you a drink. One captain told us drinking before noon doesn’t make you an alcoholic, it makes you a pirate (lol).

a man holding a drink in one of the clearwater pools in Baths National Park

The first stop on the trip is Baths National Park in Virgin Gorda. Here, you’ll find beautiful views on a hike down to the beach, with incredible rock formations surrounding you on your way down.

Once you make it to the beach, there’s a little bar, and you get to spend about half an hour here enjoying the view and wading in the ocean among the towering boulders.

A taxi will take you back to your boat, and then depending on what trip you take, you could either be headed to Pusser’s for lunch or to White Bay on Jost Van Dyke. If you go to Pusser’s, you’ll also get to snorkel for a bit after lunch then head to White Bay.

White Bay is known for the Soggy Dollar Bar, which is named because your dollars may literally be soggy when you leave!

There are no docks at the bay, so the boats anchor near the beach, and you have to swim to land. Most captains will hand around a dry bag, so you don’t have to jump in with your wallet in your pocket.

🛥 Check prices for cruise & sailing options here . 🛥

A boat on the ocean with a bar in the background on Jost Van Dyke.

On the way back to Red Hook, you do have to stop at Cruz Bay in St. John to go through Customs. It’s a very simple process.

We were so tired once we got back that we went to our room and crashed. If you feel like going out though, head to one of the best restaurants in Red Hook , Island Time Pub, for a lively atmosphere, a beautiful view, and great food.

Day 2 – Relax at the Beaches and See Marine Life

Today is much more relaxing and laid back.

First, head to Coral World Ocean Park – one of the most popular St. Thomas attractions . On the way there, grab a smoothie for breakfast from Martha’s Smoothies at Coki Beach (right next to Coral World).

Coral World is perfect for any animal lover. It’s like a small zoo or aquarium; the main attraction (in my opinion) is an underwater observatory where you can watch animals swim in the open channel.

Two women hosting the Sea Lion Show at Coral World Ocean Park

Something I enjoyed that I wasn’t expecting was the presentations with the animals made by the staff. We saw a show with a sea lion, a sea turtle feeding, and an interactive presentation at the touch pool. If you can’t tell, I’m very much a kid at heart.

🐢 Book your tickets for Coral World Ocean Park here. 🐢

After you’ve had your fill of animal education, you can head right next door to Coki Beach. It is a 2-minute walk (if that), and you’ll pass a stand selling snorkels and flippers. They rent for a reasonable price (around $10).

You can also rent chairs on the beach to place your things, and waiters will come around and take your drink order from the beach bars. Though it may not look like much, be sure to order fish from the place with a wooden bar where you can sit. If you like seafood, you won’t be disappointed.

The view of Coki Beach, St. Thomas, USVI.

While you are snorkeling, be sure to keep your chairs in view. I’ve never had anything stolen, but you never know.

After a relaxing afternoon at one of my favorite beaches in St. Thomas , go back and get ready for a night out in Red Hook.

For apps and drinks, head to Duffy’s Love Shack , which is a must for the atmosphere alone. It’s a tiki bar in the middle of a parking lot. They offer endless creative drinks and bar food if you’re hungry.

A tiki bar with green shudder doors.

Once you’re ready for dinner, you can walk down to Tap & Still for the best chicken sandwich on the island. Their burgers are pretty good, too. Their fries are served in brown paper bags where you can see the grease stains from all that fried deliciousness.

Day 3 – Day Trip to St. John

Set out on another adventure to a different island, staying within the US Virgin Islands. Take the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John, which is about a 30-minute ferry ride if you leave out of Red Hook and one of the best St. Thomas day trips .

Leave early in the morning and grab breakfast at North Shore Deli in Mongoose Junction. If you have a small soft-shell cooler that fits in a backpack, I highly recommend some of their grab-and-go foods for a picnic lunch on the beach.

Bacon, egg, & cheese sandwich on english muffin with a beer.

After you’ve fueled up for the day, catch a taxi out of Cruz Bay and head to the Cinnamon Bay Trailhead in the Virgin Islands National Park – one of the most beautiful National Parks on the East Coast.

The trail begins on Centerline Road and winds down to some sugar plantation ruins and, ultimately the most beautiful beach you have ever seen.

Note: The trail is about 1.8 miles long and rated moderate-strenuous. I wore my Chaco sandals and was so glad I did. They are one of my favorite gifts for outdoorsy women! Also, make a great gift idea for hikers .

an empty beach near Cinnamon Bay with one man among the driftwood and turquiose water

When I first visited, all of the amenities at Cinnamon Bay had been removed in the hurricanes. But now it seems like all of the Cinnamon Bay amenities have been rebuilt and look absolutely amazing.

Food trucks occasionally set up near the beach and there is a cafe at the campground. This does mean there may be more crowds, though.

You can also grab a quick taxi to Trunk Bay, where there are more food trucks and even a snorkel trail through the national park!

Be sure to rent snorkels for the afternoon.

Bright blue ocean with two small mountains rising in the middle of the photo.

Once you’ve had enough of lounging on the beach, head back to Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay for some shopping and dinner.

If you get back a little early, I recommend stopping by The Tap Room by St. John Brewers for some snacks and cold beer.

Then, for dinner, walk back towards the ferry dock to Cruz Bay Landing , where you may even get some live music. Tyler and I loved just chilling on the patio and people-watching!

You can check the ferry schedule here . Be sure to catch the last boat out, or you’ll have to stay the night on St. John.

If you have the opportunity to spend a week in the USVI, you should definitely take one day in St. Thomas to visit another US Virgin Islands, and St. John is a fantastic choice!

Day 4 – Local Cuisine and Sunset Cruises

Assuming you stay at one of the USVI’s amazing resorts (I’ll talk about my favorites in a minute), you should spend the morning by the pool, taking the warm weather and island views.

We chose to take a food tour for lunch with St. Thomas Food Tours . The Historic Downtown Tour gives you an interesting overview of the history of St. Thomas and Charlotte Amalie.

You also get to see some interesting sights off the beaten path, like a mural in the post office and the Taphus – a brewery behind the Billabong store.

A mural in a post office in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI.

Of course, the main attraction of this St. Thomas food tour is the local cuisine you’ll try. Callaloo, conch fritters, and fungi are just a few dishes that we sampled. You’ll also get a good idea of some restaurants to come back to if you’d like.

🥘 Book your St. Thomas Food Tour here. 🥘

After the food tour, you can explore and shop in downtown Charlotte Amalie. Some of the best shopping can be found along Dronningens Gade, or if you’re looking for something more high end you should have a look at Havensight Mall.

Callaloo, fungi, and a conch fritter in white dishes.

Finish the day off just as relaxing as the morning with a sunset cruise. One is offered out of Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove on the VI Cat , and New Horizons & Breakaway Charters offers a cruise out of Red Hook.

Sunset cruises are one of my favorite types of boat tours in St. Thomas . They are magical!

Bottomless painkillers (a local cocktail) are served on the cruise, as well as hors d’oeuvres. You’ll also have incredible views of the island as the sun gradually makes its way down. Sunset sails are very popular for a St. Thomas vacation!

If you didn’t fill up with snacks on board, then head to Amalia Café for dinner after you dock. You can sit out on the patio and enjoy a nice drink with delicious Spanish tapas.

the view of St. Thomas from the coast on a sunset cruise

Day 5 – Mangrove Lagoon (Kayaking, Hiking, and Snorkeling)

You’ll be glad you took yesterday to relax because today is another adventure, and this one will surely tire you out!

Virgin Island Ecotours offers a full-day Kayak, Hike, and snorkel Adventure at Mangrove Lagoon if you’re up for it. I do recommend only taking this trip if you are in semi-decent shape but it’s one of the best snorkeling tours in St. Thomas .

Kayaking is what can get difficult, especially when you are coming back at the end of the day.

Tyler and I decided to do individual kayaks, but it’s probably so much easier if you’re in a tandem kayak. They also offer shorter tours if you don’t feel like you are up for the full five hours.

A man and woman kayaking in yellow boats in St. Thomas, USVI.

This was one of my absolute favorite days of the trip, and that’s saying a lot. Kayaking through Stingray Alley and between the little islands with mangrove trees all around is breathtaking.

You won’t find a better location for kayaking in St. Thomas . We also got to stop and take a hike to some tidal pools that were full of marine life.

Rocky coastline with water spraying through a geyser hole and man & woman beside it.

Our guide, D’Haden, was fantastic and knowledgeable about the plants and animals we encountered.

He led us to Cas Cay next, where we had a packed lunch of sandwiches and watched a hermit crab race. The hermit crabs were a little unnerving as there were so many, and they were EVERYWHERE.

After a short hike on Cas Cay, it was finally time to snorkel. I’ve been lucky enough to snorkel at many places around the world, but this was by far my favorite. There were schools of colorful fish, lobster, octopus, and we even saw a stingray and barracuda!

🤿 Book your Kayak, Hike, & Snorkel Tour here. 🤿

planning a trip to virgin islands

It truly was an adventure to remember. A must on any Virgin Islands itinerary!

Once we made it back to the room, we did have to take a nap before going out that night. Even then, we were still pretty tired!

We do love going out to one fancy restaurant each time we go on vacation to St. Thomas, and this time we chose the Old Stone Farmhouse . The name perfectly describes the complex, as it’s a stone building from an old sugar plantation.

The food, presentation, and service are all incredible, and if they still have it on the menu, I highly recommend the bread sampler appetizer and Key Lime Pie dessert.

Start the day with breakfast at Margaritaville. They have huge omelets that any savory breakfast lover will enjoy, or for those that prefer sweet, the French Toast will hit the spot.

omelette and coffee from Margaritaville St. Thomas USVI

Once breakfast is over, make your way out to Magen’s Bay, but try to get there a little early since it gets super crowded. in the afternoon. This is the most popular beach on the island, but in all honestly, it wasn’t our favorite.

It costs $5 to get into the beach, and while they do have a nice bar and space to rent chairs/umbrellas, it was SO crowded. We got there late morning and snagged one of the last shady places at the bar to sit and people-watch for a while.

Beer on the bar at Magen's Bay, St. Thomas, USVI.

Book an afternoon fishing excursion with Ocean Surfari or Double Header Sportfishing . Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time out on the water, the captains will ensure you have a great time.

While you aren’t guaranteed to catch fish, most people don’t go home without a little bit of excitement at least.

The first time I went fishing in St. Thomas, my dad caught a Blue Marlin, and the last time I caught a beautiful African Pompano!!!

Sunset behind a mountain with a fishing rod in front of the waves.

Not only is it a great trip if you love to fish, but the scenery is unmatched, too. Depending on the time of the excursion, you might even get a second sunset cruise!

Once you make it back, head out to the Caribbean Fish Market for the last meal on the island.

Love Caribbean destinations? Check out this guide to spending a day in Nassau .

More Tours in St. Thomas

Where to stay in st. thomas (best resorts).

If you’re traveling with family, then Mango Tree Travel recommends staying at Secret Harbour . They love staying here for the spacious rooms, great location, and calm beach.

There are a few resorts that I’ve personally stayed at and really enjoyed in St. Thomas. Whether you can budget a full week or just 3 days in St. Thomas, here are the best places to book a room!

Wyndham Margaritaville St. Thomas

Wyndham Margaritaville St. Thomas certainly did not disappoint with this property. My parents are Wyndham Timeshare owners, so we have been to many of the resorts in the southeast, and I do believe this one tops them all in my experience.

A view of the ocean from the hillside pool at Margaritaville St. Thomas with mountains in the background and colorful chairs in the foreground.

The fun Caribbean atmosphere, friendly staff, and amenities truly set it apart. The Margaritaville Restaurant on-site should not be missed, and there is a reasonable convenience store with a deli in case you forget anything from home or need a quick bite.

The two pools and a private beach offer many places to relax. My favorite is the hillside pool with a swim-up bar. Each room has its own margarita machine, so buy the supplies and have an afternoon of bottomless margs from your own balcony.

If you keep debating where to stay in St. Thomas , this one gets my vote.

Located on the beautiful Sapphire Beach, equipped with a water sports center, Sapphire Beach Resort has it all. The beach is a destination in itself, while the gorgeous pool is for guests only.

The adjacent marina offers almost any excursion you can think of, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for there, book one out of Red Hook that’s less than a mile away. Red Hook also offers shopping and many dining options.

This charming resort will make you wonder if you’re in a quaint Italian seaside village instead of the Caribbean. The Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove Resort is conveniently located near Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas.

The ocean with colorful Marriott's Frenchman's Cove buildings in view in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI.

The poolside restaurant has a gorgeous ocean view, and chairs are available on the beach for lounging. Frenchman’s Cove also has a small marina where sunset cruises set sail. Check with the concierge for other offerings.

When To Visit St. Thomas, USVI

The peak season for travel in St. Thomas is December to March, when the weather is absolutely perfect for all of us sun-lovers. 70s-80s with a mild breeze. April to June shoulder season is my favorite time to visit, as you should still have great weather with fewer crowds.

Hurricane season is from June to September and can last into October. The last few seasons have not been good for the islands. Planning a trip during these times could be a gamble. But hey, we’re in the middle of a Pandemic right now, crazy things happen all the time.

If you are planning a larger US Virgin Islands itinerary, this also goes for the other islands.

FAQ for St. Thomas, USVI

How much are flights to st. thomas.

This varies, of course, but you can find deals on the East Coast that are in the $200s. It can get up in the $1,000s, though. If you are wondering how to find the best flight deals , I use Google Flights for all my flight searches.

When is the best time to visit St. Thomas?

The best time is shoulder season in April – June. The most popular time with the best weather is December – March.

Is St. Thomas safe?

I’ve been four times and never felt unsafe. However, I always travel with another person and am never outside of the resort or in downtown Red Hook after dark. I always try to take precautions just as I would anywhere else.

It is very easy to get around using taxis, and I even prefer that over renting a car on the island. The driving style there is much different than here in the US, and I would not be comfortable driving myself around.

Final Thoughts: One Week in St. Thomas Itinerary

St. Thomas is one of the most special places in the Caribbean to me. Even after visiting multiple times, I can’t wait to go back.

There are just so many things to do that your St. Thomas itinerary will never feel repetitive or bland, especially if you base it on the outline I just provided. Make sure to budget for a few excursions, too, since this is the best part of staying in St. Thomas!

As someone who loves trying new things, my favorite part of this itinerary is the day we spent kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling in St. Thomas .

But if you are visiting on a romantic holiday or honeymoon, then you can’t skip the sunset cruise with New Horizons & Breakaway Charters !

