Virgin Islands, U.S. Travel Guide
The annual St. Croix Food & Wine Experience recently announced its line-up for 2013, including several events hosted by celebrity chefs and wine makers.
Taking place between April 14-20, 2013, the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience raises funds to support the educational, community, and economic development programs of the St. Croix Foundation.
If you're planning a honeymoon, but want to do something more with your time than just sip on drinks by a pool and stay in bed, The Westin St. John Resort has just the trip for you. The Westin is offering a $100 resort credit and free transfers for couples who book the resort's Honeymoon package and participate in The American Hiking Association's volunteer vacation programs in the Virgin Islands National Park while they are there.
The AHA's volunteer vacation program includes trips that last up to 6 days and combine outdoor activities with environmental preservation. Volunteers are led throughout the Virgin Islands National Park by a crew leader who assigns various tasks ranging from moderate to difficult each day.
The Westin’s Honeymoon package includes breakfast daily, airport transfers, couples massage, snorkel gear, and a picnic basket. Nightly rates start at $440 based on double occupancy. But you must present confirmation of your volunteering plans to receive the resort credit. Leave the marabou-trimmed nighties out of the suitcase and make room for your hiking boots and cargo shorts.
[Photo: Cape Cod Stretching]
A tropical vacation ain't exactly a hard sell this time of year. (You think it will really hit 20 degrees in New York today? Break out the sunscreen!) But the U.S. Virgin Islands' new website, VisitUSVI.com, gave us three more reasons to go Caribbean:
We've never gone diving and they'll take us as we are. A new diving promotion USVI operators are rolling out takes aim at newbies like us, from the middle-school-aged to the novice spouse. We don't have any prices yet, but we hear the new daylong packages include training in the morning to get you in the water, seeing the sights, by the afternoon.
Carnival in St. Thomas is the new Carnival anywhere else. It's later (kicks off April 29 with a local food festival) and guaranteed to be less crowded. St. John and St. Croix have their own carnivals (held around the 4th of July and just after Christmas, respectively); when we cornered USVI Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty, she shrewdly refused to say which was her favorite. Guess we'll have to figure it out ourselves.
If we can only get 20 of our friends to go, we can get a sweet deal. The Department of Tourism just launched a group rewards promotion where large groups get a $50 credit per person that can be used on the islands. And the only thing better than getting out of the rest of winter would be taking all our nearest and dearest with us.
· In Case Anyone Has Any Money Left, The US Virgin Islands Are On Sale [Jaunted]
· Obamacation in the Virgin Islands [Jaunted]
We don't know where all the money went. It was here, and then - *poof* - it was gone. If you're one of the lucky few to still have a couple of dollars in your pocket - or if you just lost your job and feel like entering the ranks of the unemployed in style - the U.S. Virgin Islands want you to know that the sandy beaches of your dreams are on sale. In light of the recent global financial meltdown, the USVI Department of Tourism is extending their Winter Escape promotion, so you now have until December 31, 2008 to book your winter vacation and get all kinds of freebies and incentives. They must have a lot of empty rooms to fill this winter, because participating hotels and tour operators are offering $300 in travelers checks, $50 credits on attractions and meals, a complimentary fifth night, and a nifty coupon book. I don't know about the coupon book (envisioning 25% off children's admission at the Pirate Museum) but three hundred clams in travelers checks will buy a pretty nice meal, boat ride, massage, or scuba trip. You can book the trip via cheapcaribbean.com/usvi for travel between December 15, 2008 and March 31, 2009. Send us a postcard.
It's your last day on St. Croix and luckily you've been re-energized by the island-inspired dinner you had at Bacchus. You've also covered some of the sights, including the protected barrier reef at Buck Island, the pristine beach at Sandy Point and the beer-drinking pigs at the Domino Club.
Got time for one more adventure? Divers rejoice because St. Croix is home to some of the world's best underwater spots like the Wall at Cane Bay--a massive coral ledge that plunges to more than 3,200 feet.
So you're nursing a hangover from yesterday's pit stop at the Domino Club--the laid-back rum shack in St. Croix's rainforest where you can feed pigs cans of beer--and you've already conquered the snorkeling at Buck Island and the waves at Sandy Point.
It's high time for a night on the town, Caribbean-style. If you're searching for island-inspired food and the longest wine list on St. Croix, then look no further than Restaurant Bacchus.
