Want to know all about the best things to do in the US Virgin Islands? Well, keep on reading! We had the most incredible trip to the US Virgin Islands exploring both St. John and St. Thomas. It was Valentine’s weekend and we’d gotten engaged a few weeks before and it was such a fun weekend filled with love, relaxing, and of course, adventure! It was one of our all time favorite trips we’ve been on to date so I couldn’t wait to share all the details!
LOGISTICS FOR VISITING THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS
We flew into St. Thomas and took a 40 minute taxi ride up to where we stayed in Red Hook. While I’d recommend staying on St. John, we ended up staying on St. Thomas because it was significantly more affordable. We chose to stay in Red Hook because it was easy to get to the ferry port to St. John. It gave us the best of both world’s – exploring both islands with the short trip that we had! We stayed in an incredible Airbnb about a 15 minute into the little downtown of Red Hook. We walked 99% of the time and took taxi’s when it was too far to walk. Unless your planning on staying on one island or going to different places that are super far from each other, I wouldn’t recommend renting a car! Walking and taking taxi’s was perfect.
During our visit in February 2021, the ferry schedule was a little different due to COVID, but they ran every hour on the hour. I’d recommend looking at their Ferry Schedule before planning your trip.
Left: the sunrise from the beach that was a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb!
Right: the view from the bedroom window, literally laying in bed!
Overview: 3 things you need to do in the US Virgin Islands
1. Hike in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park
Most people don’t realize that a majority of the island of St. John is actually a national park! There are tons of trails that take you from the stunning mountain top views of the island down the the beautiful white sand beaches. Highly recommend doing one on your visit, even if it’s just a short trail! Keep reading to learn which trail we chose and why we’d recommend going on a hike in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park!
2. Relax on the Beach
It’s no secret that there’s an endless amount of stunning beaches in the US Virgin Islands to chose from. The hard part is deciding which beach to go to! Keep reading for a break down of our favorite beaches that we visited!
3. Go Snorkeling on a Catamaran
While you can go snorkeling from almost every beach on the island, there’s just something special about being a little further out in the bay where you have more of a chance to see all the sea life! This was actually one of our favorite parts of the entire trip!
Keep reading to learn more specifics about what we did and why I would recommend these locations to anyone who is planning a trip to the USVI!
Bonus tips: I included our favorite restaurant on each island and locations we didn’t have time to see but are at the top of our list when we go back!
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Hiking in the US Virgin Island National Park was one of favorite things we did! We chose to hike Caneel Hill Trail because it claims to give the best view of the entire island. After hiking to the top, I agree it gives you one of, if not the best, view of the entire island of St. John.
Caneel Hill Trail is a 4 mile in and out trail that is mostly shaded due to the tree coverage. Once you get closer to the top, it starts to open up and you begin to see ocean views! The photos below take you through the hike.
There was so much lush greenery and openings where we could start to see the view on the way up!
Above: The view from the top of Caneel Hill! It was so hot and humid we actually decided to hike back down the same way we hiked up instead of the full loop because we wanted to head to the beach to jump straight in the ocean after looking at it ha!
Once the trail ends, you can easily take another short trail right to Honeymoon Beach. Read more about our incredible day on the beach below!
MY FAVORITE BEACH ON ST. JOHN + ST. THOMAS IN THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS
HONEYMOON BEACH – ST. JOHN
To get to Honeymoon Beach, there is a short hike down from the parking lot. I would recommend wearing durable flip flops or sandals! Keep this in mind when you decide what to bring down with you to the beach! We did see golf cart style “taxis” people paid to take them another down to the beach or back up to the road. We decided to save the money and walk the trail both ways!
When you first walk up to Honeymoon Beach it seems small due to all the greenery on the backside. But the closer you get to the water, it opens up and you can see how far the beach goes down. The hike down and greenery made the beach felt incredibly remote in the best way!
To our surprise there was a lot facility’s at the beach. There was a small shack with restrooms, changing stalls, and even a place to rent snorkel gear and beach chairs. The rental place did take credit cards when we were there. Next to that “building” was a walkup restaurant with a few great food options that smelled SO DELICIOUS! We didn’t realize there was a food option down there so we had already packed our lunch. But we did decide to rent beach chairs and snorkel gear for the day – you can see below we really got our use out of it!
So many sailboats and catamarans in the bay, it was fun to watch all the activity!
MAGENS BAY – ST. THOMAS
Magens Bay had more of a small state park feeling rather than a remote beach. It had a huge parking lot, tons of picnic tables, and large buildings with restrooms, changing rooms, beach rental equipment, and even a restaurant’s and bar! Due to the upkeep of all the facilities, there was a $5 entry fee per person.
I would recommend this beach to families or larger groups who plan to stake out there for the entire day! You can easily walk back and forth to the car, set up at a picnic table, or run over to the restaurant. It was a much busier beach but still very beautiful and relaxing!
Let me tell you, we packed as much as we could into this relaxing yet adventurous trip and there’s still so many things left on our list! Below are a few beaches we didn’t get to enjoy and want to when we go back….