I hope you enjoy the St. Thomas, USVI, as much as I do!

Have you ever been to St. Thomas? Do you have anything to add to this itinerary or tips?

Pin for later!

St. Thomas, USVI itinerary & tips.

Anna is a North Carolina native who grew up traveling the southern US with her family. Now she is a full-time travel blogger who loves providing trip inspiration and travel tips for traveling the US. Want to know more? Read my full story here.

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40 Comments

ooh it sounds wonderful.. Would love to stay at these beautiful resorts

They are gorgeous! It’s an amazing place.

I will definitely keep this handy for the future whenever I visit here. It looks like an amazing place.

It really is, I hope you are able to go one day!

Wow St.Thomas looks like a relaxed place with great vibes. addin it to my bucket list for my next USA trip

It is definitely one of my favorite vacation spots in the US. Hope you’ll get to visit one day!

What a beautiful place – and the food and drink looks pretty good too!

Yes, I love trying all kinds of food when I travel. It’s great here!

St. Thomas looks so beautiful I still need to visit a lot of places in the Caribbean. Great guide!

Thank you! I think a lot of people on the East Coast (myself included) take the Caribbean for granted and overlook it. There are some really amazing islands and lots more that I would love to explore!

Been looking for destinations around the US for some trips this year in case borders don’t open all the way… leaning towards our Virgin Islands. It looks so enticing!!

Oh yes, it would be perfect! Hopefully there won’t be as many restrictions for traveling here as there would be internationally. I highly recommend it if you can go!

Wow! I haven’t been to the Virgin Islands yet but this is such a great guide! Love that you suggest a little of everything and the food plus those views has me dying to visit!

Thank you! Yes, the food is fantastic and there is so much to do on the island. You won’t get bored for sure!

This looks like absolute paradise! The water is incredible. I’ve never been to the Caribbean but there are quite a few places I’d love to visit! This has just moved up the list.

Oh I hope you can go one day! It’s really beautiful. I think it’s a paradise for sure!

This is a great itinerary. The British Virgin Islands Day Trip, and the Coral World Ocean Park are right up my alley of fun. Will save this for sure!

Thank you! There are so many fun things to do on the island. The BVI Day trip is a must for sure!

Ah this looks like an amazing trip and so beautiful! Days at the beach would be a must but I’d love to go sailing, kayaking and scuba dive. Great post!

I’ve never looked into whether they offer scuba diving somewhere on the island. If I’m being honest that’s always scared me a little bit. If you love the beach this is the perfect destination!

I’m feeling all Caribbean after reading this! We tried conch in the Bahamas and it was pretty good. I’d like to visit the USVI one day.

I hope you get to Lisa! The Caribbean has such a unique feel doesn’t it. 🙂

I’m all about the beach with a book and a beer…so this is my kind of itinerary.

It’s so relaxing isn’t it!? There’s nothing better.

Sounds like a great trip! I’d love to try some conch fritters on the food tour 🙂

And of course, the water looks gorgeous!

Thanks Lannie! I know you also appreciate a good food tour. 🙂 It’s definitely beautiful!

This looks like such a gorgeous place! I appreciate that you included such a variety of activities and places you’d recommend to eat in your itinerary, Anna. I would love all of the snorkeling opportunities in that beautiful water and would have to visit St. John Brewers!

Glad you liked it Becky! Snorkeling here is fantastic and I did love St. John. I’d like to go back and stay on St. John instead of St. Thomas one time!

Anna this looks excellent. I see why you love it. No end of things to do. But the driving doesn’t sound a little funny. Would be very confusing.

Thank you John! That’s true, there is so much to do other than lounge around. Not that lounging is bad, I just can’t do it for a full week. Yes, I’d have to work up a lot of courage before I could drive around there.

Such a great article! Hopefully I’ll be able to visit someday! ☺️

Thank you! Yes, I hope you can too. 🙂

It sounds amazing and I’d love to stay at Frenchman’s Cove at the Marriot. The water looks perfect for snorkeling.

Thanks Wendy, yes Frenchman’s Cove was a gorgeous spot. There are great snorkeling opportunities all over the island.

I’m all about the beach, but haven’t made it here yet. Everything looks and sounds like a perfect getaway.

St. Thomas really is my perfect vacation destination. Next time I might stay on St. John but I just love the area. Plus it’s a cheaper alternative to many island destinations and easy to get to from the US!

Something that should definitely be on the list is Pizza Pi: the boat pizzeria! It’s so good.

Oh I’ve heard of that but never made it there to eat! Good to know, I’ll definitely add it to my list for when I go back. 🙂

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The Complete St. John USVI Travel Guide

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This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you buy or book through one of these links, I may earn a small commission .

Are you planning a trip to the stunning Caribbean island of St. John? If so, this comprehensive St. John USVI travel guide will ensure you have the tropical vacation of a lifetime. If this is your first time visiting the island, you are going to be in awe of its turquoise white sand beaches and lush foliage. However, St. John is no ordinary island, and there are many unique factors to consider when planning your trip.

The views on St. John are certainly quite stunning to behold, and I’d choose it every time if I could only pick one place to “get away from it all”.

It’s a slow paced life on the island, and it’s quite easy to get lost in it and forget all about the daily grind. There’s always a handful of times each year where my husband and I look at each other and seriously consider whether we could just drop everything and move here.

However, there’s no getting around the fact that little island nations like St. John come with their own set of challenges. After eleven years of visiting this beautiful, albeit sometimes frustrating tropical paradise, we’ve encountered plenty of setbacks in various degrees. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, there is always something new to keep us on our toes.

That being said, I still think St. John is one of the best places on this earth to vacation. So, let’s get into this St. John USVI travel guide and make your trip as amazing (and smooth) as possible!

view from maho bay overlook in st john usvi

  • Why St. John
  • Island Overview

Prepare for your trip

When to visit, getting to st. john.

  • Renting a Vehicle
  • Where to Stay
  • Where to Eat

Other Things to Know

Why st. john.

There are so many Caribbean islands to choose from, so why should you choose the little island of St. John? Well, as I mentioned above, St. John is freaking gorgeous . This can be largely attributed to the fact that about 60% of the island is Virgin Islands National Park. For that reason, you are treated to unadulterated views of rocky island terrain completely covered in lush plant life. The island is smaller and less developed than the other USVI’s, but has incredible beaches and plenty of things to do.

You cannot get to St. John by plane and you will not find mainstream chain restaurants, stores or large resorts overtaking the beaches. This provides the rare opportunity to truly unplug and be present in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Don’t worry – they definitely still have plenty of beach bars where you can get your vacation quota of rum-filled beverages.

The sun seekers who return to this island, including myself, appreciate St. John’s laid-back and fuss-free culture. There is no dressing up required in this casual beach bum environment, which is how I like it. T-shirts and shorts all day!

Need some Christmas gift ideas? Check out my St. John themed gift guide!

St. John USVI Island Overview

As any good St. John travel guide should do, I’ll give you a brief overview of this island’s logistics. So, first things first, St. John is one of several islands in a group known as the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea about 50-ish miles east of Puerto Rico and 1100 miles south of Florida. They are broken up into the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), of which St. John is part of the latter. Of the four main islands making up the USVI’s, St. John is the second smallest.

The Virgin Islands are actually formed by the peaks of mountains submerged below sea level, which is what you can thank for their rocky terrain and sweeping views. The islands are known for their lush greenery and white sand beaches that rival any tropical destination in the world. St. John in particular showcases this untouched natural beauty thanks to its national park.

Related: All my tips for saving money in the U.S. Virgin Islands

view from Bordeaux mountain - st john usvi travel guide

Here are the things you should start thinking about in advance of your St. John trip . Some of the below are the very things that have landed me and my family in a pickle at times.

  • No passport required . The U.S. Virgin Islands are a territory of the United States, so U.S. citizens can travel without a passport. A driver’s license is an acceptable form of ID; however, beginning May 7, 2025 it will need to comply with the new REAL ID identification requirements (if 18 years or older). I still find it easiest to travel with my passport, as it’s required if you’re chartering to the nearby British Virgin Islands.
  • Bring cash with you . The ferry, some vendors, and many taxis only take cash. There are ATM’s on St. John (and St. Thomas), but they cannot always be relied upon to be in working order when you need them. On our most recent visit, somehow all four people in our party forgot to bring more than about $20 and the airport ATM was broken. Thank goodness the sympathetic cab driver still drove us across the island to the ferry dock, where there was a functioning ATM.
  • Pack light . We like to pack carry-on only, and I’ve created a sample Caribbean packing list here . St. Thomas has a small airport, and if checked bags go missing, they can be a huge pain to recover. Trust me – my family had five go missing one year, and it was not a fun experience.
  • December – April: St. John’s busiest and most expensive time to visit. There’s no arguing that the weather is lovely and just hot enough this time of year. You may get the occasional drizzle, but any rain is very fleeting. It’s a wonderful time to come and escape winter; the only downside is large crowds and high prices.
  • May – July:  Prices on flights and lodging decrease quite a bit during this time. You’ll find thinner crowds, but the weather will be toasty. I’d still go in a heartbeat. You can always cool down at the beach with an ice cold beverage.
  • August – November : This timeframe largely consists of hurricane season and plenty of rain. This is especially true in September and October. In November, you’re more likely to have good weather and things haven’t gotten too expensive and crowded yet.

You can find an even deeper dive on the best times to visit the US Virgin Islands here .

trunk bay beach in the afternoon on St. John

While I wrote an entire post on getting to St. John here , below are the three basic steps:

Step 1: Arrive in St. Thomas

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, there is no airport on St. John. Therefore, you will need to fly into the Cyril E. King Airport on nearby St. Thomas .

There are several airlines that fly to St. Thomas. Many major American cities have a direct flight option, although some go through San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Travel Savvy Tip

Depending on where you are flying out of, there may not be many flights from that city to St. John in a day. For example, we used to go through Atlanta to catch the daily Delta flight to St. Thomas. A couple times we got delayed from our first flight out of Cleveland which caused us to miss our connection in Atlanta.

In this instance, you either scramble and see if you can get rebooked on another airline, or you wait until the next day. These options aren’t ideal, so if you need a connection, it may be good to fly into that city the night before.

Step 2: Cross the Island to Red Hook

Your next step will be to cross St. Thomas over to the town of Redhook where the ferry dock is located. This step will require either a taxi or a rental car. It’s about a half hour drive from the airport on a winding road full of twists and turns that will reward you with pretty views over the sea.

Step 3: Take the Ferry Over to St. John

After you get to Redhook, make your way over to the ferry dock and buy your tickets. Note that you will need to pay for your tickets in cash , but there is an ATM in the building (remember my tip about ATMs above!).

  • If you rented a car on St. Thomas, then you will need to catch the car ferry. This is a big ol’ barge that will carry as many cars as it can hold across the short trip between St. Thomas and St. John . Be sure to check the schedule in advance and arrive at least 30 min prior to departure. The ride will take about a half hour.
  • What I consider to be a better option is renting your car on St. John and taking the “people ferry” . This is faster, more comfortable, scenic, and cost effective. The ride takes about 20 minutes and leaves every hour on the hour.
  • Both options will drop you off in Cruz Bay on St. John. You can then grab your rental car if you took the people ferry. After that, there is an abundance of restaurant and bar options around for your first island meal. We normally pop into High Tide , since it’s consistent and close to the ferry dock.

car ferry leaving from st thomas at redhook

Renting a Vehicle in St. John USVI

Check to see if you need a 4×4.

Depending on where you are staying, your rental may only be accessible via Jeep. Note that I said Jeep – not every 4×4 will do the trick, as it must be somewhat lightweight and able to maneuver over bumpy uphill (and likely unpaved) driveways. I’ve also seen some little Suzuki’s riding around the island, so those may work as well.

What won’t work? Clunky Ford Explorers (speaking from experience). You can try something like the Ford Escape if you want, but if your rental specifies Jeep, then you definitely need a Jeep.

Note that not all rentals require a Jeep, as some are more easily accessible than others. Double check with the owner or original posting of the property, as renting a Jeep can be pricey. You don’t want to get one if you don’t need one.

Rent on St. John if you can

I recommend renting your car on St. John for the convenience of taking the people ferry and then grabbing your vehicle. My reasons are twofold:

  • Car rentals at the airport can be a bit unpredictable, meaning they may not have the Jeep you requested. This happened to my family one year (the Ford Explorer year), and only one of our two vehicles could be muscled up the driveway.
  • The people ferry is such a pleasant and scenic experience, and much faster than the claustrophobic car ferry.

If you prefer to rent on St. Thomas, that is fine too, and you can pick up your car right at the airport upon arrival. The pro to this is you won’t need to hire a taxi to take you to Red Hook to catch the ferry. Just know the car you requested may not be what you get, which could be fine if you don’t need a 4×4.

view of trunk bay overlook from inside of jeep

On St. John, Mr. Pipers Jeeps and St. John Car Rental are two companies we have used and had good experiences with. No matter who you choose, make your reservations well in advance (at least 8 months if booking in high season), and always make sure your reservation is confirmed and a deposit is paid .

Otherwise they may very well run out of Jeeps for your dates in busier times of the year. If no confirmation is received, call the car rental agency immediately to confirm everything and make sure nothing got lost in the shuffle. It happens…

Where to Stay in St. John USVI

Brunette girl in black tank top and light islandy pants sipping coffee while taking in the view of Coral Bay

There are two main areas on St. John where visitors usually stay. There is Cruz Bay, which is where you land when you arrive on the ferry. Then there is Coral Bay over on the other side of the island. Most lodging options are in these two areas.

In between is the lush jungle of Virgin Islands National Park, which is largely what makes St. John so much less developed than the other U.S. Virgin Islands. Because of this, you won’t find many large resorts or hotel options on the island.

Cruz Bay or Coral Bay?

view of coral bay in the evening

These two areas offer different perks, depending on what you are looking for:

Cruz Bay: What few hotels you’ll find on St. John are located around Cruz Bay. The biggest one would be The Westin , which just recently reopened since Hurricane Irma. Caneel Bay was the other big resort on St. John, but it’s been out of commission indefinitely since the hurricanes. Here are a couple other factors to consider when deciding whether to stay in or near Cruz Bay:

  • Cruz Bay is much livelier than Coral Bay. There are a lot more restaurant and nightlife options, and there is better access to the ferry and some beaches.
  • The downside? I don’t think it’s as pretty as Coral Bay, and it’s not nearly as remote and peaceful.

