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US Virgin Islands Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated August 2022

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

Welcome to US Virgin Islands

Whether you seek to lounge away on velvety soft sands, dance until daybreak during the carnival parade, or snorkel through pristine turquoise waters with vibrant coral reefs, the U.S. Virgin Islands is the perfect paradise for every traveler! Visit St. Thomas for its luxurious shopping, St. John for its nature, and St. Croix for its heritage and history. Relax, explore, and indulge on your next adventure to the U.S. Virgin Islands!

US Virgin Islands Map

US Virgin Islands Map

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

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.

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.

How to Get to the US Virgin Islands & Around

There are a few ways to get to and around the U.S. 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. Nonstop flights are offered by many U.S. airlines and interconnecting flights between islands are also available.

  Search for great deals on flights here.

Arrival by Cruise

There are many different cruise companies that offer stops in the U.S. Virgin Islands, such as Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruises, and Royal Caribbean. Most cruise ships dock at the Havensight Pier outside of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.

  Search for great deals on cruises here.

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

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.

  Search for great deals on rental cars here.

US Virgin Islands by Taxi

Taxis are available by both land and water to transport you around the islands.

US Virgin Islands Ferries

Ferries in US Virgin Islands

Ferries from St. Croix or St. Thomas can easily take you to the island of St. John and back.

  Prepare For Flight Cancellations

Airlines are canceling thousands of flights a month these days, so it pays to be protected. Missed connections, hotel stays, tours, etc., can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. That makes travel insurance a must in our opinion. A trip policy can reimburse you for travel losses, while also covering emergency medical needs, lost or stolen luggage (it happens) and more. We think it’s an absolute no-brainer.

  Compare the top rated travel insurance policies here.

Things to Do in US Virgin Islands

With three unique islands to explore, the U.S. Virgin Islands has something for everyone. From beaches, to snorkeling, to jungle and cultural explorations, get lost and relax on “island time”. Here are some of the best activities in the U.S. 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!

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.

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.

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.

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 18th 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!

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.

Things to Do in St. John

St. John Top Highlights

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

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!

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!

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 kayaking/snorkeling/hiking combo tour.

  Night kayaking is also very popular.

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!

1

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.

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!

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.

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This Post Has 8 Comments

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

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

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