Local's Travel Tips-US Virgin Islands

by David Burlison / Jul 31, 2011 / 0 comments

Are you considering a trip to the Caribbean? Now is the time to plan the trip for the winter months ahead. Having resided in the US Virgin Islands for a couple of years, I thought I'd share a few tips about the islands from the perspective of a local.

A Word From A Virgin Island Local

Imagine a lazy island local on a normal weekend afternoon. “Hello... I can hear the gentle surf and feel the gentle winds through the palm trees on a typical winter's day, as I lay on my blanket with left over dinner lobster, with a bottle of cheap rum on ice and a can of fruit juice. The sun is gentle and the view second to none. I am on St John-Trunk Bay, United States Virgin Islands. It is December and the temperature is a high of eighty-two degrees, and the sand and the surf are magnificent. The night before I went to a local beach bar in Cruz Bay and listened to a local steel drum band, while sipping a “Bushwhacker” or two.

I will return that night to a quaint condo, prop my feet up on the deck, and with the gentle topical night breezes, I'll enjoy the amazing sunset view over the ocean and the adjacent island mountains in the distant horizon, later to be lit up like a December Christmas tree. In the distance I can hear the enchanting sound of steel drums coming from a distant beach bar, blended with the harmony of the tree frogs giving their nightly concert. In the air is the exotic aroma of the ocean and the tropical foliage, unique to the islands. And there on my deck, I'll plan my next day, considering the many interesting sites and beautiful beaches just a short drive away in my rented jeep. With so much to choose from, I've decided, tomorrow I will be traveling by ferry to the British Virgin Islands,Virgin Gorda, for a day trip and spend the day exploring the magnificent boulders at the Baths of Virgin Gorda. The day after that-who knows”

Yes, I have traveled the Virgin Islands almost every year for twenty years, and I practiced law there in 2007/2008. My favorite place on earth. If you go there plan ahead, reservations at prime resorts and rental cars go quickly, as your time on the islands will go by way too quickly.

If you are considering the Virgin Islands, then note the following travel tips from a local.

Social Graces:

Always practice social graces on the islands. If you travel the Virgin Islands.. One important tip..It is very important to always approach anyone with a friendly "Good Morning" or “Good Afternoon". I cannot over-emphasize this. It is an insult to the locals if you do not. The locals expect this and may not even recognize you if you should forget to start a conversation with this simple introduction. And you have to be patient, nobody gets in a hurry for anything.

St Thomas, St Croix, St John or Water Island:

All three islands have their own personality. Small tropical mountains rising steeply from the islands shores and unbelievable beaches. St Thomas has the luxury resorts and the world class duty free shopping. St John has the National Park and the true tropical experience. (Considered the gem of the caribbean). St Croix has a little of both plus great golf courses. All three have great beaches. You will notice I mentioned Water Island. Water Island is a small island that is somewhat of a secret, it's a small island just south of St Thomas, known about primarily by only the locals. It has private gentle beaches, private rental homes and quaint quest houses, no big resorts. Water island is like having a private island to yourself, but just a short boat ride from the hustle and bustle of St Thomas.

Travel On The Islands:

If you are going to explore the islands you have several choices. You can rent a car/jeep (a car is fine), take the local taxi services, or take the little known local shuttle, the "Safari". If I stay over a week, I will usually rent a car at least a couple of days. It will cost $50- $75 a day. Rent from a local mom and pop shop. Their cars are fine, they deliver, they are cheaper and they will negotiate. You can rent a local taxi, however, a taxi is not cheap. For two people to travel from one end of the island to the other it will cost $20 plus-one way. If you stay in close proximity to the major east/west highways on St Thomas, you can take the local shuttle, the "Safari". It is a reliable open air shuttle bus the locals use and cost just one dollar to go from one end of the island to the other. A new bus arrives at many sites along the route about every ten minutes. It is safe, interesting and amazingly fast. Travel between St Thomas and St John is done by ferry with ports at the east and west end of St Thomas. Travel to and from St Croix is provided by air shuttles.


The Virgin Islands is a great winter or spring getaway. Be sure to plan ahead and have a great trip.

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