St. Thomas/St. John and USVI
One of my favorite places to visit in the Caribbean is St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s important to differentiate between USVI(US Virgin Islands) and BVI (British Virgin Islands) when booking a vacation. Unlike most of the islands/countries in my Caribbean list this one of the few places where you DON’T need a passport to travel to (if you are a US citizen).
The scenery on St. Thomas is what one thinks of a quintessential Caribbean local; large mountainous regions, turquoise water, and relaxation. Unlike the waters on the west coast (Hawaii) the water in the Caribbean is warm enough where all you need is a bathing suit (not a wet suit).
St. John/Trunk Bay
If scuba and snorkeling is on your itinerary (if going to the Caribbean then make it a part of your itinerary) there are countless opportunities to explore the ocean. My personal favorite place to snorkel in the entire USVI is on St. John at Trunk Bay. The Bay is a peaceful spot of beach that is well maintained and has an underwater snorkeling park. The park has stations and guides you to the rest of the underwater areas while giving information about the plant and sea life in the area.
To get to St. John from St. Thomas there is a ferry that leaves from the Red Hook. Catch the ferry and board the tram. The tram will take you to look out points and the beach.
St. John is a total different beast than St. Thomas in terms of vacationing. St. John is a small mountainous island (only 20 square miles). There are only a few resorts on the island and most of the restaurants and activities are right in the small marina right when you get off the ferry. If ultimate peace and tranquility are what you are after then try staying on St. John. A word of caution though, you might be ferrying over to St. Thomas a bit to catch some of the activities/restaurants on the larger sister island.
Transportation on St. Thomas is different than most U.S. cities (the taxi’s and cars drive on the left and have a steering wheel on the right. The roads on St. Thomas are also tight and the locals drive aggressive. On a previous trip we hired a taxi cab for the week and gave them a call whenever we needed a ride (a similar experience to Uber, which wasn’t available the last time we were there.)
Like most islands food is exported from other areas. Expect a higher bill at restaurants, as well as groceries. One of my favorite restaurants on the island is Pesce Italian. Try the quartro fromagio if you’d like a heavenly four cheese pasta dish.
Where to stay
When staying on St. Thomas, Red Hook (eastern end of the island) has offered many affordable and luxurious apartments. Cowpet Bay offers the ocean right at your front door and is near the heart of Red Hook. I couldn’t recommend that area more for a relaxing and beautiful experience.
Charlotte Amalie is in the middle southern section of the island. Charlotte Amalie is by far the busiest part of the island with shopping, cruise ships, and touristy activities. Depending on the type of vacation you are trying to have (relaxation and more island culture (Red Hook), touristy and lively (Charlotte Amalie)) you can plan your next trip to USVI to fit your tastes.
Overall you can’t go wrong with St. Thomas or St. John. The USVI is one of my go to’s when planning a relaxing beachfront vacation. On top that you don’t need a passport to enjoy the amazement of the islands this is a hard place to pass up.
Overall rating 9 out of 10. Scoring based on affordability, activities, restaurants, and beauty.