The U.S. Virgin Islands are a group of small islands: St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. A turquoise sea that is always warm, calm and complemented well by unusually fine sand surrounds these enchanting islands. There are great diving exploration sites and you can enjoy the opportunity to snorkel, as there is a fairly large reef. The waters are fully transparent with lots of tropical fishes that one can follow and admire under the water. You can also see passing pelicans fishing or getting in the water.
This is the kind of place where you enjoy every corner and are in awe of the wonderful discoveries you find along the way. The harmonious sound of the sea breaking on the shore will follow you as you visit the rest of the natural and interesting tourist spots on the islands.
Here are the top ten not-to-be-missed places when in the U.S. Virgin Islands:
Trunk Bay (St.John)
is located in the Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John. It is a beautiful bay with white sand beach and excellent snorkeling over the coral reef. Parking is available although very limited. There are showers, changing rooms, lockers, lifeguards and a snack shop on site. The beach is quite popular and always filled with eager tourists and locals. Compared to the other beaches of St. John, Trunk Bay is the most convenient and equipped.
It is a cool and funky beach that is a favorite venue for wedding ceremonies. The beach does not allow anyone to carry alcohol, to avoid inconveniencing other guests, but the dining places and snack stalls are especially equipped for this area. It is much better to come in the morning or late afternoon when it is not so crowded.
The famous bay is less than 4 miles from the wharf; the water is clear and there are all sorts of fish and corals in its underwater kingdom. There is an entrance fee and snorkeling masks or goggles can be rented (cash only) for up to 15 hours.
There is also a small cafe with no frills. There is a shower, and there is a 225-yard-long underwater snorkeling trail. The entire beach itself is quite narrow but long, and there are not many places to sit in the shade, so it’s best to go there in the morning to find a good place that is not directly in the sun. There are many cheeky seagulls here, and overall it is a very nice and quiet place where you can comfortably spend quite a long time. Anyone looking for a private beach will probably only find one when no cruise ships are in St. Thomas (neighboring island).
This beach is very nice and fully equipped for those who enjoy water sports or want to learn. You can see lots of tourists enjoying the various sports — guided by windsurfing, kayaking, and surfing instructors. For snorkelers, the coral reefs are conveniently close to the shore. However, even right at the shore the fishes are numerous and easy to see because of the clarity of the water. To get good access to the rest of the bay and all it has to offer, you can park the car along a short walk on the paths that wind through dense vegetation.
The beach is in a bay that is very wide and has a long stretch of soft white sand with hidden corners of shade to provide shelter from the heat of the sun. The water is crystal clear and warm — and you can sit for hours and not get tired. Tourists go around the island by riding the water taxis. Cinnamon Bay is not too crowded because it is also very large and there is room for everyone. There is no charge for entry, there are toilets and showers, a shop with souvenirs and some snacks on the beach, and you can rent kayaks and surf.
You can leave the port and arrive by ferry with your car to start a tour of the island of St. John — and Hawksnest Beach, the first beach after the boat docks. There is parking right at the side of the road and a set of paths through dense vegetation leading to the beach. There are well-kept bathrooms, picnic tables under cover, and there are no fees collected if you want to use them. The sand is beautiful: white, fine, and very soft. The very calm and clear water gets as green as the hills that surround it if the day is cloudy. On weekends this beach gets really crowded and filled with people and children who either go hiking or explore the snorkeling and numerous water sports activities offered here.
99 Steps (St. Thomas)
famous 99 Steps
is a staircase that connects the various attractions of the island. From the Castle of Blackbeard there is a slope down to several very picturesque alleys with a rum distillery, some farm houses, and old government structures — after which you reach the very characteristic downtown Charlotte Amalie. A few steps away from the Government Palace is this stairway with a total of 99 steps — after which it is named. If you want to see the entire attraction, climb the stairs and appreciate the number of species of plants along the sides of the stairway and have a sense of belonging to the places you will see for even a short time.
From here, you can also appreciate the view of the city harbor, the cruise ships in Havensight, and the Crown Bay Cruise Ship Dock Berth, which is the largest in this region. The “99 Steps” are among the oldest and best-known sights of Charlotte Amalie. The bricks used here came from Denmark and previously served on the sailing ships as ballast. As the ships were fully loaded on the way back, the stones were left behind and eventually used in the construction of the stairs. Because the mountain is quite steep here, it makes sense to take the stairs down.