Coral Bay: Harder to access but more untouched than Cruz Bay, Coral Bay is the more beautiful and tranquil side of the island. That being said, you won’t find any hotels in Coral Bay. Your best bet would be renting a villa or finding a small bed and breakfast. I personally love Coral Bay for its sweeping views, low traffic, and some of my favorite places to eat. While St. John’s best beaches aren’t right in the vicinity, they are not a very far drive away.

Vacation Rentals

view of coral bay from villa on st john usvi

Renting a villa is a very popular lodging choice on St. John. There are numerous options and a lot of them offer stunning views over the sea. We’ve had wonderful stays at all of the following places:

  • Villa Dal Mare : A stylish family-friendly villa on Coral Bay’s Majestic Mile with romantic sea views. This luxury stay has a remote feel, yet is just a short five-minute drive from local shops and restaurants. Expect a fully stocked kitchen, abundant outdoor spaces, a lovely pool, and outdoor games that will please your entire group!
  • Estate Fortsberg : As a luxury option that can fit around eight people, the views from Estate Fortsberg simply cannot be beat. With 180 degree views of Coral Bay and hardly another villa in sight, you feel on top of the world. I’ve had the good fortune of staying here just about every year, and it’s a hard place to leave.
  • A House of Open Arms Villa (or Cottage ): Perfect for couples or small families, A House of Open Arms is the next best thing after Estate Fortsberg. Being off the same road, you still have that beautiful view of Coral Bay, but are just a bit lower on the hill. My husband and I stayed in the Cottage, and loved how we could see the sea from our bed.
  • Hawk’s View and Hawk’s Rest : As a more budget choice, these private rooms are hosted by a very friendly couple and are in pristine condition. I should also mention the amazing view you have of Rendezvous Bay from your balcony at very low dollar. My husband and I stayed in Hawk’s View and had plenty of privacy.

SEE MY FULL LIST OF RECOMMENDED VILLAS ON ST. JOHN HERE!

What to Do in St. John USVI

For a small island there sure is plenty to do on St. John during a vacation. Here are some of the best choices:

  • Beaches: Obviously, the beach is the number one activity on St. John, especially those along North Shore Road. All are gorgeous and have something unique to offer, from stand-up paddle boarding to complete relaxation.
  • Island Hopping: If you can, I highly recommend catching a charter in Cruz Bay or Coral Bay and doing a little island hopping. Book this charter to visit both the Baths at Virgin Gorda and White Bay on Jost van Dyke in one exciting day!
  • Kayak Tours: Do a kayak tour of Hurricane Hole, located in Coral Bay.
  • Hiking: Hike on one of St. John’s many trails . Those seeking a challenge may choose to do the Reef Bay Trail, which will take you 3 miles down to the ruins of an old sugar mill and a beach.
  • Snorkeling: The existence of a nearby coral reef means there is a lot of great sea life near St. John. At every single beach you can find people snorkeling.

Click here for even more awesome things to do on St. John

kayaking the turquoise waters of coral bay - st john usvi travel guide

Where to Eat in St. John USVI

St. John is filled with beach bars and other laid back eateries. Below are some St. John restaurants you can’t miss.

  • High Tide: Make this your first stop after arriving on St. John from the ferry. It is a very short walk along the beach from the dock.
  • Skinny Legs: This is a St. John staple for a post-beach burger washed down with a painkiller (the drink of the island) . I always go for a bacon blue cheese burger served with chips.
  • The Longboard: My favorite restaurant in Cruz Bay, the Longboard serves extremely fresh seafood dishes. We particularly love their ahi tuna bowls and delicious cocktails, with their specialty being frozen painkillers.
  • Upscale Dining: For a special night out, book a reservation at ZoZo’s or Extra Virgin .

Click here for the lowdown on the best places to eat in St. John

  • Beach Music: It is very much frowned upon to play music within the national park. If you must play music, consider using headphones or keep the volume at a level that can’t be heard more than a few paces away. I try to save my  beach playlist  for driving around the island in our Jeep.
  • Drones are not allowed in the national park . Unfortunately, I am seeing more and more violators every year.
  • There is some great wildlife on the island. Most notably, you will see a bunch of donkeys and probably some little goats. The animals are used to people and quite friendly, but please do not feed them. Also, be mindful of their presence while driving, as you will see many of them on or near the road.
  • Renting baby supplies: Did you know you can rent car seats and other baby supplies right on St. John? This is what I recommend doing over bringing a bunch of clunky items you will need to lug across the islands. That way, you also reduce the risk of losing checked items at the airport.
  • Beware of oversold flights back home from St. Thomas. Yes, this can happen coming as well, but I’ve mostly encountered issues when leaving. My husband and I have been bumped from flights before, and been at the mercy of volunteers willing to leave the next day in exchange for a voucher. Just be aware that this could happen to you. Unless you are the volunteer, in which case, you go on and get that flight credit!

Now you have all the information you need for an unforgettable vacation on St. John. Soon you will see why it’s one of my favorite places on this earth, and maybe it’ll be somewhere you return to repeatedly as well!

Is there anything else you want to know about St. John? What are you looking forward to the most on the island?

Traveling to the beautiful Caribbean island of St John in the US Virgin Islands?  This travel guide has everything you need to know for a successful St John USVI vacation, includes getting there and where to stay.  Also includes things to do in Virgin Islands National Park and the best car rental companies to keep your vacation stress-free.  All that's left to do is book your plane ticket to St Thomas and arrive in paradise!

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brunette girl in tank top taking in the view from America Hill - things to do in st john usvi

Thank you for all the info. My trip St John to wait till year because covid-19. Looking forward to it. Have been to St Croix during your travels? Thanks. Love reading your essays.

Thanks Oliverio! Sorry you had to postpone your trip, but it’ll be worth it! No St. Croix yet, but it is certainly on the list.

I can’t believe someone would encourage bringing music to the beach on St. John. Not only is it extremely rude to fellow beach goers it is against the law to play music in the national parks where the beaches on St. John are located.

Playing music is not illegal (although amplified music is, and I’ll add that above). Even Maho Bay and Honeymoon Beach have live music from time to time. However, we always make sure our music cannot be heard more than a few steps away, and that’s what I recommend others do as well.

Going in August! COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED after reading your review.

Aww yay!! You are going to love it 🙂

We are a party of 7 going next month. We just need a rental car a few days to explore a little of the island and visit a few of the beaches. The rental agency has a Ford Explorer or a mini-van available. We are staying at the Westin. Do you think those vehicles will be sufficient for what we need for a few days or do we need 2 jeeps?

If you are staying at the Westin, a Ford Explorer or mini-van will be perfectly fine for exploring the island!

Great review and my family of 4 will be traveling there in august and cannot wait as this will be our first time visiting St John. Your review has heightened our excitement!!

St. John is one of the most wonderful places! I truly hope you love it!

I am getting married in September 2021 and would like to visit St. John for our honeymoon from the 19th – 24th. While I don’t mind a chance of some rain, I don’t want to be completely rained out the entire time. Should we maybe change our honeymoon destination?

Truthfully, September is a less than ideal time to visit the Caribbean. You may not be rained out but there is a very real risk of hurricanes (September is when Category 5 Hurricane Irma hit in 2017). While you may be totally fine, worrying about potential hurricanes hitting is a source of stress you don’t need! Not to mention, many restaurants, tours, etc. close during this month.

That said, I still think St. John is a very special place to spend one’s honeymoon. If you aren’t dead set on September, consider doing a short trip after your wedding to somewhere like Napa or Charleston and heading to St. John in late October/November instead! It’s totally worth the wait 🙂

We are attempting to plan a spring break vacation with kids. We have only been to St. John once on our honeymoon and stayed at the Westin. It was great, but we have a group of 7 and are looking to rent a house this go around. What are the logistics on getting food on the island? Given Covid, we may limit our exposure by not going out to eat quite as much as we normally would.

Hi Jessica! You should have no problem buying groceries when renting a home on St. John. I will say, there aren’t really supermarkets, but smaller grocery stores. The selection is small, but they’ll have what you need. The best grocery store seems to be Starfish Market in Cruz Bay. Normally, we stop there for groceries right after picking up our rental car upon arrival on St. John. As we stay in Coral Bay, we usually also stop at Dolphin Market a few times a week to pick up any additional items needed.

Hi. I am trying to decide on whether to stay in Cruz or Coral Bay. Are there accessible beaches in Coral Bay and are there places to go at night?

There are not really any beaches right in Coral Bay, but there are some good ones about a twelve or so minute drive away. The same could really be said for many places to stay near Cruz Bay, though.

There are some good restaurants in Coral Bay, like Skinny Legs and Rhumb Lines. That is also where Lime Out (the floating taco bar) is located as well. However, if you are looking for nightlife, Cruz Bay will have much more of that. Many places in Coral Bay tend to close around 8 or 9 pm.

I went to Cinnamon Bay campground 35 years ago on a trip with a group. I remember all 10 of us riding in the back of a red an white stripe canvas covered truck. Was it a taxi service or perhaps there are drivers, like Uber today? What is the availability of someone driving you on the Island rather than renting a car and driving ourselves. Thanks!

My guess is that would’ve been a taxi. The island does not have Uber or Lyft. If you stay in or near Cruz Bay, it’s not too difficult to use a taxi for your transportation, but it gets a little trickier the more remote you get.

Thinking of staying in Coral Bay but not sure if its better to stay higher up for breezes or closer to town to walk to restaurants. Concern about being lower is bugs and less of a breeze. Thoughts?

I wouldn’t factor in walkability too much into your lodging plans. The island is really hilly, and the best accommodations often aren’t an easy walk to restaurants. One of St. John’s best offerings is its views, so I would definitely take advantage of that by booking something a little higher up. Plus, it’s true that the bugs get a bit better with the breeze, and you’d likely need less a/c up there too.

Great information; thank for sharing! For beach activities, would you recommend bringing snorkeling gear (and fins) and beach towels from home or buying on the island?

You’re welcome, and thanks for reading! I would see if the place you’re staying has those items. Most of our vacation rentals have provided chairs and beach towels, and many do also provide snorkel gear, which saves a lot of space in your luggage! If you need to purchase snorkel gear, I recommend purchasing on the island if you can to help support the local businesses 🙂

We had to postpone our 2020 trip and are now rebooked for November 2121😃 We are fully vaccinated. Will a negative Covid 19 test still be required for our visit?

Yay!! As of right now, a negative test (or proof of antibodies) is still required. However, by November things could be completely different. I will keep this post up to date as I hear more 🙂

Do you recommend going at the end of August? What will the weather be like?

The end of August would not be my first choice since this is the thick of hurricane season. Also, many popular restaurants and businesses temporarily close around this time.

However, if you are willing to be flexible, this trip is still possible. Just keep in mind there could be more rain than usual, as well as the possibility of strong tropical storms that could interrupt your trip. Also, one perk: the island likely won’t be very crowded around this time.

THANK YOU!!! My husband and I got married 5/30/21, and I started planning our honeymoon last fall. Your blog was how I planned the entire trip. I knew exactly where to ask for a taxi to get to, I rented the jeep at St. John car rental, we went to high tide, skinny legs, and did the bad kitty to lime out trip. We would not have had such an enjoyable and easy trip without your guidance, so THANK YOU!!

Maria, you are so welcome!! Your kind words truly just made my day 🙂

Thank you… your blog is great!! My kids and I are booked for August 18th would that be cutting it too close to hurricane season?

Thanks Quiana! August is technically within hurricane season, so there is the potential for storms. If you decide to book, just keep your plans as flexible as possible and follow the weather closely as your dates approach. Also, make sure the place you’re staying has a plan in place for you in case a storm does occur suddenly.

Love your blog about St. John. My stay is at St.Thomas in 3/2022. Do you have any information about that island? Love the information about St.John and plan to to visit while there.

Thanks Karen! Yes, I do have some posts about St. Thomas, and have stayed there a few times. I’ll link them below:

– What to do in St Thomas: 14 Ideas for an Awesome Getaway – 5 St. Thomas Beaches That Are Absolutely Stunning

Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to know about St. Thomas!

How is the weather mid October? Thinking of going the 16-23rd. Is that cutting too close to hurricane season?

October is still technically hurricane season. However, by the end of October it’s beginning to wind down and restaurants start to reopen for the year. Therefore, I think you can book a trip during this time, but stay flexible and vigilant in case a storm does pop up.

Hi, I am thinking about Cinnamon Bay Campground in summer 2022. Although that currently is not even a definite possibility, I am hoping things may change in the months to come. Might you have any thoughts about the Cinnamon Bay Campground?

It’s actually starting to look very encouraging! They latest I heard, the Cinnamon Bay Campground is hoping to open in mid-December. So next summer could be a real possibility!

What would you recommend for New Year’s Eve? I’m considering a last minute trip there.

Hi Courtney! St. John is a wonderful NYE destination; however, this is also the island’s busiest week of the year. It will be very difficult to find accommodations at the last minute, and last minute prices will be at a premium. If you are flexible and not very picky, you may be able to find a place to stay (I’d also check on neighboring St. Thomas). However, I recommend booking something close to town (like Cruz Bay on St. John), so that you can taxi around the island. Unfortunately, it is not likely that many rental car options will be available at this point.

Hi!! So happy I stumbled on your blog. Thinking of doing a trip to st Thomas for 3 nights and then 6 nights in St. John early august 2022. We’re a family of 4 with a 5 and 10 year old who love adventure. Is this a good time? And any kid friendly things to do?

Hi Jenny, thank you so much! August is usually an okay time to visit St. John, but there are a couple things to keep in mind. This is within hurricane season in the Caribbean, so you’d need to keep your plans flexible in case a storm pops up. The other item is that many restaurants and boat charters close around this time for the season. I’d recommend coming closer to the beginning of the month to increase the odds of avoiding these issues.

St. John is a great place to visit with kids! Many of the North Shore beaches have very calm waters, and many with good snorkeling. Kids get a kick out of finding sea turtles at Maho Bay. There are also Danish ruins to explore throughout the island, such as right across from Cinnamon Beach. There is also a cute little ice cream shop in town called Irie Pops that is perfect for young children. Hope these suggestions help!

Hi Theresa,

I love your blog! I am planning my trip to St John this Spring. Would you recommend a good car rental company on St. John? Thanks!

Thank you! My go-to car rental companies are St. John Car Rental and Mr. Piper’s Jeeps 🙂

Hello, We will traveling to St John next month. We are all very excited! Do people bring their lunch to the beaches or are there restaurants? We will be taking the open air taxis. Should I pack a soft cooler? Can we drink wine coolers on the beach? Thank you.

