Image: Anthony Quintano
Image: Anthony Quintano
The U.S. Virgin Islands is packed full of stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear seas and incredible Caribbean culture – or so travel agents would like you to think. Indeed, the excellent food and astounding views were only mentioned by your next-door neighbor in order to make you envious and mask the horrible time that they had in this hellhole. The truth is that there’s very little to recommend here, as revealed by the following 20 reasons why you definitely should never, ever visit the U.S. Virgin Islands. Never.
20. Its airport is basically in the sea. Big deal.
Can you think of a duller way to start a vacation than by landing in an airport that’s surrounded by the Caribbean Sea? And it’s not even a little runway, as the Cyril E. King Airport has one of the biggest reclaimed landing strips in the area. Plus, it’s on U.S. land, so Americans won’t even get a passport stamp. Bummer.
19. Looking for year-round sunshine? Don’t come here.
There’s a pitiful average of just eight hours of sunshine a day in this hellhole, going up to maybe a mediocre nine hours in March and April. Worse still, around Christmas there are only seven hours of sun per day – which is frankly embarrassing, really.
Image: Per Honor et Gloria
18. Want consistently warm, tropical temperatures? Better go someplace else.
Summer in the U.S. Virgin Islands means wildly unpredictable temperatures ranging from 74° F to 90° F. Then in the winter, that can drop to a downright frosty 70° F. So if you must go here, pack your thermal underwear. And layer up for a dip in the sea, too, as its temperature can get up to a measly 82° F. Brrrr!
Image: John Kernan
17. Do you like your beaches quiet, mile-long and traffic free? Then stay away.
Definitely keep clear of Cinnamon Bay on the island of St. John: nothing but 5,280 feet of unspoiled white sand next to clear blue water. It’s also completely free from tourist-trap resorts and airports, resulting in your ears being subjected to nothing but the constant din of waves lapping against the shore. Torture.
Image: Reinhard Link
16. Want lots of sunbathing options? Go elsewhere.
Someone wasn’t thinking of the U.S. Virgin Islands when they coined the phrase “variety is the spice of life.” St. Croix, for example, has a measly 23 heavenly beaches on which to get a deep bronze tan. And it gets worse on St. John, where there are just 17 such glorious sunbathing spots. At least St. Thomas makes a bit more effort with its 40-plus paradisical beaches. Could do better, though.
Image: Mike Bowler
15. It’s not for adrenaline junkies…
Zip-lining through verdant woodlands, jet skiing through the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea, diving off St. Croix and sky diving over St. Thomas – all while drenched in tropical sunshine. Sounds like an adrenaline junkie’s worst nightmare, doesn’t it? Best stay away.
14. Nor the adventurous type…
If participating in challenging hikes surrounded by near-perfect scenery sounds idyllic then, sorry, but St. John is one place to strike off the must-visit list. Take the island’s Reef Bay Trail, for example. One of a mere 20-odd hikes on offer, its rocky route takes in a bit of island history, falls in elevation by 900 feet and ends up near an idyllic beach. Boring, right?
13. Nor people who are fascinated by incredible history.
Yet another thing the U.S. Virgin Islands certainly doesn’t have is an interesting past. Who cares if parts of it at one time or another belonged to the English, Dutch, Spanish and French? Or that you can take in the remains of old sugar farms, a jail and a rum still within just half an hour’s walk of one another? Anyone?
Image: Reilly Butler
12. Love amazing marine life? Avoid this place like the plague.
The chances of seeing anything interesting underwater are pretty slim, what with the islands’ derisory 500 varieties of fish. Plus, there are loads of colorful coral reefs and seagrass fields getting in the way, so divers may as well have their eyes closed. Don’t know why you’d bother, really.
11. Its exotic bird life is nothing to write home about either.
It’s such a shame for vacationing ornithologists that the U.S. Virgin Islands has just the 144 bird species. And this pitiful variety of avian life hangs around all year, living in a diverse range of environments, from the coasts to the towns. Still, who cares?
Image: Connie Ma
10. If you’re a sucker for delicious island cuisine, don’t get your hopes up.
With its mix of Caribbean tradition and influences from no fewer than seven European colonies, St. Croix offers almost nothing good to eat. Ditto St. Thomas and St. John. Unless visitors happen to like fresh seafood. Or curried chicken. Or French food. Or Asian cuisine. Apart from that, though, there’s nothing. Oh, except for Italian and Mexican dishes. So it’s basically a culinary wasteland.
Image: Jack Delano
9. If you like beautiful colonial architecture, there’s nothing to see here, folks.
It’s not like Christiansted, the capital of St. Croix, comes complete with a seven-acre National Historic Site that includes five impressive structures and fine examples of Danish colonial architecture. Okay, maybe it does, but does St. Croix have six pre-1850 churches, one of which is on the National Register of Historic Places? Er, yes it does, but… y’know… there could be more.
8. Traditional West Indian art and culture is almost impossible to find.
Visitors walking around the islands of St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas will hear every type of Caribbean music, from calypso to steel pan. They’ll also probably take in colorful street murals, watch stilt dancers known as Mocko Jumbies and catch a carnival or two. Yeah, not much in the way of culture here.
Image: Lars Schmidt
7. It’s only got one world-renowned rum distillery. One!
If the idea of sipping freshly made rum from a world-renowned distillery appeals, then don’t come to the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s only got one such remarkable distillery – Cruzan Rum – across the four main islands, so it’s probably best to stay at home.
Image: Nichole Brown
6. Pampering? Relaxing? No, nothing like that going on here.
Why visit the luxurious Beauty Lounge of Caneel Bay on St. John, or bother to indulge in a heavenly massage at The Buccaneer’s Hideaway Spa on St. Croix? It’s far too much hassle, surely. Crazy idea.
Image: F Mira
5. Don’t bring your kids here – they’ll be so, so bored.
Kids will be hard pushed to find something to do on the U.S. Virgin Islands – not counting, of course, the marine theme park, arts and crafts classes, swimming, snorkeling, and watersports activities. Seriously, don’t bring them; they’ll get soooooo bored.
Image: Navin Rajagopalan
4. Basically, if you want to get away from it all, go elsewhere.
Water Island must be the worst place on Earth for peace and quiet. The fact that there are no cabs, no buses, no resorts and no stores on this, the smallest of the four principal U.S. Virgin Islands means that there’s just the relentless racket of its massive 200-strong population, who barely fit on the ample 491 acres. Way too packed for our liking.
3. It’s not for people who want to get their sea legs.
With miles of pristine ocean, relatively clear seaways and a constant easterly trade wind throughout the year, there’s very little here to recommend for people hoping to sail. It’s probably best to stick to the well-trodden British Virgin Islands – because who needs surprises, anyway?
2. It doesn’t have anything remotely like awesome tales of audacious pirates…
Historians have panned the idea that Blackbeard’s Castle, on St. Thomas’ Government Hill, was the 18th-century lookout for the famous pirate. So don’t go there in any way expecting exciting swashbuckling tales, a fascinating history and spectacular views, or anything like that. You’ll be sorely disappointed.
1. Or a bustling waterfront where you can take it all in.
The only things to discover at the Havensight waterfront on St. Thomas are thriving stores and eateries and a cable car ride that ascends 700 feet to the top of Flag Hill. At the hill’s summit, there’s even a bar, a spectacular view and a nature trail. What’s to love? Put the credit card back in the wallet; this year’s family vacation will need to be reconsidered.