Sunbathing in pristine white sand beaches, tapping foot with reggae rhythms while sipping on that dark rum, and snorkeling in the ‘virgin’ coves; if this is a tropical vacation idea you have been day dreaming about for so long, then wait no longer and set foot on the Caribbean islands of the Virgin Islands. As an US territory, US Passport holders or visa holders can easily hop on to a flight to St. Thomas (STT) and enjoy the curried meat, mango infused brews and a laid back West Indian culture.
There are three primary islands in US Virgin Islands – St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix with St. Croix being the biggest. From St. John, you can see the British Virgin Islands too and there are boats that can take you there. But you will need your passport and a visa to go there.
We spent 4 days in the islands and based out of St. John with day trips to the islands. After landing in STT in the last flight around 8-30pm, we took a cab/shuttle to Red Hook and hopped on the ferry to Cruz Bay in St. John. Total trip took about an hour. Check out the ferry schedules here.
On one fine morning after breakfast, we headed to the island of St. Thomas from St. John. From the dock in Red Hook in STT, we headed to the Sapphire Beach for snorkeling and swimming. The water was pristine, but during the time we went it was the seaweed season which made swimming in the shallows difficult. But once in the water a few yards, it was pristine clear water with high visibility on top the reefs. The taxi took us to the park and there were taxis waiting in the park for easy transport. But the $20 entrance fee seemed hefty for the services available in the park.
Next up were a couple of other vista points from the top of the Lindquist beach and Footer Point before we headed to the Coki Point Beach. The swimming and water activities aside, the views from the cliffs were fantastic to say the least with expansive panoramas of the other islands located nearby in the turquoise blue water in the foreground and gorgeous clouds looming above. Makes for amazing shots, especially in panorama mode.
In the evening, it is a great idea to take a lazy stroll along the veterans way in Charlotte Amalie among the duty free shops and chic restaurants/bars. Along the little alleys, you will find the charm of West Indian culture, colorful houses and doors laying out in a welcoming gesture.
On the first look, the little island of St. John looked fascinating. With the smell of run infused cocktails, meat smeared with Caribbean spices, and reggae music in the air, we fell in love. The hotel room we got was fairly startling too, with the patio on the beach facing the cove and nice cool breeze sneaking in once the patio door was opened. Read more about our accommodation in Westin Resort in Luxury Travel.
We rented a four-wheel Jeep Wrangler in the morning and went out to explore the island. There is one main road (Shore Road) loops from Cruz bay through the northern shore of the island and back south. We had a GPS going but did not require it as most of the attractions along the way are marked clearly. Just had to be careful about left-hand side driving in a car with the wheel on the left.
We rented a snorkel gear from the hotel ($10 per day) and carried it with us as there are several spots to snorkel in the island. Our first stop was Trunk Bay just about 20 minutes from Cruz Bay. You had to swim about 100 yards before going near the cove with the coral reef. The reef here is not frequented by tourists or inexperienced snorkelers, therefore it can be considered virgin territory, literally. There is even an underground trail which can be seen through your snorkel goggles, and has interesting information about the corals nearby and types of fish or marine life that can be seen around. It was a brand new experience for us and we snorkeled around for more than an hour before retiring on the beach for some chilled drinks and some sunbathing.
After the Trunk bay adventures, we hopped back to the Jeep and headed north. We stopped at the long beach of Cinnamon Bay, deep red bricks of Fort Frederick (from where you can see the UKVI too), Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins, Honeymoon Beach (secluded white sand beach good for swimming and basking in the tropical sun).