Which U.S. Virgin Island Is for You?

by  Teresa Bitler | Updated on Apr 26, 2023

The three islands that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands -- St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix -- all have lush tropical foliage, pristine beaches, and Caribbean flair. While these under-the-radar Caribbean islands have something for everyone, you may still be wondering: Which U.S. Virgin Island is best for honeymooners? Which U.S. Virgin Island is best for families? And which U.S. Virgin Island has the best beaches? The answer: Each island has its own distinct personality. Here's how to choose which U.S. Virgin Island is for you.

This article will break down:

  • Which Virgin Island should you choose?
  • The difference between St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix
  • What is St. Thomas known for?
  • What is St. John known for?
  • What is St. Croix know for? 
  • Where to stay in the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • What to do in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Keep reading to find out which U.S. Virgin Island is best for you.

St. Thomas

St. Thomas, USVI / sorincolac/iStock

St. Thomas is Best for: Shopping, upscale dining, and nightlife

Popular with cruise ships, St. Thomas is the busiest and most commercialized of the three islands. It also has a reputation for being more upscale, with plenty of duty-free shopping, high-end dining, and golf. And, unlike the other islands, St. Thomas has a hopping nightlife scene after dark.

What to do on St. Thomas Island:

Board the St. Thomas Skyride and take it to a point 700 feet above the island’s capital of Charlotte Amalie for dramatic views of the Caribbean. Or, swim with sea lions at Coral World Ocean Park. You can also tour Bluebeard’s Castle, a Danish fortress built in 1689; visit the Haagensen House, home of Danish banker Hans Haagensen; and climb the 99 Steps (there are actually 103 of them). And we can't forget the beach. Don’t miss Magens Bay, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful in the world. For snorkeling or diving, head to Coki Beach instead.

St. John

St. John, USVI / SeanPavonePhoto/iStock

St. John is Best for: Hiking, nature watching, and solitude

You won’t find crowds on St. John. That’s because the island doesn’t have a major airport -- most people take a ferry from St. Thomas, roughly three miles away -- and because nearly two-thirds of the island is protected as a national park. Once you get there, you won't find much in the way of public transit, shopping, or dining options, either.

What to do on St. John Island

But, if you’re looking for a tucked-away outdoor adventure or a romantic getaway, St. John is it. Hike the trails from the beach to the mountain top, snorkel the underwater trail at Trunk Bay, or explore the remains of sugar plantations in Virgin Islands National Park. Fishing and diving are also popular activities. Plus, once you get there, staying can be pretty affordable.

St. Croix

St. Croix, USVI / NAPA74/iStock

St. Croix is Best for: Culture, history, and food

Although it’s the largest of the three islands, St. Croix sees the fewest tourists, making it a great destination if you want a less commercialized Caribbean experience. We recommend basing your visit out of Christiansted, where you can tour the historic fort and catch a boat to nearby Buck Island for snorkeling at one of the only three underwater national monuments in the United States. St. Croix is also home to Cruzan Rum and Captain Morgan Rum (both of which offer tours and samples) and the Estate Whim Plantation Museum. You’ll also want to set aside one evening to kayak the Bioluminescent Bay--it's stunning. 

What to do on St. Croix Island:

When it comes to things to do on St. Croix, options abound. If you’re a foodie who likes to explore the local offerings, book a table in the courtyard at Savant. For a quick bite, try one of the smaller roadside restaurants serving chicken or roti (curry wrapped in a flatbread).

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