Nearly 100 islands and cays make up the Virgin Islands, and each boasts its own unique charm and appeal. These Caribbean island hideaways are world-renowned for their water sports, shipwreck dives and underwater adventures, surf-worthy waves, and perfect beaches.
Whether you’re planning a romantic honeymoon or a family getaway, this pocket of islands has it all. Here are some of the best Virgin Islands to visit on your next vacation.
Discover the gorgeous beaches and rolling green hills of St. Thomas. Hop on a thrilling jet ski across St. John Bay, or kayak the picturesque Cas Cay, where you might spot turtles or starfish along the way.
Swim with dolphins and sea lions, and see various exhibits on marine conservation efforts in St. Thomas at Coral World Ocean Park on Coki Beach. Or, head to Buck Island, a pristine national park known for its protected nature trails and a famous underwater passage that attracts snorkeling enthusiasts of all levels.
Charlotte-Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a place where relics of 17th-century colonial life fuse with modernity and island charm. Its waterfront restaurants, lively beach bars, and duty-free shopping make Charlotte-Amalie a top destination for sightseeing. Scale the historic 99 Steps for panoramic city views at the top.
Read: Shopping in St. Thomas
Don’t miss a trip to Magens Bay, which has been consistently rated one of the Caribbean’s best beaches. The sugar sand beach winds around a crescent-shaped bay, and foliage-studded hills paint a vibrant landscape. Stroll along the shore or embark on an island hike along one of the area’s walking trails.
A visit to St. Thomas can often be bundled with a day trip to St. John, as Charlotte-Amalie makes for an easy jumping-off point to get to the scenic island by boat.
The casual atmosphere of St. John is a perfect place for rest and relaxation. Though it’s the smallest of the main U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s home to dozens of beaches, cays, and trails. Unmanicured and rugged landscapes make this one of the best Virgin Islands to visit for nature lovers.
Trek the four-mile Reef Bay Trail to work up a sweat, or go snorkeling in the transparent waters of Honeymoon Beach. Another local treasure of St. John is Trunk Bay, which is home to its own underwater nature trail.
Two of the most popular destinations on the island are Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Head to Cruz Bay if you want to experience the more lively and energetic side of St. John. If you’re craving tranquility and time in nature, Coral Bay is the place for you.
Over half of the island is devoted to the Virgin Islands National Park, a haven for birds and marine animals. Hurricane Hole, the mangrove forest off the coast of Coral Bay, is another protected area for local wildlife. Don’t miss the chance to kayak or stand up paddleboard through the mangroves.
St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the best Virgin Island to visit for snorkelers and divers. It’s home to one of the only underwater national monuments in the United States—Buck Island Reef National Park. There are nearly 200 acres of underwater trails and a colorful ecosystem of coral dotting the seafloor.
Another top snorkeling site is Cane Bay on the north shore of St. Croix, which is also a favorite spot for eel, turtle, and seahorse sightings. About a quarter-mile into your swim, you’ll come upon the striking Cane Bay Wall, a steep underwater cliff that descends thousands of feet below.
One of the best things to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands is to visit the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, where you can see endangered species like leatherback sea turtles. From April to September, the beach is used as a nesting ground for the turtles and their hatchlings. During other parts of the year, Sandy Point remains beautifully untouched by human development.
Stroll along the west side of the island to Frederiksted, where history buffs will find plenty to see and do. Tour Fort Frederiksted, or soak up art and culture at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts), which pays homage to local artists from islands across the Caribbean.
The town of Christiansted is another top sight to see during a visit to St. Croix. Admire Christiansted’s classic Danish architecture on a tour of its 18th-century fort, then hit Gallows Bay to shop at local boutiques and explore the harbourfront restaurants serving authentic Virgin Island food.
The British Virgin Islands is home to some of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean, with Tortola being the largest. If you’re looking to watch the waves roll in with a tropical drink in hand, look no further.
Lounge on white-sand beaches like Lambert Beach to the east, or enjoy the waves of Apple Bay, one of the best places to surf in the Caribbean.
Road Town, the capital, is a lively beach town where you can tick off some of the best things to do in the British Virgin Islands, such as swimming, windsurfing, and diving. Stop by the Callwood Rum Distillery just off the beach at Cane Garden Bay, and discover the 400-year-old history of rum distillation on the island.
Tortola is also the jumping off point for one of the most famous shipwreck dives in the Caribbean. RMS Rhone sank because of a powerful hurricane in the late 19th century. Dive among coral and schools of fish on the way to iconic imagery, like the captain’s famous “silver teaspoon” embedded in the wreckage.
Scale to new heights with a hike up Mount Sage to the tallest peak on the island, which offers a panoramic view of lush green islands in the distance and the sweeping ocean below. Or, embark on a zip-lining adventure after a thrilling drive along the steep hillsides of Ridge Road, which yield to stunning, panoramic views of the outer islands—it’s one of the best things to do in Tortola.
Jost Van Dyke
Take a day trip from Tortola to the gorgeous island of Jost Van Dyke, which is known for its casual atmosphere. While it’s only three square miles long, this tiny island is dotted with charming beach bars and seafood restaurants along Great Harbor. Yachting is one of the most popular activities on Jost Van Dyke, so it’s common to see yachts bobbing in the harbor.
One of the island’s top beaches is White Bay, a stretch of unspoiled white sand shaded by coconut palms. Stop by the Soggy Dollar Bar for a drink—this bar claims to have invented the “painkiller,” one of the Caribbean’s signature cocktails.
Jost Van Dyke is also home to natural wonders unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean. Don’t miss a trip to its famous Bubbly Pool, which is affectionately called “Mother Nature’s jacuzzi” by locals.
Another worthwhile day trip from Tortola is to the nearby island of Virgin Gorda, just a 30-minute ferry ride away. According to legend, Christopher Columbus named the island because he believed its shape resembled a woman.
The Virgin Gorda Baths are certainly a sight to behold and definitely something you should add to your travel list when you’re visiting the Virgin Islands. Massive granite boulders eroded over thousands of years to create secluded, shallow pools complete with sugar-white sand. You’ll be dwarfed by the rocks, which come in shapes up to 40 feet wide, where you can take a dip or snorkel in the translucent waters.
Virgin Gorda is also home to some of the prettiest white-sand beaches in the Caribbean, like Savannah’s Bay and Devil’s Bay. Locals love swimming and snorkeling here for the practically see-through waves and the fact that these beaches are a little more secluded than the always-popular baths.
Now that you know what each island has to offer, you’re ready to start planning your next tropical getaway. On a luxury Caribbean cruise vacation with Celebrity Cruises, you’ll sail to some of the best Virgin Islands to visit along with other incredible destinations in the area.
Browse cruise itineraries online and start planning your luxury cruise to the Virgin Islands today.