Are you tired of the plunging temperatures and scraping ice and snow off of your windshield every morning? Maybe you have been dreaming of crystal, blue water lapping at the warm sand between your toes, or relaxing on the beach with a cold drink and a good book. If so, have you ever considered living in the U.S. Virgin Islands? These Caribbean islands consist of three main islands, Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and are located in the Atlantic Ocean about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico and directly west of the British Virgin Islands. The capital is Charlotte Amalie and is situated on Saint Thomas. These islands are famous for their white-sand beaches, reefs, and lush, green hills. The tropical climate changes little throughout the seasons with rainfall increasing during the months of May through October.
Previously a Danish colony, sovereignty was conveyed in 1917 to the United States in the Treaty of the Danish West Indies. The main language spoken is English, although the regional language is Creole English. Their currency is the U.S. dollar, which makes it unnecessary for travelers to exchange money. Also, since these islands are U.S. territory, no passport is needed.
Each island offers its own attractions for visitors. St. Croix, the largest of the islands, nicknamed “Twin City” for its two towns, Frederiksted located at the western end and Christiansted in the northeast part of the island. This island is 22.7 miles long and 8 miles wide. St. Croix is known for its gorgeous beaches, fine dining, casino, and golf activities. If you’re interest in the historical aspects of the island, then visit the city of Christiansted where you can view its 18th and 19th century homes. Frederiksted hosts a tropical rain forest for visitors.
Although St. John is the smallest of the three islands, it offers much for the nature lover and is known for its hiking trails, sandy white beaches, snorkeling and swimming areas in its crystal, blue waters. One-half of the island consists of the Virgin Island National Park in which a variety of resident and migratory birds can be observed. The mangroves at Hurricane Hole contain corals and anemones while dolphins play in the waters of the Caribbean. Hawksbill turtles, an endangered species, and green turtles can be seen basking in the sun or swimming lazily in the sea. St. John also hosts oceanfront hotels, boat tours, and a hiking trail situated on a boardwalk, if you care to visit the ancient ruins of a sugar mill at Cinnamon Bay.
St. Thomas is the gateway isle of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and its capital Charlotte Amalie founded by the Danish in the 1600’s is a popular cruise ship destination. Charlotte Amalie is alive with many shopping opportunities, and the entire island boasts of a generous duty-free shopping allowance. This island is well-known for its beautiful beaches and snorkeling areas. Like the other islands, there are beach and swimming activities, as well as water sports. In addition, St. Thomas is also famous for its Danish colonial architecture and pirate legends. It contains historic buildings, such as Blackbeard’s Castle which is a reference to its famous pirate history.
However, before seriously considering a permanent move, you may want to think about the natural hazards which include earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. For example, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane hit both St. John and St. Thomas. Two weeks later, another Category 5 hurricane named Maria targeted St. Croix. Both of these hurricanes caused catastrophic damage.
Even if you’re just planning a temporary escape, any of these three islands is a visitor’s paradise. Who knows? You may even begin planning your “forever home” in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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