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US Virgin Islands
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OVERVIEW OF ST. THOMAS VIDEO
14 miles long & three miles across, St. Thomas has the largest population of the US Virgin Islands. Its deep water harbor makes it a popular cruise port. Of the 40 beaches, Megan's Bay is most famous, but all bustle with watersports and yachting activity. Mostly US in custom, driving still follows the British way, on the left hand side of the road. Charlotte Amalia is the capital, its scenic harbor nestled amongst hills.
SIGHTSEEING IN ST. THOMAS VIDEO
A beautiful natural harbor and hilly terrain crown the island of St. Thomas and a cable car ride yields stunning views. Cruise ship passengers that don't get much touring time love this option. Once at the top of Paradise Peak, you can get the best pictures of this 18th century port town that can accommodate 10,000 cruise passengers daily.
GETTING AROUND ST. THOMAS VIDEO
The island has an international airport, and many visitors also arrive by seaplane from other islands. A small plane or helicopter tour is a terrific way to get your bearings and also a feel of the gorgeous chain of islands. Bus tours & open air taxis tour the major attractions, and 4 wheel drive vehicle rentals are popular. Take a boat tour to a neighboring Virgin island or take the ferry (that also takes cars) to St. John.
ACCOMMODATION IN ST. THOMAS VIDEO
You can easily find 5 star hotels and luxury cruise ships here. Many hotels lie on the beach, though other good ones cling dramatically to scenic hillsides. Some, like Bluebeard's Castle, date back to the 17th century, and most have invested in fabulous swimmingpools that actually take your mind off the beach! For camping, the island of St. John offers excellent facilities.
FORT CHRISTIAN, ST. THOMAS VIDEO
Historic tours generally start in Charlotte Amalia Harbor where Fort Christian is the oldest standing structure. The fort once protected the harbor from raiding Europeans, and today it houses the island's museum. King Christian the Vth of Denmark inspired the name, and the exhibition here recounts life in the Danish West Indies, also including Carib & Arawak Indian artifacts.
CORAL WORLD IN ST. THOMAS VIDEO
A visit here is the best way to see St. Thomas' colorful underwater world without getting wet. The 4 and a half acre marine park and underwater observatory includes a large shark tank, and an area to observe the antics of manta rays. There is a focus on Caribbean sea life with a view into the open ocean as well as smaller aquarium and habitats.
SHOPPING IN ST. THOMAS VIDEO
Once holding mainly rum and spices, the waterfront's restored 17th and 18th century warehouses are filled with shops offering merchandise of every kind. Shopping ranges from flea market type booths to upscale world class shops in weather controlled malls. One of the specialties of this duty free port is hand blown glass decorated in splendid island motifs.
OVERVIEW OF ST. CROIX VIDEO
The largest of the US Virgin Islands, Christianstad is also the largest town. Surrounded by reef and numerous sandy beaches, there is a vibrant diving and snorkeling world here. Main attractions include the St. George Botanical Gardens, sugar mills and two 18 hole golf courses. Go off-road for rugged adventure, or board a small plane for a good overview. The several hotels are mainly beachside and camping is a good option.
HISTORY OF ST. CROIX VIDEO
The harbor has always been busy, transporting people and goods between islands. Sugar, oil and cotton continue to be important to St. Croix's economy, although tourism is the main draw. Becoming a Danish crown colony in the 1700's, the island's architecture and layout have Danish influence. The island's many artists produce one-of-a-kind items that make shopping rewarding.
FORT CHRISTIANVAERN IN ST. CROIX VIDEO
The trademark of the capital city of Christiansted is the vibrant yellow Fort Christianvaern, completed in 1749, with a strategic waterfrolnt location. An excellent example of Danish military architecture, it was used as a garrison until 1878, then becoming the police station & court house. Located on the same grounds are the old scale house and Danish Customs house.
DIVING IN ST. CROIX VIDEO
Virtually surrounded by reefs, there is something to see anywhere you dive around St. Croix. Equipment rental is available as well as certification at some dive shops such as the well equipped one at Cane Bay. There is a wall that is fascinating enough to have Cane Bay classified as one of the world's 5 best dive sites.
BUCK ISLAND IN ST. CROIX VIDEO
A smaller island that's part of St. Croix, Buck Island is a National Monument and is a half hour sail from Christiansted harbor. It's 6000 feet long and a half mile across with 704 acres of water boasting a coral reef system and snorkel trail that merit a special day trip. The beach here has all the elements of paradise.
WHIM PLANTATION IN ST. CROIX VIDEO
St. Croix's Age of Prosperity that took place in the second half of the 18th century is celebrated here. Once over 300 Danish estates, today the ruins of the sugar mills make for an interesting tour, along with Scottish steam engines for crushing and distilling. Demonstrations and exhibits re-create the bygone era of the wealthy plantation owner.
ST. GEORGE VILLAGE BOTANICAL GARDENS IN ST. CROIX VIDEO
For those that enjoy pleasure gardens, these gardens near Frederiksted showcase over 1500 tropical plants on 16 acres of land that was once an Arawak village. Later, it was a Danish sugar plantation, then a cattle ranch, finally becoming the botanical gardens in 1972. The gardens are meticulously kept around the ruins of a 19th century sugar plantation.
MAHOGANY CARVING IN ST. CROIX VIDEO
St. Croix's rugged interior is carpeted with trees. Mahogany trees in particular are being used by artists to carve unique items that are characteristic of St. Croix. An artist well known by the name Cheech carves unique sculptures of people, and he's happy to personalize the items just for you. Ask anyone in the area and they'll give you directions to find The Mahogany Guy!
OVERVIEW OF ST. JOHN VIDEO
Three miles east of St. Thomas, St. John is the smallest of the US Virgin Islands. The best way to get to and from there is by passenger/car ferry across the Pillsbury Sound. The main settlement is Cruz Bay, a small town teeming with 18th century history, augmented by 40 beaches, 3 campgrounds and 22 hiking trails on the island. The National Park covers more than half the island, a joy for nature lovers.
CINNAMON BAY IN ST. JOHN VIDEO
A most spectacular soft sand Eden-like beach paradise, Cinnamon Bay is also noted for the excellent campground that lies just in behind the beach. Here at the most sought after campground in the Caribbean, you can dwell amongst nature Herself in 50 tents and 40 cottages that are completed with a central shop/dining facility and museum with artifacts of a local dig.
CRUZ BAY & ACCOMMODATION ON ST. JOHN VIDEO
Although what's there is fabulous, there isn't a lot of accommodation offered on St. John, making it more commonly a day trip for those visiting other US Virgin Islands. Cruz Bay is the main town, and Mongoose Junction is a picturesque shopping and strolling crossroads. A U.S. outpost, St. John is easy to navigate on one's own.