The Virgin Islands of the Caribbean may be differentiated by their British and American ownership but just like the British Virgin Islands have their own unique appeal, so do the U.S. Virgin Islands. In fact, the coastlines of the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered some of the most incredible in the world.
The history of the U.S. Virgin Islands is closely tied to that of the British Virgin Islands. The collection of islands like St. Croix and tiny uninhabited islands were once occupied by several Amerindian tribes until the arrival of Christopher Columbus who decided to give them the name of St. Ursula and Her 11,000 Virgins upon their discovery.
Similar to other islands in the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands also went through a period where several countries such as the Spanish and the French tried to gain control of them. During this time, pirates took advantage of the more uninhabited cays to use as hideouts. By the late 1600s the Danish West India Company had settled on the island of St. Thomas, St. John a few years later and subsequently purchased St. Croix from the French. Under Danish ownership the islands collectively became one of the largest exporters of sugar in the Caribbean well into the 1800s.
By the mid 1800s the United States had also become a major sugar exporter which consequently diminished Danish power. American interest particularly grew during the American Civil War as the islands were very well suited for use as safe harbors and fortresses. When World War I occurred the United States paid a princely sum to take ownership of the Virgin Islands.
Tourism continues to be one of the major industries and economic contributors to this day. Over 1.5 million people visit the islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas each year, usually referring to them by their nicknames of the Twin City, Rock City and Love City, respectively. Water Island is a small and somewhat lesser known inhabited U.S. Virgin Island yet it remains the one which still has the most historic ruins and plantations. It’s also the home of one of the most popular beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands collective known as Honeymoon Beach.
The smallest U.S. Virgin Island is St. John which has a relaxed vibe and it’s where you’ll find the Virgin Islands National Park. St. Croix is the largest and is recognized for its natural landscapes. St. Thomas has the most beaches out of all the islands.
Since the U.S. Virgin Islands depend so heavily upon tourism, there is an enormous amount of retail, resorts, dining and entertainment throughout. The people practice a blend of American and Caribbean customs so it’s common to see a large population of people of both Caribbean and American descent. Everyone speaks English but the music skews more towards traditional Caribbean musical genres like reggae and calypso.
The U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean has massive real estate appeal because of its numerous secluded islands that provide the ideal Caribbean lifestyle. These hilly islands have lush vegetation on them and are surrounding by light blue waters. Real estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands is plentiful and varies from beachfront vacation villas to entire islands for rent or for sale.
Homes in the U.S. Virgin Islands are as diverse as the creativity and backgrounds of their builders. Beautiful mansions perched on hilltops mix with beachfront villas located right on the white sandy beaches. Some common features for homes in the U.S. Virgin Islands include floor to ceiling windows with terracotta tiled floors, sun rooms, covered patios with high-end pools and Jacuzzis.
Buying or renting vacant land in the U.S. Virgin Islands is ideal for an authentic Caribbean lifestyle. Entire uninhabited islands are for sale or for rent providing the most exclusive Caribbean experience available anywhere. Additionally, beachfront and hilltop vacant land is available on larger populated islands like St. Croix and St. Thomas. U.S. Virgin Islands' land appeal defies convention as many prefer the beautiful views and gentle sea breeze provided by hilltop properties than the traditional beachfront property appeal.
The U.S. Virgin Islands has a well developed tourist industry with great Caribbean hotels and resorts. Hotel-resorts like Ritz-Carlton, Carrington Inn, Caneel Bay Resorts and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa offer a host of amenities like in-house restaurants, bars, multiple pools, tennis courts, fitness center, spa, sauna, water sports equipment, baby sitting services and concierge. The islands are also known to be frequented by cruise-lines which provide fun and convenient transportation.
Caneel Bay Resort
Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas
The official currency of the U.S. Virgin Islands is the U.S. dollar (US$).
Calling Code: 1 (340)
Top Level Domain: (.vi)
The U.S. Virgin Islands is an insular area of the United State, all rights and rules of the U.S. government apply.
Valid Travel Documents: Required upon exit and entry
Government Issued Photo ID: Required
Reliably Caribbean, the weather of the U.S. Virgin Islands is balmy, with daily highs between a cozy 77°F (25°C) in winter and 82°F (28°C) in summer.
Language: Standard English
Tips when you get there:
International airports are conveniently located in both St. Thomas and St. Croix. If residents are staying on another island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, ferries travel regularly and can take visitors to any island they wish. On the more popular islands, taxis and buses are equally sound means of transportation. Exploring the islands and all they have to offer is a good first day activity in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
What to do
The U.S. Virgin Islands are spread out and activities and events vary from island to island. But some of the more general attractions include visiting historic buildings and museums, partaking in water sports activities like sailing and scuba diving, or relaxing on the U.S. Virgin Islands famously secluded beaches.
Some historic sites and museums to see are the Estate Whim Plantation Museum, a well preserved colonial sugarcane plantation in St. Croix. Also visit Fort Christian with its incredible history of being a bastion, jail, governor's residence and a Lutheran Church throughout the years ever since it was built in the seventeenth century.
The beach provides a wealth of entertainment for visitors whether they're looking to relax on quiet beaches or looking for fun and exciting coastal activities. Water sports are very popular in the U.S. Virgin Islands, especially with resorts that offer convenient access to sail boating, jet skiing, water skiing, snorkeling and scuba diving.