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(2023 - Winter/Spring Issue)


A perennial favourite cruising and charter destination in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands are excellent for sun, beaches, adventure, culinary and cultural experiences. The USVI is an official U.S. territory and consists of three main islands—St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas—plus 50 small islets and cays. Hopping between them is a great way to experience three islands in one vacation and appreciate the unique beauty, history and rich cultural influences that include Danish, French, Spanish and African.

Mountainous St. Thomas bustles with cosmopolitan life and scenic lookouts, and diverse St. Croix boasts beautiful pastel buildings and botanical gardens. But I’m heading east, away from the territory’s capital Charlotte Amalie, catching the ferry to the smallest island, St. John.

St. John is home to some of the most pristine beaches and unspoiled underwater and terrestrial habitats anywhere in the Caribbean. As I wander around the main port of Cruz Bay, the vibe is laid-back, the beach bars and restaurants vibrant with visitors enjoying the territory’s favourite tropical drink, the rum-based Painkiller, and dining on freshly caught local seafood at hot spots like Morgan’s Mango and La Tapa.

St. John’s culinary scene is a magnet, but visitors are also here to indulge in their adventurous side at some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the island’s national park. Two-thirds of St. John is the protected Virgin Islands National Park with 3,845 hectares of rolling green hills and an underwater reserve. This biodiverse world above and below the water can be explored on scenic hiking trails and by snorkelling or diving in coral-filled waters.

I’m excited to head onto the azure water and rent a kayak at Cinnamon Bay Beach to paddle to nearby Maho Bay, slipping on snorkel fins and mask to explore under the sea, swimming alongside majestic greenback and hawksbill turtles.

Adventures on land are equally appealing, and Virgin Islands National Park has more than 20 trails to choose from. I wander along the accessible Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop Trail, the site of a former sugar plantation where waysides interpret local flora, including bay rum, cinnamon and indigenous tyre palm trees.

A more strenuous hike awaits at the steep Reef Bay Trail, which winds through a tropical rainforest of some of the oldest and tallest trees on St. John. The opportunities to see waterfalls and ancient petroglyphs left behind by the pre-Colombian Taino are not to be missed. Bring a swimsuit to enjoy a dip in the ocean at Reef Bay beach at the end of the trail.

Sublime Sailing

The U.S. Virgin Islands are often considered one of the best sailing grounds in the world, known by many sailors as “Heaven on Earth.” With sunny weather, dependable trade winds, stunning scenery and protected anchorages, this archipelago of islands is a playground for sailing enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys a pink-hued sunset sail.

The USVI is home to several regattas throughout the year, including the famous St. Thomas International Regatta. Held in March, the three-day event attracts experienced and novice sailors from all parts of the world to compete in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Family Travel Tip

On the island of St. John, go glamping at Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground in Virgin Islands National Park. One of the few accommodation options located within the island’s magnificent national park, the campground reopened in November 2022. Kids will love spending hours at the white sand beach, swimming, kayaking and snorkelling with turtles.

Diving Diversions

There are more than 60 scuba diving sites scattered throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Wall in St. Croix features a coral reef that drops into a 1,524-metre-deep ocean trench, while St. Thomas’s whale-shaped rocks define its Cow and Calf dive site. In St. John, the 200-metre Underwater Snorkel Trail in Trunk Bay is within the boundaries of the Virgin Islands National Park and is a protected reserve for coral and marine life.

Travel Planner

For more U.S. Virgin Islands travel information go to visitusvi.com

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