Profile of US Virgin Islands – St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix
This particular brand of pristine, natural beauty is stunning, breathtaking and overwhelming. There are very few places in the world where you will find the type of natural beauty that exists in the three largest US Virgin Islands – St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix – like three handsome triplets. For example, at Cinnamon Bay in St. John, the sea seems to have a deeper blue, than many other Caribbean Islands. The sections of Trunk Bay where the water is so chrystal clear, you can see all of the sea bed from above the water, seems to be clearer than anywhere else. What could account for this? One answer could be that two-thirds of St. John is a national park – both on land and under the sea.
Strong Environmental Laws – Enhances Beauty
The government of the US Virgin Islands has established strict environmental laws, prohibiting the cutting down of hillsides, trees, plants and certain types of construction, which could affect water runoff into the ocean and the precious coral reefs. Some kinds of commercial activity which could lead to pollution of the air, land and sea, have been restricted or carefully monitored. What is the result? There are cleaner, brighter and bluer seas, more lush rainforests and much fresher air. The citizens of St. John are justifiably proud of their enhanced environment. And, the tourists respond to this highly attractive ambiance by coming in droves, year after year, via a multitude of cruise ship and planes. In a year, the US Virgin Islands host approximately 2 million visitors a year. Many arrive via cruise ships. Tourism is clearly booming in the US Virgin Islands. So, when are you planning your trip there?
The Virgin Islands are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles in the Eastern Caribbean. They are located 40 miles east of Puerto Rico and west of the British Virgin Islands. The total population of St. John, St Thomas and St. Croix is 108,000 – with a combined land area of 133 square miles – approximately twice the size of Washington. D. C. The citizens have nicknames for each island – St. Croix (Twin City), St. Thomas (Rock City) and St. John (Love City). There are about two dozen smaller islands in the chain, including, Water Island, (the largest of the smaller islands), which has about 500 acres and 182 residents. The majority of the citizens are mixed with European and African heritages, with a minority from the United States and neighbouring Caribbean Islands of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Although tourism is their primary industry, the US Virgin Islands have wisely diversified their economy to include the following categories: wrist watch assembly, rum distilling, textiles, electronics and pharmaceuticals. So when you go to buy gifts for your friends back home, and you want a REAL SOUVENIR that is truly “MADE IN THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS” (not China), now you know what categories to pursue. Unfortunately, most of the food in the Virgin Islands is imported, particularly for the tourist industry, and therefore the local agricultural sector is quite small. Financial services and international business are small but burgeoning industries. In St. Croix, you will find one of the world largest petroleum refineries, Hovensa.
Triple Sets of Attractions – Choose your preference, choose your country
Where do you go first? When it comes to choosing which attraction you want to go to, you will have a dilemma. It is like being told you must choose which is the most handsome of the male triplets! They all look alike, but they have three different personalities. You could choose St. Croix, the historic and cultural, free-spirited jewel, which used to be colony of Denmark, until purchased by the United States in 1916. Or, you could experience St. John, the unspoiled natural beauty where you will most likely enjoy hiking, camping, snorkelling or swimming the best. Or, you may prefer St. Thomas, the bustling cosmopolitan brother, which you will discover as the shopping and cruise shipping mecca of the three islands.
A Fine Example of US Virgin Islands Flexibility & Hospitality
During my last hours in St. John, I was given an appointment to videotape Cinnamon Bay for a marketing documentary. Having been preoccupied with completing this rush assignment, just when I was about to board the last St. John ferry, to sail to St. Thomas, to fly back to Jamaica, I suddenly realized that I had left my camera bag with valuable equipment back in my hotel room! I was in a real dilemma! To retrieve it, I would have missed the last ferry – and my plane back to Jamaica.
So I explained my problem to the ferry Captain and asked him kindly could he allow me to rush back to the hotel in a taxi, which would make the ferry, and all the other passengers about 10 minutes late. And, he graciously agreed. From then I have always deeply appreciated the US Virgin Islanders for their flexibility and hospitality. The islands’ administrative and political systems are all integrated, into the US Virgin Islands capital, Charlotte Amalie, which is located on St. Thomas.
