Tourists swimming near the docked Catamaran boat in US Virgin Islands

21 US Virgin Islands Travel Tips (to Know Before You Go)

Before you plan that trip to the USVI, you need to know these 21 US Virgin Islands travel tips!

Trust me, I work as a local charter boat Captain on St. Thomas – part of my job is offering my guests as many useful tips as possible. If you follow these, I promise you, you’ll have a fantastic trip to the US Virgin Islands.

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21 Travel Tips for the US Virgin Islands

“Good Day!” is Our Greeting

The author's wife and dog swimming on the beach of the US Virgin Islands
My wife and puppy, Skipper, greeted me after surfacing from a snorkel.

You’ll always start interactions with Virgin Islanders on a good note if you greet everybody with an emphatic “Good morning!”, “Good afternoon!” or “Good day!”. Anything else is culturally considered rude.

Save a Buck During Hurricane Season

The author Andrew Bloem and his wife sitting on the footbridge and enjoying the beach at the Marriott
Enjoying the beach at the Marriott.

It’s never a bad time of year to visit the USVI, but hurricane season is an often overlooked one. For one, it’s the cheapest time to visit the USVI for budget travelers. And honestly, when a hurricane steers clear, it’s absolutely beautiful.

🌀Travel Insurance: Although cheap, the threat of hurricanes still exists, consider if travel insurance is right for you. You can easily compare dozens of quotes via VisitorsCoverage.

Have a Drink Anywhere!

The author Andrew Bloem and his wife drinking on the boat

The US Virgin Islands are one of the few places in the United States where open container laws do not exist. Plus, unlike the mainland, the drinking age is 18!

📚 Related Reading: Best Things to Do on St. Thomas

St. Croix is Isolated

Aerial view of the St. Croix from Goat Hill
View of St. Croix from Goat Hill

Unlike the proximity that St. John and St. Thomas enjoy, St. Croix is a distance of 45 miles south of the two. You have a few options for getting there from St. Thomas: either a bumpy ferry ride or a fascinating flight.

🏝️ Visiting St. Croix: I always recommend at least three days on St. Croix alone. It’s the only way to enjoy all the best things to do around the island.

Go Island Hopping in the US Virgin Islands

A man diving off the boat to swim to St. John’s shore
Hopping off the boat to swim to St. John’s shore

While you’re here, you might as well take advantage of the many islands and places to visit within the USVI. By staying on St. Thomas, visiting St. John and Water Island as day trips are easy. Additionally, St. Thomas is the best access point to reach the British Virgin Islands.

Keep Left!

A car driving on the left side of the road
Don’t let the view distract you!

The US Virgin Islands is the only place within the United States where driving on the left side is the law of the land. It’s a nerve-wracking experience at first, but trust me, driving a car in the US Virgin Islands is easier than you think.

Bring Snorkel Gear

The author's wife swimming with snorkeling gear and a dog on the paddleboard
Even my puppy loves snorkeling!

No matter which of the pristine USVI beaches you end up on, you’re bound to discover colorful marine life or swim with sea turtles directly from the shore. That’s why I always recommend bringing a set of travel snorkel gear for your trip to the USVI.

🤿 Plan Your Route: My favorite snorkeling is off the beaches of St. John, including Trunk Bay!

Day Trip to the British Virgin Islands

View of the white sand and turquoise beach British Virgin Islands
Beautiful beach in the BVIs

It’s obligatory for every Virgin Islands travel guide to recommend at least a day trip to the BVIs. Departing St. Thomas, it’s easy to hop aboard a short ferry ride to Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, or Virgin Gorda to visit popular attractions like The Baths, Soggy Dollar Bar, and the white sand beaches lining their shores.

Visit All the US National Parks

Overlooking view of the Fort Christiansvaern on St. Croix
Fort Christiansvaern on St. Croix

Virgin Islands National Park on St. John gets all the thunder. However, remember the five other sites managed by the US National Park Service in the USVI, including St. Croix’s Christiansted National Historic Site and Buck Island Reef National Monument.

Take a Hike

A woman overlooking the beach view at Ram Head Peak on St. John
Ram Head Peak on St. John

With the protection of Virgin Islands National Park, hiking on St. John, like Ram Head Trail and Reef Bay Trail, is among the best in all of the Caribbean islands. St. Croix isn’t too far behind, with epic hikes to tide pools, secluded beaches, and scenic views.

No Passport Required

The author Andrew Bloem and his wife riding the motorboat in US Virgin Islands
Visit even smaller islands by boat without a passport!

