Southern Mom Loves: Caribbean Treasure: What to See and Do in the USVI

Caribbean Treasure: What to See and Do in the USVI

Monday, May 1, 2017

USVI, or the US Virgin Islands, are a group of three major islands located south and east of Puerto Rico. They're one of the best-known destinations in the Caribbean and there's a reason for that! From a laid back nap on the beach, diving, nature, nightlife, fine dining, and more, USVI has something for everyone. Whether you're looking for a relaxing couple's retreat or the family vacation of a lifetime, now is the perfect time to travel there. The peak tourist season for the USVI is roughly from mid-December to mid-April, so you can get great prices on hotels, rentals, and tours in the off-season.

My husband and I are in love with the islands. We honeymooned there and stayed at Point Pleasant Resort on St. Thomas. Like many visitors, we took the ferry to St. John and rented a Jeep to explore the island. Although we mostly did our own thing, we did enjoy a few sailing and snorkeling excursions and also took guided tours of the island and the Governor's residence.

While we were there, we had a couple of dinners in fine dining restaurants, but we mostly ate at waterside dives - which I preferred, actually. The Mahi Mahi is so fresh there! We even went shopping on the famous Charlotte Amelie street. All in all, it was an amazing experience, which is why I wanted to share some information about this wonderful US territory with you.

I've written about How to Get Rock-Bottom Pricing on Your Family Vacation and I used a lot of those tips on our trip to the USVI. We were married in May, so it was the perfect timing for an off-season trip to a tropical location since most people go during the winter months.

People tend to think of the Virgin Islands as a party destination, and while there are rum drinks around every corner, the islands during the day are very family-friendly. You can swim and play on the beaches, do some shopping, explore the islands, catch lizards, try new cuisines, or just lounge and read. If you're worried about flying with little ones, check out Flying with Kids: 8 Easy Ways to Make It Trouble-Free and 10 Cheap Ways to Keep Kids Entertained on the Road!

USVI - So Much to Do

What was once the Danish West Indies of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway is now known as the US Virgin Islands. The United States bought the islands in 1916 under the Treaty of the Danish West Indies.

Today, the US Virgin Islands are known as an organized, unincorporated United States Territory. What that means, without getting bogged down in a geo-political quagmire of legalese, is when you visit the islands, you'll experience a trip full of sites pulled straight from history and influenced by other cultures, but you'll be able to do it without the need for money exchanging or a foreign language reference book.

If you're from the US, you will need a passport to get back. New rules require one for re-entry from the USVI, whereas a driver's license was sufficient for re-entry previously. Don't forget your passports!

Let's take a look at this gorgeous island chain.

St. Thomas

Like the entirety of the USVI, St. Thomas is on island time all the time. You can relax on any of its beautiful beaches, explore historical sites, see the great attractions, and more. My husband and I had a wonderful time exploring the area, that's for sure.

That view every morning!

Historical Sites

St. Thomas has a plethora of historical sites to see on the island, from forts to churches to, wait for it, Blackbeard's Castle. If you love history, there's no end to the wonders you can explore at St. Thomas.
  • 99 Steps 
  • Blackbeard's Castle 
  • Bluebeard's Castle 
  • Camille Pissarro Gallery 
  • Drakes Seat 
  • Fort Christian & Museum 
  • Frederick Lutheran Church 
  • French Heritage Museum 
  • Government House 
  • Haagensen House


White sands, turquoise water, and warm breezes await at any of these gorgeous beaches.
  • Bolongo Bay 
  • Brewer's Bay 
  • Coki Beach 
  • Hull Bay 
  • Lindbergh Bay 
  • Lindquist Beach 
  • Magens Bay 
  • Morning Star Beach 
  • Sapphire Beach 
  • Secret Harbour Beach


There are literally too many dining options on the island to list them all here. St. Thomas boasts everything from high-end haute cuisine to roadside shacks that offer some of the best authentic Caribbean food to be found anywhere.


St. Thomas has a wide variety of natural beauty to be taken in. Be sure you take in the wonderful parks and gardens in addition to any of the many tours of the island that you can experience.
  • Butterfly Garden 
  • Coral World Ocean Park 
  • Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden 
  • Virgin Islands Children's Museum 
  • Caribbean Buzz Helicopters 
  • Flying Fish Aviation 
  • Skydive Virgin Islands 
  • Tree Limin' Extreme, LLC 
  • Homer's Snorkel & Scuba Tours 
  • Wreck Life Dive Center


Like all islands in the USVI, shopping is duty free in St. Thomas and you'll have double the shopping allowance of other Caribbean islands - $1,600, in fact. If you're a shopper, be sure to visit the main drag of Charlotte Amelie, Havensight Mall, Red Hook, Crown Bay Center, Yacht Haven Grande, and Main Street.

