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Top Outdoor Activities on the US Virgin Islands

By Bram, 04/17/2015 - 03:19

The Virgin Islands are an archipelago in the Lesser Antilles, which includes more well-known beach destinations like Barbados and St. Lucia. The Virgin Islands archipelago is actually made up of territories from two countries: the western islands are part of the United States; the eastern ones are the British Virgin Islands. We will focus on the largest islands of the Virgin Islands of the United States: Saint Croix, Saint Thomas and Saint John.

Saint Croix is the largest island and is home to Christiansted and Frederiksted, two historic cities with names that have their origins in the islands’ Danish past. Christiansted is so historically significant that it’s a National Historic Site. Saint Thomas is where the archipelago’s capital city, Charlotte Amalie, is found. This city has the main airport as well as the largest cruise port. It is, in fact, the most popular cruise port in the Caribbean.

The island of Saint John is almost entirely (two thirds) made up of a U.S. National Park, the so-called Virgin Islands National Park. This is the island that allows outdoor enthusiasts to get away from the hustle and bustle of the other islands. Although there are some centers of urbanity, which are home to jewelry shops, hotels and boutiques, most of the island is covered in pristine nature. Featuring everything from the whitest of beaches, a magnificent underwater world and open-air bars to eco-tent accommodations and lush green hills and valleys, this is a place to be active during the day and relax in the evenings. The options for outdoor activities are overwhelming.

One of the most popular activities on Saint John is hiking. With more than twenty trails that crisscross the Virgin Islands National Park, there is no better way to see and explore the island. There are easy boardwalks through historic ruins or toward viewing platforms. The Reef Bay Trail, which leads down to fantastic petroglyphs is a real highlight and has a wonderful beach. Other suggested outdoor activities on Saint John are picnicking on the beach, bicycling and horseback riding.  And why not go swimming in the crystal-clear waters that surround the island, snorkeling, join a boat excursion or learn how to sail? Diving sites around the island are easily accessible and consist of both reefs and sunken ships. Sea life that may be spotted includes octopuses, sea horses, rays, leatherback turtles, triggerfish and some 500 other fish species and 40 types of coral. It’s a magnificent place to (learn how to) dive.

Saint John and by extension the rest of the U.S. Virgin Islands offer the very best of the Caribbean in a small area and a perfect destination for an active, healthy and educational holiday.

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Virgin Islands National Park, Photo by NPS