With scenery plucked straight out of a postcard, the U.S. Virgin Islands are pure paradise. The trio of islands includes St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, each with its own character and offerings.
St. Thomas is a hub for all activities, dining, events, and shopping, while St. John is for nature lovers, as most of the island is designated as a national park. St. Croix is known for history, culture, and cuisine—but you can’t go wrong with any of these beautiful islands for fun in the sun.
White sand beaches, turquoise waters, rich marine life, and Caribbean culture make this the perfect vacation destination. Whether you’re interested in relaxing on the beach or catching a thrill with some watersports, here are the best things to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Lounge at Magens Bay Beach
Considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, Magens Bay Beach lies on the northern coast of St. Thomas.
Spending a day here is one of the top things to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The soft white sand stretches almost a mile long, with the crystal clear sea beckoning beach goers for a dip.
Lounge on the shore, bask in the Caribbean sun, or enjoy a leisurely swim. The shallow water and sandy bottom are perfect for less confident swimmers, as the sea floor shelves gently here into the cooler depths.
Facilities such as restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and refreshments make it easy to spend the day comfortably at one of the most popular beaches in St. Thomas.
Wander St. Croix’s Botanical Garden
Visiting the grounds of the St. George Village Botanical Garden, located amongst the ruins of a 19th-century sugarcane plantation, is one of the best things to do in St. Croix. The 16-acre lush property is home to over 1,000 plant varieties, including native species of St. Croix and the Caribbean islands.
A historical collection of artifacts ranging from pre-Columbian through the plantation era is available for viewing, as well as an onsite library in a restored worker’s cottage. Photographers will enjoy capturing the vibrant flora and fauna as well as structures like the Japanese Bridge and the Sugar and Rum Factory remnants.
Embark on a self-guided tour at your own pace and discover the orchid house, fruit orchard, cactus garden, palm garden, and rainforest section. Marvel at the native trees, kapok, turpentine, and mahogany and look out for hummingbirds, lizards, dragonflies, and butterflies.
You might even get to see the bananaquit, the official bird of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Informative signs are the perfect way to learn about the plant species you encounter as well as their potential uses in cooking or medicine.
Read: What’s the Best Virgin Island to Visit?
Snorkel the Underwater Trail in Trunk Bay
Dive into an underwater adventure on the stunning Virgin Island of St. John. Part of the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay is a haven for beach lovers with breathtaking blue water, lush vegetation and a pure, white sand beach. Regarded as the island’s most famous beach, it’s also a popular destination for snorkeling.
A self-guided, 225-yard underwater snorkeling trail makes this beach unique and the perfect opportunity to learn about marine life. Snorkel above the coral reef that skirts Trunk Cay, a small rocky island just offshore.
You’ll have the chance to see parrotfish, angelfish, sea urchins, and much more. Keep an eye out for graceful sea turtles as well.
Snorkeling equipment can be rented by the entrance to the beach, and refreshments and facilities are available for when you’ve worked up an appetite swimming.
Stroll the Charlotte Amalie Historic District
One of the best things to do in St. Thomas is to stroll the historic district of Charlotte Amalie, where you can discover shops, restaurants, historical points of interest, and colonial architecture dating back to the 17th century.
Wander the district’s cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and unique step streets, such as the famous 99 steps, built in the mid-18th century.
Stop at the Three Queens fountain, a monument built to pay homage to Queen Mary, Queen Josiah, and Queen Agnes, the three women celebrated for successfully fighting against the Danish Government for poor working and living conditions, as well as low wages.
No trip to the Old Town is complete without a visit to Fort Christian, the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands that dates back to the 1600s. It once served as a government building, prison, and museum.
The historic district is a great place for shopping in St. Thomas as well, along Main Street in the heart of the city. Browse high-end shops located in old warehouses, for jewelry, watches, perfume, liquor, tobacco, and other souvenirs as a memento of your Virgin Islands vacation.
Relax at Cane Bay Beach
Spend the day at one of St. Croix’s best-loved beaches. Cane Bay Beach is located on the northern coast of the island, featuring a lively stretch of sand with restaurants, bars, and activities such as snorkeling, diving, and volleyball.
Bask in the sun or read in the shade of the palm trees. Swim in the azure waters, embark on a leisurely kayak tour, or enjoy a snorkeling expedition; it’s all possible at Cane Bay.
The underwater wall situated just offshore plunges approximately 1,000 feet down, and is a favorite spot for scuba diving in the Caribbean; lessons and gear rental are available at the beach. Keep an eye out for seahorses, sea turtles, moray eels, and much more here.
Read: Best Places to Go Snorkeling in St. Croix
Soak in the Views from Mountain Top
Venture to the highest point on the island of St. Thomas, St. Peter Mountain, where a sprawling panoramic view, duty-free shopping, and a famous banana daiquiri await. Hailed as one of the most popular attractions on the island, the views from here are nothing short of spectacular.