Hi there! So excited for you and your upcoming trip! It is super common to pack lunch for the beach, although a few of the beaches do have food for purchase. Trunk Bay has a concession stand with some sandwiches, and Maho Bay has food stalls at Maho Crossroads. Honeymoon Bay also has Bikinis on the Beach, although I think it recently closed temporarily for repairs. You can bring whatever drinks to the beach you want, as long as it’s not in a glass container 🙂

We are staying at the Westin. I hear the beaches like honeymoon and trunk bay are really nice to go over there . Do we need a jeep to drive there or is it best to get a taxi to explore those beaches ? What would you say are the top 2 beaches to go to on the island if we are staying at the Westin . I also wanted to ask where is the nearest grocery store if we want to buy groceries ? Thanks

It will be really easy to get a taxi from the Westin to go to Honeymoon and Trunk Bay, so a rental car is not necessary unless you want to explore beyond Cruz Bay and the North Shore beaches. Trunk Bay, Honeymoon Bay, and Maho Bay are the top three beaches that most people visit. They are gorgeous with nice amenities, but tend to get pretty crowded. Cinnamon Bay is also incredibly gorgeous with easy taxi access, newly rebuilt amenities, and hiking trails in close proximity. The nearest grocery store to the Westin is Starfish Market in Cruz Bay, and has the best selection of groceries on the island.

Hi…so happy I ran across your blog- so incredibly helpful. My husband and I are looking at a trip to St. John and I have a few questions. Where is the best snorkeling at on Coral Bay? Is the reef within swimming distance off shore or is a boat rental required to get to the reef? We are avid snorkelers and tend to spend hours doing it- looking for less crowded areas. Also, what are the mast requirements right now? Is it relaxed or are folks rigid about it. We do not want to go on vacation and be required to wear a mask everywhere we go- so it could be a deal breaker for us until things lighten up. Thanks in advance!

For snorkeling in Coral Bay, I recommend taking a boat to get to all the little coves in Hurricane Hole. Hansen Bay, Francis Bay, and Waterlemon Cay are also known to be good snorkel spots. As far as masks, the rules have recently loosened. They are still required in some places, like on the ferry and at the grocery store, but you largely will not need them at restaurants are bars since almost everything is open air. They continue to not be required on beaches or trails, so you’re good there.

Traveling July 25, 2022- my husband, myself and two 18 year old(all fully vaccinated) are staying in a 3 bedroom Villa located on Maria Bluff. Want to do a day trip to the Baths in Virgin Gorda…I have been told by the rental company- only way to travel is via ferry with the Inter Island Boat services? When we were there in 2002- we booked with a boat charter company with about 10 others on board. Just wondering what you may know about travel to BVI’s (Baths) in 2022.

Hi Julie! Things could change by July, but at this time the rental company is likely correct. The BVI’s have different requirements for entry right now than the USVI’s, which has made it too burdensome for the day sails you reference to run. That said, I’m sure BVI charters are eager to start running again, and will do so the minute rules in the BVI’s relax. For now, I’d either plan on taking the ferry, or hang tight for a month or two to see if the rules change.

We are a family of 5 traveling to St. John this June. This will be our third trip to the island. In past trips, the cost of food at Starfish Market has been very high and since Covid, we are anticipating it to be even higher. What are your thoughts on renting a jeep in St, Thomas in order to do our grocery shopping first before coming over on the car barge? Our 3 daughters are older and will be traveling in a few days after us so we would have the room to fill it up!

Yay for your upcoming trip! If stopping to buy groceries on St. Thomas is convenient for you, then you may save a little money and find a wider selection of products than at St. John grocery stores. I personally haven’t done this, since my husband and I only buy simple items for breakfast and lunch and prefer renting on St. John. However, if you will do a lot of cooking at your vacation rental, then I could see how it may be worth it.

Im so worried now about the checked bags. We leave next week and we paid ahead of time for checked luggage because it was cheaper than carry on for Frontier. I really hope they don’t lose our stuff. We usually only fly Southwest and never have issues but this is our first time to the USVI and they don’t fly there. We also ran into the rental car obstacle. After calling about 100 places we ended up having to rent on St. Thomas and will have to figure out the car barge to St. John. I was really bummed because it seems like one more thing to stress about now trying to ferry a car across. We are staying on the Coral Bay side in a villa so Ill make sure maybe to get our shopping once we get into Cruz Bay, atleast maybe for the first couple days since Im not sure how close the nearest grocery store would be to us. Hoping this trip goes smoothly, starting to really worry.

I wouldn’t stress about the car barge. We have done it many times, and it’s really quite simple. The only difference is there are less ferry times than the regular ferry, so you’ll need to be mindful of that.

Starfish Market is a nice grocery store to stop at in Cruz Bay. However, there is also Dolphin Market in Coral Bay, which is smaller but still has plenty of items.

There have been a lot of issues with checked bags lately, but that doesn’t mean yours will have any problems! It might be good to squeeze a few essentials into your personal item on the plane, just in case. Just breathe! Once you get to the islands, everything will be fine 🙂

Thank you Theresa. I’ll make sure to check out those grocery stores. If you have any other tips for us first timers please let me know 🙂

We are planning a trip in early november. It is our first time on the island and we love snorkeling with our kids, will the weather and water clarity still be good at this time of year. Likely staying at the westin, but also considering a house rental. Thank you for your awesome blog!

Thank you Tracey! Yes, November should be a good time, as it’s past the peak of hurricane season and crowds have net yet picked up for the holidays. Therefore, I would expect the water to be in good condition too.

The Westin is the most popular hotel, but the rooms are more like villas than traditional hotel rooms. There are also plenty of great house rentals all over the island. I recommend finding something with a view! 🙂

My wife and I are going 8/20-25 for my birthday. I have huge FOMO, and I gotta say your article helped me feel a lot better about being able to cover the bases for our first time in the USVI. We will be staying in Estate Lindholm. Would love your recommendation for a handful of must-see beaches, lookout points, etc. I want to get the best photography spots with my Polaroid while I’m here. If I took a charter for a day trip to an island, what would you pick? Can’t wait to hear your feedback, meanwhile I’ll be reading everything else on your site.

Glad to help! Estate Lindholm is in a great location – close to the beaches but also near dining and shops in Cruz Bay. Along North Shore Road are two great lookout points: Trunk Bay and Maho Bay. You could also take the Upper Lind Point Trail (near where you are staying) for views over Cruz Bay. Trunk Bay is the most famous beach (big, gorgeous, lots of amenities), and Maho is a close second (great water for paddle boarding and sea turtles for snorkeling). For less crowds, I personally like Francis and Cinnamon a bit more. Two more hiking paths with great views and ruins at the top: Peace Hill (100 meters uphill) and Cinnamon Bay (3/4 mile uphill). If I could pick one island for a day trip, it would be White Bay on Jost van Dyke (Soggy Dollar Bar) :). One more place with views: Windmill Bar for some cocktails near sunset (although I’d personally prefer watching the sunset from Beach Bar in Cruz Bay). Hope that helps!

We have booked at the Grande Bay but likely will not have a parking spot. Is there an option to park a rental car (from St. Thomas) in Cruz Bay during our meeting p day stay? Following this we have a week stay on St. Thomas. There used to be a parking lot down beyond the baseball field and a pay lot by the police station. Can you please provide suggestions? Thank you.

Hi John. Yes, you will be able to find paid parking in Cruz Bay. We use the Slim Man’s Jeep lot across from Rum Hut, and I think the lot you reference above is still there too.

We are staying in Cruz Bay, how can we get to the hikes and beaches on the other side of the island without a car rental?

You will be able to take a taxi from Cruz Bay. Just arrange a pickup time with your driver for getting back to Cruz Bay, as taxis are more infrequent near some remote hiking trails and cell service can be iffy.

Renting a car is sooo expensive!! Comments on the St John safari type taxis or the Vitran bus system?? We will be staying in the Chocolate Hole area.

Yes, it definitely is! A mixture of the two would probably be best. I haven’t taken the bus, but I’ve heard good things about it. It seems like it would be useful if you are trying to go into either Cruz Bay or Coral Bay, but not so much for getting to the beaches.

Otherwise, taxis are probably the easiest option. It’s best to call the company when needed or pre-arrange a pickup, since I’m not sure how frequently they pass through Chocolate Hole.

St John Taxi Service – 340-693-7530 Paradise Taxi – 340-714-7875

Does anyone know if National Parks has awarded a contract to any entity to re build Caneel Bay Resort? After 15 years of going there we long to go back. I know it is open for day trips but we want to stay at Caneel overnight. Thanks for any updates you can share

Unfortunately, it does not look like the resort will be rebuilt any time soon. Right now, the NPS is getting ready to begin clean up of contamination caused by the 2017 hurricanes. Here is a recent status update: https://newsofstjohn.com/caneel-bay-part-ii-what-is-this-rue-all-about/

Just an update, today we were able to use a credit card to buy ferry tickets at Red Hook.

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Planning a Trip in Virgin Islands

If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., getting to the U.S. Virgin Islands is as easy as flying to Florida. If you plan to visit the B.V.I., you'll probably have to make a transfer in lieu of a direct flight. If you live elsewhere, you might have to fly to New York and then transfer to a flight going to the Virgin Islands. Those who reside in the U.K., Australia, or Canada often fly first to Miami or San Juan.

If you're an American citizen, visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands is relatively easy and hassle-free, as it is part of the U.S. territory.

Peering at the tiny Virgin Islands chain on a world map, you may find it difficult to distinguish the different islands. They vary widely, however, in looks and personality, and so will your vacation, depending on which island or islands you choose. It's important to plan ahead. For example, if you're an avid golfer, you won't want to spend a week on a remote British Virgin Island with only a rinky-dink 9-hole course or no course at all. But that same island might be perfect for a young couple contemplating a romantic honeymoon. By providing detailed information about the character of each inhabited island in both the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands, we hope to guide you to your own idea of paradise.

U.S. vs. British Virgin Islands

American and British cultures have left different imprints on the Virgin Islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands, except for St. John, offer much of the commercial hustle-and-bustle of the mainland United States, including supermarkets and fast-food chains. In contrast, the British islands are sleepier. Except for a few deluxe hotels (mostly on Virgin Gorda), they recall the way the Caribbean was before the advent of high-rise condos, McDonald's restaurants, and fleets of cruise ships.

If you want shopping, a wide selection of restaurants and hotels, and nightlife, head to the U.S. Virgin Islands, particularly St. Thomas and St. Croix. With a little research and effort, you can also find peace and quiet on these two islands, most often at outlying resorts. But overall, among the U.S. Virgin Islands, only St. John matches the British Virgins for tranquillity. St. John is a rugged mixture of bumpy dirt roads, scattered inhabitants, and a handful of stores and services. It's protected by the U.S. Forest Service, and remains the least developed of the U.S. islands.

The British Virgin Islands seem to be lingering in the past, although change is in the air. Tortola is the most populated British isle, but its shopping, nightlife, and dining are still limited. It's more of a spot for boaters of all stripes -- it's considered the cruising capital of the Caribbean. To the east, Virgin Gorda claims most of the B.V.I.'s deluxe hotels. There are also attractive accommodations and restaurants on the smaller islands, such as Jost Van Dyke, Anegada, and Peter Island.

If you'd like to meet and mingle with locals, and get to know the islanders and their lifestyle, it's much easier to do so in the sleepy B.V.I. than in all the comings and goings of St. Thomas or even St. Croix. Again, the only U.S. Virgin Island that has the laid-back quality of the B.V.I. is St. John -- except that the "local native" you are likely to meet on St. John is often an expat from the U.S. mainland, not a Virgin Islander born and bred.

There are frequent ferry connections between St. Thomas and St. John, but traveling among the other islands is a bit difficult, requiring private boats in some cases or airplane flights in others. The day will surely come when transportation from island to island will be made more convenient and frequent, but that day hasn't arrived yet.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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Caribbean Uncovered

7 Day St John Itinerary | The Best of USVI 2024

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Looking for the perfect St John Itinerary to spend a relaxing and action-packed vacation in USVI?

This seven-day St John itinerary will show you the best of what the island has to offer, from world-class diving and snorkeling to hiking and shopping. So put on your sunscreen and get ready to explore one of the most beautiful islands in the world!

Booking travel soon? Here are my favorite reputable USVI resources – Book your villas a vrbo. com – Find tours at viator.com – Search for hotels from booking.com My Local USVI Partners – Key N Go Car Rental (Use CaribbeanUncovered to let them know I sent you!)

7 Day St John Itinerary

If you’re looking for the perfect Caribbean vacation s

pot, look no further than St John. With its miles of white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, St John is a paradise for lovers of sun and sea.

Day 1 St John Itinerary: Ferry to St John and Enjoy the Cruz Bay Sunset Day 2 Hike Caneel Bay Trail in Virgin Islands National Park Day 3 Snorkel Tour! Pizza Party or Floating Taco Bar? Day 4 Hike, Snorkel, and Relax as You Head to Coral Bay Day 5 Spend the Day at Tortola, British Virgin Islands Day 6 One Last Day on the Beaches of St John and Head to St Thomas Day 7 😢 last day of your St John Itinerary:

Day 1 St John Itinerary: Ferry to St John & Cruz Bay Sunset

– morning ferry ride.

St John is a territory of US Virgin Islands, and therefore a territory of the US. This means you don’t need a passport to enter, which makes traveling easy!

St John does not have a proper airport to fly into, so you’ll want to fly into Cyril E. King International Airport (STT). From there, you’ll hop on the ferry at Charlotte Amalie Dock to Cruz Bay St John

The Charlotte Amalie to Cruz Bay Ferry service is 40 minutes and cost $12 for adults, plus a $2.50 bag fee. Ideally, you can hop on the 10am ferry, but they also have a 1pm and 5:30pm ferry, if your flight lands later in the day

– Afternoon Hotel Check In

Check into your hotel in Cruz Bay , and you’ll find that you’re located in the heart of one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. You can’t go wrong with Gallows Point Resort ; you’ll be steps away from your private access to the white sand of Cruz Bay Beach. You’ll even have on-site dining if you want an easy night in.

– Evening Cruz Bay Sunset

Your first night is a great time to relax and find the perfect spot for sunset. The Beach Bar is one of the best places on the island to watch the sunset! Grab some bites, baskets, and burgers and take in the scenery as you prepare for the rest of the unbeatable St John Itinerary you have planned!

