Beginner’s Guide to the US Virgin Islands – Part 1

Beginner’s Guide to the US Virgin Islands – Part 1

The US Virgin Islands have many more perks than you might think! The beginner’s guide to the US Virgin Islands will answer some unknowns and highlight some wonderful things that this Caribbean destination has to offer. Whether you are looking to chill out on the beach with your family or have a romantic getaway with your sweetheart, St Thomas, St Croix and St John are an ideal island escape.

In Part 1 of the two-part beginner’s guide we will tackle the most commonly asked questions travelers wonder about this beautiful destination.

USVI and BVI – What is the difference?

The main difference between the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands is that one is a territory of the USA and the other is a territory of Great Britain (so you will need your passport to travel to these islands). The US Virgin Islands consists of three islands: St Thomas, St John and St Croix.

However, that is not the only difference between these two tropical island groups. While they share similarities such as warm water, plenty of sunshine averaging about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and white sand beaches, they each have their own unique differences as well.

The islands have different vibes. The British Virgin Islands are generally quieter and more laid back as well as a bit more expensive. Many travelers take advantage of their close proximity to each other and visit both sets of islands.

British Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands

Do US citizens need a passport to enter?

The US Virgin Islands follow the mainland US entry requirements. This means for US citizens visiting the island it is just like domestic travel. You will not need to bring your passport to travel to US Virgin Islands. All you need to pack is a form of ID that proves your citizenship such as a government issued driving license or a raised-seal birth certificate. However, it’s still good practice to bring your passport when traveling as it is the best form of identification.

In addition to this perk, there are many convenient direct flights from major cities in the US. This means more discount travel packages are available throughout the year.

What currency is used in the USVI?

Currency in the US Virgin Islands is the United States Dollar. This is convenient because US travelers do not have to worry about exchange rate or tax on exchange. In addition, USVI also accepts almost all of the major credit cards.

Can you drink the water?

It is best not to drink any tap water while you are in the US Virgin Islands. Also, avoid ice that is made with tap water. Bottled water is available in shops all over the island, so quenching your thirst and staying hydrated is still very convenient.

On the upside, the U.S. Virgin Islands has many popular drinks besides water—both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Check out our list of the top ten drinks in the US Virgin Islands.

What side of the road do they drive on?

In the US Virgin Islands the cars drive on the left hand side of the road. However, most vehicles on the island are built with left-side steering since they’re imported from the US. If driving in a different atmosphere and opposite side of the road intimidate you, there are several other modes of transportation available on the island.

For more tips such as the best ways to get around or some famous island beverages besides water, stay tuned for Part 2 of the beginner’s guide to the US Virgin Islands. In the mean time, information on currency, auto transportation and passports, can be found on our information page. Once you know the basics, we are certain you will want to plan a trip and experience the fun for yourselves.

How to Plan a Budget Friendly Vacation to the US Virgin Islands

How to Plan a Budget Friendly Vacation to the US Virgin Islands

Vacationing in the US Virgin Islands

Vacations in the Caribbean can be expensive, but they don’t always have to be. There are a lot of ways that you can make tropical getaways to the US Virgin Islands more affordable so that you can stretch your travel budget even further.  Since the US Virgin Islands are on American soil, US travelers will be saving money with no currency exchange fees, no plug adapters, no sales tax and no need to get a passport. Find out even more great tricks to save money and plan a budget friendly vacation to the US Virgin Islands.

vacation to the US Virgin IslandsBook as Early As Possible

Booking your trip at the last moment means that you will be paying full price. The earlier you can arrange your vacation then the better deals you will be able to find on airfare, hotels, excursion packages and more. In order to plan a budget friendly vacation to the US Virgin Islands, start researching hotels and resorts as well as things to do on the islands early, so you can start looking for deals several months to a year in advance.

Visit in the Spring or Fall

If you plan your getaway to the US Virgin Islands in the spring rather than the summer, you will enjoy weather that is warm and pleasant without being too hot and sticky. Also, you will find that the rates for flights and hotels are generally cheaper during this time of the year. Similarly, you can find cheaper prices in the fall season as well, so you can also consider booking your trip around October-November.

Rent a Car

There are a lot of beautiful hidden beaches and secluded spots to explore on all three of the islands. Some people rent taxis to get around to these areas, but the taxis can be expensive and sometimes they will not take you to the more remote places. You’ll find that it is better to rent a car on the islands as it will be cheaper than taxis when splitting the cost with multiple people. It will give you more flexibility to explore the National Park at St. John, the nightlife in St. Thomas, and the multiple beaches in St. Croix.

Stay in a Self Catering Accommodation

One of the biggest expenses of your trip will be dining out in restaurants, as food and drinks can be expensive. Key to planning a budget friendly vacation to the US Virgin Islands, is watching the areas you spend money. You can save money by staying in self-catering accommodations with a fridge or microwave to cook your own meals and snacks with cheap, simple ingredients. If the hotel you choose to stay at is all-inclusive or offers continental breakfast, take advantage of these amenities.

Bring Your Own Snorkel Gearsnorkeling in the US Virgin Islands

The clear Caribbean waters of these beautiful islands have many superb opportunities for snorkeling and observing colorful reefs and underwater life. Before you head to the US Virgin Islands, buy some snorkel gear at your local sporting goods shop and bring it with you. It will cost you less than it would to rent or purchase a snorkel on the islands themselves – and you can find better snorkel gear that fits your face perfectly. Bringing your own gear also allows you to snorkel the waters whenever you want, instead of always paying for expensive guided tours.

