The US Virgin Islands (USVI) are a group of about 90 small islands, islets, cays, and rocks in the West Indies, located about 64 to 80 kilometres east of Puerto Rico. These are US territories, but they feel like they’re a world away! These amazing islands have so many unique things to see and do.
Here are the three main US Virgin Islands:
Saint Thomas island is the most popular destination in the US Virgin Islands. It has many resort options, water sports, and other typical amenities of a resort destination!
This island is perfect for fun and relaxation. It is the most developed island, and if you are planning to visit the USVI via cruise ship, this is the island you’ll most likely visit.
Two-thirds of the island of St John is covered in greenery and beautiful shores. This island is perfect for hiking and snorkelling. St. John leads the way in environmental preservation and draws an outdoorsy and adventurous crowd.
The largest island, St Croix, attracts divers and drinkers with incredible scuba sites and tasty rum factories. Tour three national parks, explore historic Sugarmill ruins, experience world-class restaurants and local flavours, hike through subtropical rainforest, or kayak through the bioluminescent bay at night, these are just a few of the best things to do on the island!
Interested in visiting the beautiful US Virgin Islands?
Continuing reading to learn about the best time to visit the US Virgin Islands and discover some of the best things to see and do while exploring these gorgeous islands!
Getting to the US Virgin Islands
United Airlines and American Airlines can get you to the US Virgin Islands! It may be a long flight with a layover or two, but these islands are worth the wait.
Another great way to get to the US Virgin Islands is on a Caribbean cruise. A lot of these cruises depart from a port in Florida like Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa and travel all over the Caribbean islands. Cruise ships from Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and more all have itineraries that sail to the US Virgin Islands.
Entry Requirements for Canadians
Canadians require a passport valid for the duration of their stay but a visa is not required.
All non-citizen air travelers aged 18 and over traveling to the United States need to display a COVID vaccination certificate. There are no pre-departure testing requirements in the US Virgin Islands.
The best way to get around any U.S. Virgin Islands is in a car, either a rental or a taxi.
- You’ll find hordes of licensed V.I. taxis in downtown Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, or by the docks in St. John and St. Croix, and they’re a great way to move around the islands.
- Taxies will stop at all the major tourist sites.
- Beware: they aren’t metered, so negotiate your fare before accepting the ride.
- Most travelers pay somewhere between $8 and $40 per person for a round-trip taxi to and from the hotels to the top sights on St. Thomas
- Between $12 and $54 per person for round-trip fares in St. John
- Between $16 and $72 per person for a round-trip taxi around much of St. Croix.
- Because the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the United States, you won’t need a special driving permit; a valid driver’s license will suffice.
- Rental car agencies are located on each island, and car barges will allow you to transport your vehicle between islands.
- Roads in the U.S. Virgin Islands are often narrow, winding, steep, and bumpy.
- Ask to rent a car with four-wheel drive, remember to keep to the left, and beware of the blind curves.
- Tip: Drivers often yield to other cars on the road and frequently use one or two quick honks to say “thank you” when drivers let them in (don’t forget to say “you’re welcome” with a quick honk in return).
USVI Travel Tips
If you’re planning a trip to the US Virgin Islands you’ll need to double-check the ingredient list on your favorite sunscreen. The US Virgin Islands have banned sunscreens with these three ingredients, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate. These three chemicals are believed to cause significant harm to the ecosystem, like coral bleaching.
Anyone caught using, or possessing sunscreens with these ingredients will be fined $1000 for the first offense and $2000 for each time after.
As always, it is a good idea to purchase travel insurance. International travelers to the U.S. Virgin Islands should consider travel insurance as healthcare costs are high. Disruptions to your vacation can result in unexpected expenses, especially during the pandemic.
If you’re from the U.S. or Great Britain, your coverage may extend into the Virgin Islands.
You can book a trip to the US Virgin Islands on virtually any kind of budget. A big factor in travel prices in the USVI depends on the season you are going to travel during.
In the spring, the tourist season slows and hotel rates drop during this time of year but increases around spring break, which is a popular time for spring breakers to travel to sunny destinations. The high tourist season is considered to be March, April, and May. The beginning of June is an ideal time to visit the US Virgin Islands with great deals, fewer tourists, and no spring breakers.
