Virgin Islands - Frequently Asked Questions
From where to find the best stretches of sand for topping up your tan to how to book a memorable excursion, answers to your most frequently asked questions about the US Virgin Islands can be found here.
Table of contents
- When is the best time to go?
- Do you need a visa?
- How can I get there?
- What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
- What is there to see and do?
- Where are the best beaches?
- What resorts would you recommend?
- What's the best way to book excursions?
When is the best time to go?
While sunshine is generally present in the US Virgin Islands all year round, there are a number of other factors to consider when planning a trip to the archipelago. Visitors can expect temperatures in the high 20s during the day and low 20s at night. Winter is generally the dry season, although tropical showers can occur at any time of the year. The US Virgin Islands lie on a major hurricane pathway and are hit fairly regularly between June and November. All of these factors contribute to high season falling between December and mid-April, when the weather is at its most favourable.
Do you need a visa?
The majority of British visitors to the US Virgin Islands do not need a visa, as long as they have a machine-readable passport that is valid for the duration of their stay. Under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), such stays must not exceed 90 days and the holidaymaker must be in possession of a return or onward ticket upon arrival. The final requirement is that they check into the US government ESTA website prior to their journey in order to register.
How can I get there?
There are two airports to be found within the US Virgin Islands - Cyril E King Airport on the island of St Thomas and Henry E Rohlsen Airport on StCroix. No airlines fly direct from the UK to the US Virgin Islands, but it is possible to access the archipelago in a number of ways. One of the best methods in to connect in the US, with American, Continental, Delta, United and US airlines all offering flights to the islands. Some services require connections in San Juan, Puerto Rico, while a number of departures are direct.
What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
The US Virgin Islands use US dollars and it is a good idea to take some currency with you. There are ATMs in some of the main towns, but visitors should not expect to be able access money everywhere they go. The exchange rate between pound sterling and dollars is around £1 to $1.56.
What is there to see and do?
The white sand beaches and azure waters of the Caribbean are the biggest draw for holidaymakers in the US Virgin Islands, but there is plenty to entice the more active traveller too. Snorkelling, yachting and watersports help visitors to make the most of all that ocean, while there are various sites on the larger islands to explore. On St Thomas they include the 18th century watchtower known as Blackbeard's Castle; the brightly painted houses of Frenchtown; and the Coral World Ocean Park Aquarium. On nearby St John, it is possible to get away from the world and find true paradise, as two-thirds of the island is protected national park. Hiking, snorkelling and wildlife watching are the must-do experiences here.
Where are the best beaches?
Heading to the beach is likely to top the agenda of anyone spending time in the US Virgin Islands and it is mandatory that even private resorts offer public access to their stretches of white sand lapped by turquoise waters. As an archipelago, the country offers various islands to explore, but its best beaches can be found on St John. This is because they are quieter than those on St Thomas and as much of it is protected by the US National Park Service, you will find them surrounded by jungle in many cases and undeveloped. Trunk Bay is often featured among lists of top ten beaches in the Caribbean and Caneel Bay is actually a series of seven beaches arranged around the Durloe Point.
What resorts would you recommend?
Deciding on a resort much depends on the island you decide you base yourself on during your trip to the US Virgin Islands. Each has its own distinctive style, but there are some resorts that cannot fail to impress. These include the Caneel Bay Resort on St John, which has been created out of a historic sugar plantation. Its proximity to seven beaches and stunning setting make mark it out from its competitors. Alternatively, the beachfront location of Secret Harbour Beach Resort on St Thomas is perfect for those looking for a slice of paradise. Each of its studios and condos boasts an incredible view and the palm-lined beach is the epitome of Caribbean life.
What's the best way to book excursions?
To get the most out of the US Virgin Islands you will want to get out and explore, which means booking some excursions. While The Holiday Place doesn't organise any tours in the US Virgin Islands, we know some people who do! We have partnered up with some of the best destination management companies in the area, who offer everything from excursions of a few hours to those that last the whole day. Get in touch with your local rep once you have arrived and you will be able to book up enough activities to keep you entertained for your entire trip.
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The US Virgin Islands are already prepared to receive MS Adventure of the Seas cruise ship, a remarkable feat considering the damages that powerful Hurricane Irma left behind. After resolving electricity issues and cleaning up the fallen trees, St. Croix welcomes around 4,000 passengers only ten days after the nature hazard.
A scuba diving enthusiast will attempt to break the world record for the longest duration underwater later this year in the Caribbean. The non-profit group Project Nautilus will attempt the longest open-water scuba dive in December off Coki Beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a target of 100 hours underwater.