United States Virgin Islands

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Photos courtesy of USVI Department of Tourism

St. Thomas is one of the busiest islands in the region, due to a unique American law which grants double duty free allowance to everyone who visits any of these islands. This has made St. Thomas one of the premier shopping destinations in the Caribbean. No small part of this success is due to its popularity as a cruise port of call – on some days, as many as five ships may be in port at Charlotte Amalie.

This is not to say that it has no other attractions. It has beautiful beaches, including world-class Magen’s Bay, and it has the good fortune to be a short ferry ride away from St. John, one of the other U. S. Virgin Islands.

St. Thomas has several popular American hotels, including Marriott, Wyndham, and Ritz-Carlton, as well as other locally owned resorts. It also has a large number of condominiums.

Taken together, St. Thomas is attractive and appealing, great for those who want to stay in the U. S. A., and it doesn’t require a passport for U. S. citizens.

St. John is a 20-minute ferry ride from Red Hook on St. Thomas, to Cruz Bay on St. John. More than two-thirds of the island is taken up by the Virgin Islands National Park; this park contains many of the islands best beaches, including Trunk Bay; a campground, and other typical National Park Service features. On the remaining level land, St. John offers just two beach hotels, the famous Caneel Bay and the luxurious Westin St. John. Cruz Bay has interesting small inns and restaurants, and Gallows Point offers very nice villas at the water’s edge. Unique in the region, Harmony Studios and Concordia Eco-Tents join Maho Bay Camps in providing perhaps the ultimate in eco-sensitive accommodations.

St. Croix is the last of the three U. S. Virgin Islands, and it is by far the most residential of them all. It preserves more of the original Danish feel of these islands, and Christiansted, the largest town on the island, works to preserve its history. Much of that history is tied up with sugar cane farming, and St. Croix has more abandoned sugar mill towers than any other island.

Buck Island is a favorite snorkeling and dive site, and the west end of the island is hillier and more rugged than the rest, inviting hikers and other ecotourists to explore. There are two golf courses, one at The Buccaneer Resort and the other at Carambola Beach Resort. Other notable properties include the Cormorant Beach Club, the Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort and Casino, and the Sugar Beach condominiums.

Not To Be Missed – Virgin Islands National Park on St. John; Magens Bay and duty-free shopping on St. Thomas; Buck Island Snorkeling Trail on St. Croix.

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