- Should I rent a car?
- Is 4wd required?
- Should I get a car or a jeep?
- Are seat belts the law? What about Car Seats for children?
- I am vacationing on St. John but heard that car rentals are cheaper on St. Thomas. What are the pros and cons of renting on St. Thomas and taking the rental over to St. John on the car barge for the week?
Do you have a rainy season?
There is a greater chance, expectation of rainfall in the months of November, October, September, August and May (in that order).
What about Hurricanes?
Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th with the highest occurrences of storms in August and September.
Which month has the best weather?
Temperatures in the Virgin Islands are warm year-round so any month is a good month in terms of enjoying warmth and sunshine. Visit Virgin Islands Weather/Climate for more details.
The weather report says ‘chance of showers’. Is it going to rain all day, every day?
Our weather reports frequently say ‘chance of showers’ because we often get brief early morning showers. We do not usually get rain all day long, this sort of rain is an exception and is usually caused by storm systems in the area.
Do I need to bring proof of nationality?
U.S. citizens are not required to have passports or proof of citizenship when ENTERING the U.S. Virgin Islands from a U.S. airport. All arrivals to the U.S. Virgin Islands from foreign airports are required to show proof of citizenship and pass through customs. All persons leaving the U.S. Virgin Islands, whether American citizens or not, must be prepared to show proof of citizenship upon leaving the islands to return to the mainland.
Do I need a passport? Driver’s license alone sufficient? Birth certificate?
Accepted documents for Proof of Citizenship for Americans: 1. A passport issued under competent authority, 2. An Alien Registration Card (this applies to United States of America permanent residents only) 3. A certified copy of a birth certificate and government issued photo identification like a driver’s license 4. A Certificate of Naturalization, issued by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Do children need travel documents as well?
Yes. For small children that do not have any form of photo identification a birth certificate is sufficient or one of the other three options listed above.
I am not an American, what travel documents do I need to visit?
Citizens of any country other than the United States should follow U.S. travel regulations and requirements for entry into the United States. If you have any questions call (340) 774-4279.
What is the airport code? Is there an airport on each island?
There is an airport on St. Thomas (STT) and on St. Croix (STX).
I don’t like to fly. Can I get there by boat?
St. Thomas is a popular port of call for cruise ships. Many cruises require that you fly to Puerto Rico to board the ship. A few itineraries begin on the mainland; primarily Miami, Florida. So taking a cruise is an option. There are no ferries operating between the US mainland and the Virgin Islands.
How do I get from the airport to my hotel? Is there a shuttle? Can I take the bus?
There are no airport shuttles. The public bus is not a suitable option. Taxis are readily available at the baggage claim area of the airport. Rental car agencies are also available.
What is the legal drinking age?
18 years old.
Note: While an 18 year old on island can buy, order, drink alcohol they can not transport bottles of alcohol back to the US with them. 18 year olds will have their alcohol confiscated at the customs check point at the airport.
Renting a Car
Should I rent a car?
Renting a car is a great idea if you’d like the freedom of getting around the island on your time and schedule. If you have a lot of plans for day activities and dinners then it is a good idea to have your own transportation as taxi fares will add up quickly. On the flip side we do drive on the left so the driver does need to concentrate on not only trying to find their way in an unfamiliar place but also on adjusting to driving on the opposite side of the road; so they might miss out on seeing the scenery, getting to drink when going out to dinner and relaxing. Visitors to St. Croix often encourage renting a car because the island is larger than its sister islands and having a car is really the only way to enjoy the entire island. Visit the Car Rental section for the island you are interested in to read comments by people who rented vehicles while on vacation and to view rental car agencies: St. Thomas Car Rentals, St. Croix Car Rentals, St. John Car Rentals .
Is 4wd required? Should I get a car or a jeep?
4wd is not required on St. Thomas or St. Croix. On St. John it is often recommended, however 80% (rough estimate) of the island’s roads can be navigated with out it. Some villas on St. John are accessed by steep, sometimes dirt roads which make 4wd a must. On St. Thomas and St. Croix a car or a jeep is fine, go with your preference. Car rental agencies on St. John only have jeeps & SUVs.
Are seat belts the law? What about Car Seats for children?
Driver and front passenger must be restrained by a safety belt. Any child under age five must be in a car seat. In the case of a child aged three through five, seat belts can be used but the child must ride in the backseat. Any child older than five but under twelve must wear a safety belt.
Note: This information is a summary and subject to change, confirm current regulations with your rental car agent.
