Many experienced travelers proclaim the US Virgin Islands to be among the prettiest lands in the entire Caribbean. Located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, the three largest islands are Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, with many smaller islands surrounding them. They form 133 square miles of gorgeous terrain with lovely beaches and a brilliant climate, and if you love life outdoors, the US Virgin Islands will surely delight.
As part of the United States, the national language is English. Several creole languages are spoken too, and you might hear Spanish during your visit. The US dollar is the official currency. More than two million visitors arrive each year, many via cruise ships, but you can still find quiet beaches or nature trails where you can unwind amidst nature’s beauty.
Life is Charming in the US Virgin Islands
From January through May, the islands are dry and oh, so pleasant. Storms are not common during the dry season. Summers can get sticky, and the hurricane season runs from July into December. Unless there’s a storm brewing, there’s not a bad time to be in the US Virgin Islands. Here’s a taste of the culture you’ll enjoy:
- Cuisine in the US Virgin Islands: Hearty dishes with plenty of spice are common here. Restaurants here prepare food the way visitors like it, with slight variations for interest. If you want to eat like an islander, be sure to sample the boiled cornmeal dish know as fungi (foon-gee) or the soup made from the leaves of the callaloo tree. Add a dish of saltfish or boiled fish, if that suits your palate!
- Music in the Virgin Islands: West Indian (Caribbean), African and European influences have shaped the music enjoyed throughout the Caribbean. Live bands in the US Virgin Islands enjoy playing these styles that include calypso, chutney, dancehall, dub, junkanoo, reggae, rocksteady, scratch, soca and steelpan.
Things to Do in the US Virgin Islands
Plan your time wisely if you want to get a lot in, because there is so much to do. Of course, if you plan to relax on a beach during your time here, that’s perfect too. Here are the top activities in the US Virgin Islands.
- Tour the Sea and Islands by Boat: US Virgin Islands boats tours are a popular activity for travelers here. Tour operators are very accommodating and know how to show you an awesome time on sea and land. Like a recent tourist from Washington DC, many say that a tour “was the best part of our stay here.”
- Take it Easy in the Sand and Surf: The beach might be the biggest draw here. The top beaches in the US Virgin Islands include Maho Beach, recently called, “the best beach on St. John and great for kids”, Watermelon Cay in Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay, Scott Beach, Magens Bay, Salomon Beach, Cinnamon Bay and quite a few more.
- Trek the Trails: Great exercise and jaw-dropping views can be yours on the best trails in the Virgin Islands such as Ram Head Trail, Reef Bay Trail, Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail, Francis Bay Trail, L’Esperance Trail and Bordeaux Mountain Trail.
- Tip a Rum Cocktail: There are several rum distilleries here, and the local product is outstanding. Straight or in a favorite cocktail, the rum will soothe nicely.
- Take Home Trinkets, Gifts and More: The shopping in the US Virgin Islands is varied and fun. Upscale jewelry stores, fashionable clothes boutiques, art galleries and quaint, out of the way stores selling local goods provide a shopping smorgasbord.
- Tour Interesting Historical Sites and Museums: Enthusiasts of history and architecture will both find cool places to visit in the US Virgin Islands. Top attractions are St. Thomas Synagogue, Frederiksted Pier, Annaberg Sugar Plantation, Fort Christiansvaern, Frederick Lutheran Church, Blackbeard’s Castle, Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Peace Hill Windmill.
Reasons to Consider Visiting the US Virgin Islands
If you’re looking for the quintessential Caribbean experience from an American perspective, these islands can’t be beat. There truly is something here for everyone, and singles, couples and families all have a great time. It can be bustling during peak tourist seasons, but with a little work, you can find yourself in a secluded spot enjoying your own piece of paradise.
Government US Virgin Islands: http://ltg.gov.vi/
US Virgin Islands Office of Tourism: http://www.visitusvi.com/
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/24736216@N07/