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Most Popular Places to Visit in United States Virgin Islands, Top Attractions
Popular with honeymooners, vacationers, yachters, and the odd celebrity or two, this collection of idyllic islands are nestled in the Caribbean but officially belong to the USA. Although each has paradise-like scenery and a laid-back Caribbean vibe, you should head to St Thomas for water sports and gorgeous hotel resorts, St John for protected parkland and pristine beaches, and St Croix for excellent diving and rum factories! Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in the US Virgin Islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands are among the top places to visit in the Caribbean. Located in the Lesser Antilles, between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, this American territory includes about 50 islands and cays, the largest of which are St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. Natural beauty is one of the main attractions of the US Virgin Islands. Lush mountains, tropical forests, curving beaches, and rocky coves are sprinkled throughout all the islands, and the crystal-clear waters and steady winds lure sailors and boaters, who like to anchor in the sheltered bays. Each island exudes its own character. St. Thomas is the most visited of the islands and the gateway to the archipelago. Its main town, Charlotte Amalie, is the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands and a major cruise ship port, with plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. St. Thomas is also home to most of the bigger resorts in the US Virgin Islands. St. Croix, the largest of the three islands, is less tourism-driven than its sister islands. Top attractions here are the historic district of its largest town, Christiansted, as well as the sugar plantations, gardens, and coastal scenery on the Heritage Trail. St. Croix is also home to beautiful Buck Island Reef, the nation's first underwater monument. Eco-travelers will find an oasis on St. John, where two-thirds of the island is designated as the Virgin Islands National Park. Hiking, diving, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking, are popular things to do here. Plan your sightseeing with our list of the top attractions and places to visit in the US Virgin Islands.
#1- Coral World Ocean Park
One of St. Thomas' most visited tourist attractions is this indoor-outdoor aquarium filled with small sharks, stingrays and starfish. Located on the northeast coast of St. Thomas, next to Coki Beach, Coral World also has a walk-through aviary and an offshore underwater observatory that lets you view ocean life 15 feet below the water's surface. Despite its popularity, previous visitors voiced mixed impressions of the site. Many said that it's a fun stop for families and praised the facility for the care it gives its animals. Others felt the park left something to be desired and noted that parts of the facility still need repair from the hurricanes.
#2- Cruzan Rum Distillery
Vacationers jump at the chance to sample Cruzan Rum on its island of origin, and you should do the same at its distillery in Frederiksted. Tour guides at the rum headquarters will teach you about the distilling and bottling processes. Most visitors noted that while the tour is fun and informative; the experience is quick: It lasts approximately 30 minutes. When the tour is complete, guides will mix you up two cocktails
#3- Main Street
If you love to shop, dive in: St. Thomas has the best shopping plaza in the Caribbean. Dazzling diamonds, fragrant perfume, designer duds, shiny electronics and potent liquor stream from the cobblestones of Main Street (also known by its Danish name, Dronningens Gade) in Charlotte Amalie. And just like you've read online and heard from friends, it's all duty-free. But if you're not in the mood to shop, stay away, particularly in the late morning and early afternoon. Narrow Main Street is an assault to the senses, filled with vacationers straight from the cruise dock and plenty of solicitors beseeching you to visit their stores. The surrounding area of Charlotte Amalie is clogged with tourist taxis trying to drop visitors off as close to the shops as possible.
#4- Fort Frederik
Originally built to protect the Virgin Islands from piracy, Fort Frederik (also called Frederiksfort) is best known as a site of a landmark event. In 1848, some 8,000 enslaved people marched through the streets of Frederiksted to this fort to demand their freedom. During your visit to this historical site, you can learn more about the emancipation rally and the "triangular trade," a ship route that ferried enslaved people between Europe, Africa and the New World. Travelers overwhelmingly praised the fort for its in-depth overview of the history of slavery. Others noted that the grounds and building are not as well kept as those of Fort Christiansvaern.
#5- Fort Christiansvaern
Lemon-colored Fort Christiansvaern is a well-preserved stronghold on the waterfront overlooking a northern edge of St. Croix. Constructed in the late 1700s, the building is located on the grounds of the Christiansted National Historic Site and is one of the best preserved of the Danish forts remaining in the West Indies. Exploring the fort's exterior and perimeter should take 30 minutes or less, so you'll have plenty of time to peruse the rest of the area and learn about its history and structures. You can learn all about David Hamilton Jackson, a Black educator who campaigned for both workers and civil rights in the Danish West Indies in the early 1900s. You'll also find the Danish Customs House, the Scale House and the Danish West India & Guinea Company Warehouse. The last building is where former St. Croix resident and founding father Alexander Hamilton worked as a young man.
#6- Coki Beach
If you want to recline in the sun, choose Magens Bay or one of the more peaceful shores of St. Thomas' southern coast. But if you want to literally swim with the fishes, there's no better spot than Coki Beach, located next to Coral World Ocean Park on the northeast shore. The beach is lined with vendors selling quite the variety of goods and services (from drinks to jewelry to food), and the translucent waters (which travelers consistently report as having stellar visibility) are full of tropical fish. Beachgoers applaud Coki Beach's lively atmosphere, particularly enjoying the music played nearby. Others are fond of the ample amenities, such as snorkeling equipment rentals and bathrooms. However, travelers warned that these ideal conditions come at a cost: crowds. Coki Beach draws a number of cruise ship passengers.