The US Virgin Island is classified as a United States Territory, but is not an actual State. Despite being classified as US Citizens they are not allowed to vote for the office of President of the United States. They can however vote in the Presidential primary elections for delegates. They elect a representative to the House of Congress in Washington DC, and every four years, their own Territorial Governor.
How Do You Get It To Taste Right?
This is what makes the US Virgin Islands unique. You get the best of American culture and services, all blended up into the best of Caribbean culture, cuisine and ambiance. That is a brand new product! You cannot recreate that anywhere else – authentically – though many others have tried! You just have to come to St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix to get that unique mix – to taste just right!
US Virgin Island Hotels & Villas
Accommodation in St. John – Campsites to High-Rise Resorts
A tropical haven for millions worldwide, the US Virgin Islands have one of the most world renown vacation spots. The US Virgin Island is consist of three main Islands. These are St. Thomas, St John, and St. Croix. If you should visit any of these beautiful destinations, you would be warmly greeted by the rich cultural heritage of the locals. Much to your delight, is embarking upon the comforts of their accommodations. There are many hotels, Resorts, and Spas that you will find at these romantic spots. This article will explore all the unique and inviting Hotels that you will find on these Islands the next time you want to make a visit to the Caribbean. An inside look into their hotels on each of these Islands will add more flare to its unique attraction.
St John hotels give guests the option of staying in high-rise hotels, villas, guesthouses or eco-friendly resorts and campsites – many with stunningly beautiful views of the ocean. On my last trip to St. John, I attended a Caribbean Tourism Organization, “Tourism in Partnership With Nature” Eco-tourism Conference. Some of the sessions were held at a solar-powered, framed tent campsite, on a hillside overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The tents and connecting walkways were environmentally-friendly, built on wooden platforms to prevent any major destruction to the foliage underneath.
Accommodation in St. Thomas & St. Croix – Luxury to Private Homes
Some St. Thomas hotels have luxury accommodations for the ultimate shopper. Their hotels are celebrated for their fine dining, night time entertainment, elegant furnishings and secluded beaches. Other accommodation are less fancy, including villas and inns, but offer spectacular views from the hills overlooking the Charlotte Amalie Harbour where the cruise ships come in almost daily. St. Croix Hotels usually have less than 200 rooms – perfect for the type of guests who do not like large crowds. Their hotels are therefore more intimate, and offer a more personalized type of service. Some hotels are designed for the guests who cherish luxury accommodations, in both the resort and the bed and breakfast inns. Also available are casinos and golf courses – along with historic inns, cottages, condominiums and private homes.
US Virgin Island Attractions
St. John – Beach Lovers
St. John is renowned for its world-class white sand beaches. Cinnamon Bay is a wise choice if you are interested in going to just one place where you can experience all of the following: camping, archaeological museum, watch an actual archaeological dig for Taino artifacts, hiking, snorkelling, windsurfing and kayaking. Other attractive spots for swimming and watersports are Francis Bay, Hawksnest Beach, Honeymoon Beach, Jumbie Bay, Leinster Bay, Maho Bay and Salt Pond Bay. Trunk Bay is particularly popular with divers, having distinguished itself as the ideal spot for lovers of underwater nature. Why? Because the National Park Service created and manages an underwater snorkeling trail, complete with underwater signs and lots of information.
St. John – Heritage Lovers
The Virgin Islands were originally the established by the Ciboneys, Caribs, and Tainos. When Christopher Columbus found them living there in 1493, he named it the Virgin Islands, in honour of St. Ursula and her virgin followers. For the next 200 years, European powers battled over their control, as they switched ownership from Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, to Denmark-Norway.
All of this rich history can be found at heritage attractions like the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins, the Elaine Ione Sprauve Library and Museum and the Reef Bay Trail and Petroglyphs. The latter is very popular as it takes you first on a hiking trail in the National Park, which descends 937 feet, to the remnants of four sugar plantations and ancient carvings left by the Taino Indians.
St. Thomas – Heritage Lovers
Those who are fascinated by the diverse history of St. Thomas will enjoy visiting a host of heritage attractions. These include, 99 steps, built with bricks from the ballast of ships by the Danes in the mid 1700s and Blackbeard’s Castle, built by the Danes in 1679, which was utilized by Edward Teach, the renowned Pirate, nicknamed “Blackbeard”, to watch for enemy ships.
