The best things to do in the US Virgin Islands are concentrated around St Thomas, St Croix, and St John, which are the archipelago’s 3 largest islands. As expected of a Caribbean getaway, you can find plenty of gorgeous beaches with crystal-clear water.

    Other natural wonders include coastal trails, tropical forests and majestic peaks towering over quaint towns. Neoclassical Danish architecture is reflected in Charlotte Amalie, a major port town on St Thomas. For more ideas on what to do during your holiday, check out this comprehensive guide to the US Virgin Islands.

    What are the best things to do in the US Virgin Islands?

    1

    Beaches in US Virgin Islands

    Pristine coastal spots fronting the Caribbean Sea

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    • Adventure

    Beaches in the US Virgin Islands are among the finest in the Caribbean. The archipelago’s major islands have miles of pristine sand, where you can sunbathe, swim, snorkel, and enjoy a wide range of water sports.

    Cinnamon Bay Beach and Trunk Bay Beach are part of the Virgin Islands National Park, both of which are popular for kayaking, windsurfing, and snorkelling. Between November and February, surfers make their way to the reef breaks of Judith’s Fancy Beach on St Croix or Botany Bay and Hull Bay on St Thomas.

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    2

    Coral Reef Underwater Park Trail

    See exotic marine life in Trunk Bay

    • Families
    • Adventure

    The Coral Reef Underwater Park Trail is excellent for those looking to get close to tropical fish and corals in the US Virgin Islands. It’s just offshore from Trunk Bay on St John, with depths ranging from 3 to 18 ft. The water is so clear, you can easily spot various marine animals like tarpons, squids, and turtles.

    Along the 675-ft-long path are underwater stone markers providing info about coral formations. The Coral Reef Underwater Park Trail appeals to families and novice snorkellers, thanks to its sheltered location. If you’re visiting the trail on your own, snorkel gear is available for rent at several outfitters on Trunk Bay.

    Location: 963J+HPR, St John 00830, US Virgin Islands

    Phone: +1 340-776-6201

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    photo by Curtis & Renee (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Coral World Ocean Park

    A 5-acre marine park in St Thomas

    • Families
    • Adventure

    The Coral World Ocean Park is a unique wildlife sanctuary on the northern coast of St Thomas, just east of Coki Beach. One of its standout attractions is its underwater observatory – the only one of its kind in the Caribbean. The air-conditioned tower takes you 15 ft below the water surface, giving you excellent views of tropical fish and coral reefs.

    The Coral World Ocean Park also has a shark tank, stingray lagoon, and turtle pool, all of which also serve as rehabilitation centres for these creatures. There’s also a touch pool where kids can get close to starfish, sea cucumbers, and anemones.

    Location: 6450 Coki Point, St Thomas, Virgin Islands 00802, US Virgin Islands

    Open: Saturday–Wednesday from 9 am to 4 pm (closed on Thursdays and Fridays)

    Phone: +1 340-775-1555

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    4

    Carambola Tide Pools

    A series of naturally formed pools on North Shore

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    The Carambola Tide Pools is part of Annaly Bay, almost 11 km northeast of Frederiksted. Getting to the naturally formed pools requires a 5-mile roundtrip hike that’s mostly shaded but rather steep. It’s a good idea to wear a good pair of shoes and bring plenty of water for the trip. 

    Once you reach the west end of the bay, you’ll need to climb over some rocks to get to the tide pools. The Carambola Tide Pools area is usually quiet, making it a great place to escape the busy beaches of St Croix. There are no facilities, so pack something to eat or drink before setting out.

    Location: Q573+GR2, St Croix 00840, US Virgin Islands

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    5

    Virgin Islands National Park

    Protected area with pristine beaches, tropical rainforests, and plantations

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    The Virgin Islands National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the Caribbean. Established in 1916, it covers over 14,700 acres – around 2/3 of St John. You can enjoy a wide range of outdoor adventures, including hiking, wildlife spotting, snorkelling, and diving.

