US Virgin Islands for the whole family: Top 5 things to do there
If you are on an all-inclusive holiday in the US Virgin Islands (USVI), there will be a point when you want to stretch your legs a bit and take in some of the stunning and immersive culture and history that this region has to offer. Yes, the crisp-white sands and luxurious resorts are fantastic, but you haven't come all this way to just lie on a beach for a week, have you? Here are the top five things to do in the USVI that will cater to all tastes and ages.
A must for travellers with kids, this marine park on St Thomas is a huge ocean site where water flows through each of the exhibits and then back out to the ocean - it truly is spectacular. Visitors will be able to enjoy an 80,000-gallon circular tank open at the top, a nursery for adolescent sharks, a stingray pool, two sea turtle pools and a touch area with hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, urchins and couch. Be sure to also check out the brilliant sea lion show and the lorikeet aviary where you can feed the birds.
Located in Charlotte Amalie, Fort Christian is the oldest standing structure in the USVI, and it is a sight to behold. When Dutch Governor Dyppel led the second expeditionary force to St Thomas in 1672, he ordered the construction of the fort and named it after the then King Christian V. The site was then expanded and a new entrance was added in the 18th century. Over time, this place has served as a town centre, jail, government building, and is now a museum with interesting Dutch artefacts.
Standing as one of the five National Historic Landmarks in the USVI, the site was constructed in 1679 by the Danes as a watchtower to protect the harbour. Standing proudly on Government Hill, the castle could be used to spot enemy ships and thwart attacks with canons. It is believed that the castle got its name from the infamous pirate, Edward Teach, who sailed the Caribbean waters in the early 18th century and even used the tower as a lookout.
St Thomas Synagogue
This jaw-dropping synagogue in Charlotte Amalie is another of the National Historic Landmarks, and it is the oldest serving synagogue in the whole of the USA. Built in 1833, the place of worship served the Sephardic Jews who had come here to finance trade in the late 18th century. Walking around here, be sure to look out for the mahogany benches, ark and bimah, while the sand floor is the main selling point. Why sand? Well, some believe it represents the Israelite journey through the desert, while others believe it helped to muffle prayers made in the cellars.
Christiansted National Historic Site
Celebrating urban colonial development in the region, the site is home to five historic structures, such as Fort Christiansvaern, the Danish West India Company Warehouse, and the Scale House. On this patch of land, African slaves were brought by ship and sold to local planters, making this a must-see to fully understand the darker history of the USVI. Emotional and honest, no trip to the region would be complete without exploring the Christiansted National Historic Site.
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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.
AMResorts has announced that its Dreams Resort and Spa brand will be making its debut in the U.S Virgin Islands in the Caribbean in December. The 294-room resort will be located in St Thomas and will be rebranded as Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas on 21st December, 2014. Guests are invited to start making their bookings from 1st November.