The US Virgin Islands have a lot to offer- turquoise blue water, towering peaks, lots of amazing beaches, great snorkeling options, awesome food and great night life. It’s the perfect weekend getaway from the US mainland. The US Virgin Islands are made up of multiple islands but the big ones are Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix. While Saint Croix is a little further out from the other two, Saint Thomas and Saint John are definitely doable on a single weekend getaway.
Most visitors get to the US Virgin Islands via a quick flight from the mainland to Cyril E King Airport in Saint Thomas. Renting a car is the best way to explore the islands, but if you don’t prefer driving (especially on the left side of the road) there are shared taxis that charge $4 to get you to the popular destinations.
Must see attractions
Magen’s bay is the most popular beach in the US Virgin Islands. But it gets very crowded during the day, so we did not swim there but instead enjoyed it from a distance. Drake’s seat and Mountain Top viewpoint have gorgeous views of Magen’s bay. There’s even a nice souvenir shop at Mountain Top which we thought was very reasonably priced, even though it was bustling with tourists.
You can enjoy fresh coconut water with some island rum mixed in at Drakes Point depending on the time of day. The guy who sells coconuts (forgot his name) wasn’t there when we first stopped there but we caught him on our way down from Mountain Top.
Paradise point has the most amazing views of the marina and the town of Charlotte Amalie. There are two ways to get to this lookout; you can either take the Skyride gondola (14$ per person) or drive yourself to the top. We did the latter. There is a small narrow road that’s really easy to miss to the left of the main road if you are driving away from the town of Charlotte Amalie that will take you all the way to the top. The road is paved all the way up and there are parking spots at the top as well. There’s also a nice restaurant with amazing views.
Town of Charlotte Amalie:
You can easily spend a half day walking around the town of Charlotte Amalie. There are many shops, restaurants, bars; and the best part is that everything you buy here is duty free. We walked up the 99 steps to Blackbeard’s castle to enjoy more great views of the harbor and sparkling turquoise water.
There are so many beach options in Saint Thomas, and Coki beach is one of the best. Snorkeling here was a really cool experience since you can feed the fish from your own hands. A big school of fish came towards me when I held a piece of fish food in my hand. I could feel them nibbling on my fingers. It was unreal. Swim to the right of the beach for great snorkeling. Beach chairs, life jackets, umbrellas and drinks are all available here for a very reasonable price. There are restrooms and showers on site.
Turtle Bay is in Saint John, which is a short 20 minute ferry ride from the port of Redhook or 45 mins from Charlette Amalie. Schedules for the ferry from each port can be found on this website. Again, great beach and amazing snorkeling.
Ram trail Hike:
While there are many hiking trails in Saint John, Ramhead trail is the most popular one. It is 20-30 mins one way and takes you through bushes along the water to a cliff and has amazing views all the way up.
Just driving around in Saint John is an attraction in itself. There are amazing lookouts at every corner.
Where to eat:
Cup and Cork is a great option for breakfast. They serve coffee, burritos, bagels, smoothies and much more.
Texas Pit Barbecue has the best ribs. They have food trucks/trailers set up in both corners of St. Thomas: Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook.
For dinner and drinks, Tap and Still is a good option. The menu is limited to burgers, hot dogs and wings but the food is really good and they have a solid beer selection on tap.
Where to stay:
There are hotels in all price ranges in Saint Thomas. I recommend staying in/around the Red Hook area since the ferry port is close by, which allows for easy access to other close by islands. Also this area has tons of restaurants and bars. Secret Harbor Beach Resort is right on the water and the hotel beach is great for snorkeling. Paradise cove is another great option, on the less expensive side but great location and amazing views.
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