I am vacationing on St. John but heard that car rentals are cheaper on St. Thomas. What are the pros and cons of renting on St. Thomas and taking the rental over to St. John on the car barge for the week?
The dollar value/savings as rentals on St. Thomas are often cheaper than on St. John, Budget Rental Car on St. Thomas is the only one that will rent a vehicle to persons under 25 (addition fee charged) and if you’d like to grocery shop on St. Thomas it is convenient to get your vehicle at the St. Thomas airport and head to the store and then to the barge.
If you need road assistance for one reason or the other (locked keys in car, car trouble…) your assistance is a water crossing away. Some frequent St. John visitors also point out that when renting a car from a agency on St. John often you are allowed to use their parking lot in Cruz Bay. Parking is tight in Cruz Bay so if you plan on dining and shopping there often, this could be a plus.
Note: Not all rental car agencies on St. Thomas allow their vehicles to go over to St. John. And no rental car agencies on St. John allow their vehicles to go over to St. Thomas.
Driving & Driver’s License
Is driving on the left side of the road difficult?
We are creatures of habit, so yes if you are used to driving on the right side of the road breaking the almost instinctive urge to be on the right side takes some adjustment. Most visitors report that after a few minutes they get adjusted. It isn’t difficult to drive on the left, you need only remind yourself to stay on the left – particularly when turning corners and exiting a parking lots. Virgin Islands Driving Tips
Do I need a temporary driver’s license? Will my U.S. license be sufficient?
No temporary licenses are required for those holding a valid U.S. license. Temporary licenses are available for those holding a non-U.S. licenses for a small fee. Out of territory licenses are valid for 90 days after arrival.
I am under 25 can I rent a car or scooter?
In order to rent a car you must be at least 25 years old in most cases. An exception is Budget Car Rental on St. Thomas, who will for an additional fee rent to persons under 25.
Parking & Transportation
Is parking available at beaches, restaurants, attractions?
Parking is easily found. There are a few exceptions. On St. John a few beaches have very limited parking (Maho Bay, Jumbie Bay, Gibney are examples). Also Cruz Bay, the main ‘town’ on St. John has limited parking. On St. Croix, Christiansted has limited parking. During some large events, namely Carnival, some roads and parking lots close for use during the events.
Can I use the public bus, walk, rent a scooter?
The Virgin Islands public bus is called Vitran. It operates in major commercial and residential areas. The schedule and reliability can make it difficult to use, particularly if you are on a tight schedule. Walking is not a suitable means of transportation on any of the islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands with the exception of Water Island. Scooter rentals exist on St. John and St.Thomas only. For more information on transportation visit: St. Thomas Transportation, St. Croix Transportation, St. John Transportation, Water Island Information.
How much will a taxi charge to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’?
Where should I stay?
Do you have a high and low season? Do rates (hotel, airfare) vary by season?
Yes. High season runs from mid-November to mid-May. Rates are typically much lower during off season.
Is there a hotel room tax?
Hotel room tax is 8% and most hotels charge a 10% service fee.
Brochures, Maps, Guidebooks
I would like some brochures. Where can I order maps & guidebooks?
You can order brochures, maps, guidebooks and more at VI Traders – Your Online Virgin Islands Book & Gift Shop.
Is it safe to drink the water? Should I use only bottled water?
The water is safe to drink at most establishments. Your hotel or villa will tell you if they recommend against drinking tap water; if they don’t mention it you can ask. Bottled water is available in stores and at restaurants if you wish to purchase it. Is a great idea to take water with you when going to the beach, driving around, sightseeing – it gets hot here and it is necessary to keep hydrated.
Safety & Crime
Do I need to stay at my hotel after dusk? What is the crime like?
Crime in the Virgin Islands statistically speaking is fairly high, particularly on St. Thomas and St. Croix. (Statistically meaning the number of crimes in comparison to the population and area size.) St. John is quiet with the exception of a few thefts of items left unattended in parked, open cars or on the beach. Water Island is also quiet. Crimes on St. Thomas and St. Croix fall into similar categories; domestic abuse, domestic violence including child molestation and murder/drug issues. These incidences often happen where victim and perpetrator know each other. Murders are often among persons who have knowledge of each other, frequently within the illegal drug business and taking place in areas known for drug problems. Drug related crimes have not spilled into the general residential communities on any of the islands. Crimes against visitors and tourists are typically low, with an infrequent occurrence of bags/purses being stolen. A recent rash of muggings on St. Thomas has created much attention from the police department and tourism related organizations.