#7- Paradise Point
One of the best views of the Charlotte Amalie harbor, Water Island and Puerto Rico awaits you atop Paradise Point, an overlook that's coupled with an on-site restaurant and gift shop. Vacationers are wowed by the spectacular panorama, but are less than impressed by the average food and the overpriced souvenirs. There is a 7-minute aerial gondola ride that will take you to this peak in Charlotte Amalie. Travelers reported it's an easy way to get to the top, but cautioned that the gondola car does not completely stop to allow passengers on or off. You can also opt to drive up to see the views.
#8- Virgin Islands National Park
If you're on St. John during your Virgin Islands vacation, you're likely right on the edge of Virgin Islands National Park. Two-thirds of the island is parkland, and most of Love City's top attractions, such as Annaberg Plantation and Trunk Bay Beach, are within its confines. There are numerous ways to enjoy this tropical paradise. Adventurous travelers and families alike have their choice of more than 20 trails to hike. Some sections of the park, such as popular Cinnamon Bay Resort and its campgrounds, are still undergoing repair and revitalization following the 2017 hurricanes. But travelers agreed that there's still plenty to do at the park, enjoying the different beaches and hiking trails it offers, not to mention the water activities, such as boating and snorkeling.
#9- Trunk Bay
To some, Trunk Bay is the mecca of beaches. You'll be hard-pressed to find another Caribbean beach with sand quite so pearly or water so aquamarine. And as it's cocooned by the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay still maintains its otherworldly serenity despite its constant barrage of tourists. Be sure to try your hand at the underwater snorkeling path. It's 225 yards long and is full of coral and fish with underwater plaques along the way. Though a fun experience, some travelers said the path itself is unimpressive and shows damage following 2017's hurricanes Irma and Maria. Others recommend going to the far end of Trunk Bay for the best snorkeling.
#10- Magens Bay
There's no beach on St. Thomas (or maybe even the entire Virgin Islands archipelago) that's as celebrated as Magens Bay. So, let us add our own poetic spiel: This north coast beach could potentially be the most photogenic and swimmable shore of the Virgin Islands. But years of positive reinforcement has led to an intense popularity with tourists who are all too willing to pay the entry fee to enjoy Magens' charms. Previous beachgoers have nothing but positive things to say about this beach. From its white sands to its pristine waters to its spectacular views, they found very little to fault.
#11- Annaberg Plantation
Annaberg Plantation was established in the late 1700s by Danish colonists. Enslaved workers farmed 1,300 acres of sugar cane and produced 100,000 tons of sugar a year. The site also produced molasses and rum. Today, Annaberg provides an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the plantation's role in the African slave trade as well as how it produced its goods. The plantation and its mill are in slight ruin, but some parts have been restored. You'll be able to see the enslaved peoples' quarters, their work sites and the guardhouse that prevented them from escaping. Depending on the day, you may also be able to watch a demonstration on basket weaving or bread baking.
#12- Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge
Sandy Point is a beach on the southwestern tip of St. Croix that moonlights as a habitat and nearly 400-acre natural refuge for the leatherback sea turtles. You may recognize the setting from the movie, "The Shawshank Redemption." The spot was said to be Mexico in the flick, but the final scene was actually filmed right on Sandy Point's beach. During the day, you can swim in the shallow waters or sunbathe along the buff-colored sand. If you're lucky you might catch some turtles nesting their eggs in Sandy Point's 2-mile stretch. Reviewers raved about the beach, saying it is pristine and well worth a visit. The trade-off, they warned, is that you will find no restrooms or other amenities as well as few opportunities for shade. Also, know that there are just a few parking lots and the beach is at the end of a long unpaved road.
#13- Estate Whim Plantation Museum
The Estate Whim Plantation Museum chronicles the lives of the people who lived and worked on the 18th-century Estate Whim plantation. It is the only sugar plantation museum in the Virgin Islands. Buildings on-site include the sugar mill, a cookhouse and the quarters of the plantation's enslaved people. Exhibits offer insights into how sugar was cultivated and processed by the enslaved workers and the economics of the plantation. Despite the closed attractions, travelers found the museum to be a worthwhile visit. Reviewers said they gained a greater appreciation for the rich and varied history of the Virgin Islands.
#14- Buck Island National Monument
Croix, Buck Island is the go-to spot for scuba diving or snorkeling. Managed by the National Park Service, the island is fringed with a barrier reef chock full of tropical fish and elkhorn coral. On land, you'll find a subtropical dry forest. A few trails weave through the island, which are perfect for a post-snorkel stroll or hike. There are picnic spots and restrooms on one side of the island, but you'll need to pack your own refreshments. Those who've made a recent excursion to Buck Island reiterated that this is the spot to snorkel, but note that the coral isn't worth the hype. Due to environmental damage, several travelers noted the coral lacks vibrancy. Nevertheless, they encouraged future travelers to add a stop to Buck Island to their itineraries, saying not to miss the island's forest.
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