The U.S. Virgin Islands form part of the Lesser Antilles Island chain, separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Many of these fifty islands are just rocks or islets set in shimmering turquoise waters. The three largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands are: St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John – each distinguished by their unique personalities.
Our islands offer fun and adventure for every visitor – tennis, golf, horseback riding, biking, sport fishing, hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, parasailing and “snuba” (a unique sport that combines snorkeling and scuba diving).
The U.S. Virgin Islands are among the leaders in the development of “sustainable tourism” – protecting the beauty of the natural environment, while allowing visitors to enjoy it in its pristine wonder. St. John showcases affordable yet comfortable eco-tourism resorts, allowing visitors to experience intimate encounters with the natural beauty of the Caribbean outdoors. St. Thomas offers guided kayak tours (led by experienced naturalists and biologists) through a marine sanctuary and mangrove lagoon. Off the shores of St. Croix, Buck Island offers visitors an unparalleled snorkeling experience at the first underwater national monument in the U.S.A.
The U.S. Virgin Islands offer year-round warm temperatures with averages of 77F in the winter and 82F in the summer. St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John are in the Atlantic Standard Time zone.
With our modern airports and harbor facilities, the U.S. Virgin Islands can be easily reached by air or sea. Traveling between the islands is also convenient, with regular ferry services between St. John and St. Thomas and seaplane and ferry connections between St. Thomas and St. Croix.
St. Thomas: History and Shopping
The prominence of St. Thomas as one of the Caribbean’s most renowned shopping Meccas is, for many, perhaps the most alluring attraction. Unrivaled by any other Caribbean destination, shopping in St. Thomas – combined with fine dining and top quality accommodation – offers truly exceptional value.
Stretched along the waterfront, restored 17th and 18th century warehouses — that once held molasses, rum, spices and other trade goods awaiting export — now house a variety of unique shops containing modern-day treasures. Duty free bargains and exotic treasures can be found in Charlotte Amalie, Mountain Top and Havensight and Port of Sale Malls.
Charlotte Amalie Harbor is the perfect place for visitors to begin their walking journey through St. Thomas history. Fort Christian, built in 1672, is the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands. This brick fortress was constructed to protect the town’s harbor from raiding European armadas, which sailed the Caribbean centuries ago. Having served as St. Thomas’ first Government House, a church and community government center, Fort Christian today is home to the Virgin Islands Museum.
To continue your journey, stroll along the islands winding roads, away from the heart of Charlotte Amalie, to Government House. Visitors interested in getting a glimpse of local political life may tour the first two floors of the building. Continue on, climbing up the 99 Steps (actually 103), which take you to the summit of Government Hill. This vantage point offers a truly breathtaking view of the harbor.
Near the top of the 99 Steps looms the remnants of the medieval-style Fort Skytsborg. Better known as Blackbeard’s Castle, it is one of the many structures erected as part of the Danish colonial government’s attempt to protect the island. While there is no evidence that pirates inhabited the tower, fort Skytsborg continues to hold special intrigue for legend believers. Formerly used as a residence and an observatory, Blackbeard’s Castle is on the National Register of Historic Places and today doubles as both a popular restaurant and hotel.
Complete your tour with a stroll through St. Thomas Market Square or Emancipation Garden — appropriately named in the commemoration of governor Peter von Scholten’s emancipation of the slaves on July 3, 1848.
Whether soaking up the sun on one of our many beautiful beaches, shopping along the downtown waterfront, or touring historical sites spanning nearly three centuries, St. Thomas visitors will find plenty to fill their days.
St. Croix: Rich in Heritage
The historical treasures of St. Croix harken back to a time when the island was a prosperous commercial port and pirates looted its coastline. Colorful shops and fine restaurants, housed in old colonial structures, line St. Croix’s wide streets. The distinctly 18th Century European architecture reflects a period when seven flags — Spanish, Dutch, British, French, Knights of Malta, Danish and American — flew at different times over the island.
Away from the towns of Christiansted and Frederiksted, visitors to St. Croix can discover reminders of the days when sugar cultivation was the island’s main industry. Blessed with captivating natural beauty, extraordinary historic sites, lively cultural traditions and the Virgin Islands’ only casino, St. Croix offers a mix of attractions that has visitors wanting to return.
St. John: unspoiled nature
St. John, the smallest of the most well-known U.S. Virgin Islands, is known for its unspoiled beaches and National Park. Established in the 1950’s with land donated by American financier Laurance Rockefeller, the park now protects about two-thirds of the 19-square mile island, including more than 5,600 acres of offshore marine habitats. The white sandy beaches are shaded, in contrast, by green seagrape trees ad coconut palms. The crystal clear waters are home to a dazzling array of coral reefs and tropical fish.
At Cruz Bay, the island’s main town, visitors can take in an eclectic mix of boutiques, art galleries, bars and fine restaurants, while still enjoying the island’s characteristically slow pace of life.