St. John

St. John offers visitors all the natural beauty of the Caribbean as well as fine dining, laid back night life, several historical sites, and some of the most beautiful beaches in all of the Caribbean. St. John is the island for nature lovers, with two-thirds of it designated as national forest and the world famous Trunk Bay, a blue flag rated and ADA-accessible beach.

Historical Sites

St. John has seen its share of humans so there are several interesting historical sites to see. These sites offer a glimpse into the plantation days of the island as well as a peek into the ancient culture that lived on the island.
  • Annaberg Sugar Plantation
  • Elaine Ione Sprauve Library & Museum
  • Peace Hill Ruins
  • Reef Bay Trail & Petroglyphs


Enjoy the legendary beauty of any of St. John's beaches.
  • Cinnamon Bay
  • Francis Bay
  • Hawksnest Beach
  • Honeymoon Beach
  • Jumbie Bay
  • Leinster Bay
  • Maho Bay
  • Salt Pond Bay
  • Trunk Bay


Like the other major islands in the USVI, there are too many dining options to list here. Just know that you can't go wrong, no matter what you choose. My advice is to explore the restaurants as you explore the island for a fun foodie adventure. With everything from American to Asian to Caribbean (of course), and tons more, there's no end to the dining options.


St. John has amazing natural beauty just waiting to be explored, whether it be hiking, diving, snorkeling, or just lounging on the beach.
  • Hiking in VI National Park
  • Horseback riding with Carolina Corral
  • Island tours of all varieties with Antilles EcoQuest, Arawak Expeditions, Caribbean Buzz Helicopters, and St. John Concierge Service
  • Diving, ocean tours, and more with several charter and expedition services including Calypso Charters and Discovery Undersea Glass Bottom Boat Tours
  • Enjoy world class diving at Eagle Shoals, Carvel Rock, and Tektite.


Peruse handmade wares and authentic island treasures at wonderful shopping areas like Mongoose Junction and Wharfside Village as well as a plethora of small shops.

St. Croix

St. Croix is the most famous and most crowded of the USVI. For that reason, my husband and I stuck mainly to St. John and St. Thomas. However, if you head to the most visited of the USVI, you'll find a wide variety of historical sites, natural beauty, and more.

Historical Sites

St. Croix is rich in history, with several historical sites that range from museums to forts to churches and more.
  • Apothecary Hall Museum
  • Buddhoe Park
  • Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts
  • Estate Whim Plantation Museum
  • Fort Christiansvaern
  • Fort Frederik
  • Friedensthal "Valley of Peace" Moravian Church and Manse
  • Government House
  • Holy Cross Catholic Church
  • Holy Trinity Lutheran


If beach bumming is your thing, St. Croix has the best beaches in the Caribbean.
  • Annaly Bay
  • Butler Bay
  • Cane Bay Beach
  • Chenay Bay Beach
  • Coakley Bay Beach
  • Columbus Landing/Salt River Bay national Historic Park
  • Cramer's Park
  • Davis Bay
  • Dorsch Beach
  • Fort Frederik Beach/Frederiksted Beach


Whether you're interested in candlelight by the sea, super fancy fine dining, or laid back beach bars, St. Croix has no end of dining options, and they all receive high marks from visitors.


Explore the beauty of the most famous of the USVI with charters and National Park exploration that will satisfy anyone.
  • Ay Ay Eco-Tours and Hikes
  • Gecko's Island Adventures
  • Hike St. Croix with Poppa John
  • National Park Service
  • St. Croix Horse Tours
  • Air Venture in Paradise
  • Paul and Jill's Stable


The best shopping USVI shopping can be found on St. Croix. With so many people visiting the island, shops have sprung up everywhere, offering everything from high-end artisan pieces to authentic local crafts. No matter where you look, you'll find great shopping.

USVI - Breathtaking Beauty and Amazing Adventure

You may have noticed that this post is long, but I only scratched the surface of everything you can see and do in the island. The USVI are so full of wonder, beauty, and activities, it would take 10 of these posts to do it justice. If you've been thinking about visiting the islands, I highly encourage you to do it. You won't be sorry; My husband and I certainly weren't!

You can download and print a free Travel Journal for the kids here. Enjoy your trip and make some memories!


Are you planning a trip to the USVI? Where do you want to stay? What are you planning to do? I love to read your comments!

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