A refreshing Caribbean escape awaits guests in the United States Virgin Islands – a place where paradise is within reach. It’s a favorite stop of cruise ships, and rightly so because it’s home to pristine beaches.
USVI is an inspiring destination, with about 50 islands offering tourists their needed relaxation matched by the warm breeze and majestic Atlantic views. In this Caribbean destination, the experience is always premium – from the hospitality of the locals to the inviting tourist spots.
One attraction that should not be missed is the Virgin Islands National Park, a known diving spot. The tropical rainforest is not to be overlooked, too, because it’s lush and brimming with wildlife. It also offers its historic sites for those who want to go on a trip down memory lane. From the shore to the heart of Saint John Island (where the park is located), this place is nothing short of a wonder. USVI might as well mean the United States’ Vacation Island.
Plan The Visit
Unlike other Caribbean destinations, USVI’s tourism was not badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic -- a true refuge. It’s always a perfect time to visit this talented tropical spot, and listed below are some reminders.
Before entering USVI, travelers should be cleared via the Travel Screening Portal.
Travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 should provide proof. Unvaccinated tourists should submit a negative coronavirus test result.
The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (except on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Independence Day). There is no entrance fee to the park, but there are amenity fees for overnight stays.
Activities To Try
Sun-tanned memories thrive in this Caribbean spot – thanks to a variety of activities tourists can try. USVI welcomes visitors who want to have a slow day or be active outdoors. Whatever floats a tourist’s boat, the islands have them covered.
The bay between the white-sand beaches of Salomon and Honeymoon is home to several coral species like a lettuce leaf, mustard hill, and brain corals. Finger corals can also be found on the reefs west of Salomon. The Hawksnest Bay is proud of its elkhorn coral reefs, home to baby fish and other marine creatures. Beginning snorkelers can have a fun day exploring Trunk Bay's underwater trail, where they can learn about marine life.
Cinnamon Bay is perfect for those who want to spot some snappers, crabs, and lobsters, while Maho Bay is recommended for those who want to meet sea turtles.
Francis Bay is not just for snorkelers but also for birders who want to observe pelicans chasing fish.
Leinster Bay, Waterlemon Cay, and Brown Bay are also ideal snorkeling spots thanks to their rich underwater ecosystem composed of turtles, blue Chromis, gorgonians, sea stars, and seagrass, conches, and rare staghorn corals, among others.
Boating And Fishing
Boaters can anchor either in Francis Bay or Lind Point. From there, they spend their days enjoying tropical surprises. If they want to visit the beach, the anchorages are near white-sand beaches. If they plan to snorkel, the mooring guides will help them have a worthwhile experience.
Fishing is allowed but there are restrictions placed on where to fish and what to catch (depending on the season). Fishers can have the chance to score groupers, mackerels, blue runners, whelks, conches, snappers, and spiny lobsters, among others.
It’s not all about the beach and underwater adventures in the park because there are also 11 trails where hikers can roam around and be in the heart of the island. Here are some of the trails that will deliver trekkers to tropical bliss.
Reef Trail Bay is not for the faint-hearted because it will take two to four hours to finish. Though tiring, it rewards guests with a satisfying experience along with sugar plantation ruins and ancient rock carvings. And if they look up, they'll see some of St. John's tallest and oldest trees.
The Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop offers an easy hike and will take trekkers to sugar plantation ruins. It's one historic hike.
L'Esperance Trail will lead guests to the island's only baobab, a tree species brought to the area by enslaved Africans.
The Francis Bay Trail is ideal for birders, thanks to its dry tropical forest and salt pond.
The Cinnamon Bay Trails will let guests smell the fragrance of the leaves of bay rum trees, which were used before to make a cologne.
The Yawzi Point Trail is another historic path to the Danish colonial period where hikers can visit stone ruins of houses.
The Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground is the perfect place to sign off and just be with the Caribbean’s magnificence. Located on the island’s North Shore, this campground is packed with amenities and services for a complete tropical escape.
- Campers can choose to stay on eco-tents, group tents, cottages, and bare sites.
- There's an onsite restaurant, and the campground also offers watersport rentals (snorkeling gear, beach chairs, paddleboards, and kayaks).
- There are also guided hikes, watersport lessons, yoga, and art classes.
- The campground is located on the white-sand bay and is near a loop trail. Underwater, snorkelers can check out a fish pen, a sunken plane, and a submerged village.
The Virgin Islands National Park is a relaxing place to explore. Its shore is a satisfying mixture of white and blue, while its rainforest is an inspiring sea of green. By the beach, underwater, or in the heart of the jungle, a day in this park is a vacation that’s worthy of an encore.