When it comes to a weekend getaway from my home base of New York, a few factors determine what locales make the cut: distance, budget, ease and attractions. So while it’s no surprise to find me in Miami, Barbados, Havana or even Philly for a quick getaway, I’ll admit that I seriously slept on one of the best destinations for a 3-day weekend to remember—The U.S. Virgin Islands.
Situated directly southeast of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands as a whole are made up of two island groupings belonging to the United States and Great Britain respectively. While St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John compose the main isles for the U.S., a short ferry ride will find you “technically” in England with Virgin Gorda and Tortola, plus a group of surrounding smaller islands. With three large islands to choose from, all with their own unique characteristics, personalities and histories, it’s no wonder why the U.S.V.I.’s nickname is America’s Paradise. St. Croix aka Twin City is known for it’s quiet beaches and Cruzan rum, Love City aka St. John is home to one of best National Parks and some legendary bars, and St. Thomas aka Rock City is considered the “town” of the three with a mix of beach and urban life. So when I arrived in St. Thomas for the U.S.V.I.’s first ever America’s Paradise Music Festival, it took me all of 30 seconds to realize that the real start of the show was going to be the island itself.
Originally known as the Danish West Indies, the Virgin Islands have been a territory of the United States since 1916 which means that it is governed and protected under the laws of the United States. For American travelers, this means that a passport is not required to enter into the region, though it is the most convenient form of ID to carry, especially if you plan to hop over to Tortola or Virgin Gorda for a day. But since a valid, government issued ID and a birth certificate will also do, that one friend who misplaced her passport has no excuse when it comes to a V.I. jaunt.
Flights will land in either St. Croix or St. Thomas, with a variety of public and private ferries and seaplanes available to shuttle you between islands and even further destinations like Puerto Rico. Additionally, services like the USPS are available should you need to ship anything home, and most mobile carriers will work just fine without the international roaming charges so post, tweet and text away while visiting.
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