You’ll find amazing package deals and resort rates if you travel during the summer months because hurricane season is in full swing from late June to October. So if you are okay with risking the chance of tropical storms, this can be a great time to travel to these islands if you are on a budget. Travel during the low season means you can enjoy the island without the crowds and lower rates for resorts.
The most affordable month to fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands is in September. Travelers can find unbelievable package deals and hotel rooms if they travel during the autumn months. It’s good to note that hurricane season occurs until the end of October.
Fall is a shoulder season on the islands, which means fewer tourists but comes with minimal store/restaurant closings. The fall is a wonderful time to visit if you’re looking for lower prices.
Winter is the peak tourist season in the U.S Virgin Islands, which corresponds with many other Caribbean islands. Expect to pay higher rates since hotel and resort rates can increase by an additional $150 or more per night! So if you want to get away for the winter holidays, be prepared to pay a bit more and deal with more crowded beaches.
The U.S. Virgin Islands have tropical weather and are hot all year round. In the USVI’s peak season, from December to March, the average temperature ranges from the mid-20s to the low 30s with breezy evenings. July to October is the region’s hurricane season with average temps in the low 30s.
One of the best times to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands is from April to early June when you can expect pleasant weather and very little rainfall. Average temperatures range from the mid-20s to the low 30s and there’s generally little rainfall, making this period a great time to visit before hurricane season arrives.
July to October is the region’s peak hurricane season with hot average temperatures in the low 30s. If you decide to visit despite the threat of hurricanes, consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your trip. The hottest months are from May to October, with an average high of around 31/32 °C, during which, however, the heat is cooled by the breeze. The sunniest time in the US Virgin Islands is in August.
The fall months in the Virgin Islands are an underrated season with not as many tourists; weather conditions are warm with an abundance of sunshine and cooling wind. On average this time of year has an average high of around 31/32°C. The rainiest months in the Virgin Islands are November, October, and September. The most humid month is November and the wettest month of the year is September, so pack rain gear just in case when traveling in September!
In the winter months, there is a cooler temperature period from December to March, with average highs still being around 29 °C. Temperatures stay around 26 degrees during the winter; this is when the trade winds start, which many residents refer to as the Christmas Winds in the evenings. The driest months in the USVI are typically February and March. Cold weather is rare but make sure to pack a jacket just in case when trying during the winter months.
Best Things To See and Do in the US Virgin Islands
Relax on Beautiful Beaches
This bay is located just 3 miles north of Charlotte Amalie, and might be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The water here is calm, the bay itself is wide and surrounded by lush, green hills. This beach is a very popular one! The bay has lifeguards, picnic tables, changing facilities, a taxi stand, food vendors, and water-sports operators renting kayaks, paddleboards and paddleboats. Everything you need for an amazing beach day.
Close to St. John’s vibrant main town and port, Cruz Bay is home to most of the 28-square-mile island’s restaurants, bars, stores and dive centers. Two-thirds of affluent St. John is a national park, and many safari buses and jeeps set out from Cruz Bay. Don’t miss local art and history at Elaine Ione Sprauve Museum or the pristine sand of Hawksnest Bay, popular with snorkelers due to its nearby reef. There is no airport; ferries connect the town of 2750 with other islands.
This long and beautiful beach is one of the most popular on the island. It’s the only one that charges a fee. There are showers, toilets, picnic facilities, snorkel rental, a snack bar, and a taxi stand. The most popular feature of this beach is the underwater snorkeling trail!
This bay is close to the Annaberg mill ruins. You can park in the plantation’s parking lot and follow the trail along the water for 25 minutes. Relax on the beach or go snorkeling for some of St John’s best snorkeling, which is located at the bay’s east end.
This is a beautiful and secluded beach, but be aware: there is no shade or facilities, and you’ll have to hike about 20 minutes through the scrub to reach it. However, it’s all worth it for this amazing stretch of sand!
The Nature Conservancy manages this area as a preserve for green and hawksbill turtles, you can see them from July to December. Snorkeling on the coral reef here is good, but there can be a strong current at times.
Located on St. Thomas, Coki is on a protected cove at the entrance to Coral World marine park. The snorkelling is excellent, with lots of fish! The narrow beach fills up with locals and tourists enjoying the eateries, hair-braiding vendors and loud music. Great for people looking for a party scene!