The observation deck is a great place for taking photographs of the island landscape paired with the vivid blue sea and Magens Bay below. On a clear day, you can even see some of the surrounding islands.
Shoppers will find a wide array of Caribbean souvenirs, including beachwear, artwork, jewelry, and trinkets within the large gift shop.
Don’t leave without trying the legendary banana daiquiri, made with local Cruzan Rum and holding a rich history tied to the island. Mountain Top is sure to please and is one of the best things to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Spot Sea Turtles at Sapphire Beach
Venture to the eastern shores of St. Thomas to Sapphire Beach, a stretch of sand that lives up to its name. The clear, vibrantly blue waters of this beach invite swimmers and snorkelers to experience the dazzling underwater world of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In addition to being a gorgeous beach with several amenities like watersports, rentals, and a snack stand, Sapphire Beach is also known as one of the best spots for snorkeling in the Caribbean. Put on your mask and fins to explore the reef at Pettylip Point, keeping an eye out for the sea turtles that glide through the water here.
Alternatively, you could rent a kayak and paddle through the water; on a day with optimal visibility, you may spot tropical fish from above. Sea turtles pop their heads up to breathe. There are three species here: hawksbill, green, and leatherback.
Afterward, when you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the local bar and grill and enjoy some casual local fare in the shade of the palm and sea grape trees with a view of neighboring St. John in the distance.
Enjoy a Rum Tasting
The U.S. Virgin Islands are known for their high-quality rum production and a factory tour is the best way to learn about and taste the different varieties. Visit the most famous distillery in St. Croix, Captain Morgan Rum, for a tasting and a history lesson.
Named after the legendary captain, Sir Henry Morgan, Captain Morgan rum pays homage to the pirate who sailed from Wales to the West Indies, later becoming the Governor of Jamaica. While touring the distillery, you can learn about the history, craft, and story behind the rum’s famous tagline, “Variety is the spice of life”.
Over the course of 40 minutes, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in the interactive exhibit, observe some of the production methods, take a lesson in mixology, and taste Caribbean rums in the on-site, pirate-themed tavern.
Sip your cocktail made up of either white rum, original spiced rum, or Jamaican rum. The gift shop is a great spot to purchase souvenirs like hats, t-shirts, or glassware as a memento of your time at Captain Morgan distillery.
Take the Skyride Tram to Paradise Point
Enjoy one of the best views St. Thomas has to offer with a ride up Flag Hill on the Skyride gondola. Paradise Point is perched 700 feet above Charlotte Amalie and features sweeping views of the stunning bay, city, and surrounding sea on the southern coast.
Your adventure begins on the seven-minute gondola ride, where the lush scenery is just a taste of the upcoming vista. Once you arrive at the top, you’ll want to take photographs, but there’s a gift shop and restaurant to visit as well.
Be sure to order one of the bar’s signature Bushwacker cocktails to pair with the view. This rich drink is an icy blend of coconut rum, Kahlua, Amaretto, Baileys, and chocolate.
Hike to Honeymoon Beach
Another of the best beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Honeymoon Beach on St. John is a picture-perfect stretch of sand to spend the day enjoying watersports or simply relaxing.
Although you can drive or take the shuttle to the parking area for a short walk to Honeymoon Beach, hiking is a great option for those looking to tack on a little outdoor adventure to their beach day.
From the National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay, hikers can embark on the Lind Point Trail for the trek to the beach, just over a mile. The relatively easy trail is partially shaded and well-marked with an option to stop at Solomon Bay along the route.
Your efforts will be rewarded at Honeymoon Beach where watersports or lazing in the sand are both possible. The onsite beach hut offers snorkel gear, floats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and chairs.
Take a dip to cool off and then refuel at the famous Bikinis on the Beach restaurant and bar, and relish in the view.
Eat Your Way Through Charlotte Amalie
Get to know the Caribbean culture and cuisine of the Virgin Islands with a guided culinary tour through the city of Charlotte Amalie. Show up hungry and indulge in authentic Creole dishes as you make your way through the city’s alleyways to some off-the-beaten-path eateries.
Fill up on Virgin Island food such as curried chicken, island-style rice with peas, sweet plantains, cornmeal (fungi) and a banana rum flambé dessert. Sip a classic island cocktail like rum punch, a painkiller, or a bushwacker.
A culinary tour with a local guide is the perfect way to experience the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, while also tasting savory and sweet Caribbean food.
Read: St. Croix or St. Thomas: Which Should You Visit?
From idyllic beaches to vibrant cultural and culinary highlights, the U.S. Virgin Islands have many highlights to offer travelers. A luxury cruise is a fantastic way to experience some of the best things to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Whether you choose to relax, play, eat, drink, tour, and shop on St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, or a combination of these gorgeous islands, you’re sure to create long-lasting memories. Browse our luxury cruises to the U.S. Virgin Islands and book your tropical escape today.