Things to see and do in US Virgin Islands
Attractions in US Virgin Islands
Cruise to 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.
Kick back in St John
Escape the crowds on St John, the most unspoiled 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. If you're looking for a slice of local life, head to Cruz Bay, which offers excellent beaches, fantastic diving and a laidback vibe.
Marvel at the architecture
Admire the colourful colonial facades, which are a feature of the local architecture. Off particular interest to history buffs is Blackbeard's Castle, which 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; Government House on Government Hill; Venus Pillar on Magnolia Hill; Bluebeard's Tower, the 19th-century pirate's one-time abode.
Meet the marine life
Clear, warm waters and colourful coral reefs make the US Virgin Islands a mecca for divers. Some of the best 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); Carval Rock (for advanced divers, on St John); and Submarine Alley (an advanced dive site, on St Thomas).
Raise a glass of rum
Explore St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Christiansted is one of the two major towns showing early Danish influence. Outside of Christiansted, on West Airport Road, is the Cruz Rum Distillery where visitors can taste the islands' rum. St George Village Botanical Gardens and Croix Aquarium are both worth a visit.
Set sail around the islands
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.
Shop till you drop in St Thomas
Head to cosmopolitan St Thomas, the second largest of the US Virgin Islands. 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.
Take a fishing trip
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.
US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism USAAddress: 900 17th St. NW Suite 500, Washington, 20006
Telephone: (202) 624 3590
Caribbean Tourism Organisation UKAddress: Surrey, 22 The Quadrant, Richmond, TW9 1BP
Telephone: 208 948 0057