    Some of the island’s most pristine beaches are within the Virgin Islands National Park, including Trunk Bay, Honeymoon Beach, and Francis Bay. Colourful corals lie just offshore, and you can rent kayaks and snorkel gear if you want to get close to exotic marine life. The park also preserves the Reef Bay Trail petroglyphs and the Catherineberg Sugar Mill Ruins.

    Location: St John, US Virgin Islands

    Phone: +1 340-0776-6201

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    6

    St George Village Botanical Gardens

    Home to over 1,500 plant species

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The St George Village Botanical Gardens cultivate over 1,500 plant species within a 16-acre space in St Croix. This picturesque site occupies the remains of a Danish sugar plantation dating back to the 19th century. Its many gardens emulate the island’s diverse ecosystem, including rainforest and desert.

    The Conservation Garden highlights endangered plants from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, while the Heritage Gardens contain medicinal herbs, sugar canes, and fruit-bearing trees. It has an onsite library with 500 reference materials on Caribbean history and flora, as well as a museum showcasing artefacts from early Amerindian settlers and Danish colonists.

    Location: 127 George Rd, Frederiksted, St Croix 00840, US Virgin Islands

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +1 340-692-2874

    Map

    photo by Jpheym (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Fort Frederik

    An 18th-century Danish stronghold on St Croix

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    Fort Frederik (Frederiksfort) is a great place to see examples of 18th-century architecture in the US Virgin Islands. It has a mix of Norwegian and Danish styles, with a trapezoidal layout overlooking the Caribbean Sea. While the fort was built to protect the island against marauding pirates in the 1760s, it’s also the site of the 1848 Emancipation Revolt and the 1878 Labor Riot and Fireburn.

    Today, you can explore the complex on a self-guided tour. Must-sees include the Commandant's Quarters, Cannon Battery, and Detention Cells. Fort Frederik lies on the western side of St Croix, just north of Frederiksted Pier.

    Location: P488+3HW, Frederiksted, St Croix 00840, US Virgin Islands

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm (closed on Sundays)

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    8

    Blackbeard’s Castle

    Enjoy elevated views of Charlotte Amalie

    • History
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    Blackbeard’s Castle is a National Historic Landmark on the island of St Thomas. The structure is set atop Government Hill, reachable via the historic 99 Steps – a stone stairway built by the Danes in the mid-1700s.

    Blackbeard’s Castle, which dates back to 1679, is the only 5-storey masonry tower in the Caribbean. Due to its name, it was supposedly a lookout post for Blackbeard, an infamous pirate in the 18th century. While many come here to enjoy expansive views of Charlotte Amalie, the 5-acre premise also contains 3 manor houses and several life-sized pirate statues.

    Location: St. Thomas, Torvet State Rd, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas 00802, US Virgin Islands

    Phone: +1 340-776-1234

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    9

    Drake's Seat

    One of the best viewpoints on St Thomas

    • History
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    • Budget

    Drake's Seat is a vantage point in the centre of St Thomas, around 2 km north of Charlotte Amalie. Its stone bench dates back to 1933 and is named after English explorer and naval commander Sir Francis Drake.

    You can sit on the historic bench to appreciate panoramic views of Magen’s Bay and outlying islets of Inner Brass and Hans Lollik. While you can visit this lookout point any time of the day, we recommend visiting at dusk for spectacular sunset vistas.

    Location: Route 37, St Thomas 00802, US Virgin Islands

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    10

    Reichhold Center for the Arts

    End the day with a world-class performance on St Thomas

    • Nightlife
    • Couples
    • Families

    The Reichhold Center for the Arts is an open-air amphitheatre that puts on world-class performances throughout the year. The venue accommodates around 1,190 people looking to catch both classical and contemporary dance, drama, and music on St Thomas.

    Before a show, you can check out displays of paintings and sculptures by Caribbean artists in the lobby. From ballet troupes to soul bands, there’s always something for everyone to enjoy at the venue. You can find the performing arts centre in Charlotte Amalie West, about 450 metres northeast of Brewers Bay Beach.

    Location: Charlotte Amalie West, St Thomas 00802, US Virgin Islands

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    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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