Amazing Day Trips to Take Around the US Virgin Islands by Boat

Yachts and sailing boats moored in Charlotte Amalie harbor on St Thomas
Yachts and sailing boats moored in Charlotte Amalie harbor on St Thomas | © van der Meer Marica / Arterra Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo
Judith Baker

Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the US Virgin Islands serve up a tantalizing spread of culture, history, and nature. The territory comprises three main islands, St Croix, St John, and St Thomas, along with some 50 small islets and cays. Draws include white-sand beaches, spectacular diving sites, delicious seafood, and very quaffable rum-based cocktails. Undoubtedly one of the best ways to explore the USVI is by boat. Here we reveal the best places to mark on your map for some unforgettable day trips on the water.

Cruise through the US Virgin Islands in style by chartering.

Magens Bay on St Thomas

Set along St Thomas’ rugged north coast, Magen’s Bay is a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling with turtles and rays among the inhabitants. There are restaurants and bars nestled on the palm-fringed shoreline and things get busy at the weekend when a party atmosphere prevails. Head to the far ends of the beach if you want peace and quiet, or to see the bay from a different perspective scoot to the top of Crown Mountain, which is the highest point in the USVIs at 1,555ft (474m). Here you will find the Mountain Top observation deck complete with a shop and a bar serving up refreshing banana daiquiris.

Coral World Ocean Park on St Thomas

Great for families, Coral World Ocean Park has activities for watching and interacting with sea life. Found near Coki Beach on Coki Point, a peninsula on the northeast shore of St Thomas, the aquarium has viewing stations over the coral reef at several levels. Interact with loveable sea lions, sea turtles, and sharks. At the “touch pool”, handle starfish, stingrays, and even a baby shark. Once you’ve had your fill of sea life, head to one of the local beachfront restaurants to sample some local delicacies, with Petra’s Dushi by the Sea being a particular favorite.

Eagle Shoals off St John

For scuba divers, St John is a must when visiting the USVI. The waters here teem with marine life. Eagle Shoals near Coral Bay has an atmospheric cave known as The Cathedral where bright sponges cling to the walls. The tunnels here and caves are packed with fish including parrotfish, groupers, glasseye snappers, and blue-striped Caesars. You will also see turtles and stingrays in the shallower waters.

Cruz Bay and Caneel Bay on St John

Cruz Bay, the main town on St John, may seem unassuming at first glance but it has some delectable shops and restaurants. Take time to have a stroll around before heading northeast to kayak, hike, and snorkel in Caneel Bay in the nearby Virgin Islands National Park, a Unesco-listed site. Snorkel in grass beds frequented by sea turtles, and hike the picturesque Lind Point Trail where you’ll come across a photographic mix of fauna and flora.

Reef Bay Trail on St John

The exhilarating Reef Bay Trail is located 15 minutes from Cruz Bay. The first mile or so of the trail is quite steep as it descends into the jungle but eventually levels out winding its way through ruins, petroglyphs, fast-flowing waterfalls, and marvelous tropical foliage. After the jungle trek, you’re rewarded at the end, with sweeping views from Reef Bay where you can relax on the deserted beach. Remember to take plenty of water and a camera.

Jack Bay and Isaac Bay on St Croix

Get away from it all on these two idyllic beaches at the very east end of St Croix and accessible only by foot from Point Udall, which some like to claim is the most easterly point of the USA. While it is a fairly challenging hike in the heat, it is well worth the effort with tranquil white sands and calm waters to greet you at the end. The waters here are excellent for swimming and snorkeling with the chance to see an array of tropical fish. Both bays are protected by The Nature Conservatory as they serve as turtle nesting sites at certain times of the year.

Buck Island Reef National Monument off Buck Island

A small uninhabited island located just north of the island of St Croix, Buck Island is protected by Reef National Monument. This magnificent underwater national park covers 176 acres (71ha) and preserves one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean. It has one of the world’s most important beaches for nesting hawksbill sea turtles and provides safe nesting for many local and migratory birds, including brown pelicans and terns. Snorkel or dive through the Caribbean’s finest coral reefs, or simply lounge on the coral sand beaches and watch the birds swoop around.

Christiansted on St Croix

Step back in time with a trip to the atmospheric town of Christiansted on St Croix, which dates to the 18th century and features dozens of buildings from the Danish colonial era. The Christiansted National Historic Site includes Fort Christiansvern (1749), where hundreds of historic artifacts are on display. Stroll on the lively Christiansted boardwalk that passes along the harbor and people-watch from one of the pretty waterfront cafes. Most of the old buildings have been renovated and made into attractive boutiques and restaurants. There is also a lively arts scene with galleries and studios to dip into.

See so much of the US Virgin Islands in a day.

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