These are just a few of the ways that you can plan a budget friendly vacation to the US Virgin Islands. For more help planning your ultimate getaway at a great price, view our budget friendly hotels and resorts.

5 Reasons to Go on a US Virgin Islands Honeymoon

5 Reasons to Go on a US Virgin Islands Honeymoon

U.S. Virgin Islands HoneymoonYour exciting, emotional and chaotic wedding day is over, and you are finally ready to take some quality time and relax with your new partner. For most newly-weds, the ideal honeymoons consists of sunshine, sand, sea, sun loungers and delicious drinks with little umbrellas in them. Honeymoons in St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix offer all that and more. Here are five reasons to go on a US Virgin Islands honeymoon.

1. The Snorkeling is Superb

Delve underneath the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean during your honeymoon, and see the dazzling array of underwater life. You and your spouse can swim with sea turtles, dolphins and every color of fish you could imagine.  The US Virgin Islands' snorkeling and scuba diving is like no where else. Check out Buck Island Reef National Monument just off the island of St. Croix or the St. Thomas Marine Sanctuary. Maho Bay also has beautiful sea-grass beds where you can spot sea turtles.

2. The Weather Will Be WonderfulUS Virgin Islands Honeymoon

Weather in the US Virgin Islands is ideal for honeymoons (or any vacation for that matter). The temperature ranges between 77 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 83 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.  It’s sunny and summery all year round, so it doesn’t matter when you book your US Virgin Islands honeymoon. This gives newly-weds even more opportunity to explore new adventures together.

3. You Can Go on a Hiking Adventure

There are a total of 22 amazing hiking trails in the US Virgin Islands that will take you and your special someone deep into the lush forests – a great way to spend some quality time together. The Annaberg Sugar Mill Historical Trail will take you through some fascinating sugar factory ruins, and the Lind Point trail connects the National Park Visitor Center at Cruz Bay and ascends to the scenic Lind Point overlook. The hiking options are truly endless and a perfect fit for an active couple.

4. You Can Hire a Private Sailboat

What could be more romantic on your honeymoon than hiring a sail boat for the day and traveling around to secluded beaches and isolated coves? There are many sailing charters available to rent, providing trips that range from a half day to several weeks. The US Virgin Islands are an ideal place for sailing, as they offer protected waters, good weather, many beautiful beaches and excellent anchorages. Let your marriage set sail in St Thomas, St Croix, and St John this year!

5. You Can Have Your Wedding and Honeymoon in One Placeus virgin islands wedding

What if you had a beautiful destination wedding in the US Virgin Islands, then you combined it with your honeymoon by booking some extra time at your favorite resort afterwards? It’s not too difficult to get married in the US Virgin Islands, you simply need to submit a marriage application to the court. There’s no need to fly anywhere else, just do it all in one place. US Virgin Islands has the romantic atmosphere for both occasions.

These are just a few reasons why you and your new spouse should go on a US Virgin Islands honeymoons. Start your marriage off right by booking your stay at an all inclusive hotel or resort.

4th of July in the U.S. Virgin Islands

4th of July in the U.S. Virgin Islands

usa-598261_1280If you find yourself spending 4th of July in the U.S. Virgin Islands you must make plans to celebrate the holiday with us! Here’s how 4th of July in the U.S. Virgin Islands is celebrated a little bit differently on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.

4th of July in St. Croix:

The island of St. Croix generally celebrates on  the afternoon of July 4th from into the early morning of Sunday July 5th. Join revelers in Frederiksted, which is the heart of St. Croix, for music, food, fun and of course a stunning fireworks extravaganza.

4th of July in St. John:

4th of July in the U.S. Virgin Islands might be best spent in St. John. On the nearby island of St. John, the day is full of celebrations starting very early morning (Yes…VERY early a.m). Starting before the sun rises at Cruz Bay, J’ouvert is a large Carnival street party and parade that begins well before dawn on the morning of July 4th. The energetic celebration includes costumed dancers and calypso bands and dancing until the sun comes up!

Then in Cruz Bay is the biggest event of the St. John Festival – the parade! See mocko jumbies, carnival royalty, listen to steel drum bands play while colorfully dancing troupes dance along. Some troupes include masqueraders wearing from the smallest costumes of bikinis with beads to elaborate, large costumes that stretch the width of the parade route. The parade route starts at the National Park Visitor Center entrance and runs through Cruz Bay.

4th of July in St. Thomas:

St. Thomas has perhaps the milder of celebrations on the 4th of July in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While festivities are more minimal, you can still expect to cap off the day of celebration with a grand fireworks display over the magnificent Cruz Bay harbor.

The U.S. Virgin Islands takes pride in being connected with the U.S. and the celebrations show. Plan your July vacation in advance by booking your hotels and resorts today.

Best Snorkeling in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Best Snorkeling in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Stay cool and experience the underwater life this summer! St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix all have wonderful spots that showcase the beautiful sea creatures, coral and more that live right underneath the ocean’s surface. Here is a list of the best snorkeling in the U.S. Virgin Islands:

Best Snorkeling in St. Croix:

  • Cane Bay
  • Buck Island

Best Snorkeling in St. John:

  • Hurricane Hole
  • Haulover Bay
  • Leinster Bay

Best Snorkeling in St. Thomas:

  • Coki Point Beach

For even more places to snorkel near the island, check out our snorkeling page. Have other spots you love that we left off our list? Please share with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! We love learning (and seeing pictures of) new places and adding to our list of best snorkeling in the U.S. Virgin Islands.