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The U.S. Virgin Islands

St. John Beach

The U.S. Virgin Islands are part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and while they may be flying the American flag, the reality on the ground is that of a mix of various cultures that have influenced the region for the past two thousand years, but with the American influences being more prominent. The West Indian culture is however the strongest influence in the three islands, with calypso and reggae rhythms propagating through the air and curried meats and callaloo soup being a staple of tables at all traditional eateries.

There are three U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, each of them having its own particularities which makes it different from the bunch.


St. John

St John for instance is the one where the local community is arguably the strongest, the entire island culture is behind their desire of preserving the island’s natural beauty which means that despite the obvious growth and development that does take place there, the island has maintained its beauty and natural appeal.

Two thirds of the island’s surface area is literally green, an area made up of protected parkland and wonderful beaches, ideal for all sorts of activities ranging from hiking to snorkeling. The development that the island is seeing is very low-impact and limited, this is the place to go if you want to relax in an incredibly simple and traditional setting.


St. Thomas

St. Thomas is more or less the opposite of St. John, meaning that it is the most commercially developed of the three islands, this is partly because the island is home to the U.S. Virgin Islands capital, Charlotte Amalie which is the most busy city amongst the three islands.

While the other islands in the archipelago mostly focused on developing their plantations, St. Thomas chose to develop its harbor, which is also a reason for the more prominent development that can be found here. St. Thomas is a destination better suited for those who are looking for a tropical experience but while also having access to modern shopping opportunities as well as nightlife and other activities.


St. Croix

St. Croix is the odd one out of the bunch, it is located far away from the other two and is characterized by its mix of sugar plantations, rainforest, old forts and great scuba diving opportunities. It is twice the size of St. Thomas and this shows in its topography, featuring mountains, the aforementioned rainforest as well as a fertile coastal plain.

The island’s main income source is not actually tourism, as it is for the others, so this means that most locals have ‘regular’ jobs which gives the entire island a different kind of feel, a less-congested, less idyllic island experience. Not in the sense that it’s bad, far from it, just that it’s different than what one usually expects from a tropical island.

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