For American citizens, getting to the US Virgin Islands is as easy as hopping aboard a plane with a government-issued photo ID. No passport is necessary. However, you will need a passport to visit the British Virgin Islands.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

The author Andrew Bloem fully covered up on a sunny day
Cover up!

Sure, you might be escaping the winter cold from up north, but the sun in America’s Paradise is hot and intense year-round. Reef-safe sunscreen is one easy solution, but covering it up with high-UPF clothing is an even better one.

For more essentials to remember, check out my packing list for the US Virgin Islands.

Stay Decent

The author's wife and dog riding on the boat
Even on ferry rides, you should cover up!

You might be on vacation and fully on island time, but people do work and live here. Local customs necessitate you to cover up when not on the beach or engaging in water sports. It’s the polite thing to do.

Book Your Place to Stay in the USVI in Advance

The author Andrew Bloem overlooking the hotel view in US Virgin Islands
Hotels tend to book up far in advance.

Especially during peak season, it’s helpful to book in advance. That means your hotel, rental car, and even some tours. These islands get busy beginning in December and stay that way well into the summer.

You can browse the best USVI hotels on Expedia now to get started (thanks for booking with Travel Lemming’s affiliate link!).

📚 Related Reading: Best Places Stay on St. John

Take Advantage of the St. Thomas Safari System

Tourists hopping off from the Safari System of St. Thomas
Using Safaris is a great way to save money

If you don’t want to get a rental car, a great way to get around on St. Thomas is using a Safari Taxi. These open-air trucks cater to most locals and cost just a few bucks to hop on and off. The only condition? They move in one circular direction around the island along a specific route.

Know How to Stay Safe in the USVI

The author Andrew Bloem overlooking Magens Bay at Mountain Top
Overlooking Magens Bay at Mountain Top

A quick google search asking, “are the Virgin Islands safe?” yields unsightly results. However, these islands are incredibly safe for tourists, especially if you take common sense precautions.

Discover the Best Beaches in the US Virgin Islands

The author Andrew Bloem and his wife enjoying the secret beach on St. Thomas
Our favorite secret beach on St. Thomas!

The US Virgin Islands are known for their spectacular beaches. No matter which of the main islands you end up on, Whether it’s hidden gems on St. John or the most popular beaches on St. Thomas, you’re guaranteed to find a pristine beach to enjoy.

Explore the Main Towns

A man walking along the walkway and enjoying the view of Frederiksted
Enjoying the view of Frederiksted

Each Virgin Island features a set of must-visit towns. On St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie is the territory’s capital city and largest community. Red Hook on the island’s East End is a tourist hub and launch point to St. John’s Cruz Bay. Opposite Cruz Bay is Coral Bay, a small community of salty sailors, expats, and Virgin Islander locals. 

Over on St. Croix, you’ll find the island’s largest town, Christiansted, with its historical sites and vibrant boardwalk lined with boats heading to Buck Island. Frederiksted, the territory’s second-largest cruise port, is on the island’s west end.

Know the Cruise Ship Schedule and Plan Accordingly

Aerial view of the docked cruise ships in Charlotte Amelie
The three islands see many visitors to their pristine beaches when cruises are in town.

St. Thomas is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, with an estimated 1.4 million passengers per year, pre-pandemic. If you’re staying on St. Thomas, I highly recommend avoiding certain attractions while multiple large cruise ships are in town. These attractions get swamped with tourists during peak hours – the greatest offender being Magens Bay Beach.

During your stay, check the VI Now tourist page for the most up-to-date cruise schedule and plan accordingly.

Enjoy a Charter Boat

View of the boat from the ocean water
We circumnavigated St. John aboard Poseidon for my 30th birthday!

The beauty of the United States Virgin Islands is best taken in from a boat. Sure, I might be a bit biased since I’m a local Captain here, but trust me, by taking one of these epic boat trips from St. Thomas or St. John,  you’ll take in the beauty of these islands from the most scenic perspective.

Extend Your Trip by Visiting Puerto Rico

The author Andrew Bloem posing at the Paseo del Morro in Old San Juan
Paseo del Morro in Old San Juan

Not too many people realize how close Puerto Rico is to the US Virgin Islands. Astonishingly, the flight time from St. Thomas airport (STT) to San Juan (SJU) is a meager 16 minutes! And honestly, since you’re already in the Caribbean Sea, you might as well hop over to discover yet another Caribbean Paradise!

🌴 Can’t Decide Which US Virgin Island to Visit? Check out my guide comparing St. John vs St. Thomas vs St. Croix!


Any US Virgin Islands travel tips that I might have forgotten? Or maybe something you are wondering? Please, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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