US Virgin Islands, Caribbean - Stein Travel
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US Virgin Islands

Of the 60 mostly uninhabited islands that make up the US Virgin Islands, the biggest and most visited are St Thomas, St John and St Croix. Their appeal lies in the amalgamation of the exotic and the recognisable, an island paradise with modern comforts, and a balance between Caribbean culture and American practicality.

The energetic capital of Charlotte Amalie, with its attractive harbour, lies on St Thomas. This island is the most Americanised of the chain, famous for its world-class duty-free shopping. Nearby St John is an unspoilt nature lover's paradise, with most of its forests, pristine beaches and reefs part of a protected national park. The largest of the islands is St Croix and its remoteness from the others, the historic remnants scattered about the landscape, the pretty Danish-influenced towns of Frederiksted and Christiansted, and the snorkelling at nearby Buck Island are the attractions here.

Surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, these islands boast some of the most splendid coastline in the world, with white sandy beaches, astonishing coral reefs and pristine marine life, secluded coves, and untouched rainforests rising up above the sea-swept landscape. Caribbean colour touches every aspect of the islands, blending with the strong Danish influence in the towns. White sails glide effortlessly across the emerald waters; local craftsmen display their unique island art along cobblestone alleyways; tiled villa roofs provide a splash of red against the verdant hillside; busy markets supply the essentials for a delicious cuisine; and the sounds of folk songs and calypso bands fill the air.

The Virgin Islands being among the most popular cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean has meant that the port towns of Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted and Frederiksted are usually swamped with newly arrived passengers in a frenzy of shopping and dining. Main beaches are seldom deserted, and the key reef areas are often a flurry of flippers and snorkels. Luxury resorts and fine hotels share the streets with old colonial architecture. Yet it is still possible to escape the crowds and find that bit of elusive paradise, to relax away from the divers and sailors, the sightseers, the ecological tour groups, and the shoppers.

Information & Facts


Industry in the US Virgin Islands is based primarily around tourism though petroleum refining takes place off St. Croix. Like many other Caribbean countries, things are pretty relaxed, and formal business attire is not considered necessary as the climate makes this quite uncomfortable. The people are friendly and polite and shaking hands is common with introductions for men and women; business cards are handed out at introductions. Business hours are typically 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday with lunch breaks around 12pm.


The islands are hot and humid throughout the year, with most rain falling between August and October. The busiest tourist season is from December to May, during the northern hemisphere winter, and outside of these months rooms are cheaper and the islands less crowded. Between April and August the waters are calmer and underwater visibility is best for diving and snorkelling.


The international country code for the US Virgin Islands is +1 340 and the code for dialling out internationally is 011 (followed by the relevant country code, for example 01144 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are not required. The AT & T Wireless GSM mobile network covers the islands. Internet cafes are available in the main resorts.


In the US Virgin Islands, politeness is important. Greet people before asking questions or requesting assistance. Greetings depend on the time of day, with good morning, good afternoon, and good evening being common. You may hear locals thanking 'jumbi' (spirits) for good luck, or blaming them for misfortune.

Duty Free

Travellers to the Virgin Islands who are residents of the USA follow the same regulations that apply to the United States. Travellers over 21 years are allowed 1 US quart of alcoholic beverages; and perfumes, lotions and other goods for personal use. Travellers who are non-residents do not have to pay duty on the following items: 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 2kg tobacco, or a proportionate mix of these. Gifts and alcohol brought into the Virgin Islands by non-residents are not exempt from duty.


120 volts, 60Hz. Two-flat-pin plugs are standard.


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.


English is the official language. Spanish, Creole and some French are also spoken.


The official currency is the US Dollar (USD) divided into 100 cents. Most credit cards are accepted, including American Express, Diners Club Mastercard and Visa, and are useful for withdrawing cash at ATMs. Travellers cheques are widely accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants provided they are in US Dollars. Foreign exchange bureaux are available to exchange other currencies, but it is best to arrive with US Dollars as many banks and hotels will not exchange foreign currency.

Passport Visa

Entry requirements are the same as for the United States of America. There is no immigration control for visitors arriving from mainland USA. Visitors entering the country under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) must have a machine-readable passport (MRP) that has a bar code on the photo page. From 26 October 2006 eligible travellers under the VWP must include biometrics in their machine-readable passports if they wish to enter the country without a visa, containing unique personal data such as fingerprints or iris details. All new passports issued on or after 26 October 2005 must contain a digital photo image in order to travel visa-free. Due to new security measures, all visitors to the USA will have a photograph and two fingerprints taken by an inkless scanner on arrival, including those travelling visa-free under the Visa Waiver Programme. All travellers arriving or departing by air, land or sea between the USA and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central and South America are required to present a valid passport. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


Normal precautions apply, especially in the back streets of towns at night. Don't leave valuables lying on the beach when snorkelling or swimming.


GMT -4.


Tipping of 15 to 20% percent is customary for good service. Some hotels and restaurants automatically add a service charge and room tax.

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