US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands is a wonderful stop for Americans looking for an island vacation. Traveling to the islands is a wonderful option because you do not need a passport, so if you’re looking to experience a tropical getaway without the price tag of Hawaii, these Islands are a wonderful alternative.
They’re made up of three islands, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.
We visited St. Croix, years ago, for our babymoon and we had a wonderful time. But most recently we went to St. Thomas and St. John.
The wonderful part about these islands is that the two of them are so close you can take a ferry over for just the day or take your rental car over and stay there for a couple nights as well. St. Croix is accessible by flight, from either the mainland or St. Thomas.
St. John is much smaller than St. Thomas and the majority of the island is a National State Park. It’s a beautiful drive and since its a National Park, the roads are better-taken care of and easier to maneuver (St. Thomas’ roads are plentiful with potholes).
Like other islands in the Caribbean, St. John was colonized by Europeans. Upon arrival, they took away most of the natural rain forest to grow sugar cane. Today, you can see stone ruins of different sugarcane plantations and mills and even a dungeon. Sadly, St. John was home to many hundreds of slaves that worked the plantations and mills, it is documented that the slaves worked in tragically terrible conditions. When you walk around the ruins, you can feel the heaviness of history that took place here.
All in all, the beaches are prettier on St. John, though most you have to pay to enter. The town area, Cruz Bay, is very small and there isn’t a lot you could fill up for a several-day visit. We originally were going to take the ferry over and spend a night or two on the island, but it worked out where we just went for the day and that was all we needed. The island life feels quieter and more relaxed, which we really loved. And the color of the ocean was incredible!
For places to stay on St. John this is where we were going to stay, but we opted to save money and return to St. Thomas for the night. If our children were older, we would have taken a snorkel tour out of Red Hook Bay like this or this.
We took this car ferry over and the convenience of keeping our rental car with us was really great since we had car seats with us and though we could have rented a car for the day on St. John, it might be harder to ensure car seat rentals on such a tiny island.
St. Thomas has a lot more to offer as far as activities and though we didn’t think the beaches were as pretty, they were absolutely incredible and the fact that you are swimming with tropical fish is extraordinary! Especially for children!
You must not miss Magens Bay, voted one of the world’s most gorgeous beaches. You can rent sailboats, paddleboards, kayaks and snorkel gear, right from the beach.
Not as pretty as Magens, but the fish swimming here are incredible. My children chose to return here each day we were on the island. This experience was just absolutely incredible and I highly recommend it!
Where to stay
we stayed here
The Margaritaville is built entirely on hills (the entire island is mountains) so there’s a lot of walking uphill or a lot of waiting for the golf cart to take you around from your place to the pool, to the lobby, to the parking lot, etc.,
We would have been able to walk more of it if we didn’t have two young children to carry uphill. Our building was the very furthest up the mountain. So, I know that this is probably how most resorts on the island are laid out and that’s no fault of their own. It just wasn’t something we loved being hindered by and it felt very inconvenient.
Also to note, there was no room service and nobody ever came to clean our room or give us fresh towels during our four nights here. Upon checking out we learned that we could have paid for housekeeping to do this for us.
I think it’s the very first place we’ve ever stayed at where housekeeping wasn’t complimentary. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but something that we would have liked to know beforehand.
But the hotel is located right near Coki Beach, just a quick drive and you’re by those amazing fish, so that’s a major plus. And they have birds that come to visit in the lobby and they put on a show for you. So, there are
several perks to staying here.