We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Looking to travel to a tropical Caribbean paradise without leaving the United States? Add the US Virgin Islands to your bucket list! With beautiful weather year-round, you won’t even need a passport if you’re a U.S. citizen, to enjoy these 8 best things to do in the US Virgin Islands.
While over 50 little islands and cays form the United States Virgin Islands, the main islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix are the most popular destinations. We’ve included our favorite things to do on each main U.S. Virgin Island:
8 Best Things to do in the US Virgin Islands
Best Things to do in St. Thomas
The territory’s capital is Charlotte Amalie, located on the island of St. Thomas. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking beaches, forts, a sky tram, or even want fantastic duty-free shopping, you’ll find all of those and more on St. Thomas. If you’re looking for shopping, an active nightlife, or upscale dining, you’ll find it on St. Thomas.
Horseback riding on the beach at Golden Age Ranch in St. Thomas
Jenny, Traveling Party of 4
Horseback riding on the beach in St. Thomas is an adventurous and exhilarating experience the entire family will enjoy. Golden Age Ranch is a non-profit organization dedicated to the care of horses either retired from the race track, abandoned on the side of the road, or abused horses in need of care and love.
The horses at Golden Age Ranch are rescued, rehabilitated, and retrained. They will take you for an unforgettable relaxing journey through the island and down the shores of Lindquist Beach.
Horseback riding down the beach is a top bucket list adventure for many travelers — the soothing cadence of their hooves, the scent of the salty sea, and the relaxing sounds of the waves will undoubtedly leave lasting memories and lots of fantastic photo ops.
The ride is about an hour long. Prepare to get a little wet as the horses love the ocean. And, wear close-toed shoes and long pants if you remember to pack them.
Located next door to the United States Virgin Islands is the British Virgin Islands (the BVIs), an archipelago of four main islands plus about sixty tiny islands and cays. Here is everything you need to know before you go, plus a BVI sailing itinerary.
Go snorkeling at Sapphire Beach
Annick, The Common Traveler
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a beach lovers’ paradise, and St. Thomas is no exception. While Magens Bay receives all the accolades as one of the world’s best beaches, Sapphire Beach is an under-the-radar spot worth the visit.
Located in a residential (condos) and resort area, Sapphire Beach is a great place to stay on St. Thomas. Beach rental equipment, such as lounge chairs and umbrellas, are available at an affordable price. Lay on the fine white sand while enjoying views of neighboring St. John and nearby islands. A large coral reef to the east is home to great snorkeling. Bring your snorkel equipment and you may be lucky enough to see a barracuda! The water in this area is shallow, making it ideal for swimming.
If you get hungry or thirsty, there’s a restaurant on the beach serving grill items and where local beers can be purchased. Because of the resort, beach access is free and there is plenty of parking. A taxi from the port is about $13 to $15 per person each way.
Check out Sapphire Beach, one of the best things to do in St. Thomas, you won’t regret it!
Relax at Magens Bay
Annick, The Common Traveler
The most famous beach on St. Thomas, Magens Bay, frequently appears on lists of the world’s best beaches. And for good reason!
Located in Magens Bay Park, this beach offers a lot of amenities. Three bathhouses are placed along the beach. A concession stand offers a bar and snack bar. Beach rentals, such as chairs and umbrellas, are available. Or rent a kayak and explore the bay up close and personal.
Due to its popularity, Magens Bay tends to get pretty crowded by late morning and early afternoon, particularly if a cruise ship is in port. Visit this beach first thing in the morning and you’ll feel as if the beach belongs to you. The mile-long white sand is the perfect setting for a walk, snorkeling, or just laying out.
The park authority charges a small admission fee. You won’t be bothered by endless merchants coming to hawk their wares while you’re enjoying your day. And if you’re tired of the sun, take the time to explore one of their hiking trails or the arboretum.
Magens Bay truly deserves its reputation as one of the best beaches in the world, so don’t miss an opportunity to go there if you’re in St. Thomas!
Discover a new world with an Eco Tour
Anna, Stuck on the Go
Taking a tour with Virgin Island Ecotours is absolutely one of the best things to do in St. Thomas by far. They offer many options for tours but one of the most incredible is their Best of Mangrove Kayak, Hike, & Snorkel Tour.
This five-hour tour starts with your group kayaking through a lagoon out to the island of Cas Cay. You’ll make a stop along the way to check out the rocky coastline, jagged cliffs, and a geological blowhole!
Once you arrive at Cas Cay you’ll have lunch and then your guide will take you on a hike around the island and tell you all the history, information about the flora and fauna, plus lots of fun facts.
After you hike you’ll snorkel along the mangrove trees and over the seagrass where you’ll see all kinds of unique sea creatures. You’ll find barracuda, lobster, sea urchins, and possibly a stingray just to name a few.
Once you kayak back to the main office you are sure to be completely exhausted but very content with the day. Make sure that you wear plenty of sunscreen and bring more to apply throughout the day. Make sure to include this tour in your St. Thomas one-week itinerary!
Best Things to do in St. John
Nature lovers will delight in visiting St. John, the smallest of the three main islands. More than half of the island is occupied by the Virgin Islands National Park. The island is dotted with beautiful isolated beaches. Tours of St. John are available during a port day in St. Thomas. If you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, St. John is your best choice.
