More than 50 islets make up the US Virgin Islands, just three hours from Miami. From passport-free travel for US citizens to snorkelling with sea turtles, it’s time to add this Caribbean archipelago to your bucket list.
Choose your own pace as you explore the US Virgin Islands (USVI), a territory of the USA since 1917. Each of the three main islands, St Croix, St John and St Thomas, offers something different, though all are united by an easy-going culture, reggae beats and lush tropical landscapes. Discover why you should explore them all below.
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.
Yes, really. The bonus of being a US territory is that you don’t need a passport to travel to the USVI if you’re an American. However, you will need to bring identification to prove that you are a US citizen, such as a driving licence. Just hop on a plane from Miami International Airport, and you’ll be sipping a rum punch on the beach in no time.
Steady year-round temperatures averaging between 24C (75F) and 28C (82F) make the USVI a top winter sun destination for the northern hemisphere. Sailors flock here for the cooling trade winds, perfect for yachting. However, the best time to visit is from April to June, when the weather is mild, with little rainfall, and the rush of peak season (December to March) is over. July to October is hurricane season.
If you time it right, you may spot a turtle as you snorkel the clear waters surrounding the USVI. With both marine and land-based wildlife reserves, there are plenty of spots to immerse yourself in nature. For example, the soft sands at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge on St Croix provide a nesting habitat for three species of endangered sea turtles: the leatherback, hawksbill and green turtle. Peak nesting season is from August to November. Remember to keep a distance, stay silent and don’t disturb any animals you encounter.
The secluded, pearly white beaches of the USVI contrast starkly with the turquoise waters. It’s one of the biggest draws to these Caribbean islands. Cinnamon Bay, within the Virgin Islands National Park, is home to one of the longest beaches on St John. Meanwhile, the crescent sands of Trunk Bay – with its glowing shallows – is perhaps the most well-known beach on St John. Head underwater to glimpse the surrounding coral reef.
You’ve followed a hiking trail through a national park, but have you snorkelled an underwater trail? The Virgin Islands National Park covers approximately 5,224ha (12,909 acres) of the Virgin Islands, from tropical forest to the ocean. More than 40 percent of the park is underwater, with mangrove shorelines, seagrass beds, fringing and patch reefs offering diverse snorkelling spots. The clear protected waters are home to more than 500 species of fish and 40 types of coral. Head under the waves at Trunk Bay for a guided underwater trail.
While the Caribbean isn’t renowned for its surf spots, the USVI does have a few hidden gems for wave riders. Mother Nature can be fickle, but the right swell and wind direction during the winter months (from November to February) are the best for finding decent surf across the islands. Beginners should look for a big swell from the north and head to the beach break at Cinnamon Bay. St John’s most popular spot is Reef Bay; this reef break is tricky to access and better suited to advanced surfers.
Seven different nations have flown their flags over these shores, each leaving their legacy behind – from the native Ciboney, Caribs and Arawak people to Africans, Europeans and Americans. Trace the islands’ heritage by visiting historical sites such as Fort Christian, a looming red castle on St Thomas built in the 1670s by Dano-Norwegians, and Christiansted in St Croix, the former capital of the former Danish West Indies. Alternatively, head to Blackbeard’s Castle, a watchtower on St Thomas built to protect the harbour from pirates and attacks from the sea. Guided tours through the grounds are now available.
You can’t come to the Caribbean without taking a sip of rum. Born of the sugar trade that once dominated the region, this spirit tells the story of the islands and the people brought here to cultivate this “white gold”. The Cruzan Rum distillery on St Croix began in 1760 as a sugar mill, crushing the cane grown in the surrounding estate. The Nelthropp family has been distilling rum here for 200 years. Visit for a tasting session.
When you hear the pulsing music, smell the sizzling grilled meat and see the sparkling costumes, you know it’s time to take to the streets. The US Virgin Islands carnival events take place in St Thomas in April or May, St Croix in December, and St John in June or July, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to join in with the festivities. An expression of freedom, joy, dancing, music and good food and drink charge the air with communal conviviality. Be sure to seek out live quelbe music, unique to the Virgin Islands.
Start planning your US Virgin Islands stay by browsing the best hotels here for every kind of traveller. Alternatively, scour the best boutique hotels in both the US and British Virgin Islands, bookable on Culture Trip. Fill your itinerary by checking out the best things to see and do in the US Virgin Islands. Fancy exploring the rest of the Caribbean while you’re here? Here are Caribbean dishes you need to try and an expert guide to island-hopping in the region.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.