Considering a trip to the Caribbean? Come experience the many fun things to do in the US Virgin Islands! After all, in today’s day and age, where else can you travel relatively headache-free and still discover a mesmerizing tropical paradise?
Our trio of islands – St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix – have everything you’d seek on your Caribbean vacation: vibrant culture, local cuisine, outdoor adventure, tasty rum drinks, and of course, pristine beaches.
I moved here in 2021, so I still have a lot to learn. But after much exploring and consultation with local friends from each island, these are the best places to visit in the US Virgin Islands during your trip:
Table of Contents
- 17 Best Places to Visit in the US Virgin Islands
- Virgin Islands National Park, St. John
- Christiansted, St. Croix
- Buck Island, St. Thomas
- Honeymoon Beach, Water Island
- Cruz Bay, St. John
- Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas
- Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, St. Croix
- Magens Bay, St. Thomas
- Coral Bay, St. John
- Point Udall, St. Croix
- Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins, St. John
- East End, St. Thomas
- Maho Bay, St. John
- Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
- Buck Island National Reef Monument, St. Croix
- Trunk Bay Beach, St. John
- Annaly Bay Tide Pools, St. Croix
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17 Best Places to Visit in the US Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands National Park, St. John
Hike through lush tropical forests descending into secluded white sand beaches
Encompassing two-thirds of St. John, Virgin Islands National Park is an encapsulation of the natural and human-influenced history of the Caribbean. Hiking trails wind through the mountainous tropical forests where trekkers might spot feral donkeys, white-tail deer, and invasive goats.
Sprinkled amongst the trails are ruins of old sugar mills serving as a reminder of the troubled past some of the Caribbean islands endured. Petroglyphs of the Indigenous Taino are on display along an ancient riverbed. And finally, each trail culminates its descent into pristine, white sand beaches dropping into the glimmering turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
📰 Did You See the News? St. John is #8 on our list of the best places to travel in the world in 2022!
Christiansted, St. Croix
The largest town on St. Croix with a historic district, boat tours, bars, and restaurants.
Christiansted is the largest town and economic hub of St. Croix featuring many sites, attractions, and tours departing to other popular spots on the island. Walk along the scenic boardwalk stopping at the many tiki bars, cafes, and souvenir shops before hopping aboard a boat charter to Buck Island and its underwater national monuments.
After your trip, explore the Christiansted National Historic Site and its colonial Danish architecture before heading over to nearby beaches Shoys Beach or Cane Bay for the rest of the afternoon.
Buck Island, St. Thomas
Explore a shipwreck or snorkel with sea turtles in Turtle Cove
I may be biased (I do work as a Boat Captain here, after all) but exploring the United States Virgin Islands by boat is immensely better than land. And one of the coolest places to visit by boat is Buck Island near St. Thomas.
The island boasts a beautiful lighthouse towering over its shores. Although you won’t be able to step foot on the island (it’s protected by the US Fish & Wildlife), the waters surrounding the island are stunning. Notably, Turtle Cove and Shipwreck Cove are two excellent sites for snorkeling and scuba diving where you’ll encounter turtles and a WW2-era shipwreck known as the Señor Cartanza.
🏖️ Read Next: Where to Stay in St Thomas
Honeymoon Beach, Water Island
Visit the beautiful beach before exploring the rest of Water Island via golf cart
A mere stone’s throw across Charlotte Amalie Harbor is the 4th and lesser-known US Virgin Island: Water Island. The small island houses a few hundred residents, a WW2-era fort, and Honeymoon Beach – one of the best beaches in St. Thomas.
Compared to others, Honeymoon Beach is incredibly active with a lively tiki bar, volleyball courts, water sports rentals, and a bustling bay filled with charter boats. But the icing on the cake for a day on Water Island is the golf cart rentals. For a low price, you can motor your way along the winding pathways visiting all Water Island has to offer.