St John Itinerary Orange, Yellow and Purple Sky Sunset with sailboat views

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Day 2 St John Itinerary: Virgin Islands National Park

60% of St John is protected under the Virgin Islands National Park! This makes it the perfect island to explore hidden beaches, hiking trails, and off-the-beaten path views.

- Morning Hike Caneel Hill Trail to Salomon and Honeymoon Beach

Hiking in St John is one of the most popular activities on the island, aside from crashing on the epic beaches all day, of course.

You'll want to hit the trails early to avoid the hot afternoon sun, and be prepared with reef safe sunscreen and lots of water!

The Caneel Hill Trail is technically a 4-miles, moderately challenging hike. However, if you break off midway to the Caneel Hill Spur, you can make your way to Honeymoon Beach and Salomon Beach . These are both great spots to spend your afternoon!

- Afternoon Cool Off at Honeymoon Beach + Salomon Beach

By the time you finish your hike to these beaches, you'll want to stay! Honeymoon Beach and Salomon Beach are two unbeatable spots you don't want to miss. Pack some sandwiches and snacks and make a day hanging out at the beaches , snorkeling through the colorful coral reefs, and exploring the shorelines.

Honeymoon Beach in St John Palm Tree path to the blue water

Wait until the suns cools off a bit in the afternoon to make the trek back. If you're not done with beach hopping, Hawksnest Beach and Caneel Bay Beach are near the Caneel Hill Trail Trailhead.

- Evening Dinner at Neptune's Lookout + Sugar Mill Ruins

You're sure to be worn after after a day of hiking and exploring the beaches. 3.5 miles from the trailhead is The Windmill Bar. The Windmill Bar holds some of the most breathtaking panoramic views on St John.

From here you can see one of the famous sugar mill ruins of St John. The Susannaberg Sugar Mills ruins is the site of a sugar plantation built in the 1700s and which is located shortly offside the Windmill Bar. The other popular sugar mill on the island is the Reef Bay Sugar Mill, which we'll hit later in the itinerary!

Day 3 St John Itinerary: Snorkel Tour! Pizza Party or Floating Taco Bar?

For day 3, you can choose between two AWESOME snorkel tours . Option 1 brings you on a snorkel tour and sunset sail and option 2 a snorkel tour and lunch at a famous floating taco bar. Which one will you choose for day 3 of your St John Itinerary?

- Option 1 Morning Breakfast and Explore Cruz Bay

You've got a full third day planned ahead of you! Grab breakfast at one of the local Cruz Bay restaurants. Enjoy a sit down breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing or grab breakfast sandwiches from North Shore Deli .

Before your afternoon departure, this is a great time to walk around Cruz Bay shops and boutiques.

Pro tip: US citizens can bring $1600 worth of duty-free items home from USVI every 30 days.

- Option 1 Afternoon into the Evening: Snorkel and Sunset Tour

Sunset off the net of a catamaran in the Caribbean

This $99, 6 hour snorkel tour cruise will take up the rest of your day! Hop on board with Ocean Surfari Charters to hit two of the coolest snorkeling reefs to spot sea turtles, colorful fish, ship wrecks, and more, all while having a blast on board with the crew.

After your snorkeling is done, you'll have a fresh pizza party on board - foods, drinks, and alcohol included - while you wait for a perfect sunset over the Caribbean ocean before returning to your departure point.

🤿 Hit off-the-beaten-path snorkel spots in St John with Ocean Surfari Charters

- Option 2 Morning into Afternoon: Snorkel and Lunch at Floating Taco Bar "LIME OUT!"

This option is a bit more expensive, but a bit more unique! This $179 excursion takes you through a full day of sailing, snorkeling, drinking, and eating at a floating taco bar! LIME OUT is one of the coolest restaurants in the Caribbean. You can only get to it by boat... because it's in the middle of the ocean!

This full-day experience will start with an on-board continental breakfast. Then, you'll do some snorkeling at a coral reef . When the snorkeling is done, you can order drinks at the on-board open bar on your way to lunch at the famous LIME OUT! floating taco bar. A taco lunch is included in your price. After lunch, you can chill out on the boat and enjoy a leisurely sail home.

🤿 Snorkel on your way to LIME OUT! floating taco bar with Cruz Bay Watersports

Day 4 St John Itinerary: Hike, Snorkel, and Relax as You Head to Coral Bay

- morning: cinnamon bay hiking trail.

In the heart of Virgin Islands National Park, the Cinnamon Bay Hiking Trail takes you through the Cinnamon Bay Sugar Plantation ruins. This is a short, but fairly steep hike is the perfect way to start your morning.

To make it more strenuous, follow the American Hill trail to go a bit higher for even better views. You can also head to Cinnamon Bay Beach just a short walk from the trailhead.

Overlook of Cinnamon Bay and Mountains in St John through white flowers

There's also a campground at Cinnamon Bay if you're looking to do some camping during your stay on St John!

- Afternoon: Relax and Snorkel at Maho Bay Beach

Pack your snorkel gear ! After your morning hike, head a bit further East to Maho Bay Beach. The seagrass beds at Maho Bay Beach are healthy and protected under the Virgin Islands National Park.

Full Caribbean Packing List + Free PDF checklist

The water is usually calm and perfect for swimming or floating to cool off. This makes Maho Bay Beach the perfect snorkeling spot for spotting sea turtles!

From here, you can also kayak to Whistling Cay for even more off-path snorkeling.

Maho Bay Beach also has amenities and food trucks , so this is great a place to grab lunch before making your way to Coral Bay.

- Afternoon: Watermelon Cay

This is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island . The healthy coral reefs in Watermelon Cay attract one of the most abundant varieties of marine life on St John!

Watermelon Cay St John Itinerary

You can only get to the cay by swimming (or boat), so use your best when the current may be stronger at certain times of the year. You'll likely find tons of unique fish, rays, sea turtles, and even some sharks around here!

- Evening: Drive Through Coral Bay and Dinner at Skinny Legs

Coral Bay is the quiet side of the island, but not one that should be ignored! The hills and roads through Coral Bay offer incredible views of the island and the well-known "friendly donkeys" of St John you'll spot on your drive.

Enjoy and ocean-view dinner at the popular "Skinny Legs" restaurant. This little shack packs a big flavor with its famous burgers, snacks, and drinks, making it the perfect way to chill out after a long day!

Coral Bay is much quieter than Cruz Bay, so if you're looking to stay away from the noise and are willing to drive a bit further to your activities, it's worth checking out the villas available in Coral Bay .

⭐Stay in the romantic, Open Arms Villa in the heart of Coral Bay with a hillside pool and panoramic views ❤️

Day 5 St John Itinerary: Spend the Day in the British Virgin Islands

Hop on a ferry and head to the British Virgin Islands for the day! In Road Town, Tortola, you can check out Mount Sage National Park, head to to Jost Van Dyke for a secluded island day, check out Beef Island, or make the trip to Virgin Gorda to see the famous Virgin Gorda Baths.

British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands may be close, but they offer a totally different Caribbean vibe, and it's worth spending a day (or two!) exploring British Virgin Islands!

Day 6 St John Itinerary: One Last Day on the Beaches of St John and Head to St Thomas

- morning: breakfast and relax at your favorite st john beach.

Whether you want to go back to Honeymoon or Salomon Beach , or try out Hawksnest , Trunk Bay, Lameshur , Little Cinnamon Bay Beach , or any of the other pristine beaches on St John, spend your last day on the island taking advantage of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

With crystal clear water and soft white sand, they are the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Caribbean sunshine. Whether you want to spend the day swimming, sunbathing, or exploring the many coral reefs that surround the island.

If you're not worn out from your week of adventures, you can stay active by windsurfing, kayaking, and snorkeling.

- Afternoon: Catch a Ferry to St Thomas

Since your flight will leave out of St Thomas, this is the perfect time to head over early and spend a bit of time exploring St Thomas! St Thomas is full of activities and history.

You'll want to stay in Charlotte Amalie , the main city in St Thomas and closest to the airport. One of the most popular hotels in Charlotte Amalie is the Green Iguana Hotel , located just three miles from the Cyril E. King International Airport (STT).

If you're looking for something a bit more luxurious, there are a few resorts on the beach in St Thomas to choose from as well.

St Thomas vs St John Charlotte Amalie Island Overlook

If you're not done with the beaches , Coki Beach is a St Thomas favorite and a great snorkeling spot. There are restaurants, vendors, and even Coral World Ocean Park.

If you want to stop at the historic areas in the island, head to 99 Steps , the St Thomas Synagogue , or Blackbeard's Castle.

- Evening: Enjoy Your Last Dinner in Charlotte Amalie.

Sit back and enjoy a cold margarita with your tacos and guacamole at Greengos Caribbean Cantina . This visitor favorite restaurant is the perfect spot to celebrate the end of an unforgettable vacation and reflect on your week.

Day 7: Explore Charlotte Amalie Before You Depart

Charlotte Amalie is full of history, adventures, and shops. Spend the day exploring, or enjoy one last day at the beautiful beaches in St Thomas.

By the end of the week, you'll look back and wonder where the time went, and also how you got so much done in such a short stay!

Hop in a taxi or take your rental car back to the airport. A taxi to the airport will be about $10/person from Charlotte Amalie. Check with your taxi driver before getting in. Additionally, be prepared to pay the taxi driver a bag fee as well.

And that brings your 7 day St John Itinerary to a close!

Is St John Safe?

St John is considered the safest island of the three US Virgin Island territories with the lowest crime rate. Is also has the smallest population. It's a very small island and full of friendly residents and tourists all times of year.

Always be cautious of petty theft and vandalism, which is usually the only thing to worry about, as you would in any tourist destination.

When Is the Best Time to Go to St John?

December-April is the best time to go in terms of weather, but because it's tourist season, prices are also higher. This is also right outside of hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30.

If you want to budget a bit, you may be able to find cheaper prices around May and November. The weather will still be warm and sunny and you're less likely to run into daily showers.

The cheapest time to go to St John will be August/September when chances of rain are highest. As long as there's no hurricane in site, you can still have great weather, just a higher chance of afternoon showers.

Tired of Hurricane Season? Try Aruba in December

How Many Days Do You Need in St John?

Four days is about enough time to see most of what St John has to offer, but probably not enough to really enjoy it! 6-7 days is the perfect amount of time for a trip to St John to explore and relax all the hidden beaches, checkout all the historic sites, and experience living the island life without feeling rushed.

Whether you have three days or two weeks, St John is worth visiting.

More Unique Things to Do in St John

⭐ Relax at Trunk Bay Beach for the Day

⭐ Shop at Mongoose Junction

⭐ Charter a private boat for the day

Getting to St John

The best way to get to St John is to fly into the Cyril E. King International Airport (STT) and take the 40-minute ferry ride to Cruz Bay, St John . The ferry ride costs $12.50 for adults + $2.50 bag fee.

Getting off an airport and heading straight for the ferry may seem like a hassle for a travel day, but the ferry ride is really just a cheap cruise through the Caribbean waters, and you're bound to love it! You'll fall for the US Virgin Islands before you even get your feet in the St John white sand.

How to Get Around St John

Getting around the US Virgin Islands is simple. Taxis are available at the cruise port to take you to your hotel or resort. If you're staying in Cruz Bay you might not even need a taxi to get to your hotel; it will be waiting for you right off the ferry dock!

The best way to get around St John is by rental car . You can find rental cars on St John for under $100/day. It is smart to get a larger vehicle that will be easier to navigate through the rough terrain and steep hills around St John.

Pick up your rental car in St John ➡️ Book your rental car early through Expedia

Another option, however, is to pick up your rental car in St Thomas. Depending on the time and season, St Thomas will have more options and you might find a better price.

If you choose to do this, you'll want to plan to take the car ferry from Red Hook, St Thomas to Cruz Bay. The drive from Charlotte Amalie to Red Hook takes about 30 minutes. However, this probably isn't worth the hassle if you can't find a better deal on a rental car in St Thomas compared to St John.

Where to Stay in St John

Cruz Bay is the most popular area to stay in St John. This is where you'll find resorts, dining, and activities.

Coral Bay is on the East side of the island, and is much quieter. There are more villa and home rentals to choose from in Coral Bay. You'll find a few locals living in St John often dock their boats in the Coral Bay area. So, it depends what you want during your stay in St John!

Read more on the neighborhoods and best places to stay in St John ⭐

St John Resorts

There are a few resorts to choose from in St John; they are all in the Cruz Bay area or Chocolate Hole.

✅ Gallows Point Resort

✅ Westin St John Resort Villas

View more Cruz Bay Hotels ⭐

Is St John Expensive?

St John is more expensive than St Thomas and St Croix.

St John is a smaller island (the smallest of the three US Virgin Island territories) and therefore has fewer hotels, resorts, and accommodation options, so can be a little pricier than St Thomas.

The average cost of a hotel for 2 people in St John is $371/night with the lowest option running  $170/night  and the highest option  $490/night .

Which US Virgin Island is Best for Your Vacation?

St John is best for those looking for a quiet vacation, for the beach and nature lovers. St Thomas is best for families, people looking for a bit of nightlife, dining, and excursions. St Croix is great for people who are looking for a less populated, more spread out island, but still want the option of exploring museums and hitting some restaurants at night.

St Thomas vs St John ⭐ St Thomas vs St Croix St Croix vs St John ⭐

7 Day St John Itinerary Has Come to a Close!

Now that you have all of the information you need to plan your dream trip to St John, what are you waiting for? Start packing! With this St John itinerary, you’ll be able to make the most of your time on the island and see everything it has to offer. Get to planning!

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Rachel is passionate about encouraging you to stop waiting and start exploring. After over a decade of traveling through the Caribbean islands, Rachel is sharing all of her secrets. She's passionate about sharing her expert Caribbean travel tips with you to make planning your trip as easy as lying on the beach.

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Ultimate Guide to the Best Virgin Islands for Families

September 26, 2023.

Virgin Islands Family Vacation Guide

Table of Contents

It can be a bit intimidating to start planning a trip to the Virgin Islands with your family. There are so many islands. It’s hard to tell them apart, and it’s hard to figure out which one has the right vibe for you and your kids. 

After several trips to the Virgin Islands, hunting for the best family-friendly hotels around the island chain, we can confidently say that we’ll keep going back.  

The Virgin Islands sparked our adventurous spirit when we arrived, and will do the same for you. There’s something about these islands that leaves you wanting more. 

So without further ado, let’s get you there! Here is everything you need to know to plan a trip the whole family will love.

Best Virgin Islands for Families

What are the Virgin Islands?