Those who are interested in French history may enjoy the French Museum, which documents the influence of the French throughout the Caribbean, including artifacts and a computer with the genealogies of local families. According to history, the lookout point overlooking Magens Bay, was used by the celebrated British naval explorer, Sir Francis Drake, to view his ships. It is now called Drake’s Seat. It allows tourists, who are photography enthusiasts, to secure a stunningly beautiful panoramic pictures of both the US and British Virgin Islands.
St. Croix – Four Unique Attractions – Nature
Since these “triplet brother” islands are so similar in topography, history and culture, we thought we would try and find some attractions that you can find only in St. Croix. There are four of them. On Buck Island, you will get to see the hawksbill turtle and brown pelican in their natural habitat. There are underwater trails which have been known to excite divers and snorkelers. What is so special about Buck Island? It is one of only three underwater national monuments in the United States and its coral reef ecosystem hosts a wide array of native flora and fauna.
St. Croix – Four Unique Attractions – Drinking Pig, Sundial, Sustainable Farm
The second popular attraction is to take a drive into a tropical forest and go to the Mt. Pelier Domino Club, and view St. Croix’s “world-famous beer drinking pig!” There tourists enjoy buying a non-alcoholic beer for a pig, who will drink the beer from you. They say you have to see it to believe it. I wonder if he will play dominos too? The third attraction unique to St. Croix is Point Udall which is a sundial marking the first sunrise in the United States, on New Year’s Day, to commemorate the new century, 2000. The fourth point of interest is the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute where guests can learn about organic farming in their agri-tourism project.
Shopping in US Virgin Islands
Shopping in St. Croix
St. Croix is not only a shopping destination in the US Virgin Island it is also a shopping spectacle as it contains many historical buildings, which are really great for site scene and many shops are housed near these buildings. Additionally, there are many duty free shops in St. Croix which offers no customs duties on most of the merchandise. In addition, there are no local sales taxes.
Furthermore, shoppers can find items such as; kitchenware, perfumes, crystals, liquor, cosmetics, cigarettes and souvenirs at prices up to 50% below what they would normally pay elsewhere. There are also several outlets where shoppers can buy woodwork and other crafts made by local artisans; one popular art work is the St Croix Hook bracelet. The main shopping areas in St. Croix are Christiansted and Frederiksted , both of these towns are very important to the people of St. Croix. The following gives an over view of shopping in the three main shopping areas;
The main shopping area in Christiansted is along King Street. However, Company and Strand Street also offers a wide variety of fine shops with large collection of products. Also, attractive pavilions and alley ways are filled with shops and boutiques that offer items such as; clothing, perfumes, china, crystals, arts alcohol, jewelry and souvenirs. Additionally, there are many small stores which features unique locally crafted products such as; handmade jewelry with island themes, pottery, bath products, painted shirts and crucian bracelets. There are even more shopping opportunities just east of Christiansted at the Gallows Bays Marketplace, where gift-shops, bookstores, boutiques and other shops can be found.
Another historically destination in St. Croix is Frederiksted. Though, not as busy as it once was, the government and other local groups are still working on modernizing the town and restoring it to its former glory. Despite all of this, shoppers can still purchase locally made products and souvenirs.
There are a few other shopping areas in St. Croix such as Sunnylsle and Sunshine Mall which offers pharmaceutical, grocery, and clothing service. However many of them cater to Residents.
Shopping in St. John
If you’re searching for the greatest shopping adventure in St. John’s, Mongoose Junction is the place. It is located in Cruz Bay to the extreme northern end of the town. Mongoose Junction is a maze- like outdoor mall where you get the opportunity to travel through the terraces of fertile tropical plants and discover high quality items from around the world. Here you will find a wonderful array of clothing and accessories, jewelry, unique and eco-friendly gifts, designer sunglasses, boutiques, water sports center, as well as real estate and other professional services. Additionally, St. John’s most popular art gallery is here, which is famous localy and in other Caribbean Islands. The Shops at Mongoose Junction are generally open from 9:30 a.m. to at least 8 p.m. Monday–Saturday.
