The U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of three main islands —St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas—plus 50 smaller islets and cays.

 

These exquisite islands are stand-outs in a region that is noted for its natural beauty. Best of all, the Virgin Islands is a territory of the U.S.A. and U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to visit. It’s easy to get to, by boat or plane from the states, making it a very popular vacation destination for Americans.

After twin hurricanes, affectionately known as Irmaria, hit the the islands in 2017 complete devastation was left in their wakes. Although remnants of the storms still remain, there’s also a lot of excitement as old becomes new, with improved services and accommodations. Look for water taxis to help navigate the harbor as the project to widen and beautify our graceful waterfront highway moves into its next phase. Even better, the long-awaited Downtown Revitalization project is nearing completion for an enhanced Main Street experience.

St. Thomas is still the Caribbean’s jewelry mecca and you’ll find a wonderful assortment of everything from bossy bangles and bling to fabulous watches and precious gems direct from the style capitals of the world. Make sure to look for exciting new shops selling fashion, collectables and an assortment of wonderful merchandise from around the globe. Because of the islands unique status under the American flag, it is much more than a duty-free port — There is a customs allowance that’s twice that of other island destinations and there’s no sales tax.

Accommodation choices range from world-class resort hotels, to charming inns, rental villas and vacation apartments. Now, more than ever, there are very interesting real-estate options.

There are great things to do above and below the sea, notable eateries, rich history to explore and a small, but very active night-life scene. As always, it’s your choice to do it all, or just laze under a palm tree sipping a cool frothy drink with a little paper parasol. In case you wondered: Yes. There was a baby boom just nine months after the storms. Caribbean people know how to make the best of their downtime. 

Best time to visit

With all-year temperatures that range in the 80s and the gentle whisper of the trade winds, the climate is perfect most of the year. August through October can be humid and in the winter months you can expect a 15-minute sun-shower around midday. If some serious sky juice dampens your stay, do like the locals do and have a leisurely lunch under an awning and watch the weather. Or catch a first run flick at Market Square East.

Getting to the U.S. Virgin Islands

There are two major airports in the Virgin Islands; the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix.

Non-stop and connecting service from the US mainland to St. Thomas and St. Croix are available. Most flights make connections in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Flights on inter-island carriers can be made from San Juan to St. Thomas and St. Croix and between islands. Below is a table with approximate flying times and a list of airlines with service between the US Mainland and the USVI.

Immigration Matters

The U.S. Virgin Islands is an American territory, so U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to visit.

Transportation

The seaplanes of Seaborne Airlines, (340) 773-5991, are the icons of our inter- island transportation and some of the most exhilarating vacation adventures you can imagine. Take the 20-minute flight to St. Croix aboard a sturdy twin engine, twin pilot seaplane and spend the day touring the big island.

If you are staying on St. Thomas be sure to make the trip to St. John. Ferries leave from Red Hook at regular intervals and from Downtown less frequently. Spend an active day and see everything, or just mosey around Cruz Bay. Best: catch a twilight ferry from Red Hook, have a romantic dinner and enjoy a boat ride home under the stars.

If you’re thinking about a day in the British Virgin Islands first be sure you have your passport with you, then call Native Son Ferry, (340) 774-8685, for travel options. Be forewarned: ferries are among the few things in the Virgin Islands that operate on schedule.

Phone Calls

Don’t be surprised if you experience the occasional dropped call due to our mountainous terrain. Check the roaming package from your carrier. Many have travel packages that offer discounted roaming rates. Calls to the BVI are international and can be expensive, so check with your carrier before you dial.

Free Wi-Fi Zones

4G service on the islands is generally reliable and lots of public places have Wi-Fi. As you tour the islands, use your phone’s navigation system to find the spots on your must- do list! Your Garmin or TomTom will also work here. 

Religious Services

There are a number of churches on the islands. Protestantism is most prevalent, reflecting the territory’s Danish colonial heritage. There is also a strong Roman Catholic presence.

Tax and Tipping

The VI’s special duty-free status, unique customs advantages and high volume all come together to create a true shopper’s paradise. Each U.S. visitor can take up to $1,600 worth of duty-free imports into the U.S. every 30 days. That’s double the $800 allowed for other Caribbean countries, and most international destinations have a limit of $400.00. Your family can make a joint declaration for an expensive item. Liquor is a bargain too. Take home a 5-pack of alcohol and add a sixth bottle if it’s our own Virgin Islands Cruzan Rum or Captain Morgan. Don’t choose 151o liquors–they are highly flammable and are not allowed on aircraft. Tobacco products are well priced too; you’re allowed 100 cigars or five cartons of cigarettes per person.

Tip as in a major U.S. city–a minimum of 15%. There’s no tax on your meal, so you can afford to be generous. For parties of six or more, many restaurants will automatically add a tip, so check your bill to see if it’s included.

Currency

The local currency is US dollars. If you are headed toward the British Virgin Islands you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the legal tender is also U.S. currency. Philatelists will be interested to learn that the BVI is the only British possession where a postage stamp’s cost is printed in USD.  

Banking & ATMs

You’ll find ATM machines at banks, many hotels and various other locations on all three islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands has branches of several national and international banks. The local phone book is your best resource. If you would like to mail something home, our stamps are the same and all US Postal Service rates and regulations apply.

Medical Facilities

Please, don’t have any emergencies! If you do, the Virgin Islands is part of the 911 emergency system. Ask your hotel management or villa rental agent to act as your advocate if you need a friend.

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Coral World Ocean Park, St Thomas, Virgin Islands, USVI

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