The Virgin Islands are a collection of islands in the northern Caribbean Sea, not far from Puerto Rico. They are divided into two groups: the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. 

The islands are all grouped together, with just an imaginary line dividing the American side from the British side. On a map, they look like one big cluster of islands.

There are some big differences between the two sides, but there are three main islands on the U.S. side: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. And there are four main islands on the British side: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada.

Does My Child Need a Passport to Travel to the Virgin Islands?

One of the standout features of the U.S. Virgin Islands as a top family destination is the convenience of traveling without a passport. 

St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands has the primarily international airport in the region (STT) offering numerous direct flights from the US. Upon arrival, travelers are exempt from clearing customs, making it hassle-free, especially for families with kids. 

This convenience often appeals to families embarking on their first international vacation, and earns the US Virgin Islands a spot on the list of best Caribbean islands for families .

However, if you choose to go to any of the British Virgin Islands during your visit, whether by plane or by ferry, everyone in your party will need a passport.

Virgin Islands Family Vacation Guide

How to Travel Between Islands

Ferries are a popular way to get around the Virgin Islands. But they can be very confusing.  

There are a number of different ferry companies that operate in the islands, and they offer a variety of routes on different days of the week. Some of the most popular routes include St. Thomas to St. John, St. Thomas to Tortola, and St. Croix to St. Thomas.

When planning your ferry trip, it is important to check the ferry schedules and book your tickets in advance, especially if you are traveling during the peak season.  

You can find the ferry schedules and book your tickets online or at the ferry terminals.  In our experience,  VirginBooking.com  is the best place to figure out the available ferry routes and buy tickets. 

Best Virgin Islands for Families

The U.S. Virgin Islands

Not sure which islands to visit? Here’s the thing about searching for the best Virgin Islands for families: All of the U.S. Virgin Islands make the list. 

St Thomas, St Croix, and St John each have something different to offer parents traveling with kids to the Virgin Islands. It’s just a matter of which one suits your personal tastes. 

Let’s help you hone in on the right island for you. 

St. Thomas: Best For An Easy Vacation With Kids

Most visitors to the U.S. Virgin Islands land in St. Thomas, which has the biggest international airport (STT) and many direct flights. 

Being the most developed of the islands, historically, it’s been a favored cruise ship destination. The capital, Charlotte Amalie, is renowned for its duty-free shopping and excursions. 

St. Thomas offers a more Americanized experience than the other Virgin Islands, which may be a turn-off to some families. But it’s a great choice for those who prefer an easy and familiar Virgin Islands vacation environment – and direct flights!  And it’s home to two great family friendly hotels, described in more detail below. 

If you’re a beach lover,  Magens Bay Beach  in St. Thomas is truly one of the Caribbean’s best.  It gets crowded on cruise ship days, but there’s enough space for everyone. 

For families eager to explore other beaches, there are lots of other great beaches ideal for snorkeling and splashing around. You can also zipline up in the mountains, spend a day on a catamaran, snorkel with sea turtles, and visit Coral World Ocean Park, an open-air aquarium. There’s plenty of fun in St. Thomas to fill a week-long trip with kids. 

One of the best parts of St. Thomas, though, is its frequent ferry service to other islands.  From Charlotte Amelie, you can easily ferry over to spend a day on the remote Water Island. And from the Red Hook ferry terminal on the island’s East End, you’ll have easy access to St. John and Tortola, which in turn is a launch pad to the other British Virgin Islands. 

So, while St. Thomas might not be everyone’s idea of a secluded Caribbean paradise and may arguably be among the less culturally rich Virgin Islands, it serves as a fantastic destination for a family vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands for two types of families: (i) first-time visitors to to the Virgin Islands who want direct flights; and (ii) those looking for a home base to do day trips to other islands. 

Saint Thomas USVI

Where to stay in St. Thomas 

When searching for U.S. Virgin Islands resorts, we highly recommend that you opt for hotels at the East End of St. Thomas because of their proximity to the ferry services to other islands, and to the plethora of dining options in the Red Hook area of the island.

Luckily, that’s where you’ll find our two favorite family friendly St. Thomas hotels! 

Mango Tree’s preferred St. Thomas hotel for families is Secret Harbour Beach Resort , a small gem of a hotel. It’s not a luxury or fancy choice, but it has everything families need to be comfortable: a fantastic beach for kids, two- and three-bedroom suites steps from the sand, and a great restaurant on site. 

View our hotel profile of Secret Harbour Beach Resort| Check rates on Booking.com here

Ritz St Thomas family resort Virgin Islands

If a classic St Thomas family resort is more your speed, you’ll find luxury at the  Ritz Carlton St. Thomas . It’s right on the East End of the island with views over to St. John–and its own boat to get you there.  With a family pool and waterslide, and a kids’ club, it’s a complete resort experience. 

The appeal of St. Thomas is manifold: from direct flights to establishing a comfortable base at a top-notch hotel, and then branching out on day trips, even extending to the British Virgin Islands. 

Let me add a quick note here about something many families search for: all-inclusive family resorts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The answer is that they really don’t exist, at least not the traditional “all-inclusive” model where all your room price includes all meals. (There’s one true all-inclusive in St. Thomas, Bolongo Bay, but it’s not one of our recommended hotels for families.).  The Ritz provides a comparable vibe but meals are a la carte.

Best Virgin Islands for Families

St. John : Best for a villa stay and outdoor enthusiasts 

St. John, often hailed as the crown jewel of the U.S. Virgin Islands, captivates visitors with its pristine natural beauty, being primarily a National Park. Historically, its charm has led many to fall deeply in love with its serene landscapes. 

Despite its secluded feel, St. John is easily accessible, being just a 20-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas. From the St. Thomas airport, it’s roughly an hour further to St. John, which includes a 25 to 30-minute taxi ride followed by the ferry journey.

While it has grown in popularity as a must-visit destination, St. John remains less commercialized and touristy than its sister island, St. Thomas. The island has few hotels, but numerous villas, making it an ideal spot for multi-generational trips. 

The best way to approach a trip to St. John is to pick a home base – either a villa or a hotel – and then rent a car to explore. Spend your days exploring the various beaches, and don’t miss snorkeling at Maho Bay Beach and Trunk Bay Beach.

Gallows Point Saint John

Where to stay in St. John 

Villas dot St. John’s hills and shores, and are often the top choice for family travelers to St. John. 

For hotels, travelers still mourn the loss of Caneel Bay, a much-loved resort that closed its doors after Hurricane Irma battered the island in 2017.  Now, St. John resort options are few and far between. 

Our current favorite for small families who prefer a hotel to a villa is  Gallows Point , which welcomes kids age 6 and up. The great thing about Gallows Point, which combines condo-style rooms with hotel amenities like a pool, housekeeping, and a concierge service, is that it’s walkable from the ferry dock.  And from the hotel, you can also stroll into Cruz Bay for dinner.  

A walkable resort in the Caribbean is harder to come by than you think, and Gallows Point offers it. It’s one of our favorite kid friendly resorts in the US Virgin Islands for older kids.

Check rates on Booking.com for  Gallows Point

Virgin Islands Family Vacation Guide

St. Croix: Best for a laid-back vibe and fewer crowds 

While many of the Virgin Islands are closely clustered, allowing for easy ferry-hopping, St. Croix stands distinctively apart. Located approximately two hours away from its neighboring islands, St. Croix boasts its own international airport and direct flights from the United States.

St. Croix is also the biggest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its size and separation makes it a unique vacation destination within the Virgin Islands, and for most families will be a destination in and of itself. 

So why go to St. Croix with kids? St. Croix offers a diverse landscape with rocky beaches and dense forests, making it ideal for those keen on hiking and land-based family-friendly activities. It’s also known for having great snorkeling reefs. Its two main towns – Frederiksted and Christiansted – feel quite colonial. 

Its beaches may not be as stunning as those in St. John. But the charm of St. Croix lies in its laid-back atmosphere. In essence, St. Croix is one of the best Virgin Islands for families seeking a more secluded and tranquil Caribbean experience.

Where to stay in St. Croix 

The most popular hotel for families in St. Croix is a bit of a fixture on the island:  The Buccaneer .  It’s a family–run resort with cottages designed specifically for parents traveling with kids. And it has all the amenities you need to relax, from golf to room service to beachfront massages. It’s one of the best family resorts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, hands down.

Check rates on Booking.com for The Buccaneer 

Water Island: Best for a unique day trip in the USVI 

Water Island is the lesser-known fourth member of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In place of hotels, you’ll find an untouched serenity. Situated just a short 10-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas, visitors can rent a golf cart to explore the picturesque island. It’s the ultimate off-the-beaten path day trip in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

A notable stop on Water Island includes Heidi’s Hilltop Hideaway, a fish taco stand loved by anyone who knows it. Honeymoon Beach also is a must-visit, complemented by the ambience of Dinghy’s beach bar. 

For a comprehensive day trip guide, reference our dedicated post on Water Island.

Water Island USVI

British Virgin Islands (BVI)

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) beckons, with a tapestry of over 60 islands and keys.  Yet somehow, it seems more elusive than the US Virgin Islands.  

Maybe that’s because a passport is needed to reach these islands’ sandy shores. 

Maybe it’s because sailing and boat charters have been the traditional means of exploring the BVIs, which can seem daunting to families, especially with younger kids. 

More travelers are looking to experience the BVIs from the comfort of rental homes, luxury resorts, and other land-based accommodations. And after exploring the islands ourselves, we can say with confidence that there are plenty of them to be found. 

Here is a starter guide to a family vacation in the British Virgin Islands to help you figure out where to start your journey to this epic Caribbean island chain. 

Best Virgin Islands for Families

Tortola: Best for families who want to explore around 

Until recently, you could only reach the British Virgin Island from the U.S. by flying to St. Thomas and taking a ferry or water taxi across.  That’s no longer the case.  

Now, you can fly directly to Tortola, the largest island in the chain. As of 2023, there are daily flights from Miami and Puerto Rico to Tortola’s Beef Island Airport (EIS). This airport is strategically located in the heart of it all, offering easy connections to ferries to nearby island resorts. 

But, before you jet off on a ferry across the sea, consider whether Tortola might be the island for you.  Tortola is a mountainous island. One road forms a loop around the island – on the south side, it’s flat and easy to navigate. But the north road takes you up switch backs, and back down steep hills leading to the beaches and coves below. 

This mountainous island is known for its beaches, art, and hiking. Road Town, Tortola’s capital and a popular cruise ship port, is only about 20 minutes from the airport. It offers quaint shops,- art galleries, and local eateries to explore. 

Drive deeper into lush Tortola – and brave the mountain roads – to discover Tortola’s best beaches, located on the north side of the island. You could spend several days hopping from Brewer’s Bay Beach to Cane Garden Bay to Long Bay Beach. 

When you want a break from the beach, you have hiking opportunities too – Mount Sage National Park includes a dozen trails to choose from, and the highest point in the BVIs. 

Long Bay Beach Resort Tortola

Where to stay in Tortola 

We love the newly rebuilt  Long Bay Beach Resort  on Tortola’s West End.  It’s on the opposite end of the island from the airport, meaning about a 45 minute drive to get there.  But once you arrive, you’re just a quick drive to the island’s best beaches.  It’s also very close to Tortola’s West End Ferry Terminal, where you can take daily ferry boats to other islands, including Jost Van Dyke. 

Severely affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the resort has been recently renovated in 2023, boasting beach bungalows perfect for families. It’s a place to truly relax away from it all, with calming hues, a welcoming coffee bar, and excellent service. 

Check rates on Booking.com for Long Bay Beach Resort

White Bay Beach Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke : Best for a secluded but vibey beach experience 

Jost Van Dyke is a small island in the British Virgin Islands known for its beautiful beaches, including White Bay Beach. Most people know of Jost Van Dyke for one of two reasons: 

First, Jost Van Dyke is where you’ll find the famous Soggy Dollar Bar , home of the Painkiller, and ultimate beach bar vibes. Second, it’s a bit “country music famous,” having been the island that Kenny Chesney fell in love with, and making several appearances in his lyrics. 

Jost Van Dyke is for those who want a small island with an absolutely stunning beach – one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the Caribbean – and delicious, casual food.

Spend your days swimming, snorkeling, diving, drinking and eating. Take a hike to the Bubbly Pool, and visit Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and the Soggy Dollar Bar. You’re in for total relaxation.

Best Virgin Islands for Families

Where to Stay in Jost Van Dyke 

The Hideout BVI is a newcomer to Jost Van Dyke in 2022. It has 7 perfectly appointed villas just steps from White Bay Beach. The Hideout features five 1BR villas and two 2BR villas.  Each has a private deck and plunge pool.  The best choice for families is the 2BR beachfront villa, with plenty of space to spread out, and direct ocean views and access. 

View our hotel profile of The Hideout | Check rates on Booking.com here

Virgin Gorda

Virgin Gorda: Best for a luxury resort and natural beauty 

Virgin Gorda is a beautiful island in the British Virgin Islands that is perfect for a Virgin Islands family vacation. The island has stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a relaxed atmosphere. Some of the things you can do on Virgin Gorda with your family include visiting the Baths, going sailing or kayaking, hiking to Gorda Peak, and relaxing on a beach. The island also has a number of luxury family resorts that offer a variety of amenities, including kids’ clubs, pools, and restaurants.

Virgin Islands Family Vacation Guide

Where to Stay in Virgin Gorda 

Most families will choose to stay in Virgin Gorda at Rosewood Little Dix Bay Hotel , an iconic luxury hotel, and a destination in and of itself, with a stunning beachfront location.  Just a short 20 minute ferry ride from the ferry dock next to Tortola’s airport, it’s an easy luxury getaway for families.  

Between the Rosewood Explorer Kids’ Club (starting at age 3), the full suite of baby gear provided to new parents, and the calm beach and meandering pathways, there will be no doubt from the moment you arrive that kids are welcome at Little Dix Bay.  This resort nearly perfectly captures the combination of family friendly + luxur y.

View our hotel profile of the Rosewood Little Dix Bay | Book here for perks

Best Virgin Islands for Families

AnegAda: Best For Those Wanting To Get Off The Beaten Path 

Anegada, the fourth of the main British Virgin islands, is like St. Croix in a way: a bit off on its own. It’s about an hour ride by public ferry from Tortola to Anegada, longer on a smaller sailboat.  Be aware that the public ferry does not run daily, but rather only a handful of days a week. There’s also a small airport so you could choose to arrive by puddle jumper. 

