The US Virgin Islands are a stunning feature of the Caribbean, boasting pristine white-sand beaches and an array of attractions to explore. Rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, it’s no wonder why visitors from around the world flock here year after year.
From its colorful capital of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas to its lush national parks, there is something for everyone in this vibrant destination. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or an adventurous outdoor experience, you will find what you seek in the US Virgin Islands. Join us on our journey and discover all this enchanting archipelago has to offer.
History of the US Virgin Islands
The islands that we now know as the United States Virgin Islands were inhabited long before the arrival of European explorers. The indigenous peoples were known as the Ciboney, Caribs, and Arawaks. The Spanish believed that the Caribs ate those that they defeated in battle. Thus, their tribal name became the basis for the term cannibal.
There was no remaining native habitation by 1625. Nearby Spanish colonies likely enslaved the population, and diseases carried by Europeans caused many deaths.
At various times, Holland, France, England, Spain, and Denmark controlled these islands. By the 1680s, Denmark established colonies on St. Thomas and St. John, with St. Croix added after being purchased from France in 1733. The islands were at the time collectively known as the Danish West Indies.
The islands remained under Danish control until 1917, when the United States purchased them as a provisioning point for the United States Navy. Then, the islands became known as the United States Virgin Islands. Today the United States Virgin Islands is a U.S. territory with an elected governor. All island residents are citizens of the United States.
Culture of the US Virgin Islands
When you visit the Virgin Islands, you’ll find many similarities to the continental United States. Food choices will include both fast-food restaurants as well as local food. A foodie walking tour in St. Thomas introduces visitors to the rich variety of local cuisine.
Visitors to the US Virgin Islands hear will vary from American pop to Calypso. These islands are a melting pot of Americans, Hispanics, and mixed African or European ancestry. The culture tour in St. Thomas provides a sampling of the local vibe with guides who are knowledgeable and friendly.
When visiting the US Virgin Islands, be aware that English is the main spoken language, although Spanish and Creole are spoken often when residents interact.
Visit St. Thomas
St. Thomas has many excellent public beaches to enjoy. Among these, some of the best are Honeymooners Beach, Brewers Bay, and Magens Bay.
For spectacular views, visit Mountain Top and Drake’s Seat. Mountain Top sits at the highest point on St. Thomas and has excellent views of Magen’s Bay and the nearby island of St. John. Drake’s Seat provides a panoramic view of where the Caribbean Sea joins the Atlantic Ocean.
Here are some beach experiences to consider when making your travel plans:
St. Thomas is an excellent place to visit. Your biggest problem will be finding enough time for all that it offers.
Visit St. John
St. John is the smallest of the US Virgin Islands, and over two-thirds of its landmass is designated as a national park, ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. The island’s white sand beaches with crystal clear water are perfect for snorkeling or SCUBA diving.
The southern coast offers unspoiled views and sights that will be sure to impress even the most experienced traveler. Trunk Bay is one of the more popular spots, with its underwater trail featuring signage that explains local marine life and coral reef formations. Hawksnest Beach provides a great spot for families looking to relax in sugary powder sands while swimming in calm turquoise waters or enjoying beachside barbecues.
St. John provides a break from the quick-paced life on the other islands. It has an extensive natural park and quiet beaches to explore. The island is accessible by water taxi from St. Thomas.
Two-thirds of St. John is land protected by the United States Park Service. This includes forests, shorelines, and underwater lands.
Laurence Rockefeller prompted the park’s creation with a gift of 5,000 acres of land in 1956. Experience the entire island through the eyes of a local with a private guided tour of St. John Island from Viator.
Visit St. Croix
St. Croix is the largest and most diverse of the US Virgin Islands, providing a wealth of cultural and historical entertainment for visitors. St. Croix has two towns, Christiansted and Frederiksted, filled with historic charms that create a perfect romantic getaway.
The main city on the island is Christiansted, with cobblestone streets lined with colorful Caribbean buildings from the 1700s. There are many excellent restaurants here that serve local cuisine as well as international fare. Shopping in town offers numerous opportunities to pick up unique souvenirs or locally produced items like jewelry and handcrafted pottery.
Christiansted has many historical sites to visit, including churches and rows of restored townhouses. The town has excellent restaurants to enjoy while you are experiencing its many charms. To see the island from a different vantage point, consider a jet ski tour for an action-packed adventure.
In Frederiksted, the waterfront near the cruise ship terminal is Rainbow Beach. While you are on the beach, food and drinks are readily available. After you finish your time on the beach, Fort Frederiksted is nearby with its excellent harbor views.
St. Croix also has plenty of natural attractions to explore, such as Cramer Park Preserve Nature Trail, which takes you through lush jungle terrain filled with tropical plants and wildlife along an exquisitely beautiful walking trail. Buck Island Reef National Monument is a must-see, featuring a pristine coral reef that provides excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities.
If You Visit the US Virgin Islands
In the US Virgin Islands, your dreams of a tropical paradise come to life. Whether you’re seeking retail therapy, beach bliss, culinary delights, or a dive into history, these enchanting islands offer something for every traveler.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, bask in the natural beauty, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the US Virgin Islands, where every day brings new adventures, and a sense of pure bliss awaits.
You can visit the US Virgin Islands either by booking a cruise ship or by making an extended visit with a flight and hotel. For more information on visiting these wonderful islands, check out their tourism websites:
Visit St. Thomas – visitstthomas.com
Explore St. Croix – visitstcroix.com
See St. John – vinow.com/stjohn