3 November, 2022
A tiny but mighty island enveloped by the Caribbean Sea: Our St John travel guide
12 December, 2022
14 April, 2023
Enveloped by the Caribbean Sea, the United States Virgin Islands archipelago consists of three dazzling destinations: St John, St Thomas and St Croix. Although each island boasts its own unique customs and landmarks, all three share the same spectacular scenery and vibrant local culture.
White sand beaches and turquoise shores stretch as far as the eye can see, beckoning those in need of rest and relaxation with the perfect setting to do just that. Inland, verdant forests and hillsides offer a wild playground for adventurers to explore to their heart’s content. And, when it’s time to return to civilisation, each of the island’s capital cities offers plenty in the way of sightseeing, shopping, and of course, the most excellent Caribbean cuisine.
It should come as no surprise that all three of the United States Virgin Islands boast miles of beautiful beaches. Whether you’re seeking total solace or searching for the best bays to enjoy an action-packed afternoon of swimming or sailing, there are so many fabulous destinations to choose from.
With crystalline waters and white sands stretching as far as the eye can see, it’s no wonder that Maho Bay Beach is one of the most renowned beach destinations on the island of St John. About five miles from Cruz Bay, this delightful beach offers safe, shallow waters and plenty of coconut palms to retreat beneath for some much-needed shade.
One of the best locations to sit and gaze in awe at St Croix’s mesmerising sunsets, the serene shores of Rainbow Beach can be found on the western coast of the island. A popular destination for swimmers and divers, its clear, calm waters are home to all kinds of tropical fish species - there’s even a good chance you’ll spot a sea turtle or two.
Yet another glorious beach with spectacularly white sands, Sapphire Beach in St Thomas is a lively bay attracting all kinds of beach-goers. It’s a particularly good spot for water sports, with a seasonal booth offering snorkelling, kayaking, and windsurfing equipment rental to those who like a little more action on their beach days. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from spending the entire afternoon snoozing beside those gently rolling waves…
You’ll never find yourself short on things to do in the Virgin Islands. Culture vultures will find plenty to uncover in the historic cities of Charlotte Amalie and Christiansted, while nature lovers will adore the wild and wonderful national parks and reserves nestled within the heart of each island.
As the capital of the USVI and the archipelago’s largest city, you’ll want to spend at least a few hours exploring Charlotte Amalie. Set among the bustling and brightly-coloured facades of the town’s shops and restaurants are clues to the island’s longstanding Danish history. Scale the steep 99 steps up to Blackbeard’s Castle, a 17th-century watchtower overlooking the harbour and offering sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea. Afterwards, head down to Fort Christian; its striking red architecture is near-impossible to miss.
Uncover over 3,000 years of island history in the tropical forests and coral reefs of the Virgin Islands National Park in St John. Encompassing more than two-thirds of the island, there’s always something new to be found in the wild and diverse landscape of this awe-inspiring national park. Prehistoric artefacts, historic ruins, and ancient Taino petroglyphs are just a few of the landmarks you’ll discover as you make your way around its leafy, winding trails.
Set on the scenic shores of St Croix’s southwestern coast, the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is a crucial nesting place for the island’s leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles. Every year, hundreds of volunteers head to the refuge to help the local wildlife - whether that’s protecting emerging hatchlings or logging tracks with turtle patrols along the coast. If you’d like to make a positive difference during your stay, it’s certainly worth the visit.
A visit to somewhere as naturally beautiful as the United States Virgin Islands is sure to unleash anyone’s inner adventurer, and fortunately, you’ll find a whole host of interesting destinations just off the well-beaten tracks of each island. Whether you’re seeking out the very best coastal vistas or searching for a slice of serenity on a secluded bay, there’s lots to be uncovered.
Hidden away on the western coast of St John, Salomon Bay Beach looks like a quintessential tropical paradise. With sugary sands and aquamarine shores, it’s a lovely spot to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the island’s buzzing resorts. To reach this secluded bay, it’s around a mile-long hike from the Cruz Bay Visitor Center - but if you’re seeking seclusion, the walk is well worth it.
Just north of St Croix’s coast lies the miniature Buck Island. With 176 acres of completely uninhabited land, it’s a haven for local wildlife - especially within the thriving coral reef that sits just beneath the island’s crystal-clear shores. The Buck Island Reef National Monument is a renowned underwater trail through the reef, where both novices and expert snorkellers alike can enjoy full-day tours of this mesmerizing underwater world.
If you’re planning on bringing your hiking boots along, the America Hill trail in St John should be at the top of your list. Starting at Cinnamon Bay, the trail takes you up to the historic ruins of former rum and sugar cane plantations. From the top, you'll experience sweeping views of Maho Bay and the surrounding coastline - the perfect opportunity to snap some photos before heading back down to the beach. At just under two miles, this trail isn’t particularly long but it is quite steep and rocky in parts, so be sure to take your time as you ascend from the ruins.
Discover the flavoursome fusions of the US Virgin Islands. From traditional French influences to the freshest fish dishes straight from the shores of the Caribbean Sea, there’s a lot to like - and a lot to sample - when it comes to trying out the local cuisine.
Nestled in the centre of Red Hook, The Easterly is one of St Thomas' most atmospheric eateries. You'll feel as though you've stumbled across a true hidden gem as you make your way through the oasis of tropical palms and lush greenery surrounding the restaurant's open-air tables. Oozing with boho-chic, it's a great place to grab lunch and sip on a fruity afternoon cocktail (or an oyster shooter).
Influenced by classic French cuisine, The Terrace is a refined waterfront restaurant in St John. Set right in the heart of Cruz Bay and boasting gorgeous views across the coast, it's a lovely location for lunch or dinner - although the sunsets from here are particularly fabulous if you're looking for somewhere to enjoy an evening meal. On the menu, you'll find an excellent selection of seafood, meat, and plant-based dishes - all prepared using fresh, local ingredients wherever possible.
Sat beside the oceanfront in St Croix, Ama At Cane Bay offers more than just good views. Serving up an array of fresh seafood dishes sourced from environmentally responsible fishermen and divers, there’s a real emphasis on sustainability here. Artisanal cheeses, almond-crusted mahi-mahi, and Caribbean lobster tail with ginger-infused rice are just a few of the delectable dishes you’ll find on the menu.
Craving the simple yet succulent flavours of a freshly-seared steak? Dave & Jerry’s Island Steakhouse in Cruz Bay caters to all hungry carnivores in a sophisticated setting. The restaurant’s head chefs - David Feller and Jerry Mace - pride themselves on sourcing the very best ingredients, whether it’s premium dry-aged beef direct from the USA or farm-fresh greens from local suppliers on the island.
A holiday should be more than a simple escape from the everyday bustle. At onefinestay, we offer an exclusive range of concierge services to ensure your well-deserved break is as stress-free as it can possibly be - and most importantly - an unforgettable experience from beginning to end. Whether it’s booking all your daily activities and transport links or arranging a private chef service in the comfort of your private villa, our Travel Advisors are on hand to help you make the most of your stay.
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