The name “
” suggests that this is a castle but actually, this touristy place has mostly to do with the legendary pirates. It has an imposing and old watchtower that seems to watch over the city. The most famous pirates are immortalized in the form of life-size sculptures in the courtyard, which is also a great photo opportunity for every visitor.
It is a nice place to take some pictures and browse through the interesting pirate collections inside the castle. Blackbeard lived there for many years and it was here that he coordinated attacks on ships that ventured in the region. Take the guided tour, and it is worth climbing all the way to the top of the castle to enjoy the view.
Coral World Ocean Park
The Coral World Ocean Park is a small but worthwhile Marine Park on the north east coast of the island of St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands). It consists of an 80,000 gallons saltwater aquarium, an underwater observation tower off the coast, and various other pools and marine exhibits. Here you can see sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and all kinds of tropical fish and plants of the Caribbean waters. For extra money you can swim here along with the marine life. There is also the possibility for Scuba diving off the coast.
Also, Sea Trek is offered as a way for non-divers to experience walking on the ocean floor. One’s head and hair remain dry because a sphere, supplied with air by a hose from above, covers them. A fast-food restaurant with a cocktail bar and a gift shop are also available. Overall, Coral World is a nice marine destination on the island.
The territory of the park is small but pleasant. There are several aquariums with fish, and a trail amidst greenery and most importantly, iguanas that are walking very close and are not afraid of people. The reef fish in the aquariums are beautiful and interesting. The Underwater Observatory (building standing in the sea, where you can watch the fish through the window) is a delightful visit — the windows are so clean and the fish are so many. The shallow aquarium is filled with small sharks and its resident diver swimming along to feed the rest of the fishes in the tank. In general, you will not regret paying a visit.
Paradise Point Tramway
The Paradise Point Tramway is located on the south coast of the island in the city of Charlotte. This is a vantage point from which you have a really wonderful view over the South Island, the harbor and the old town. The cable car ride costs $20 per person, but you can then ride all day as many times as you like. Once at the top you have the opportunity to take a walk through a mini-zoo, or you can enjoy the great view from the bar or the restaurant.
For the kids, a kind of mini-bike is available to tour the area for their enjoyment. The cable car starts right from Cruise Ship Dock. The viewpoint is located at about 656 feet above sea level. Be sure to check this out when in the South Coast region of the USVI.
Fort Christiansvaern (St. Croix)
You pay a small fee to get in this old Danish Fort, which is used for maintenance. The fort, which was established in 1749, is neat and well preserved, and a number of rooms are decorated in the original style.
It is a charming place that is definitely recommended when in the island of St. Croix.
features an exciting piece of Danish colonial history and some old tombs. From the top there is a very nice view covering the entrance to the island, and there are sign posts and markers that explain thoroughly how the fort was built as a defense post with three gun emplacements that together covered the main entrance to the city.
It worked well as there was no attack made on the island. Historically, it is a great experience to see the place.
St. George Village Botanical Garden
George Village Botanical Garden
is a nice small horticultural attraction that is located on some ruins. It was partly restored first as a former sugar plantation.
You can enjoy a nice walk in the park, a small part of which is a real rain forest. It is located near the Fort Frederiksted, a very cute small port compared to the one in the other part of St Croix (Christiansted.) The visit to the beautiful Island — driving through long miles of paved road — is a nice complement after visiting the botanical garden.
The Fort Frederiksted is a port area with many tourist shops. When there is a cruise ship in the harbor there are many people and there are stalls and performances in the harbor area to welcome every tourist. It is a fun place to see and be entertained. You must bring swimming goggles from home and snorkel on the beach next to the fort – there are so many different fish and up to 6 pelicans who dive for the same fish. The coral reefs here are formed from the skeletons of tiny animals and built up into a reef. Almost 175 miles long, this coral reef stretches almost the entire length of the St. Croix coastline. The changing rooms and toilets are located just next to the beach.
The city of Frederiksted is located just a stone’s throw away from the cruise docks. It has a nice little place with a lovely beach, lots of nice old wooden buildings and plenty of history from the Danish period. The Danish West Indian Company originally built the fort, and there are lots of streets with Danish names and a quiet comfortable pace among its people. It is nice to walk around the streets that have small open spaces in between rows of old colonial and modern houses. The whole town is generally clean, safe, and peaceful.