On Sundays most shops close by 6 p.m. Some of the shops include; The Body Deli where, you can order custom-made natural soaps and more, Caravan Gallery where most of the islands distinctive jewelries can be found, The Fabric Mill which offers a wide variety of distinctive imported textiles and clothing from South America, and Bamboula which is a world class favourite for its island-style clothing, batik bedspreads, handbags, jewelry, and art. Finally, a new addition to the mall is The Virgin Islands National Park Gift Shop. Here you can purchase books, posters, T-shirts prints, art, and environmentally friendly products.
For tourist searching for locally made products and jewelries this beach front shopping mail is the place. If you prefer outdoor shopping this is the place as, most of the stores are out door, additionally, if you’re shopping for water sports supplies this is the place. So, if you just need to shop and then relax this is also the place.
The Market Place
St. Johns market place is a one stop shopping mart, which minimizes the 7hustle and bustle. If you need to keep in shape there is a gym, shopping for books there are bookstores, food supplies there are supermarkets or even pharmaceuticals there is an exceptional drugstore.
Finally, St. John’s in The U.S Virgin Island is a one stop shopper’s delight, as you can discover everything from fashion, jewelry, sports to hardware.
Shopping in St. Thomas
One of the most famous shopping destinations, washed by the Caribbean Sea is St. Thomas in the U.S Virgin Island. Renowned both locally and abroad St. Thomas is a shoppers delight; with several duty free shops lining the streets and mails, stores and boutiques to suit every shopper’s needs. The following is a list of shopping locations in St. Thomas that shoppers must visit;
If you’re a shopper searching for a wide variety of products and items to choose from Charotte Amalie is the place, with great density of shops which sells a wide range of items such as; jewelry, local craft, clothing, shoes, liquors perfumes, crystals, gifts and much more at prices that will blow your mind. Furthermore, several stores line the main roads of Charlotte Amalie, flanked by side streets and alleys such as; Palm Passage and Rise Alley where even more unique shops and boutiques are located. Additionally, Charlotte Amalie has an area called Vendors Plaza where vendors are allowed to set up booths tents and tables from which a mixture of souvenirs are sold. Also, at Vendor’s Plaza you can find a wide variety of items such as; silver jewelry, t- shirts, shirts, dresses, tropical wrap skirts, imitation bags and watches, trinkets and much more.
Another extraordinary shopping destination in St. Thomas is Havensight which is the home of the second largest cluster of stores in the US Virgin Islands, which caters to visitors worldwide. This amazing shopping destination is located near to the primary cruise ship dock and the area for shopping is made up of Buccaneer Mall, Port point and Havensight Shopping Center. In addition, lengthy buildings contains some 60 or more stores where shoppers can find things such as; clothes, jewelry, electronics, music, sunglasses and so much more at extraordinary prices.
In Conclusion, St. Thomas is more than shopper’s delight, it a shoppers dreams as there is a wide range of items to choice from at great prices.
US Virgin Island Vacation Packages
As one of the most beautiful Caribbean destinations, the US Virgin islands, is certainly a place for families to visits and have a good time. Like any other destinations, travelers are interested in finding the best deals on air travel prices, locations, booking, entertainment, attractions, and other fun activities. A look into the three Islands of the USVI will encourage visitors to invest the time and money into experiencing one of the grandest islands in the Atlantic.
An Island package usually details the cost for staying at certain hotels on the island, what would be included in the package such as attractions near the hotels, or prices for restaurants for your choice. Some All-inclusive prices may range from $400 to $600 for a 4 or 5 night vacation package on these islands. Travelers can usually find this information out from their travel agency. On the islands of St. John, St, Thomas, and St. Croix, there are various forms of things to include into your vacation packages. For example, if travelers plan to really spend the time to see much of the natural wonders and historical architectures of these islands, they would need to plan certain days of which it would take to get the most of their visit.
