United States Virgin Islands (USVI) Introduction
The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) archipelago is located in the eastern Caribbean is located approximately 1,100 miles from Miami, 600 miles from Venezuela, around 40 miles from Puerto Rico, and very near the British Virgin Islands (BVI). There are three main tourism islands – St Croix (approx. 85 square miles), St John (approx. 20 square miles), and hilly St Thomas (approx. 30 square miles). Each of the islands are very different in character and offer a range of adventure activities: St Croix has a Danish feel, a national park covers around two-thirds of the tranquil island of St John, and bustling St Thomas – a busy cruise port-of-call – boasts lively nightlife, the best in duty-free shopping and sophisticated restaurants. Although the islands are part of the USA, driving is on the left hand side of the road. Regular ferry services connect the major US Virgin Islands as well as to the BVI.
Why visit the United States Virgin Islands (USVI)
This is an ideal opportunity to have a real ‘mixed bag’ three-base Caribbean vacation by island-hopping to each of the USVI islands – each of which is very different – bustling St Thomas with great duty free shopping, peaceful St John with its gorgeous beaches, and historical St Croix with its colonial buildings.
While you’re in United States Virgin Islands (USVI)
From St Thomas take a helicopter tour – it’s a scenic island – then, definitely, go shopping. In St John go off the beaten track on an adventure tour, and in St Croix sail into the sunset on an evening cruise, discover the marine life on a catamaran that has an underwater viewing window, or play golf on a lush course that meanders through a tropical valley.
The U.S. Virgin Islands offers a variety of fun-filled activities for all travelers, many of whom keep coming back year after year. The islands also boast these little-known, fun-filled facts!…
1. Charlotte Amalie is the largest historical town in the United States.
Charlotte Amalie is the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands and is located in St. Thomas. The city offers rich history with the largest historic district in the U.S. and is also a preferred shopping spot on the island. There has been great debate regarding the correct pronunciation of the town, who’s name was originally Charlotte Amalia (with an “a”). Due to an error in historical documents, the spelling was changed to an e – but the official (and original) pronunciation is Charlotte “Amalya.”
2.The USVI has been a “shopping” destination since 1607!
Before arriving in present-day Virginia, in 1607 the Jamestown settlers (who built the first successful English settlement in North America) stopped off in Charlotte Amalie to stock up on supplies. The Historic Preservation Office in St. Thomas will soon install a plaque received from the state of Virginia recognizing this historic visit. The plaque will hang on the Liberty Bell platform in Emancipation Garden.
3.The U.S. Virgin Islands is the only location in the United States where you drive on the left side of the road.
Although the islands are considered part of the U.S., there are still a few rules and customs that date back to the days of European rule!
Point Udall is the Easternmost Point in the United States.
This point was named after Stewart Udall, who was the United States Secretary of Interior under both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The Millennium Monument, a sundial, was built above the point in 2000.
5. St. Thomas is the birthplace of Camille Pissarro.
Pissarro was an impressionist painter who contributed to the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism styles. He was born on July 10, 1830 and died on November 13, 1903. He lived in St. Thomas until he was 12 and returned there in his later years. His birthplace is open to visitors on St. Thomas and his work is currently on display at the Government House in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
6. St. Croix has the oldest Baobab tree in the Caribbean.
The tree was brought over from South Africa and planted in the 18th century. It’s known locally as “Guinea Almond” or “Guinea Tamarind.” Baobab trees grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for thousands of years. Every part of the Baobab tree is useful. The bark is used for cloth and rope, the leaves for medicines, and the fruit can be eaten.
7. St. Thomas has the second oldest synagogue with sand floors in the Western Hemisphere.
The St. Thomas Synagogue welcomes people from all denominations to visit their historic place of worship. It was declared a National Landmark in 1997 and its menorah dates back to the 11th century.
8. The US Virgin Islands is the only US Territory to be bordered by both the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea.
And with all that water, there’s a plethora of water activities to participate in, including diving, sailing, kayaking, sport fishing, snorkeling, windsurfing, parasailing and kite boarding.
9. St. Croix has the largest Agriculture Fair in the Caribbean.
The “Agrifest” in St. Croix is a 3-day festival that showcases locally grown produce, locally raised livestock and locally made arts and crafts and cuisine. The festival attracts hundred of visitors from across the region and the world! The next Agrifest takes place February 19-21.
10. There’s an Underwater National Park off the coast of St. John.
The Underwater trail in Trunk Bay, St. John is considered one of the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean, and is marked with underwater signs. All levels of swimmers are able to snorkel here making it perfect for the entire family.
11. St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas have nicknames.
These islands are also known as Twin City (St. Croix), Love City (St. John), and Rock City (St. Thomas). The combined area of these three islands is about two times the size of Washington, D.C.
For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to Visit USVI.com. When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel—including on-line check-in—making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.