Anegada is completely unlike the other islands in the chain, too. It’s a flat island, surrounded by shallow reefs that are treacherous for boaters, making the journey all the more of an effort.  The reefs provide exceptional snorkeling, though, once you arrive. 

Otherwise, Anegada is known for its long stretches of white sand beach, for being sparsely populated (just a few hundred residents year round) and for flamingos. As if you need more reason to make the trek to Anegada, it’s also known for its lobster dishes. 

Where to Stay in Anegeda

There’s really only one place to stay in Anegada, and that’s the  Anegada Beach Club . If your kids are older than 6, you can stay in a palapa right on the beach for a completely unique experience.  

Check rates on Booking.com for Anegada Beach Resort

Private Island Resorts in the British Virgin Islands 

In addition to the main islands, one thing that’s delightful about the BVIs is the option for private island escapes. 

The British Virgin Islands have a number of private islands that offer families a more secluded and luxurious vacation experience, where you’ll really feel like you’re in your own world. 

Some of the most known private islands in the BVI include Richard Branson’s famous Necker Island and Moskito Island. But there are two other private islands that are more accessible, more affordable and which offer families a delightful private island escape: Guana Island and Scrub Island. 

Here’s what each has to offer families.

Guana Island Beach

Guana Island  

Guana Island is an exclusive escape for those seeking unparalleled seclusion and natural beauty. Sprawling over 850 acres, this unique island oasis welcomes a maximum of just 35 guests at any given time.  

We spent our 10-year wedding anniversary at Guana Island. If you want barefoot luxury, we recommend this hotel wholeheartedly.  But we also can’t wait to go back with our kids! 

Strategically perched villas offer panoramic vistas from the island’s central ridge, while vast stretches of untouched terrain beckon exploration. With pristine beaches like White Bay, snorkeling spots, and hiking trails, visitors feel worlds away from the bustle. 

More than just a retreat, Guana Island prides itself on offering all-inclusive luxury, serving fresh and sumptuous meals daily. Conveniently located near Beef Island airport in Tortola, this private island, while upscale, offers a more approachable price point than some of its high-end counterparts. 

View our hotel profile of Guana Island | Book through Mango Tree for VIP perks

Scrub Island

For those who wish to blend the familiarity of a renowned hotel chain with the allure of a private island experience,  Scrub Island Resort, Spa, and Marina  is the ideal pick. As a Marriott property, this Virgin Island resort offers both comfort and charm, albeit on a larger scale. 

While not exuding the exclusivity of some smaller Virgin Island resorts, Scrub Island boasts a full-service marina, kid-friendly pools, and secluded beaches. Guests looking for a balanced blend of luxury and affordability will find it here. Plus, with its dedicated concierge services, off-island excursions are hassle-free. 

Situated a mere 10-15 minutes ferry ride from Tortola’s main dock, Scrub Island is another effortlessly accessible piece of paradise.

Check rates on Booking.com for Scrub Island Resort

Get Caribbean Family Travel Tips Right Into Your Inbox 

If you found this post helpful, don’t miss our other  Caribbean destination guides for families . 

And for even more Caribbean and family travel inspiration, sign up for our newsletter! We feature new destinations, highlight our favorite hotels, and share family travel tips. Keep the travel dreaming coming all year long. 

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Brides

How to Plan a Romantic Honeymoon in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Pristine beaches, superior sailing and snorkeling, and duty-free shopping await in this no-passport-needed American paradise.

The U.S. Virgin Islands checks all the boxes of a dream Caribbean island honeymoon. Picture year-round tropical warmth, sugary beaches, crystal clear water, bustling coral reefs, postcard-worthy scenery, hikes through jungles, palm-dotted shorelines for sunrise strolls, and sunset sails. Combine that with amazing duty-free shopping, high-end beachfront hotels, well-spiced stick-to-your-ribs cuisine that relies heavily on fresh seafood, homemade hot sauces, jovial steel-drum jam sessions, and a seemingly endless supply of boozy punch, and you've got the ingredients for the perfect Caribbean honeymoon. And the best part? Unlike Jamaica, St. Bart’s, or the Bahamas, America’s Paradise and all the rum-soaked R&R it provides can be accessed by U.S. newlyweds sans passports. 

“As a U.S. territory, the Virgin Islands offers the glamor and sexiness of a Caribbean vacation with the ease and simplicity of domestic travel ,” says Alani Henneman, the assistant commissioner of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism. “And thanks to the warm climate and warmer hospitality, and breathtaking beaches that are beyond reproach, the islands are a fantastic choice for a honeymoon all year long.”

Alani Henneman is the assistant commissioner of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism .

Related: The 50 Best Honeymoon Destinations in the World

Ahead, find expert tips for how to enjoy this veritable paradise during the romantic trip of a lifetime.

Planning Your Virgin Islands Honeymoon

While the territory encompasses upwards of 50 distinct landmasses, there are three main islands: St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, each offering “a distinct experience” according to Henneman. St. Thomas is the most visited and “most cosmopolitan” and offers tourists “more than 40 beaches, fine dining, bar-hopping, luxury shopping, and historic monuments,” she says. St. John is a 19 square-mile “tranquil world of fish-filled waters, stunning beaches, quaint towns, and protected national park.” 

The largest of the three St. Croix (STX) “boasts gentle hills, historic towns, sandy beaches, the greatest cultural diversity, pastel buildings, and the Cruzan Rum Factory. She continues, “This is the ideal island for those looking for a little quiet and tranquility.”

St. Thomas is by far the most popular of the three for international travelers and cruise ships, especially in December and January, and no matter what time of year, it’s likely to be busier than the other two. To compensate, it also has the most flights and the largest number of accommodations and tour outfitters to choose from. Henneman strongly recommends visiting during the April-June shoulder season. “This offers ideal weather without the crowds and is not as expensive as high season,” she says.

The most convenient and best way to explore the whole of the islands is to rent a car from places like Lionel Jeep Rental in St. John or Jonel or RentAmotion , which also stocks scooters, motorcycles, and jet skis, in St. Thomas. Cars with high clearance or four-wheel drive are recommended if you plan to adventure on unpaved trails. Also important to note that despite this being a U.S. territory, they drive on the left like in England. However, unlike the U.K., the vehicles have steering wheels on the left like in the U.S.

Here are the U.S.V.I basics to know before you go:

  • Language: English
  • Currency: U.S. Dollar
  • When to Go: To avoid the biggest crowds (December through March is the high season) and rainy season, target mid-April through June. If you like to party and dance, go for Carnival. Each island has its own.
  • How Much Time To Spend: One to two weeks depending on how many of the main three islands a couple wants to visit
  • Getting There: Fly directly from numerous mainland cities including Miami, Boston, Minneapolis, New York, and Dallas, or other Caribbean countries like Saint Kitts, the British Virgin Islands, or Dominica to St. Thomas (Cyril E. King Airport).  American, Delta, and Spirit Airlines also offer non-stops from a few cities to the smaller Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix. Numerous cruise companies (i.e. Princess, Norwegian, and Virgin Voyages) port in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, or Frederiksted, St. Croix.
  • Transportation: Rental cars, taxis, inter-island ferries , water taxis , and resort-hosted ferries and shuttles are the best ways to get around.
  • Must-Pack: Swimsuits, mineral sunscreen (it’s the law in the U.S.V.I.!), water shoes, cotton clothes, sunglasses, reusable water bottles, and a hat because the Caribbean sun is unforgiving. 

Where to Stay During Your Virgin Islands Honeymoon

Lodgings in the U.S.V.I. span the hospitality spectrum from eco-friendly safari tents and quirky boutiques to brand-name resorts on the beach and polished properties where privileged patrons like the Rockefellers and the Kennedys have sought refuge for decades.

Lovango Resort & Beach Club

Tucked into the trees on a private island a short ferry ride from St. Thomas and St. John, Lovango is a dreamy playground that gives off big Tulum energy. It likely has something to do with the tranquil neutral color scheme, the heavy use of natural woods, and the indoor-outdoor one-with-nature aesthetic of its luxury treehouses and glamping tents. If you are strong enough to pull yourself away from the mesmerizing aquamarine expanse that lies just off the expansive decks, you can take advantage of the almost daily water shuttle to Honeymoon Beach, visit the infinity pool at the beach club (where they serve the parent company’s line of spirits infused with Caribbean flavors like tamarind), explore hiking trails, pop into trendy shops, and discover secluded snorkel spots.

The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas

Begin your happily ever after on Great Bay at this posh 30-acre property that recently finished a $100-million renovation. Spoil your inner child with a few trips down the waterslide at the family pool, splurge on a full-day private cabana rental at the plunge reserved for grown-ups, or soak in the sun-warmed shallows of Coconut Cove beach. Bookend your stay with a selection of well-curated experiences including day trips on the house catamaran, seaside massages, and private sunset dinners in the sand with bespoke chef-created menus tailored to your tastes.

Frenchman's Reef

A $425-million rebuild and reimagining has given a St. Thomas classic a new lease on life. Opening in the spring of 2023, two reliable brands— Westin and Autograph (the Buoy Haus Beach Resort)—will be housed on one giant clifftop plot. With pools, restaurants, a full-service spa, cabanas, bars with panoramic views, beach access, on-site water sports services, and a market, guests can experience a very full and satisfying sojourn without ever stepping outside the grounds.

Gallows Point

This collection of individual-owned condos , or as they call them, “one-bedroom villas,” inhabits five lush acres on a St. John peninsula surrounded by cerulean waters. It’s an easy five-minute stroll to the main town of Cruz Bay for dinner, which the concierge can book for you.  Recuperate from included Tuesday and Saturday fitness classes in the hot tub.

Funky art, bright colors, and mix-and-match splashy botanical patterns characterize the beachfront quarters at this adults-only boutique in the heart of downtown Frederiksted on St. Croix. Its double-decker bar and pool scenes are energetic but slowdowns can still be had under an umbrella or with some self-care time at the spa.

Things to Do During Your Virgin Islands Honeymoon

Between seafaring, outdoorsy and sporty exploits, historical and cultural attractions, festivals, and shopping until dropping, there’s never a dull moment in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unless of course, that’s exactly what you’re looking for after a year or more of wedding planning. For you, there are hammock naps and plenty of space on the sand for you, an umbrella drink, and a good book. For further help achieving tuned-out, calmed-down nirvana, turn to Spa to Go , a mobile provider of pampering who comes to you with aromatherapy oils, hot stones, strong hands, and champagne. 

But for those who crave a faster pace and a filled itinerary, here’s a list of must-dos broken down by island:

First and foremost, hit the beach as St. Thomas has more than 40 pristine white beaches including Magens Bay. With its steady winds, gentle currents, and a bevy of secluded bays, St. Thomas has been a sailor's delight since the pirate days, so couples should definitely book a boat tour to get out on and in the water. Some are all-day parties while others are romantic sunset sails or have a scuba/snorkel focus to explore some of the smaller U.S. Virgin Islands like the uninhabited Water Island, where couples will find the breathtaking and aptly named Honeymoon Beach, or Buck Island, which is home to endemic lizards, endangered turtles, and the Buck Island Reef National Monument , one of the most pristine barrier reef systems in the Caribbean. Henneman says, “Buck Island makes for a fantastic day trip to see incredible biodiversity, an almost mile-long sandy beach, and an underwater snorkel trail.”

Many outfitters will even ferry you to another country, the nearby British Virgin Islands. Seas The Day Charters and Ocean Surfari offer a wide range of full- and half-day sails for small groups and private parties. The waters around St. Thomas are also teeming with marlin, wahoo, and other tasty creatures. Wannabe anglers should hook up with Captain Red on the Abigail III for a day of sport fishing. 

Spend at least an afternoon in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie, which also happens to be the shopping capital of the Caribbean thanks to the concentration of high-end shops and big-name brands along Main Street and in luxury complexes like Yacht Haven Grande and the duty-free port designation. (U.S. citizens can return home with $1,600 worth of souvenirs, booze, watches, and jewelry.) Within the city limits, honeymooners can also get historical, cultural, and architectural fixes by visiting Fort Christian (completed in 1680), the second-oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere, museums such as the shipwreck showcase Pirates Treasure or climbing the 99 Steps (there are actually 103!) up Government Hill. Danes built these and other sets of stairs around the hilly downtown in the mid-1700s. Couples can also get high, as in 700 or 1,500 feet above sea level, at scenic lookout points Drake’s Seat and Valdemar Hill and on the Paradise Point Tramway. 

St. Thomas also has the most nightlife opportunities. Scout bars, restaurants, and block parties in Charlotte Amalie, Frenchtown, Red Hook, and Havensight to find out where you can drink, dance, and enjoy live music while you are on the island.

Nature lovers should make a bee-line to the Virgin Islands National Park , a 5,500-acre preserve that encompasses two-thirds of St. John and nearly all of Hassel Island and is filled with snowy beaches like Trunk Bay Beach and Cinnamon Bay Beach, calm-water bays perfect for kayaking, top-notch snorkel sites (colorful fish fancy the coral reefs while seagrass beds attract turtles and rays), mangrove-covered coastlines and more than 20 hiking trails of various skill levels that deliver wanderers to ancient Taino petroglyphs, plantation sites, lush hilltops with panoramic views and salt ponds for fantastic birdwatching. 

Henneman adds, “Reef Bay Trail is the must-do hike for exquisite views from the Danish sugar plantation, stone walls, and pre-Colombian rock carvings. During the rainy season, its waterfall can be spectacular.”

Once you’ve had your fill of the salt air, seawater, and flora and fauna, pop into Jolly Dog for souvenirs and sundries and Bajo el Sol , an art gallery, bookstore, café, and rum bar in Mongoose Junction that puts on exhibitions from local artists, movie screenings, book signings, concerts, and creative workshops.

This island will appeal equally to history buffs, sun worshippers, and leisure lovers thanks to its collection of golf courses, casinos, beaches like Cane Bay, Columbus Landing (yes that Columbus.), and Davis Bay, ruins of sugar and cattle empires like the Estate Whim Museum , Christiansted’s 18th-century red-roofed buildings and stone streets and Frederiksted’s fort. Point Udall, at the east end of the island, is the easternmost point in the U.S. and therefore the first place the sun rises on U.S. soil. This is likely why the Millennium Monument that tops the point is a sundial. Plant moms and dads should visit the blooms at St. George Village Botanical Garden . Annaly Bay has tide pools while both Salt River Bay and Altona Lagoon are bioluminescent are great for kayaking. Adrenaline junkies will be lured by the Carambola Zipline , which sends passengers flying down a mountain and 200 feet above the rain forest for 4,373 feet. Although the famous Cruzan Rum distillery remains closed to tours for the time being, imbibers can swap spirits and learn how Mutiny Island Vodka is made from breadfruit (and more importantly taste test the goods) at the Sion Farm Distillery . 

