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U.S. Virgin Islands – General Overview

The US Virgin Islands boast three beautiful islands: St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas.  The islands can offer something for every type of visitor.  The beaches are breathtaking with beautiful emerald water, there are privately secluded coves, breathtaking, untouched rainforests, and amazing coral reefs.  The people of the USVI are friendly and are passionate about music, food, and culture.  You will find all types of accommodations, from luxury hotels ,to private inns, to beautiful camping areas.  There are world-class shopping areas, amazing restaurants, and festivals to be enjoyed at many times of the year.  The islands are so romantic and make and excellent backdrop for a beautiful wedding.  The islands are amazing and make a great destination to escape all your cares!

Most popular Beach Locations:

Magens Bay Beach in St. Thomas is a half-mile loop of soft white sand.  The beach has very calm water and is the most popular and most photographed beach in the USVI.  Magens is an ideal place for swimming due to the calm waters.  This beach is very crowded during the high season.

Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas is one of the best beaches on St. Thomas.  This is a windsurfer’s paradise.  The beach is also popular for snorkeling and diving off of Pettyklip Point.  You can rent the equipment for water sports at various concession stands. 

Trunk Bay is located on St. John and is protected by the US National Park Service.  This beach boasts a famous underwater snorkeling trail and is considered by most to be one of the top 10 Caribbean beaches.

Caneel Bay is also located on St. John and is the home of famous Caneel Bay Resort.  There are seven beaches in the bay and guests are welcome on the resort property beaches.

Sandy Point is located on St. Croix and is the largest beach on the USVI.  The waters are shallow and calm, but since it is a protected reserve for endangered sea turtles, the public is only allowed to visit on the weekends.

Traveler Facts :

Travel & Transportation (airports, ferries, etc). How to get there.

These airlines offer service from the U.S. mainland to the U.S. Virgin Islands:

American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways

The U.S. Virgin Islands welcome cruise ships year-round from Miami, San Juan, the U.S. West Coast, and other ports around the world. For visitors sailing to the islands on their own, the USVI offers over a dozen marinas. 

Entry Requirements; passports, visa, etc.:

Passports for U.S. Citizens are not required for the U.S. Virgin Islands, but you must be prepared to show evidence of citizenship upon leaving (such as a birth certificate and photo ID). Citizens of countries other than the U.S. should follow U.S. travel regulations. Travel outside the U.S. Virgin Islands requires a birth certificate or valid passport. Health certificates are not required if you’re entering from the U.S. or Puerto Rico; citizens entering from other countries should follow the same guidelines as for the mainland U.S.

Information from: http://www.usvitourism.vi/en/home/vi_TT_Before_Visit.html

Languages Spoken / official language:

The official language is English.

Currency:

Currency is the US Dollar.

Tipping:

Tipping is customary and is between 15-20% for good service.  Some hotels and resorts will automatically add gratuity.

Taxes:

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a duty-free port, so there are no sales or luxury taxes.  US citizens are allowed $1600 in duty free shopping, and must bay 16% flat tax on any purchases over that amount.  You can also mail home unlimited amount of gifts worth $1000 or less.

Electricity:

The electrical current is the same as it is in the United States and North America (standard 120volt/60 cycle).

Other (immunizations, health issues):

No immunizations required.

Health risks include hepatitis A and dengue fever. Only bottled water should be drunk outside the major towns. Medical facilities are of a high standard, but health insurance is vital as medical care is very expensive.

Marriage Requirements, Licenses & Wedding Information:

As a U.S. Territory, they operate under the laws of the United States Government, so your wedding will be as hassle-free as a wedding anywhere in the mainland U.S.

Begin planning your USVI wedding at least two months in advance. Request an application from the Territorial Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Call the Clerk’s office at 340-774-6680 or write to Clerk of the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands, P.O. Box 70, St. Thomas, USVI 00804. 

There are no residency or blood-test requirements. If either party is divorced, you’ll need to provide a certified true copy of the divorce decree stamped with a seal and generated by the court office in which the divorce took place.

The marriage application fee and the marriage license fee are $50 each. Eight days after all papers and fees are received and notarized, the court will issue your license. No personal checks will be accepted, so bring certified checks.

If you are planning to be married in the court by a judge, available by appointment Monday through Friday, you’ll need to pay another $200. Religious ceremonies must be arranged directly with the church.

Information from: http://www.destinationweddingmag.com/article.jsp?ID=36363

Tourism Office address, phone and website

PO Box 200

Cruz Bay USVI 00831

Phone: 340-776-6450 Fax: 340-779-4097

www.usvitourism.vi

Other Travel related websites for the country or location:

http://moon.com/planner/virgin_islands/vi_overview.html

www.usvi.net

www.usviguide.com

www.thebeach.vi

Climate Information (what the seasons are like & when is the best time of year to travel):

Temperatures range from 79-83 degrees year round.  The islands do not receive much rain. The most rain is during the months of May, August, September, November and October. These are tropical rain showers and usually only last a few minutes, not even enough time to get off the beach.

These islands are great to visit year round.

High & Low Season for travel:

High Season: mid-December through the end of April

Low Season: May through mid-December.

Link to a good Map:

http://www.virginislandsmap.com/

Local Attractions  & Must Do’s:

If you like scuba diving, or want to try it, the USVI’s are the place to do it.  All the main islands have great locations to dive or snorkel.  Plus, there are a lot of places that offer lessons and trainings so that first-timers can give it a try.

A hugely popular destination is the Buck Island Reef National Monument.  It is a great place, probably the best place, to snorkel or scuba dive and you will get an up close and personal look at some of the most beautiful marine life.  There are also beautiful hiking trails and beaches to explore.

If you are looking for an interesting way to spend a day, consider a tour of the Cruzan Rum factory on St. Croix island.  You even get to enjoy some tastings!

A trip to the USVI’s wouldn’t be complete without some shopping.  You can shop on all three main islands, but St. Thomas and St. Croix offer more locations than St. John does.  Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas, is one of the best places for shopping in the region, and you can get plenty of duty free bargains.

Caneel Bay is where the Caribbean’s first eco-resort is located.  You won’t find big screen tv’s or even phones in the guest rooms, as the point of the resort is to enjoy the natural side of life.  You can play tennis, dive, or enjoy one of their four great restaurants.

If you are a fan of golf, St. Croix offers the best golf around.  They have two 18-hole courses on the island and there is another 18-hole course on St. Thomas that is a great play as well!

Top 5 Most Popular Hotels

The Bolongo Bay Beach Resort (www.bolongobay.com) offers a ton of activities for couples and families alike.  While the West Resort St. John (www.westinresortstjohn.com) is a more contemporary mega resort.  The Buccaneer in St. Croix (www.thebuccaneer.com) is located on a former sugar estate and has facilities for many different sports including tennis golf swimming, jogging, sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.  The Elysian Beach Resort on St. Thomas (www.elysianbeachresort.net) is a great value and is a romantic choice, great for honeymooners.  Biras Creek Resort is a secluded romantic resort only accessible by boat. (www.biras.com)