Best places to visit in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Are you wondering what are the best places to visit in the U.S. Virgin Islands?
The United States Virgin Islands (abbreviated USVI) is a group of Caribbean islands and a United States territory. The USVI consists of the 3 main islands (Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas) and 50 other surrounding minor islands. St. Thomas is the busiest and most densely populated of the three. Lovely towns, fascinating tourist attractions, renowned national parks, underwater snorkelling trails, beautiful beaches and lots of hiking. All of this awaits you in the U.S. Virgin Islands!
But where to start? What to see in the Virgin Islands?
To start off, check out this list of some of the best places to visit in the Virgin Islands.
7 best places to visit in the Virgin Islands
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands and a popular cruise ship port in the Caribbean Sea.
Known for its Danish colonial architecture, Charlotte Amalie is a beautiful place to visit.
Charlotte Amalie highlights:
- Blackbeard’s Castle — a watchtower built in 1679 and a National Historic Landmark.
- The flower and tree-lined 99 Steps lead to the Blackbeard’s Castle, which boasts panoramic views.
- Fort Christian — a 17th-century fort, now a museum that features artefacts from the Danish era.
- The Skyride aerial tram takes travellers to Paradise Point.
Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas
Explore coral reefs and learn more about marine life in Coral World Ocean Park, one of the best places to visit in the Virgin Islands!
The marine park features Turtle Pool, Shark Shallows, Dolphin Sanctuary, Stingray Lagoon, Freshwater Pool, Tortoise Pool, Underwater Observatory, Reef Observatory, petting zoo, aviaries and more.
The most fascinating perhaps is Undersea Observatory — only one of its kind in the Caribbean. With a daily feeding at 1:40 pm, it’s an amazing way to ethically observe marine life.
Coral World Ocean Park is especially very popular with families with young children.
Magens Bay Beach & Drake’s Seat, St. Thomas
Magens Bay is a beautiful bay in the Northside region on St. Thomas, and one of the best places to visit in the Virgin Islands.
The bay is home to one of the most popular sand beaches in the Virgin Islands — Magens Bay Beach. It is a 1.2 km long stretch of white sand backed by jungle.
The beach is sheltered, and the water is usually calm with no waves or current. This makes it a great place for swimming. The bay deepens gradually, making it safe for children.
When visiting Magens Bay, do not miss Drake’s Seat — a popular viewpoint with panoramic views of Magens Bay and the surrounding islands.
Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline, St. Thomas
Fly through the jungle canopy of St. Thomas with Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline, an award-winning zipline park in the Virgin Islands!
Located on St. Peter Mountain, this high-speed zipline allows you to soar through the jungle at the speed of 55 km/h, 450 m above sea level.
The zipline park features six ziplines, two-foot bridges and eight aerial tree platforms, as well as guides and personal safety gear. The ride provides great views of the island-dotted bays.
Virgin Islands National Park, St. John
Preserving about 60% of the land area of St. John, Virgin Islands National Park is one of the most celebrated places in the Virgin Islands.
The national park comprises not only a large part of St. John but also the island’s waters, coral reefs, shoreline and nearly all of Hassel Island.
The national park boasts beautiful beaches which often are named some of the best in the world. These include:
- Trunk Bay — backed by jungle and great for snorkelling;
- Francis Bay — boasting calm waters, it is home to sea turtles;
- Honeymoon Beach — features soft white sand and tall palm trees;
- Cinnamon Bay — features a long and wide beach which is good for snorkelling and water sports;
- Maho Bay — known for its calm and shallow waters.
Virgin Islands National Park is popular with scuba divers and snorkellers and has multiple hiking trails through the tropical rainforest. The world’s first marked underwater trail for snorkelling is located in Virgin Islands National Park.
Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix
Buck Island Reef National Monument is a small, inhabited island about 2.4 km north of the northeast coast of St. Croix.
Boasting a vibrant coral reef, it’s a very popular diving destination and one of the best places to visit in the Virgin Islands.
This 18.43 km2 reef is home to over 250 fish species, spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks, lemon sharks, Blacktip reef sharks, Whitetip reef sharks and other species. In the spring and summer various turtle species nest on the island’s beaches.
There’s a marked underwater trail on the eastern tip of the island.
Water Island is a compact island that lies to the south of St. Thomas.
With a population of less than 200 people, Water Island is a laid back beach destination with no stores, public transport and no hotels (only some private villas and a campground).
The most popular attraction on Water Island is the palm tree-lined Honeymoon Beach. With its white sand and clear waters, Honeymoon beach is truly a gem. There are coral reefs, and you can spot sea turtles in the water.
U.S. Virgin Islands travel tips
- The United States Virgin Islands (abbreviated USVI) is a territory of the United States. So the same visa rules apply as with the continental United States.
- Citizens of many European countries don’t need a visa to travel to the USVI but are required to obtain an electronic authorisation (ESTA).
- There is only one official ESTA website and that is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The official fee is $14.00. All other sites offering this service are third party, and they charge extra.
- Tipping is customary in the USVI, just like in the rest of the United States. A tip of 20 per cent on top of the bill is standard. Sometimes, a service charge (tip) is already added to the bill. You do not need to add an additional tip in this case.
- The power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 120 V. Buy a travel adapter and converter to safely use your electronics.
- The best time to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands is mid-December to May. May is the shoulder season when accommodation is cheaper, and there are less crowds.
- The hurricane season runs from June to November 30.
- Renting a car is the most efficient way to get around in the Virgin Islands. Note that cars drive on the left.
- Ferries operate between the islands.