US Virgin Islands, USA
The Virgin Islands were originally inhabited by the Ciboney, Arawak and Carib tribes. Most of who perished during the colonial period. When Christopher Columbus visited the islands in 1493 named “Santa Ursula and the Once Mil Vírgenes”, later on the name was shortened to “the Vírgenes”. Over the next two hundred years, the islands were held by many European powers, including Spain, the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark-Norway and the Netherlands. The geography of the islands consists of seaside cliffs, mountains with abundant forest, small streams, and pristine white sand beaches. Each island has its own unique physical characteristics. The highest point in USVI is Crown Mountain 474 meters over sea level.
US Virgin Island’s economy is highly dependent on tourisms. There is also a small agriculture, manufacturing, and industrial sectors and also one of the world’s largest oil refineries can be found in St. Croix.
US Virgin Islands Climate
US Virgin Islands has an average temperature of 73-89°F, could be best described as “endless summer” and is perfect for vacationing year-round. . The trade winds blow gently to cool the island, and they generally make the temperature drop about 8-10 degrees in the evening.
The hurricane season ranges from June – November, but the Caribbean is a large area and the chances of a direct hit are not very high. The rainfall in the USVI averages about 40 inches each year, with the wettest months generally from September to December.
US Virgin Islands Language
English is the official language of US Virgin Islands, although Virgin Islands Creole is the main spoken dialect in informal, daily usage.
US Virgin Islands Currency
The official currency is US dollar. Banks on the islands are the only option if you need to exchange currency. These rates can be expensive, and additional charges are often applied; it is best to change money before arriving. Major credit cards are accepted in the majority of restaurants and shops around the islands.
US Virgin Islands Accommodations
US Virgin Islands has a wide variety of lodgings ranging from luxury resorts hotels, inns, cottages, private villas and even campground areas. If you have a large or small group you will find a place to satisfy your needs. The high season usually runs from Mid-December to Mid- April. Rates may double the price during the Christmas week.
Things to do in US Virgin Islands
US Virgin Islands is one of the perfect vacation destination of outdoor attractions; you will be able to participate in every possible water sport like windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, snorkeling, parasailing, fishing or scuba diving. Whether relaxing in some of the world’s prettiest beaches, re-discovering history at museums, forts and monuments or simply admiring stunning panoramic views, USVI has a lot to offer.
Some of the best beaches in St Thomas are: Coki Beach, Magens Bay and Sapphire Beach. Other major attraction that you couldn’t leave without check is St. Thomas Sky-ride. The Skyride consist in a gondola that takes you to Paradise point there you could enjoy a breathtaking view of Charlotte Amalie and the harbor.
If you visit the quiet St. John some of the must see beaches are Caneel Bay, Maho Bay and of course the most popular, Trunk Bay Beach with an underwater trail great for snorkeling and marine adventures. Also located inside the National Park area you could find a place called Annaberg Plantation were you could find some interesting 18th century sugar ruins.
If you decide to visit St. Croix some of the best beaches are located on the west end of the Island along the coast north and south of Frederiksted. Also if you have the chance to sail, go to visit Buck Island. This is a must see place for everyone. The beach is beautiful and the snorkeling reef view is spectacular. While in St. Croix you could also visit St George Village Botanical Garden, the Government house, some interesting forts and museums including Ft. Christiansvaern and the Whim Plantation Museum.
St. Thomas and St. Croix can be reached by sea and by air. There are no direct flights from US to St. John but you can easily take a ferry from St Thomas, Tortola or Jost Van Dyke (British Virgin Islands).
Getting to USVI in a cruise is another option. Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas is considered one of the most active cruise ports in the Caribbean and possible one of the busiest in the world receiving as many as eight cruises in a single day.
You could also have the option of taking a ferry from Puerto Rico. A couple of ferry companies service the St. Thomas to US Virgin Islands route and the prices are more affordable than the getting on the plane.
United States and Canadian Citizens are required to provide any kind of proof of citizenship to enter or depart the US Virgin Islands such as Birth certificate or passport other visitors from United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand need a valid passport without visa. Visitors from some other countries may also require a visa for entry.
Getting around US Virgin Islands
Travel by car is far the best way of getting around giving you the freedom to move around at your own pace and getting the flavor of the Island. Rental cars are available at the airport, hotels and some other places. But also taxis and multi-passenger vans are widely available in case that you are not planning to do major exploring. Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Roads could be tricky and are often not well marked regardless of which island you are visiting.
There are a lot of places to eat. Although most resorts offer better than average dinning it will be a great experience to try also one of the many reasonably priced independent restaurants. Depending on your preference and budget, you could enjoy a great meal starting from local family dining to the finest restaurants.
Despite its American flag status and the great amount of fast food restaurants around the islands, the traditional cuisine on USVI still one of their top options. The best places to sample the authentic flavor of the islands are the local restaurants, bakeries and mobile food vans. Tropical fruits are plentiful around all the islands.
Shopping in US Virgin Islands
Charlotte Amalie (St Thomas) is considered to be the shopping bazaar of the Caribbean due to the location and the discounted duty free. There you could find well known brand names designs and save more than 60% compared with US prices. Nearly all the major shopping is located along the harbor at Charlotte Amalie next to the cruise ships dock. Jewelry is a big deal in town due to the tax free duty-free goods.