The U.S. Virgin Islands are located east of Puerto Rico and west of the British Virgin Islands and can be reached via a direct flight from the east coast of the U.S. Since the USVI are a United States territory, no passport is required for U.S. citizens, making them a convenient Caribbean destination for those with no time to acquire or renew a passport.
But the charms of the USVI are more than just convenience. The three main islands – St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas – offer some of the most breathtaking beaches in the Caribbean, not to mention world-class diving, snorkeling, and water sports. Each island offers its own distinct atmosphere catering to everyone from outdoorsy couples to fun-loving families, and the islands are only a short ferry or boat ride away from one another (and very close to the neighboring British Virgin Islands as well).
If you’re looking for a hassle-free tropical escape, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ mix of stunning natural beauty, wide range of activities, and ease of travel is hard to beat.
St. Croix: St. Croix is the largest and most remote of the U.S. Virgin Islands, perfect for anyone looking for a low-key, secluded getaway. Featuring a varied landscape with a rainforest in the west and an arid, cactus-covered landscape in the east, St. Croix offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, from beach lounging to horseback riding. But the island may be most famous for its offerings at sea; “The Wall,” a vertical stretch of coral reef running along the island’s North Shore, is widely recognized as one of the most spectacular diving and snorkeling sites in the Caribbean.
St. John: The USVI’s smallest island is also its most pristine, with about 60% of the island protected as national parkland. Unsurprisingly, the island attracts nature lovers looking to hike through shady nature trails, relax on snow-white sand, and swim in crystal-clear water. St. John’s most well known beach, Trunk Bay, even provides an underwater snorkeling trail marked with informative signs. The island’s proximity to Tortola makes it a great base for day trips to the British Virgin Islands, too.
St. Thomas: As the U.S. Virgin Islands’ most populated island – and home to its capital, Charlotte Amalie – St. Thomas offers the widest variety of duty-free shopping, restaurants, and family-friendly activities, including the popular Coral World Ocean Park and thrilling zipline tours. St. Thomas is also home to heart-shaped Magens Bay, widely recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, as well as the seaside Mahogany Run Golf Course.
Due to their tropical location, the U.S. Virgin Islands experience balmy weather year-round, with temperatures consistently hovering in the 70s and 80s.
The islands get the most visitors during the typical holidays – Easter/Spring Break and Christmas – and tend to be quiet from mid-April to mid-December, particularly between late August and November. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, fall is the time to visit; though technically hurricane season lasts from June to November, the U.S. Virgin Islands haven’t experienced a major hurricane in decades.
Carnival season is a great time to visit the USVI. Each of the three main islands has its own Carnival with parades, food fairs, live music, and pageants. St. Thomas’s Carnival is held after Easter, typically at the end of April or beginning of May; St. John’s month-long Carnival starts in late June and culminates on the 4th of July; and St. Croix’s Carnival starts around Christmas and lasts through the New Year.
Tracy has been in the travel industry since 1998, and though she has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe, she continues to return to the U.S. Virgin Islands again and again. Her specialty is helping travelers find the perfect USVI villa rental for their family vacation, couples getaway, or celebration.