Relax at Trunk Bay
Theresa, Fueled By Wanderlust
A visit to Trunk Bay is one of the most magnificent experiences in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Located along St. John’s scenic North Shore Road, this gorgeous beach has eye-popping shades of turquoise and features plenty of things to do for the perfect Caribbean day.
If you aren’t taking a taxi, you’ll first need to nab a parking spot, either in the lot adjacent to the beach or going upward along North Shore Road. It is best to arrive by 10:00 a.m., as spots fill up fast. You will then need to pay a $5 fee per person before entering Trunk Bay.
Upon entry, it should be fairly easy to find a spot to set your towel in the white sand. While Trunk Bay is typically very busy, the beach is long and wide, with space to accommodate everyone. The length also makes Trunk Bay great for leisurely walks along the water.
Trunk Bay also features some great amenities. It has a snack shack, where you can grab a light lunch and order a rum-filled beverage. There are also snorkel and chair rentals available for those who need them. Finally, there is even a “real” bathroom facility, complete with showers – a rarity on the island.
Last but not least, if you love snorkeling, then you must rent or bring snorkel gear to do the underwater snorkel trail, just offshore along with Trunk Cay. Beneath the water, you can see a variety of fish and sea life, including coral and even barracudas!
Explore Leinster Bay
Erika, Erikas Travels
Leinster Bay lies on the eastern end of St John Island, near the town of Coral Bay. A beautiful spot for snorkeling and sunbathing, it is one of the unsung treasures of the US Virgin Islands National Park.
Leinster Bay is accessible via a path that leaves from the Annaberg Mill Ruins parking area. Before heading down to the turquoise bay, it is worth checking out the remnants of the old sugar mill. The small historical attraction features some of the most intact plantation ruins in the Caribbean.
The path to Leinster Bay from the sugar mill ruins takes about 25 minutes on foot. It leads to one of the most beautiful beaches on St John Island.
Leinster Bay’s waters are home to tall seagrasses that attract turtles, spotted eagle rays, and nurse sharks. Offshore, idyllic Waterlemon Cay boasts colorful coral gardens that teem with a wide array of tropical fish.
Though the reef around Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay was partially destroyed by the twin hurricanes that ravaged St John in 2017, the area is nonetheless one of the top snorkeling destinations in the US Virgin Islands.
Hiking the Reef Bay Trail
Kristin, Snorkel and Hike
Hiking the Reef Bay Trail in the Virgin Islands National Park is one of the most unique and rewarding experiences to be found when visiting or staying on St. John. Winding through the dense tropical forest, the trail takes you past ancient petroglyphs, a waterfall, and ruins of a sugar mill before ending at the ocean.
Although the full 6 miles out-and-back hike is somewhat strenuous, especially on the return up the mountain, there are several options to experience the trail. With most of the sights near the end of the trail at the ocean, hiring a boat to the bay and hiking up a short bit will save most of the effort with all of the sights. The National Park Service also offers guided hikes that descend down the mountain, but return via boat, avoiding the most difficult part of the hike, the climb back up.
No matter how you choose to get there, the sights on the Reef Bay Trail make hiking it one of the most interesting things to do in the Virgin Islands.
Best Things to do in St. Croix
While St. Croix is the largest of the three main islands in the USVI, fewer visitors travel to this island which is further south, leading to a more authentic Caribbean experience. Don’t miss the only three underwater national monuments in the U.S. Unsure whether to visit the north or south side of the island? Read on!
North or South, which side to visit?
Taryn, Chasing Trail
St. Croix is a hidden gem among the US Virgin Islands. Although it’s by far the largest island in the USVI, its slightly more remote location means it attracts substantially fewer visitors than its neighbors. Don’t let that deter you — St. Croix packs a big punch.
One especially unique thing about St. Croix is that it has two major towns in completely different areas. Christiansted, on the north shore, is the bustling dining, shopping, and entertainment hub. On the west side, which locals affectionately call “the best side,” lies Frederiksted, a sleepier but equally impressive town.
Both offer pristine beaches, snorkeling, diving, and plenty of restaurants and bars. Frederiksted’s beaches are much less crowded and if you want spectacular sunsets, the west side of the island really is the best side.
On the other hand, more excursions depart from Christiansted, such as snorkeling to Buck Island Reef National Monument. Buck Island is one of just two underwater national monuments in the US and if you’re going on your own without a tour operator, an America the Beautiful Annual Pass will cover your entry.
Consider splitting your stay between both cities to fully experience everything St. Croix has to offer!
A Few Tips When Visiting the US Virgin Islands
- You’re in the US, so the language and currency used here is the U.S. dollar.
- Driving is on the left, though the cars are imported from the US, meaning that the driver is also located on the left. If you don’t feel comfortable driving on the opposite side, don’t rent a car! Signs throughout remind drivers to keep left.
- Traffic can be slow, especially since most roads are only two lanes. Keep that in mind as you plan out your itinerary.
- Taxi fares are often per person, so clarify in advance the fare you will owe!
If you enjoyed this guide to Best Things to do in the US Virgin Islands, check out these additional posts:
- Port Guide: Best Things to do in St. Thomas
- Port Guide: Best Things to do in St. Kitts
- Guide to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Best Excursions for Port Days During a Caribbean Cruise
Which of these “Best things to do in the US Virgin Islands” looks the most fun to you? Let me know in a comment below!
Annick, The Common Traveler