ST. THOMAS

Whether you opt for a swim with a sea lion, a shark encounter, a sea trek or any of the many other exciting experiences at Coral World Ocean Park, you’ll be helping this marine park in its mission to protect the ocean. Located next to Coki Beach on the east end of St. Thomas, Coral World has been wowing visitors since 1978 by combining education with unique animal interactions. A dolphin sanctuary, marine gardens, outdoor amphitheater, underwater observatory tower and Caribbean reef encounter are just some of the attractions inside this lush five-acre park. Daily presentations, ranging from Shark Feeding to Dolphin Talk, provide guests with a unique, up-close-and-personal visit with Coral World’s creatures of the sea.

While St. Thomas (and really all of USVI) aren’t lacking when it comes to stellar views, those provided by the Skyride to Paradise Point tram ride are literally above and beyond. The seven-minute ride takes you to the top of Paradise Point, offering views of historic downtown Charlotte Amalie and the nearby harbor and boats below. On a clear day, Puerto Rico and St. Croix are added to the beautiful mix of sights. Once you arrive, celebrate your trip 700 feet above St. Thomas and head to Taste at Paradise Point to try their signature Baileys Bushwacker and other tropical drinks.

As the capital of St. Thomas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie offers plenty to see and do. But if shopping is on your vacation to-do list, then a visit to this former haunt of pirate ships — more specifically Charlotte Amalie Main Street — is a must. Located in the heart of Charlotte Amalie, Main Street (also known as Dronningens Gade) is filled with a mix of high-end shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques, along with charming restaurants. Jewelry, watches, perfume, liquor, tobacco and unique local art can be found in the stores on this bustling cobblestone lane, with the added bonus of duty-free purchases. Be sure to make time to explore the quaint side streets.

A refreshing tropical cocktail accompanied by breathtaking views is an unbeatable USVI experience. And you’ll find just that at Mountain Top, the highest point  on St. Thomas at 1,200 feet above Magens Bay, offering panoramic views of more than 15 islands. Your cocktail of choice? The banana daiquiri, of course. As the story goes, it was invented here by a cocktail-savvy sea captain in 1953 after finding the perfect ingredients — including ripe bananas from a nearby grove, house-made banana liqueur and Cruzan Rum — on the island. Plus, Mountain Top is home to the largest duty-free shop on St. Thomas.

ST. CROIX

Fort Christiansvaern has had many lives since it was built in 1749, including acting as a protector from pirates, hurricanes and slave revolts. It’s now a National Historic Site and part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. A terrific example of Danish colonial military architecture and one of the best-preserved colonial forts in the Caribbean, Fort Christiansvaern has seven acres to explore, including a museum. Located on the waterfront overlooking Gallows Bay, it offers a glimpse into the island’s fascinating history.

As one of the world’s most popular rum brands, Captain Morgan needs no introduction. Made from a secret blend of the finest Caribbean rums, this spiced rum — and its eye-catching Captain mascot — are recognized around the globe. Learn more about this unique spirit by visiting the Captain Morgan Experience Center. Here you can enjoy a 35-minute tour and tasting Monday through Friday (reservations highly recommended) that captures the Captain’s story and personality, as well as how the world’s best spiced rum is made. Your inner mixologist will appreciate the cocktail-making part of the experience. Visit the gift shop to take a little bit of the Captain home with you.

The Christiansted Boardwalk offers the best of both worlds. On one side, you have unique shops and small boutiques offering island-related souvenirs and gifts, as well as a variety of restaurants. On the other is the beautiful blue waters of the harbor, with anchored boats gently bobbing in the distance. Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring, people watching, shopping, eating and drinking. An ideal place to stop is Brew STX, which offers two levels to take in the harbor views while enjoying American-style pub fare and microbrews on tap. Happy hour, crab races, live entertainment and a legendary seafood boil make Brew STX a great spot any day of the week. 

Located on 12 lush acres, Estate Whim Museum is a former sugar plantation that offers unique experiences everywhere you look. There’s the colonial-era Great House with furnished rooms containing original artwork and historic items. The plant-filled grounds include a restored windmill, former slave quarters and ruins of the sugar factory. The living history museum dives deep into Crucian folklife with demos of cooking, dancing, music, conch shell blowing and customs offering visitors a vibrant look at the island’s legacy. Rotating cultural exhibits provide further insights into Crucian life

Named for former Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall (a supporter of USVI’s economy), Point Udall is located at the far east end of St. Croix, which also happens to be the easternmost part of the United States. Stunning panoramic views of the beautiful Caribbean Sea accompany the Millennium Monument, which was built in 2000 to honor the beginning of the new millennium. The oversized sundial marks the first place the sun rises on U.S soil. Not a morning person? Come later in the day — with a picnic dinner in tow — and take in a glorious sunset instead.

ST. JOHN

Occupying a majority of St. John, Virgin Islands National Park is much more than beautiful white-sand beaches fringed with coral reefs, although there are plenty of those. Hikers of all levels won’t want to miss out on the more than 20 trails the park offers. The Cinnamon Bay Trail meanders through the ruins of a historic sugar plantation, while the strenuous Reef Bay Trail takes hikers past some of the island’s oldest trees and ancient rock carvings. Popular snorkeling spots in the park include Trunk Bay, Waterlemon Cay and Salt Pond, all of which have gear for rent. Virgin Islands National Park is a not-to-be-missed natural treasure.

Normally when you think of trails it involves hiking boots, but the Trunk Bay Underwater Snorkel Trail isn’t your typical adventure. Rather, this gorgeous spot in Virgin Islands National Park features a unique underwater trail that has plaques with detailed information about the colorful sea creatures — think puffer fish, angel fish and perhaps a sea turtle or two — you’ll inevitably see in the clear, blue water. This .3-mile beach is named after the leatherback turtle, known as “trunks,” that frequent this part of the world.

There’s a lot to love about the Night Kayak GLOW Tour at The Westin St. John Resort Villas, beyond the fact that it takes place at night. This unique nocturnal adventure focuses on paddling under the stars in clear-bottom kayaks illuminated by the crafts’ built-in lights. Get your glow on with fluorescent body paint before heading out on your guided tour that might include sightings of tarpons and stingrays. Small-sized groups ensure a personalized experience. For first-time kayakers, basic lessons are offered prior to the tour.

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