It's day three on St. Croix and you've had way too much sun. After all, you spent the weekend on Sandy Point--by far one of the best beaches in the Caribbean--and the following day sailing on a catamaran before snorkeling the barrier reef at Buck Island.
It's time for a drink in the shade. Head to the Caldonia Rainforest on St. Croix's west end, where on Route 76--better known as Mahogany Road for the massive trees that flank each side--you'll find the Montpellier Domino Club, hands down the best rum shack on the island.
So your first few days on St. Croix were spent lying on the beach, preferably at Sandy Point. Now what's a sun worshipper to do? Consider a day trip to Buck Island Reef National Monument, a 176-acre island that's surrounded by nearly 20,000 acres of protected coral reef.
Located nearly two miles off St. Croix's northern coast, Buck Island was declared a part of the national park system by John F. Kennedy in 1961. Since then, its barrier reef--which encircles two-thirds of the island--has thrived with coral and marine life, making it one of the premier spots in all of the US Virgin Islands to go snorkeling. But first you have to get there.
The largest of the three US Virgin Islands, St. Croix is the often forgotten sister of cruise ship-friendly St. Thomas and nature-loving St. John. But just because it sees the fewest tourists in the VI doesn't mean it's not worth a stop.
In addition to the Cruzan rum distillery--which produces quite possibly some of the best rum in the Caribbean--St. Croix is home to pristine beaches, world-class diving, and a vibrant restaurant scene. Trust me, there's a reason why I called the island home for nearly two years.
Perhaps he chose the U.S. Virgin Islands for the passport-free travel.
Senator Barack Obama is vacationing on St. Thomas, the most bustling of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Lots of shopping and cruise ship day-trippers there. He must want to be seen...we would have pegged him for a St. John/Caneel Bay sort of guy, ourselves.
CNN has some exclusive stalkercam footage of the senator lounging around and conducting business on his cell phone. Anyone recognize that pool chair? Could he be at the Ritz Carlton - St. Thomas?
· Exclusive: Obama in St. Thomas [CNN]
· Travel Lessons From The Obama Passport Breach: Become Identity Vigilant [Jaunted]
· U.S. Virgin Islands official says Obama and family are there for a few days of 'down time' [AP]
We just found out Marisa Miller, Oluchi Onweagba and Melissa Baker will show up in the 2008 SI Swimsuit Issue. A reliable source tells us the women were photographed on St. John at the Caneel Bay resort. They'll join Bar Refaeli, Brooklyn Decker and Carmella Garcia in the issue, which comes out Tuesday.
Miller is rumored to be a cover girl, and this isn't the first time we've followed her globe trotting. She was on-board a Virgin America charter flight back in November ahead of the in-flight PJ party the airline threw.
As for the island of St. John, it's a great place for some passport-free travel. Access is by ferry from St. Thomas, which should warm you up for the tranquil pace of life on the island. Once you're there, it's all about exploring Virgin Islands National Park.
Passports / Islands / Beaches / Caribbean / National Parks / → All Tags
That's Rendezvous Bay on St. John, USVI, right there. The Bay is located right next to Virgin Islands National Park, which covers half of the island. The park, along with basically all of Dominica and El Yunque rain forest in Puerto Rico, is one of the Caribbean's most lush reserves. Admission is free. The only part of the park that'll cost you is Trunk Bay, where $4 gets you beach time and access to an snorkel trail. It's also where the crowds gather, but there are several other beaches in the park.
St. John's most well known hotels are Caneel Bay and the Westin. The latter is where you go to be seen, and the former is where you go to not be seen (it's famously low-key.) Both charge Caribbean prices, but our pick for an interesting St. John stay is the campground at Cinnamon Bay in the National Park. You can get a bare site there for $27, while tents are $58 in the off season and cottages start at $70. Did we mention that the campsite is right on the beach?
St. John must be reached by ferry from St. Thomas (where flight options are quite decent.) The U.S. Virgin Islands tourist board is wasting no time milking the no-passport angle. They should look into some Kenny Chesney Crossing road signs too. Not all of us want to bump into the famous St. John homeowner.
· Virgin Islands National Park [Official Site]
· Caneel Bay Hotel [HotelChatter]
· Westin St. John Resort & Villas reviews [TripAdvisor]