The water in Maho Bay is shallow and less choppy than some other places around St. John (good for snorkeling and kids); you might even see green sea turtles in the early morning or late afternoon, and maybe a stingray or two! There’s a parking lot and a changing room, as well as a bar, a food truck, and water-sports rentals. Maho can get crowded in the afternoons, but it never gets packed.
Explore Virgin Islands National Park
Virgin Islands National Park covers two-thirds of St John, plus thousands of acres underwater. The park offers miles of shoreline, pristine reefs, and 26 hiking trails. The park visitor center is an essential first step to getting free guides on hiking, birdwatching, petroglyph sites, and ranger-led activities. Green iguanas, geckos, hawksbill turtles, and wild donkeys roam the landscape. A couple of good trails leave from right behind the center.
Dive to Colourful Coral Reefs
From eagle rays, sea turtles and lobsters, to nurse sharks, barracuda, schools of fish and even seahorses the US Virgin Islands is an amazing spot to get out your snorkel and dip your head under the water. Here are some of the best snorkeling spots around the popular islands.
- Cow and Calf Rocks
- Coki Point Beach
- Shoys Beach, St. Croix
- Buck Island, St. Croix
- Frederiksted Pier, St. Croix
- Cane Bay, St. Croix
- Leinster Bay, St. John
- Great Lameshur Bay, St. John
- Jumbie Bay, St. John
- Salt Pond Bay, St. John
Enjoy Outdoor Activities
The US Virgin Islands are a diver’s paradise! There are more than 60 dive sites throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. These dives range from novice to expert and can take you to beautiful coral reefs, mangroves, and the remains of several Navy barges sunk after WWII. See octopus, seahorses, frogfish and batfish during a pier dive at night.
Hike through history along National Park trails and up lush green hills for amazing island views, go off-roading in a jeep, ziplining, kayaking, or horseback riding. Explore tide pools, go windsurfing, and charter a yacht or catamaran. The opportunities are endless!
Shop in Charlotte Amalie
Charlotte Amalie is a city and cruise ship port on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas and it is the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Its Danish colonial architecture includes Blackbeard’s Castle, a 1600s watchtower. The 99 Steps ascend to the tower, which has beautiful, panoramic views. East of town, the Skyride aerial tram climbs to Paradise Point.
Main Street is one of the more famous shopping districts in the Caribbean. This street is lined on both sides of the street with shops of every kind, all offering duty-free bargains.
Explore Fascinating Historical Sites
Many people travel to learn about the world around them. Why not learn about the US Virgin Islands’ interesting history by visiting the sites they took place at?
Christiansted National Historic Site
Explore a fort that held its own against pirate onslaughts, hurricanes and slave revolts. Cannons, a dungeon, and latrines with amazing sea views await inside.
Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins
Part of the Virgin Island national park, this site is located near Leinster Bay and is home to the most intact sugar-plantation ruins in the Virgin Islands. Walk through the slave quarters, village, windmill, rum still, and dungeon. Cultural demonstrations take place often during the week and range from baking ‘dum bread’ to basket weaving.
Cruzan Rum Distillery
Learn how the islands’ popular elixir gets made, and stop by the historic distillery for a tour. The tour takes about 20 minutes and then you get to sample some rum after – sounds like 20 minutes well spent!
The red-brick Fort Christian is the oldest Danish fortification in the Caribbean, dating to 1672. Over the years it has housed a jail, a governor’s residence, and a Lutheran church. To make the entry fee worthwhile, take part in the curator’s tour which is at 10 am daily and is included with admission.
St Thomas Synagogue
The second-oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere, the peaceful St Thomas Synagogue is a National Historic Landmark. The temple floor is made of sand to symbolize the flight of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the desert.
Captain Morgan Rum Distillery
Captain Morgan opened its shiny distillery on St Croix in 2010. The visitor center offers 30-minute tours. Enjoy multimedia films, self-guided information panels and, of course, samples of the Captain’s rum.
The Best Time to Visit the USVI
To sum it all up: no matter which island you decide to visit, the best time of year to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands is from April to early June, when you can expect nice weather with very little rainfall and the islands won’t be packed with visitors. Specifically, the beginning of June is an ideal time to visit the US Virgin Islands, since travelers can still find great deals before the summer rush, there will be fewer tourists and good weather right before hurricane season starts. Enjoy!
ARE YOU READY TO SEE THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS?
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