Places in US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands things to see and do

Tourist offices

US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism USA

900 17th St. NW Suite 500, Washington, D.C., 20006, United States
Tel: (202) 624 3590
www.visitusvi.com/

Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK

22 The Quadrant, Surrey, Richmond, TW9 1BP, United Kingdom
Tel: 208 948 0057
www.caribbean.co.uk

Things to see and do

Buck Island

Sail to the much smaller Buck Island, easily reached via the 10km (6 mile) channel that separates it from Christiansted. Offshore is one of the world's most impressive marine gardens, maintained by the National Park Service as an underwater protected reef.

Diving

Dive or snorkel among the stunning coral reefs. Warm and calm seas, a rich marine life and excellent visibility are the main attractions for divers of all abilities. Facilities are well-developed. The diving season is busiest from December through April. Some of the best dive sites include Andreas Reef (on St Thomas, known for its variety of tropical fish); Buck Island Reef National Monument (a protected area on St Croix with markers describing marine life); Carval Rock (for advanced divers, on St John); Salt River Canyon (one of the most popular sites, also on St Croix); and Submarine Alley (an advanced dive site, also on St Thomas, with large coral islands).

Fishing

Fish for blue and white marlin, sailfish and wahoo; the North Drop (accessible from St John or St Thomas) is the best-known spot. Sport fishing charters with experienced skippers are widely available. Local fishermen are keen to encourage the 'catch-and-release' method in order to preserve fish species. Fishing competitions, such as the Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament or the Open Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament attract amateurs and professionals from all over the world.

Sailing

Sail around the territory's myriad islands. Visitors can hire sailing boats or powerboats, with or without a skipper. Boat races take place all year round, including the Rolex Cup Regatta (on St Thomas) and the Mumm's Cup Regatta (on St Croix). Guided kayak tours through Mangrove Lagoon and St Thomas' Marine Sanctuary provide the opportunity to see egrets, herons and other wildlife.

St Croix

Explore St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Christiansted is one of the two major towns showing early Danish influence. Fort Christiansværn (dating from 1774), Government House, the Old Custom House and Art Gallery and the wharf area are among its historic sites. Outside of Christiansted, on West Airport Road, is the Cruz Rum Distillery where visitors can taste the islands' rum and watch it being made. On the way to Frederiksted is Whim Greathouse, portraying plantation life in the 18th century. Frederiksted is also of Danish origin and has a tropical rainforest nearby. St George Village Botanical Gardens and Croix Aquarium are both worth a visit.

St John

Escape the crowds on St John, the most 'unspoilt' of the islands. It has no airport, and two-thirds of the island's deep valleys and most of its shoreline have been set aside as the Virgin Islands National Park. Cruz Bay is a small town offering excellent gift shops and dive centres. Trunk Bay is a beautiful beach, and the diving is very good. Accommodation on the island is limited. Caneel Bay is a luxurious resort. Cinnamon Bay and Maho Bay have campsites. Cottages can also be rented.

St Thomas

Head to cosmopolitan St Thomas, the second-largest of this chain of islands. Like St Croix, it has many associations with the Danes and retains much Danish influence. The main town, Charlotte Amalie, is the group's capital. Imported goods from all over the world make it a marvellous shopping centre and stores tucked into remodelled Danish warehouses line each side of the picturesque Main Street. Cobblestoned alleys with numerous boutiques lead down to the waterfront. Blackbeard's Castle is the earliest fortification in the US Virgin Islands. Other attractions include Fort Christian, built in 1672; the Coral World Observatory; the Frederick Lutheran Church of 1850; Government House on Government Hill (1866); Venus Pillar on Magnolia Hill; Bluebeard's Tower, the 19th-century pirate's one-time abode; and the Synagogue on Crystal Gade, one of the oldest in the western hemisphere. On the northern coast is Magens Bay, claimed to be one of the world's top 10 beaches.

Edited by Jane Duru
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