– Trunk Bay
– Cinnamon Beach/Bay
– Watermelon Bay
– Saltpond Bay + Drunk Bay
– Cruz Bay
SNORKELING ON A CATAMARAN
We went on a snorkeling adventure with Ocean Safari and we HIGHLY recommend using them! We chose the “Do It All” package which included snorkeling gear, endless drinks, snacks, and dinner on the water at sunset. Their staff and crew was extremely friendly and accommodating. We booked this excursion last minute, literally the night before, and we say it was the best decision we made the entire trip!
The only time I had been snorkeling was the day before when we rented gear at the beach. The crew was super helpful in giving tips on how to use the gear and where to go to have the best chance to see wildlife. As we sailed to the different locations and bays, they would refill our drinks and ask us if we wanted any snacks. They’d also point out any cool landmarks or share cool stories about the locations, which was super interesting!
Keep reading to learn more specifics about our snorkeling catamaran adventure!
We snorkeled in two different locations, one of which we saw sea turtles, manta rays, and tons of fish – it was SO COOL! One of my highlights of the trip for sure.
Pro Tip: WEAR A SWIM SHIRT WHILE SNORKELING!!! We went snorkeling the day before and made the mistake of not wearing a shirt. A mixture of the crystal clear water, my pale skin, and sunscreen wearing off caused me to get poisoning on my back and arms. The night before our catamaran adventure I was super sick and we thought we’d have to cancel the tour we had booked earlier that day. Luckily I was able to get a swim shirt that protected me in the water! The rest of the day I was wrapped in a towel and sat in the shade lol. You can kinda of see the burn on my feet in the photo above.
After we spent a few hours snorkeling, we sailed over to Christmas Cove where we ordered pizza from a sailboat!! It was called Pizza Pi and they make handmade NY style pizza fresh from inside the sailboat. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen! After it’s finished baking, they “deliver” it to your boat in a little dingy. Anyone can order from Pizza Pi! We saw plenty of other boats have pizza delivered while there. The best dinner after a whole day on the water snorkeling!
After eating dinner, we hung out, some people snorkeled a little more or swam until the sunset. Then we watched the sun set over the Caribbean Sea before heading back to shore. The sky and water looked like absolute cotton candy!
LOOKING FOR ANOTHER THINGS TO DO IN THE U.S. AT THE BEACH?? CHECK OUT MY BLOG BEST SUMMER THINGS TO DO IN WILMINGTON, NC.
MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT ON ST. JOHN + ST. THOMAS IN THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS
We were lucky enough to snag the last reservation available during our trip because we went here for Valentine’s Day Dinner! The Easterly is beautiful sit down seafood restaurant, surrounded by lush palms with views of the bay. It felt like you were in your own little island oasis! The perfect place for an island romantic, date night or girls night out.
The food was absolutely incredible! The seafood tasted so fresh [because it is ha!] and a lot of the menu items have ingredients that are made completely from scratch in-house. A few of the locals we spoke with said it was their favorite resturant on the entire island of St. Thomas – we couldn’t agree more!
Let the record show that I drank the best drink of my entire life here. To preface, I don’t drink alcohol at all [no wine, sparkling seltzer’s, mixed drinks, cocktails, beer, nothing]. It’s mostly because I don’t like the taste. But let me tell you….they had a cocktail that was the most incredible drink I’ve ever tasted in my life.
Sometimes I take a sip of Caleb’s drink if it looks extra delicious, usually spitting out but this time I went in for another sip! And another sip that turned into me ordering MY OWN DRINK!!! This famous drink it called the “Forgotten Paths”. It was made of caramelized banana rum [made in house], tamarind black tea shrub, allspice dram, lemon, and cane syrup. If you don’t remember anything else, it’s that you NEED to go to this restaurant and enjoy this cocktail.
Don’t worry, you can send me a message on Instagram later to thank me ;)
We ate at High Tide after a long day on the beach and it was exactly what we needed! Their patio is almost fully shaded which is quite refreshing after a long day in the sun [where we may or may not gotten sunburnt to crisps]. It’s more of a casual beach vibe, right near the ferry dock and in a central location in Cruz Bay. The staff was super friendly and gave great service! Not only was the food delicious, the view was pretty hard to beat! You can watch all the boat action on the beach until the sunsets right over the water as you eat. It’s a great place for family, friends, and anyone in-between!
Below was the view from our table! We apparently were so starved that we ate our food before I could take a photo. :)
Let me tell you, we packed as much as we could into this relaxing yet adventurous trip and there’s still so many things left on our list! Below are a few restaurants we didn’t get to eat at and want to do when we go back….
– “The Beach Bar” Resturant –
– The Soggy Dollar –
– Skinny Legs – St. John
CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR ALL ABOUT YOUR TRIP!
Disclaimer: these words are just our opinions from our experience, we are not experts of the Islands. We also traveled during COVID which affected some of our experience [required COVID tests, less people/tourism during our visit, etc.]