Cruz Bay, St. John
The lively waterfront village is a perfect representation of the Caribbean lifestyle
Cruz Bay is the largest town on St. John serving as the landing point for the ferry service from St. Thomas and the launching point into Virgin Islands National Park. Throughout the walkable town, you’ll find souvenir shops, jewelry stores, fantastic restaurants, countless beach bars, charter boat companies, and the largest dive shop in the Virgin Islands. However, the town is best enjoyed between the hours of 3 – 6 PM as you hop from dive bar to beach bar during the coolest happy hour in the Caribbean.
Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas
Discover a mesmerizing underwater world
On Coki Point is Coral World Ocean Park – a thrilling dive into the marine world perfect for kids, families, and anyone interested in underwater life. Interactive exhibits include snorkeling opportunities with sea turtles, diving with dolphins, and encounters with sea lions. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in St. Thomas for families!
After spending the day within the park, head next door to Coki Beach for more snorkeling opportunities at Coki Dive Center, souvenir shopping from local vendors, and rum punch at one of the many tiki bars. You’ll soon understand why
Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, St. Croix
One of the longest untouched coastlines in the Caribbean
For natural beauty in the Caribbean, look no further than the western tip of St. Croix. Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is a 2-mile stretch of protected shoreline and one of the busiest nesting sites in the world for leatherback sea turtles. Because of this, the refuge is sparingly open throughout the year so be sure to check before you go.
Your launching point into the refuge is Frederiksted, the second largest town on St. Croix and home to other popular attractions like the Estate Whim Plantation Museum and Fort Frederik.
Magens Bay, St. Thomas
Witness the beauty of Magens Bay to see why it’s the most popular beach in the US Virgin Islands
Magens Bay is the postcard image of the US Virgin Islands, and rightfully so. This beach is absolutely stunning. The mile-long stretch of white sand is lined with sea grape trees and coconut palms providing a natural canopy as the turquoise waters lap the shore. Mostly surrounded by lush green hills, Magens Bay still feels like a natural getaway despite its popularity with cruise passengers and visitors to St. Thomas.
🌴 Want secluded beaches in St. Thomas instead? We have those too! Check out our article on the best beaches in St. Thomas to find out where!
Coral Bay, St. John
A peaceful village for those seeking a quiet atmosphere and natural beauty
As fun as Cruz Bay is with its bars, restaurants, and lively atmosphere, some of you might be looking for a slightly different pace on St. John island. Welcome to Coral Bay: a peaceful village amidst a forgotten corner of the Virgin Islands; the town is sleepy, the locals are salty, the bars are divey, and the views picturesque.
If you’re wanting to gain access to some of the more remote areas of Virgin Islands National Park, I highly recommend staying near Coral Bay. You’ll be well within striking distance from some of the best St John attractions, including secluded beaches like Salt Pond Beach, epic hiking trails like Rams Head, and scenic paddling routes through Hurricane Hole.
🇻🇬 Visiting the British Virgin Islands: Coral Bay used to be a popular launching point to the British Virgin Islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda. However, new restrictions + fees in the BVI’s has made visiting the nearby islands incredibly difficult. We hope restrictions will fade in the future so our islands can reconnect once again.
Point Udall, St. Croix
The easternmost point of the United States offers stunning sea views
Point Udall is the most eastern point in the United States, and as such, the most popular place on St. Croix to catch a sunrise. The views are breathtaking. Additionally, the point serves as the trailhead for a hike to multiple places of interest: Isaacs Bay Beach, Jack. A Beach, and Goat Hill. The two secluded beaches are a great place for an early morning swim after ascending Goat Hill for stunning views of the rest of St. Croix.
Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins, St. John
The most impressive sugar mill on St. John
If you select only one trail to trek during your time on St. John, heavily consider the Reef Bay Trail. The old forest road winds from peak to valley passing by the largest trees on the island, Petroglyphs from the island’s first inhabitants, and old stone ruins from houses, fencing, and sugar plantations – the most impressive being the Reef Bay Sugar Factory at the trail’s end.
