US Virgin Islands

Shutterstock/7988095/Ivan Cholakov Gostock-dot-netThe three US Virgin Islands may be very different from each other, but all are very American. St Thomas attracts cruise ships and, when several are in port, the streets of Charlotte Amalie are heavily congested with shoppers. The Danes who built the town would not recognize it today, the large and ugly modern buildings dwarfing the few remaining Danish houses that have been lovingly preserved and painted in pastel colours. St John is dominated by the Virgin Islands National Park, which has been in existence since 1956 and has some excellent trails in the hills for walkers and under the sea for snorkellers. Compared with St Thomas it is low key, but even here certain beaches can be packed with day-trippers on package tours. St Croix is the poorest of the three and perhaps for that reason has more to offer the visitor who wants to explore the island without the hassle of crowds. Although blighted by an oil refinery and dependent on tourism for a large part of its income, the island is relatively unspoilt, with some pretty bays, lush rainforest in the west and rewarding diving. Christiansted can only receive small cruise ships because of the barrier reef so it is never as crowded as St Thomas, and there is an active restoration programme for its colonial Danish buildings, which include forts as well as red-roofed houses. All three islands have good hotels, a wide selection of restaurants and bars and are popular with the sailing fraternity.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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