Photo Credit: TN
The U.S. Virgin Islands Travel Guide: Experience The Perfect Getaway
The U.S. Virgin Islands is located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea with three main islands to explore: St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. There are also 50 small islets and cays. There’s plenty to discover from the stunning beach views to the delicious cuisine and rich history. The connection between African and Caribbean roots, along with the historical significance of slavery and emancipation in the area, lend a unique atmosphere to the island. There are plenty of ways to spend your day in the U.S. Virgin Islands including outdoor activities like snorkeling, diving, hiking and horseback riding.
U.S. Virgin Islands Quick Travel Facts
- Best time to travel: December to April (peak season) and June to October (shoulder season)
- Time zone: Atlantic Standard Time (AST)
- Noteworthy: St. Thomas International Regatta (March), St. Thomas Carnival (April), Taste of St. Croix (June), Crucian Christmas Festival (December)
- Vacation type: Island Life Getaway, Food and Wine Tours, Outdoor Adventures, Friends or Family Group Trip
Play: Things To Do In The U.S. Virgin Islands
Virgin Island Food Tours
The Virgin Island Food Tours is a great way to experience authentic St. Croix cuisine from multiple locally owned restaurants for the price of one. Travelers will get to try local favorites that only locals know about as they are guided through Downtown Christiansted.
On the island food tour, tourists will learn about St. Croix’s diverse history that dates back to the early 1400s. They also will discover the origins of the local food and drinks, which are rooted in sustainability and agriculture.
Tan Tan Tours
Travelers get a day of off-roading fun and Instagrammable vacation photos with the Tan Tan Tours. With their colorful 4-wheel drive Jeeps, this island tour lets them explore the island’s most scenic spots with ease. There are both individual and group tours with flexible times, which makes it easy to plan things out. The company encourages touring with friends and family groups to make the adventure more memorable.
There are a variety of tour options, including full-day excursions from the East to the West with lunch and swimming stops, half-day scenic tours on the West End with swimming stops, and an Annaly Bay Tide Pool Swim three hour tour.
Half-Day Sail and Snorkel with the Turtles
This Half-Day Sail and Snorkel excursion will give amazing stories for travelers to tell once they return home. This beautiful St. Thomas cruise is an absolute must-do.
Travelers will get the opportunity to sail and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Turtle Cove and see some beautiful sea turtles in their natural habitat. The tour will take them to Buck Island to experience the breathtaking National Wildlife Marine Refuge. The half-day tour includes snorkel gear, a shower and an onboard bar with rum drinks, beer, soda, bottled water and light snacks.
Cocktail Sunset Cruise
The Cocktail Sunset Cruise is a dream activity for any vacation. This 2-hour boat tour is the perfect way to enjoy the breathtaking views of St. Thomas, while sipping cocktails and munching on delicious appetizers. Travelers get to witness the stunning island sunset from the best possible vantage point on the deck of the boat. A professional tour guide also will share the island’s rich history, making this a unforgettable experience.
Tropical Bliss Spa & Beauty Bar
Tropical Bliss Spa and Beauty Bar is a luxurious spa experience that serves as the perfect way to end a island getaway. This spa and beauty bar is Black woman-owned and operated by Emeka Willis. Her mission is to provide affordable spa and natural skincare services to her St. Thomas community.
Travelers can indulge in a range of services, such as deep cleansing facials, soothing saunas and relaxing massages. They also can indulge in special packages including a microdermabrasion facial, body scrub, sauna and massage bundles.
Gourmet: Best Black-Owned Restaurants in The U.S. Virgin Islands
La Reine Chicken Shack
La Reine Chicken Shack was TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice in 2022 for good reason. The Caribbean-style barbecue menu features flavorful chicken and seafood dishes like stew oxtail, pot fish, conch fritters and kingfish. It also features delicious vegetable sides like mashed cassava root and sweet (Maduro) and toasted (tostones) plantains. The combination of flavors and textures, along with the relaxed environment, make this St. Croix restaurant a must-try experience on the island.
The Bistro VI
The Bistro VI is a charming restaurant that offers a regular breakfast, lunch and drink menu, along with its seasonal cantina and fusion specials. The restaurant offers outdoor seating, indoor air-conditioned dining or quick carry-out services, which makes it the perfect place for every traveler need.
The baristas and chefs at The Bistro VI are known for their friendliness. They create delicious fresh coffee, espresso, daily bread, bagels, pastries, salads, soups and sandwiches. When traveling to St. Croix with little ones, this restaurant has the perfect health-conscious menu and kid-friendly environment.
Blue Eleven is run by Executive Chef David Benjamin, who created the seven, nine or 11 course tasting menus for the St. Thomas-based the restaurant. He combines fresh local ingredients with the finest techniques to create a high-end culinary experience. The menu has luxurious island-inspired dishes, like butter-poached halibut, pan-seared Caribbean lobster tail and braised Wagyu short ribs. Whether traveling solo or on a group trip, reservations are recommended and can be easily booked by phone or online.