In addition to the numerous year-round activities and attractions, timing your trip in order to attend carnival or an annual festival could add an extra level of fun. The U.S.V.I. is the only Caribbean destination that hosts three separate carnivals yearly. St. Thomas Carnival takes place in April and features calypso bands, parades, and a dance party at dawn called J’ouvert. St. John’s July event celebrates the end of slavery on the islands in 1848 and the founding of the U.S. in 1776. Mini carnivals called Jump Ups happen four times a year on St. Croix in Christiansted. The island also hosts the Crucian Christmas Festival from late December through early January in Frederiksted. Other worthwhile events to consider include Mango Melee (a food and mixology festival), Caribbean Music Festival , Taste of St. Croix , various international regattas, and a range of fitness competitions including triathlons.

Where to Eat During Your Virgin Islands Honeymoon

With a good mix of beachside shacks and casual eateries serving local specialties like Johnny cakes, pates (deep-fried savory hand pies filled with beef, chicken, salted cod or vegetables), and fish soup (which is served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and farm-to-fork/sea-to-spoon fine dines, which often serve fancier take on the same dishes, Virgin Islands visitors are never at risk of starving. 

“Foodies have come to the right place,” says Henneman who also encouraged people to add fungi (Caribbean-style polenta with fried fish) and callaloo (soup made with leafy greens, okra, and island herbs) to the must-try list. “No meal is complete without a Cruzan Rum signature cocktail.”

Another drink of choice is the banana daiquiri, which, according to local legend, was invented on St. Thomas 50 years ago when someone improved the original Cuban recipe by adding Cruzan and homemade banana liqueur at Mountain Top , which still serves the frozen concoction atop the highest point in the islands.

Two restaurants inspired by regional flavors and favorites are found within the Yacht Haven Grande complex. Blue 11 offers decadent seven-, nine-, and 11-course tasting menus with optional wine pairings that rely heavily on ingredients either grown or caught in the U.S.V.I. Twistt340 comes up with creative tapas takes on traditional Caribbean cuisine like honey-drizzled Johnny cakes or curry chicken sliders. Head for the hills above Charlotte Amalie to dine in Old Stone Farmhouse ’s 200-year-old plantation barn. The rock arches, copious amounts of candles, painted fireplace and patio pond ramps up the romantic vibe while elegant entrees like foiejitas and bacon-wrapped monkfish please the palette. Gladys’ Café is a longtime lunch stop where one can also purchase bottles of her hot sauce which comes in four flavors (mango, mustard, tomato, and oil and vinegar).

It’s also easy to stuff your face on St. John. Go for the Mediterranean food at Extra Virgin Bistro and stay for the stunning open-air ambiance and the Cruz Bay setting. Sushi rolls and seafood fill the tables at Mongoose Junction’s effortlessly chic 18 ° 64 ° , named after the isle’s geographical coordinates. Opened in 2021, Meada’s Garden is a dinner-only spot that takes your taste buds on a trip around the world with its global fusion menu that incorporates the chef’s Ghanian heritage and West Indian staples like oxtail.

STX is no slouch in the culinary department either. To taste the greatest hits of Crucian cuisine like lechon (wood-fired roasted pork), ginger coconut sugar cake, and banana benye while learning about island agriculture and livestock, time your visit to coincide with the annual Ag Fair . Savant lures seafood junkies with fish bought on a nearby dock directly from the folks that reeled it in and then serves it, often in the form of a daily crudo or egg roll, on a twinkly terrace. AMA Cane Bay is so close to the ocean that you might feel the sea spray on your face while digging into lobster fettuccine or rum bread pudding should a big enough wave crash on the rocks below its deck. Put on your finest flip-flops and post up at Colorado and Ohio import Goat Soup & Whiskey for booze, beef, and bands. Juicy rotisserie from the beloved institution La Reine Chicken Shack makes from great beach picnic food. Meat-free just-marrieds should swing by Ital In Paradise for well-rated vegetarian vittles pineapple ginger beer, fruity lemonades, and green juice.

Budgeting for a Virgin Islands Honeymoon

According to the Department of Tourism, the cost of a Virgin Islands vacation is on par with trips to the most popular Caribbean islands. Depending on what part of the country you are flying from, flight prices are usually similar to those you can find to nearby Puerto Rico and cheaper than most to America’s other tropical island paradise Hawaii. St. Thomas is generally considered to be the most cost-effective of the Virgin trio because it has the largest airport with the most daily flights from the mainland and a wider range of accommodations and dining options at various price points.

Rates fluctuate throughout the year for a variety of reasons but are traditionally highest from December to March (and surrounding big annual events) and lowest during the June-November hurricane season. (The most reliably active period for storms is September and October.) The last time the U.S.V.I was struck by a major hurricane was in 2017 and there’s a good chance you could score a great deal without suffering any weather-related hiccups but Henneman warns to proceed with caution. “As with any Caribbean destination, traveling during hurricane season can be a risk,” she says. “If you wanted to get a good deal around that time, be sure to take out travel insurance and aim for a flexible date.”

Other cost-saving measures the department recommends include using “safari taxis” which transport riders across the island for a couple of dollars, camping at the national park, or partaking in the destination’s free activities like snorkeling off the beach or hiking.

Up Next: How to Plan a Romantic Honeymoon in the Bahamas

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I would want to stay for at least two weeks, perhaps more and need suggestions for

a location or town where I could find an apartment rental, short walk to a nice beach,

close to a food market, and close enough to some restaurants to walk.

I still drive day and night in NJ, but are concerned about driving on winding roads or

in unfamiliar places at night. Please advise if I can manage without a car by using some combination of public buses and taxis.

4 replies to this topic

planning a trip to virgin islands

Getting around without your own wheels is doable but not without its considerable drawbacks. Public bus transportation (VITRAN) has limited routes and is unreliable. The $1/$2 safari buses primarily used by locals have limited routes and no designated stops and no posted schedules. Taxis charge by destination and per person - those fares add up very fast.

https://www.vinow.com/stthomas/getting_around_stt/taxi_stt/

You could look at condos at Sapphire Beach Resort , Sapphire Village, Crystal Cove on http://www.vrbo.com which are on beautiful Sapphire beach on the safari route. You could also look at Margaritaville and Point Pleasant which are also on the route. Margaritaville's beach and water are sub-par, Point Pleasant is perched on a steep hillside with a tiny beach way down below - but both are close to the best beaches on STT. Secret Harbour is another option you could take a look at. All these properties are a 5-10 minute drive from Red Hook with its stores, restaurants, and the interisland ferry terminal for a day trip to St John .

https://www.vinow.com/travel/virgin-islands-ferry-schedules/

You might reconsider not renting a vehicle by remembering that driving here is very slow. Max speed limit is 35MPH (vehicles are LH drive which you're used to) and most of your driving is in the 15-30 range. First time visitors get the hang of driving on the left very quickly and a simple compact will get you around perfectly easily.

Hope that helps for a start.

I could probably manage to drive the road between, but I was not impressed with the beach,

despite its reputation. We are accustomed to the long white beaches of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

I was prompted to start looking at the Caribbean islands because of the warmer weather in Jan and Feb.

and I was just thinking about it.

Thanks again for the help

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planning a trip to virgin islands

planning a trip to virgin islands

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COMMENTS

  1. 7 Day US Virgin Islands Itinerary: St. Thomas & St. John

    If you plan to visit St. Thomas and St. John, I recommend spending one week in the US Virgin Islands. With 7 days, you have 2 days for travel time plus 5 days on the islands, which is plenty of time to visit the beaches, go snorkeling or take a boat cruise, and do a little hiking.

  2. Your Trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands: The Complete Guide

    Planning Your Trip. Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands is between the months of mid-April and July—after the prices have dropped after the peak tourist season in the winter, and before the rains begin to fall more regularly in mid-summer with the arrival of the wet season. For more information on the islands ...

  3. US Virgin Islands Itinerary Planner (10 Days in the USVI)

    The largest US Virgin Island is 40 miles south of St. Thomas and must be explored over multiple days. You cannot visit St. Croix on a day trip from St. Thomas or St. John. The below is a quick 3 day itinerary for St. Croix. For more time, check out my full 7 day St. Croix itinerary.

  4. 30 Useful Things to Know Before Visiting the US Virgin Islands

    The US Virgin Islands are today three main islands, St Thomas, St John, and St Croix, and several small surrounding islands. Their story is typical of the Caribbean. The islands were originally inhabited by native Caribbean tribes. St John has ancient petroglyphs that date back to these peoples. Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the islands in ...

  5. How to plan a trip to the US Virgin Islands

    Defining experiences. The great outdoors and the Virgin Islands National Park take center stage on St John, both above and below the water. Trunk Bay Beach is a lovely scenic arch of sand (so popular it charges an entrance fee), home to a 225-yard underwater snorkel trail.. There's also excellent snorkeling at Salt Pond Bay Beach (seestjohn.com) and trails to explore on land.

  6. How to Take a Trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands

    The U.S. Virgin Islands are a trio of islands in the Caribbean Sea with dreamy beaches, world-class snorkeling and diving, and pristine beaches. You don't need a passport to visit, and you can find accommodations for all types of trips, from family getaways to romantic retreats. Learn about the history, things to see, activities, places to stay, and where to eat on these islands.

  7. What To Do In U.S. Virgin Islands?

    Ferries in US Virgin Islands. If you are interested in island hopping in the U.S. Virgin Islands, ferries are a great way to do that. Ferries from St. Croix or St. Thomas can easily take you to the island of St. John and back. Ferries typically cost around $75 per person one way, and about $120 for a round trip ride.

  8. Top 10 Things to Do in Virgin Islands National Park

    Reef Bay Trail. The Reef Bay Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It's also one of the most challenging. Distance: 4.4 miles out-and-back; the Petroglyph Trail adds 0.6 miles (roundtrip) and minimal elevation gain; the detour to Genti Beach adds 0.2 miles (roundtrip) with minimal elevation gain.

  9. Virgin Islands National Park Travel Guide

    St. Thomas and St. John are two of the three main US Virgin Islands. These two islands sit side by side and are connected by a short ferry ride, and together they make a fantastic Caribbean getaway. On this 7 day US Virgin Islands itinerary, visit Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, and St. Thomas.

  10. 48 Hours in the U.S. Virgin Islands: The Ultimate Itinerary

    We've compiled a prime selection of the best sites and attractions to see in all three major islands (as well as Water Island and Buck Island) in this 48-hour itinerary. From island-hopping to sunset sailing, read on for how to spend the ultimate weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands—and get ready to start planning your next trip. 01 of 06.

  11. The Complete 6 Days in U.S. Virgin Islands Itinerary

    Day 3: Exploring St. Thomas. You can either fly or take the ferry to St. Thomas from St. Croix, depending on your budget and your preference. The Ferry takes about 2 hours and can be very wavy, while the airplane ride is about 30 minutes. The difference in price is $60 for the Ferry compared to $100 for a flight.

  12. How to Spend 4 Days in USVI (Itinerary)

    Day One: St Thomas USVI. Arrive at STT Airport (St Thomas) at 2:40 PM, and catch a shared taxi to the hotel. Check in to the hotel: Bunker Hill Hotel (in our case) Have dinner at Green House. Go back to hotel/unpack/chill, decompress, catch up on some TV shows. Limestone Beach Water Island USVI.

  13. The Ultimate Guide to Virgin Islands National Park [2023]

    Virgin Islands National Park is located in the Caribbean Sea. The majority of the park is located on St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, but a small portion stretches into the nearby island of St. Thomas. This national park covers 7,259 acres of land and 5,650 acres of submerged land.

  14. 21 US Virgin Islands Travel Tips (to Know Before You Go)

    21 Travel Tips for the US Virgin Islands. "Good Day!" is Our Greeting. Save a Buck During Hurricane Season. Have a Drink Anywhere! St. Croix is Isolated. Go Island Hopping in the US Virgin Islands. Keep Left! Bring Snorkel Gear. Day Trip to the British Virgin Islands.

  15. Itinerary: US Virgin Islands Exploration Guide

    Before planning your trip to the US Virgin Islands, ensure you have a valid passport. US citizens do not need a passport to travel to the USVI. ... For a 5-day trip to the US Virgin Islands, you can spend two days in Saint Thomas, two days in Saint John, and one day in Saint Croix. It will give you enough time to explore the islands and enjoy ...

  16. St. Thomas Itinerary, USVI: How To Spend 6 Days in Paradise

    Day 3 - Day Trip to St. John. Set out on another adventure to a different island, staying within the US Virgin Islands. Take the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John, which is about a 30-minute ferry ride if you leave out of Red Hook and one of the best St. Thomas day trips.

  17. The Complete St. John USVI Travel Guide

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  18. Planning a Trip in Virgin Islands

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  19. Everything You NEED TO KNOW Visiting US Virgin Islands

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  20. 7 Day St John Itinerary

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  21. Plan Your Visit

    This park is open every day. The Cruz Bay Visitor Center is open Monday-Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. except the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Virigin Islands National Park offers many wonders whether you're interested in hiking, boating, snorkeling, or just taking in the view. Pre-trip planning is important.

  22. St. Croix Itinerary (7 Days Perfectly Planned for You + Map)

    Day 1 - Arrive in St. Croix + Christiansted Boardwalk. The seaplane landing. View of St. Croix from seaplane. Most flights landing in the US Virgin Islands, including St. Croix, land in the afternoon. However, if you're coming from St. Thomas to St. Croix (either by ferry or plane), you have more time in the morning and afternoon to explore.

  23. Ultimate Guide to the Best Virgin Islands for Families

    St. Croix: Best for a laid-back vibe and fewer crowds. Where to stay in St. Croix. Water Island: Best for a unique day trip in the USVI. British Virgin Islands (BVI) Tortola: Best for families who want to explore around. Where to stay in Tortola. Jost Van Dyke: Best for a secluded but vibey beach experience.

  24. How to Plan a Romantic Honeymoon in the U.S. Virgin Islands

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  25. St Thomas planning without car

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    13 likes, 0 comments - vifoodtours on February 29, 2024: "Searching for things to do on your next trip to St. Croix? Here are 5 activities that you should ..." Virgin Islands Food Tours on Instagram: "Searching for things to do on your next trip to St. Croix?

  29. Despegar Unleashes SOFIA: The Future of Travel Planning across the

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