ST. CROIX

Located in the heart of the rainforest — this spot isn’t known as a jungle bar for nothing — Mt. Pellier Domino Club is not your typical USVI bar. Sure, it has an authentic laid-back vibe complete with a corrugated tin roof, bamboo accents and plenty of thirst-quenching drinks. But just a few steps away are the (non-alcoholic) beer-drinking pigs that set this place apart. Intrigued? Buy a can of NA beer then watch as the pigs, standing on their hind legs, take the entire beer in their mouths and chug it before dropping the empty can to the ground. The unique entertainment makes the winding roads to get there totally worth it.

Contrary to what you might think, the easternmost point of the United States isn’t located in Maine or Florida. Rather, it’s situated at the far east end of St. Croix at Point Udall. Here, in addition to panoramic views of the Caribbean’s turquoise waters, you’ll find the Millennium Monument. Erected in 2000 to commemorate the beginning of the new millennium, the monument is a huge sundial marking the first place the sun rises on U.S. soil. Named for former Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall, a supporter of USVI’s economy, Point Udall is a uniquely peaceful place on the island.

Established in 1961 by former President John F. Kennedy to protect one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea, the Buck Island Reef National Monument includes a 176-acre island and surrounding coral reef ecosystem. On the island, you’ll find white coral sand beaches and hiking trails filled with native flora and fauna, including several endangered and threatened species such as hawksbill turtles and brown pelicans. Enjoy a leisurely swim in the beautiful crystal-clear waters. Snorkel or scuba to get a better view of the abundant reef fish, deep grottos and elkhorn coral barrier reef that surrounds two-thirds of the land. Managed by the National Park Service, Buck Island Reef accommodates visitors for full- or half-day visits. Be sure to have your underwater camera at the ready! 

ST. JOHN

As its name implies, Honeymoon Beach is a romantic spot featuring powdery white sand, easy-to-navigate shallow blue waters and cooling shade from palm trees. Initially a secret among locals, word spread about the charms of this special place and its popularity grew. Because it’s only accessible via a short hike or by boat, it’s still a lovely, not-so-crowded gem. Spend a leisurely day viewing coral (brain, lettuce leaf, elkhorn, mustard hill and pillar) and a wide assortment of brightly colored fish and other marine life easily visible in the clear water. 

Looking for a side of education with your next Caribbean snorkeling adventure? Set in the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay Coral Reef Underwater Park Trail is a marked underwater trail featuring plaques offering a wealth of information about the beautiful sea creatures you’ll be viewing in the incredibly clear water. Rent or bring your own snorkel gear for this unique underwater experience, watching out for angel fish, puffer fish and possibly even a sea turtle swimming by among the various types of coral.

On an island full of amazing beaches, Salt Pond Bay should be on your must-visit list. First, there’s its long crescent shape featuring a gentle slope, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll with beautiful views. Then, there’s the crystal-clear shallow water, ideal for snorkeling and swimming. Somewhat secluded, Salt Pond Bay is a moderate hike from the road. There’s an easier route — the 1/4-mile Drunk Bay Trail — or the more strenuous, close to one-mile-long Ram Head Trail hike. No matter which path you take, you’ll be rewarded with one of the island’s most beautiful beaches.

ST. THOMAS

Located on the east end of St. Thomas, Lindquist Beach at Smith Bay Park is part of a 21-acre tract that was purchased by the USVI government in 2006. Protected from modernization, this area retains its pristine natural beauty. You’ll find stunning turquoise water and beaches that offer a touch of pink in the powdery-soft sand. There’s plenty of natural shade courtesy of the abundant trees that flourish. Take a stroll along the beach towards the shallow shelf area and you’ll be rewarded with sightings of the various crabs, snails and wading birds that feed on the area’s seagrass habitat. 

The smallest of the four USVI islands (at less than 500 acres), what Water Island lacks in size it more than makes up for in natural charms. Located a short ferry ride from St. Thomas, Water Island activities include kayaking, hiking, biking or relaxing on its beautiful beaches. Line fishing from the deep-water dock in Flamingo Bay is another option. The more adventurous might consider exploring the ruins of Fort Segarra or Carolina Point plantation. In the evening, enjoy a cocktail with your toes in the sand at the water’s edge, followed by dinner at a casual beachside restaurant. Post-dinner activities range from watching a movie on the beach to dancing to a live band. 

Take in some island history with a Hassel Island Tour. Organized by the St. Thomas Historical Trust, the tour includes three major sites reflecting the island’s early Danish and British colonial history: the Garrison House, Prince Frederick’s Battery, and Cowell’s Battery and Signal Station, the latter of which is located at the highest point on Hassel Island. The adventure starts at the Historical Trust’s museum on Raadet’s Gade, where tourists are picked up by boat on the waterfront of Charlotte Amalie Harbor. From there, it’s a short boat ride to Hassel Island, which is located on the western edge of the harbor. Once a peninsula of St. Thomas named “Orkenhullet,” this historic 135-acre property is maintained by the National Park Service and the St. Thomas Historical Trust. Lasting 2 to 2.5 hours, the tour features moderate hiking trails (3 on a scale of 5). Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and be sure to reserve 72 hours in advance.

While St. Thomas isn’t lacking when it comes to places to see the bounties of Mother Nature, Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden takes it to the next level with two acres of tropical paradise. The eco-attraction began as one woman’s vision to enhance awareness and knowledge of tropical plants, in the process becoming a beautiful botanical garden for all to enjoy. Here you’ll find varieties of colorful orchids, lilies, bromeliads and succulents, with interpretive signs providing detailed information. Visit the wildlife that also calls Phantasea home, including parrots, peacocks, tortoises and chickens. Take a break in the Balinese gazebo while enjoying the tropical juices and snacks available for purchase.

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