Island of St. John
The island if St. John has many interesting and exciting places to stay and visit. If travelers were to buy a vacation package to visit this island, there are several things they could put together. There are many places for accommodations. These include, Westin Resort & Vilas, Gallows Point Resort, and Peter Island Resort. These offer rates that are reasonable and all-inclusive deals that visitors can arrange with travel agencies. Perhaps comparing prices of these agencies can help travels buy packages that suites them. Some packages cost a few hundred dollars which includes recreational services. Several accommodations on the island of St. John have packages that include water activities, such as snorkeling, sailing, and diving.
If persons are looking to just explore the city, then some additional charges may be attached to their visit. In some places such as colourful Cruz Bay, visitor’s package may include the ferry ride that can take you from St. John to the shores of St. Thomas. Some transportation from one attraction to the other may not be included in the package. There are also Museums such as the Ivan Jaden museum that persons can requests to take a tour of. When visiting the St. John, travels visiting with children may ask if they are traveling on cruises. Some travel agencies are able to obtain great rates for prospective travelers. There are several hotels & resorts on the island that couples stay to get married. There are also packages available for the bride and groom for their special day. Some may even arrange for their family and wedding guests take on deals that allow them to share rooms for a lower price.
The spaces of the rooms in most to the hotels on the island, is more than adequate for guests to share with their family and still feel comfortable. To get the best deals at one of the hotels On St. John, sometimes it’s good to travel between seasons. Hotels are usually able to give guest great deal on meals that are prepared there. There are also campgrounds & tents that you can choose to stay in and eat for free. Anyone can get deals on these as well, although they are usually reasonably priced. This island of the USVI is very accommodating when it comes to getting the best out of your vacation. Most travel packages are all-inclusive, and it’s perhaps one of the economical places to visit in the USVI.
USVI island of St. Thomas
The island of St. Thomas is a place where many couples usually visit for a romantic getaway. Some decide to make this paradise their tropical wedding destination. If it is a cruise, some packages offer couples the opportunity to have the ceremony on the island, and return to the ship for their reception. This may cut the price at a lower rate. Travelers may choose to stay at the resort near Sapphire Beach where they may plan to do their nuptials. Some packages include pampering in the luxurious condos at Sapphire Beach Condominiums. A five night honeymoon stay comes at a cheaper rate depending on the season travelers go on their honeymoons. Travel agencies are constantly comparing rates as they come and go. Some couples may decide visit the Trunk & Coki beach for snorkeling or stroll over to the gardens of St. Peter’s Great House.
Some find it easier to use a travel agency to coordinate the best wedding or honeymoon package for their visit to these Islands. There are so many things to do and the island tries to world together with agencies and travelers to make sure they get the best deals for their money. St. Thomas not only caters to couples looking to get married or enjoy a honeymoon vacation, it also offers deals on visiting the best shops and accommodations at the best restaurants. Hotels like the luxurious Marriot Resort at Frenchman’s Cove, may offer points for using their All-inclusive package which includes there luxury brand liquors & restaurant. The reef near this hotel offers breakfast & lunch, so some may decide to utilize this for a more affordable price. If travelers are looking for recommendations to a more convenient and reasonably priced restaurants, they can always ask around.
Beautiful St. Croix of the US Virgin Island
There are numerous diving spots on the island of St. Croix. Packages to engage in such activities are known to be quite reasonable. Visitors are able to rent gears for snorkeling and diving for an affordable rate. Persons may chose to rent a vehicle for driving from one attraction to the next. These also can be included in your package. It may depend on how many days visitors plan to utilize their own transportation.
Some may just chose to pay for transportation at a cheaper rate. Hotels like The Buccaneer are said to have great food at their restaurant. Some may chose to include this in their package. The Cruzan Rum factory is a great place to see how these islanders produce some of their finest rum. Admission to this factory may not be included in the packages. This island usually is an attraction for many cruise lines. Tourists usually decide to have a smaller package to take a tour to certain attractions and return to the ship. After leaving the ship for the island though, some visitors may decide to include other activities they come across while touring the island. Thus, they may decide to pay an extra fee for those services.
Taking a vacation is always exciting. Yet at times, it may take some effort into finding the right and appropriate deals. When visiting islands such as the USVI, travelers can always utilize the services of any travel agency to help them get the best vacation packages. So, if anyone desires to visit any of these three magnificent islands, they are sure to get a lot more out of the experience and enjoying all the amenities the islands have to offer.