Caribbean Tourism

US Virgin Islands

Shopping

The USVI are a free port and tourist related items are duty-free. Shops are usually shut on Sunday unless there is a cruise ship in harbour. There are several local rums in white or gold: Cruzan (guided tours of the distillery, on St Croix, Monday-Friday 0900-1130, 1300-1615, but phone in advance, T6922280; US$3 adults, US$1 children), Old St Croix and...

History

The islands were ‘discovered’ by Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 and, partly because of their number, he named them ‘Las Once Mil Vírgenes’ (the 11,000 virgins) in honour of the legend of St Ursula and her 11,000 martyred virgins. There were Indian settlements in all the major islands of the group and the first hostile action with the Caribs took...

Government & Economy

In 1936 the Organic Act of the Virgin Islands of the United States provided for two municipal councils and a Legislative Assembly in the islands. Suffrage was extended to all residents of twenty one and over who could read and write English. Discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex or religious belief was forbidden and a bill of rights was...

Golf & Other Sports

St Thomas Golf: There is an 18-hole, 6,022 yd golf course with lovely views at Mahogany Run, green fee US$90 per person, cheaper after 1400 (T800-2537103). Tennis: There are a few public tennis courts (two at Long Bay and two at Sub Base), which operate on a first come first served basis, but the hotel courts at the major resorts are mostly lit for night...

Places to Eat - St Thomas

There are many very good restaurants on the island, most of which are listed in Here’s How and St Thomas This Week, or you can get details in your hotel. The large hotels all have their own restaurants so you will not be short of places to eat. Award-winning ribs from Bill’s Texas Pit BBQ, a mobile truck which shows up Tue-Sat in the Waterfront and Red Hook...

Places to Eat - St John

At the highest viewpoint on the island on Centerline Road, Bordeaux Mountain, is Chateau Bordeaux, T7766611. Fine dining, expensive, dinner only, reservations advised. Cruz Bay Asolare, Northshore Rd, T7794747. Expensive, Euro-Asian cuisine, lovely setting, dinner only, reservations recommended. Café Roma, T7766524. Italian food and good pizza, open...

Places to Eat - St Croix

Christiansted Club Comanche, Strand St, T7730210. Popular and good for lunches and dinners, one of the oldest places in town. Top Hat, Company St, between King Cross St and Queen Cross St, T7732346. Excellent and spotlessly clean but pricey at US$20-28 for entrées, Scandinavian food, Smorgaasbord, steaks and seafood, open Mon-Sat dinner only. Lunchería, on...

Festivals

St Thomas The carnival in April (T7763112 for precise date and events) is most spectacular. Dating back to the arrival of African slaves who danced bamboulas it was originally based on ritual worship of the gods of Dahomey. The festivities have since been redirected towards Christianity with a marked US influence. Parades with costumed bands include the J’...

Flora & Fauna

The Virgin Islands’ national bird is the yellow breast (Coereba flaveola); the national flower is the yellow cedar (Tecoma Stans). The mongoose was brought to the islands during the plantation days to kill rats that ate the crops. Unfortunately rats are nocturnal and mongooses are not and they succeeded only in eliminating most of the parrots. Now you see...

Entertainment - St Thomas

St Thomas offers the greatest variety of nightlife found in the Virgin Islands although many clubs have closed since the hurricanes. Bands and combos play nightly at most hotels. Several of the hotels offer limbo dancing three or four nights a week and the ubiquitous steel bands remain a great favourite with both visitors and inhabitants. At any time you...

Entertainment - St John

Up to date information on events is posted on the trees around town or on the bulletin board in front of Connections. In Cruz Bay, the place to go and dance is Fred’s, calypso and reggae Wed and Fri; guitar and vocals at Pusser’s. Popular places to ‘lime’ (relax) are JJ’s, and sitting in Cruz Bay Park, watching the world go by.

Entertainment - St Croix

Most hotels provide evening entertainment on a rotating basis, the custom of many of the Caribbean islands, so it is sometimes best to stay put and let the world of West Indian music and dance come to you. The Hibiscus Beach Hotel hosts the Caribbean Dance Company on Fri at 2030, evocative, and a steel pan band on Wed at 1830, also electric mandolin on Thur...

Diving & Marine Life

The waters around the islands are so clear that snorkelling is extremely popular. For divers, there are over 200 dive sites, caves, coral reefs, drop offs and lots of colourful fish to see, although be careful of short sighted barracuda if you swim into murky water. There are several wrecks of ships and even a wrecked plane to explore. At-a-glance...

Beaches & Watersports

There are 44 beaches on St Thomas. Few are deserted though out of season they are less crowded. The most inaccessible, and therefore more likely to be empty, are those along the northwest coast, which need four-wheel drive to get there. Otherwise, for solitude, take a boat to one of the uninhabited islets offshore. Magens Bay on the north coast is...

Accommodation - St Thomas

There are many hotels, guest houses, apartments, villas and cottages on St Thomas, the cheaper places to stay are in town or up in the hills, while the newer, chain hotels on the beach are at the top of the range. Summer rates are about 20% cheaper than winter. There is a Hotel Association counter at the airport which can help you with reservations. Please...