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U.S. Virgin Islands Attractions
U.S. Virgin Islands Attractions
Many Caribbean islands only have rocky beaches or beaches made of black volcanic sand (which heats up fast in the noonday sun), but those in the Virgin Islands are known for their fine white sand. Best of all, every beach in the Virgin Islands is free (except for Magens Bay in St. Thomas) and open to the public, although in some cases you'll have to walk across the grounds of a resort (or arrive by private boat) to reach them.
Magens Bay Beach (St. Thomas): This half-mile loop of pebble-free sand, boasting remarkably calm waters, is by far the most popular and picturesque beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two peninsulas protect the shore from erosion and strong waves, making Magens an ideal spot for swimming. Expect a lively crowd in the high season.
Sapphire Beach (St. Thomas): This is one of the finest beaches on St. Thomas, and a favorite with windsurfers. Come here for some of St. Thomas's best shore snorkeling and diving (off Pettyklip Point). And don't worry about equipment -- watersports concessions abound here. Take a moment to enjoy the panoramic view of St. John and other islands.
Trunk Bay (St. John): This beach, which is protected by the U.S. National Park Service, is a favorite with cruise-ship passengers. It's famous for its underwater snorkeling trail and is consistently ranked in magazine polls as one of the top-10 Caribbean beaches.
Caneel Bay (St. John): Site of a famous resort, Caneel Bay is a string of seven beaches stretching around Durloe Point to Hawksnest Caneel.
Davis Bay and Cane Bay (St. Croix): Swaying palms, white sand, and good swimming. Because they're on the north shore, these beaches are often windy, and as a result their waters are not always calm. The snorkeling at Cane Bay is truly spectacular; you'll see elkhorn and brain corals, all some 750 feet off the "Cane Bay Wall." Cane Bay adjoins Route 80 on the north shore. Davis Beach doesn't have a reef; it's more popular among bodysurfers than snorkelers.
Rainbow Beach (St. Croix) - On Route 63, a short ride north of Frederiksted, lies Rainbow Beach, which has white sand and ideal snorkeling conditions.
Sandy Point (St. Croix) - Sandy Point, directly south of Frederiksted, is the largest beach in all the U.S. Virgin Islands, but it's open to the public only on weekends from 10am to 4pm. Its waters are shallow and calm, perfect for swimming.
Fort Christian (St. Thomas): This fort, which stands in the heart of Charlotte Amalie, was built in 1672 after the arrival of the first Danish colonists. The oldest building on the island, it has been vastly altered over the years and has housed a jail, a courthouse, a town hall, a church, and, most recently, a historical museum. Head to the roof for a stellar view.
Crown House (St. Thomas): This 18th-century, stone-built mansion served as the home of two former governors. Among the many antiques here are memorabilia that belonged to Governor-General Peter von Scholten, who occupied the premises in 1827. A French chandelier in the mansion is said to have come from Versailles.
Annaberg Historic Trail (St. John): The ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation are the greatest reminder of St. John's plantation era. The remains of the building have been spruced up rather than restored, and the surrounding land is now filled with lush vegetation. Visitors can explore the former slave quarters.
The St. Croix Heritage Trail: A trail that leads into the past, St. Croix Heritage Trail helps visitors relive the island's Danish colonial past. All you need are a brochure and map, available at the tourist office in Christiansted. This 72-mile itinerary includes a combination of asphalt-covered roadway, suitable for driving, and narrow woodland trails which must be navigated on foot. Many aficionados opt to drive along the route whenever practical, descending onto the footpaths wherever indicated, then returning to their cars for the continuation of the tour. En route, you'll be exposed to one of the Caribbean's densest concentrations of historical and cultural sites.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.
U.S. Virgin Islands Activities
St. Croix is the premier golfing destination in the Virgin Islands, mainly because it boasts Carambola, the archipelago's most challenging 18-hole course.
St. Thomas has only one golf course, Mahogany Run, but it's a real gem. The 3 trickiest holes (13, 14, and 15) are known throughout the golfing world as the "Devil's Triangle."
St. Thomas - Sport fishers angle from the American Yacht Harbor at Red Hook. The island also attracts snorkelers and scuba divers -- there are many outfitters offering equipment, excursions, and instruction. Kayaking and parasailing are also drawing more beach bums away from the water's edge.
St. John - Trunk Bay, which also boasts the island's finest beach, has an amazing underwater snorkeling trail. Scuba diving is another major attraction on St. John.
St. Croix - One of the best reasons to take a trip to St. Croix, even if only for a day, is to visit Buck Island National Park, just 1 1/2 miles off St. Croix's northeast coast. The park's offshore reef attracts snorkelers and certified divers from around the world. Blue signs posted along the ocean floor guide you through a forest of staghorn coral swarming with flamboyant fish.
St. John - The island's primary attraction is the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park, which covers more than half the island. Guided walks and safari bus tours are available to help you navigate the park, which is full of pristine beaches, secret coves, flowering trees, and ghostly remains of sugar-cane plantations. An extensive network of trails invites hiking.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are duty-free ports, which means that many goods imported to the islands are not subject to import taxes and therefore can be sold at a discount. Shoppers can take advantage of these duty-free bargains, but only up to a limit prescribed by their government. U.S. residents are entitled to $1,200 worth of duty-free exports from the U.S. Virgin Islands every 30 days -- that's three times the exemption allowed from most foreign destinations. One way to get the most out of your duty-free allowance is to send gifts home. You can ship up to $100 worth of unsolicited gifts per day without paying duty, and you don't have to declare such gifts on your Customs form when leaving the islands.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.