The factory was operational well into the 1900s combining modern machinery with classic sugar production techniques. As such, the ruins are the most well preserved on the island and by far the most interesting.
🏖️ Read Next: 15 Best Beaches on St. John, USVI
East End, St. Thomas
Beautiful beaches, great hotels, excellent restaurants, and scenic views await visitors on the East End of St. Thomas
If you’re considering staying on St. Thomas, there’s a good chance you’ll end up finding accommodation on the East End of the island. The most popular resorts are peppered throughout the region including Margaritaville, the Ritz-Carlton, Marriott at Frenchmen’s Reef, Limetree Resort, Sapphire Village, and Secret Harbor Resort – each with access to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
The main center of commerce on the East End is Red Hook featuring a litany of boat charters, restaurants, dive bars, souvenir shops, and the ferry terminal to St. John.
Maho Bay, St. John
Snorkel with green sea turtles at this world-renowned beach
Nestled along the north shore of the National Park is Maho Bay with its white sand and swaying coconut palms. The beach is the most popular on St. John and the best place in the US Virgin Islands to snorkel with sea turtles.
It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon searching the seagrass beds for everyone’s favorite marine reptile. When you’re done snorkeling, be sure to hit up one of the many food trucks along the waterfront before catching one of the frequent taxis back to Cruz Bay for happy hour.
🏖️ More nearby beaches worthy of visiting: Maho Bay can get busy due to its popularity. If you find the beach too busy for your liking, check out nearby Cinnamon Bay, Francis Bay, Trunk Bay, or Hawksnest Beach for smaller crowds.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Depart on a free walking tour through Charlotte Amalie, the largest city in the US Virgin Islands
History buffs will enjoy the walking tour through the largest city on St. Thomas: Charlotte Amalie. Beginning on the waterfront, visitors will pass by a countless number of historical buildings including Fort Christian, Frederick Lutheran Church, the Government House, Blackbeard’s Castle, the St. Thomas Reformed Church, Market Square, and much more.
On display are the Danish architectural influences from centuries of development via the Dutch and Danes. Amazingly, many of the buildings in Charlotte Amalie date back to the 1600s.
🏖️ Read Next: 13 Best Beaches in St. Thomas, USVI
Buck Island National Reef Monument, St. Croix
Explore a vibrant, underwater marine protected area
Buck Island National Reef Monument is a Marine Protected Area 2 miles north of St. Croix managed by the US National Park Service. Visitors can explore the island by land or sea with many boat charters departing Christiansted daily. The surrounding reefs of the island are pristine with spotted eagle rays, reef sharks, lobster, and colorful fish making regular appearances.
👉 Read Next: 33 Best Places to Visit in Florida
Trunk Bay Beach, St. John
Snorkel over coral reefs right from shore with an underwater reef trail
Along the north shore of St. John, you won’t be lacking choice when selecting which of the pristine beaches you want to visit. However, if you’re looking for some world-class snorkeling right from shore, consider heading to Trunk Bay Beach. The bay features an underwater snorkel trail with information plaques about the tropical fish and natural coral you’re viewing. It’s an excellent introduction to the marine life of the Caribbean Sea!
🤿 Need snorkel gear? Cressi makes an excellent travel snorkel set that will open up an underwater world during your trip to the Virgin Islands!
Annaly Bay Tide Pools, St. Croix
Take a dip in a natural pool carved into the limestone bedrock
Nature lovers and adventure seekers will love the challenging hike down to the Annaly Bay Tide Pools. At the end of the 2.5-mile trail, trekkers will be treated to natural pools of saltwater along the rockface jetting into the Caribbean. After taking a dip and enjoying the scenery, your hike back up to the trailhead begins. Keep in mind, this is a strenuous, yet extremely rewarding adventure!
So what do you think? Have you booked your plane ticket yet? Or do you have anything I should add to the list of best things to do in the US Virgin Islands? Let me know in a comment below!
Have fun exploring the USVI!