Twist 3440 is the perfect place for travelers looking to try something a little more unexpected during their visit to St. Thomas. This Caribbean cuisine restaurant is nestled in the Yacht Haven Grande marina area and has stunning views of the water.
The restaurant has a unique approach to traditional island favorites, and adds its own twist of Caribbean and tapas-style recipes. The cozy indoor and spacious outdoor seating creates a chill ambiance that’s perfect for any meal of the day. There are brunch, lunch and dinner menus available Monday through Saturday featuring meals like the Saltfish Breakfast Bowl, Twisst’d French Toast, Curry Chicken Sliders, and island-style guava or tamarind BBQ glaze wings.
AMA at Cane Bay
AMA at Cane Bay in St. Croix is an upscale seafood restaurant with menus crafted by Executive Chef Faheem Maolud. He is a Black man on a mission to bring upscale local cuisine to everyone.
With a commitment to sustainable seafood, AMA at Cane Bay is a true seafood-lovers paradise. The appetizer menu is loaded with seafood delights, such as crab souffle dip with chef’s bread, slow roasted pork belly and spiced prawns, and yellowfin tuna crudo. The entrees do not disappoint either. Travelers can taste the almond crusted mahi, lobster fettuccine or vegetable melange.
For dessert, AMA at Cane Bay offers delectable dishes, like the key west key lime pie, cruzan rum chocolate chip bread pudding and flourless dark chocolate rum cake.
Stay: Best Places to Stay In The U.S. Virgin Islands
Beautiful Oceanview Studio — Magens Bay View
This Black woman-owned Airbnb is located in the peaceful northside residential area of St. Thomas and boasts a relaxing Caribbean theme throughout the home. The home is a short drive to Magens Bay Beach, which is less than 30 minutes from the Charlotte Amalie area. There, travelers will find fantastic shopping places, dining options and bars.
After a long day of exploring, this stay allows travelers the opportunity to unwind in the cozy king-sized bed, while enjoying high-speed internet and different streaming services. The fully equipped kitchen is perfect for whipping up meals, and the balcony and outdoor space has gorgeous ocean views. It is a great backdrop to end every day of your stay.
Sea Whisper Beach Condo
The Sea Whisper Beach Condo is a newly renovated condo with stunning views of the ocean and Buck Island National Park. It’s 10 minutes away from downtown Christiansted, St. Croix. It’s within walking distance of white sandy beaches, grocery stores, banks and other shops.
The fully equipped kitchen has a beautiful design of seaglass tiles and modern stainless steel appliances. This stay even offers an onsite restaurant, Olympic pool, outdoor grill, and tennis and pickle ball court.
Oceanfront Condo with Pool
The Oceanfront Condo in St. Croix is beautiful and located a short stroll away from the famous Cane Bay Beach, which is one of the best spots for swimming and diving in the entire Caribbean. This stay comes with beach essentials including towels, chairs and a small cooler for guests to enjoy the white sandy beaches.
There are also plenty of local restaurants and nightlife within walking distance, so guests won’t have to go far to enjoy the vibrant culture of the island. With only nine units in the charming community, travelers will feel right at home in this small and welcoming environment.
The Red Gate Villas
The Red Gate Villas is a Black family-owned island hotel located in downtown Charlotte Amalie. The charming villas are in the perfect spot to explore all that the island has to offer. With free WiFi, an equipped kitchen, air conditioning, and a washer and dryer, guests will feel right at home while they’re less than 10 minutes away from Magens Bay and multiple waterfront restaurants.
Get Away: Getting to and Around The U.S. Virgin Islands
Most travelers visit the tropical territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands by flying into the Cyril E. King International Airport on the island of St. Thomas. At the airport, other islands can be reached by connecting to a ferry or small plane. The ferries operate between the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix and are a convenient, affordable way to get around.
The most popular way to get around the U.S. Virgin Islands is to rent a car. It allows travelers the freedom to explore the islands at their own pace. There are several car rental companies located at the airports in St. Thomas and St. Croix. It is important to know that driving in the U.S. Virgin Islands is on the left side of the road because it follows the British’s driving rules.
St. Thomas has the VITRAN bus system that provides service to many areas of the island including popular destinations, such as Charlotte Amalie and Magens Bay. The buses are generally safe and reliable with reasonable fares, but the service may be infrequent in some areas.
St. Croix has the Virgin Islands Public Transit System (VIPTS) that operates several bus routes to different areas of the island, including Frederiksted and Christiansted.
Ferries are another option for getting around the islands. The Virgin Islands Ferry operates routes between St. Thomas and St. John. It also has routes in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The ferry service is reliable and efficient with beautiful views.
Explore The U.S. Virgin Islands on Foot
Exploring any island on foot requires careful planning to understand the terrain. It is important to wear the right shoes and attire. The U.S. Virgin Islands have a lot of beautiful trails to hike and spots with scenic views. There are guided tours on the islands to learn more about the history, culture and locals.