The three main islands of the US Virgin Islands all have very different vibes – from the rum-rich St Croix, to the busy cruise port and resorts of St Thomas and the scenic hiking hotspot of St John. Just make sure to leave enough time to explore all of the tropical paradise on offer. Here’s our guide for the best places to stay on this US archipelago in the Caribbean Sea.
With pretty much this stretch of St Croix’s coastline to itself – aside from the nearby Carambola Golf Club – the Carambola Beach Resort is for those who want a true resort base. You should note, that other restaurants are quite a drive away. Built on a sugar plantation, there’s a huge palm-fringed pool, and a number of rooms fronting the beach. Rooms are spacious, with luxury touches such as dark wood shutters. If you’re craving a little adventure, head to the nearby Carambola Tide Pools where waves crash over the black volcanic rocks of the naturally formed basins at high tide.
Swim laps of the freshwater pool, under the shade of the flaming red flamboyant tree. It’s a way down the steep hill to the harbor of Cruz Bay, but the shaded terraces of the Estate Lindholm mean you can enjoy a view of it all, glass of wine in hand. The Morrisette family has made their home here since the 1950s, restoring historic Danish ruins to create 17 rooms stone-built across the hillside. Take the trails of the National Park, just a short hike from the estate, to reach the secluded Honeymoon and Salomon beaches.
Borrow some beach chairs and towels, and head straight to the beach. The Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel claims to be the closest hotel to the ferry dock, meaning you can stroll from the boat right to your room. Better still, there’s four beaches within walking distance too – Cruz Bay Beach is 200ft (61m) away, Frank Bay Beach is two blocks away, while Soloman and Honeymoon Beaches are a half-mile hike via the National Park trail. Rooms are compact and simple but have everything you need. However, for longer stays, a one-bed penthouse suite does have a full kitchen.
Two Sandals is perfect for the solo travelers or couples seeking a basic, standard room for a night before a charter or ferry to St John or the British Virgin Islands. Two Sandals is located in the east of St Thomas, close to American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook, and though it doesn’t have a pool, many of the rooms – which range from cozy doubles to a two-bedroom apartment – have ocean-view balconies.
There be pirates – or at least, there used to be. The National Historic Site in the city of Christiansted, with its merchant’s houses, also includes a hefty 18th-century fort built to protect the colony from pirates. Take in the history-heavy atmosphere at the Company House Hotel, built in the 1760s. Though also a business hotel, there’s a courtyard pool, and newly renovated rooms are spacious with some traditional touches, such as wooden shutters.
Walk the streets of Frenchtown and you might hear a mix of West Indian Creole and 18th century Breton French in the local dialect. Founded in the 19th century, when the descendants of French Huguenots settled from St Barts, quirks, such as a mini Eiffel Tower outside the town museum, are physical reminders of the town’s history. On a hill above it all is Olga’s. From a waterfront cottage, to a small jungle-themed room with shared bathroom, all have harbor views and funky nods to Caribbean architecture and culture, including corrugated tin panelling, brightly painted corals, and giant mermaid artworks. Be warned, being on a hillside, there’s plenty of steps.
It’s all about the service at Gallows Point. So if you want to explore without lifting a finger, and you’re feeling especially fancy, have the concierge arrange a helicopter or horseback ride around the island for you. There’s coral reef snorkeling directly in front of the hotel, while the main town of Cruz Bay is just a five-minute walk away. Complimentary arrival and departure shuttles also make the start and end of your break refreshingly easy.
Looking for a different kind of stay? Check out our guide to the best villas in the US Virgin Islands, bookable now with Culture Trip. Or if you fancy a visit to the British Virgin Islands, check out our pick of the best boutique hotels in the British Virgin Islands, bookable with Culture Trip.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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