It is a good idea to function as you would back home in an unfamiliar area, with care and caution and with your eyes open. If things do not seem quite right then leave. Keep to well lit areas, even at your hotel. Keep an eye, when driving home at night, on whether any cars seem to be following you. Don’t carry a lot of money, passports, multiple credit cards or expensive jewelry. Travel in groups. Visit the Virgin Islands Police Department website for statistical information.
Health & Vaccinations
Is there a hospital? Doctors?
The Roy Lester Schneider Hospital is located on St. Thomas and the Juan Luis Hospital on St. Croix. Emergency room service is available 24 hours a day at the hospitals and 911 is available. The Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center is available on St. John. Doctors are available.
Do I need any special vaccinations to visit?
Are there pharmacies?
Yes there are pharmacies on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. Pharmacies sometimes run out of medications. If you are dependent on a particular medication be sure to travel with it, with a copy of your prescription and you might even call some local pharmacies to confirm availability.
Are there any clothing optional beaches? Are thong bikinis allowed?
Public nudity is illegal in the Virgin Islands and consequently there are no designated clothing optional beaches. There are however, a few beaches that are visited by those choosing to go nude and/or topless’. On St. John you risk the chance of being ticketed by the National Park Service if caught on one of their beaches. Despite this deterrent beach goers at Soloman Bay still take the chance and so it is known as a ‘nude beach’. Little Magens on St. Thomas is another beach locally known as a ‘nude beach’. Little Magens is NOT the same as Magens Bay! On each island very isolated beaches are often sought out by those who want to go ‘au natural”.
Thong Bikinis are definitely not popular among the residents, as most Virgin Islanders are quite conservative with showing skin even at the beach. That said they are allowed and some visitors do wear them.
What are the best beaches?
The answer has to do with so many factors; do you want to snorkel, want chairs and a bar, want to people watch or prefer to be just one of a few on the beach, like super calm water or prefer a little wave action. Visit the beach guides for each island for more information: St. Thomas Beach Guide,St. Croix Beach Guide, St. John Beach Guide, Water Island Beach Guide.
Is there an admission fee at beaches?
The majority of beaches do not have an admission fee. There are a few exceptions. On St. Thomas there is an admission fee at Magens Bay, on St. John at Trunk Bay and on St. Croix the Buccaneer Resort charges beachgoers if they wish to park on the resort property when going to the beach.
Do beaches have chairs and umbrellas for rent?
Beaches that have resorts on them will have chairs for rent as well as a few others (Magens Bay & Coki Beach on St. Thomas and Trunk Bay & Cinnamon Bay on St. John), otherwise no. Umbrella rentals are not popular. Visit the beach guides for each island for more information: St. Thomas Beach Guide,St. Croix Beach Guide, St. John Beach Guide, Water Island Beach Guide.
Snorkeling & Fishing
Where is the best snorkeling?
Should I bring my own snorkel gear, buy it on island or rent it?
If you intend to do a lot of snorkel nothing is better then having a good mask and snorkel set that fits you well. So definitely if you have a set bring it with you and if you don’t have a set you might look in your local sports shops and buy one. You can buy one on island at local dive shops as well. Dive shops on island do rent snorkel gear and rentals are available at a few beaches.
What’s the cost on renting snorkel gear? Is gear available at all beaches for rent?
Prices differ by beach/resort. Typically $5-$10 a set. Snorkeling gear rentals are not available at all beaches.
Can I fish from shore? Is a permit required?
You can line fish from shore if you choose. Visit the Fishing section for more information: St. Thomas Fishing, St. Croix Fishing, St. John Fishing, Fishing Regulations for the Virgin Islands. Permits are required only for commercial fishing.
Reservations & Tipping
Do I need dinner reservations? What about for activities like a day sail or a fishing charter?
Dinner reservations are a good idea, particular if its a popular restaurant or a restaurant you really want to go to. A couple days in advance is sufficient. For daysails and fishing charters it is a good idea to reserve weeks or even months in advance if you have a particular operator you want to go out with.
What is the standard for tipping?
15%-20% for quality service at restaurants, bars, tours, activities and domestic service at resorts/villas. Some hotels and restaurants automatically add a service charge and for parties over 6 people at restaurants the tip is almost always added automatically; so be sure to check your bill.
Gay & Lesbian Travelers
How are gay & lesbian visitors received? Are there any gay bars, restaurants?
There are a few hotels (mostly on St. Croix) and bars that cater to gay travelers, however they do not discriminate against straight or single guests – so all are welcomed. There is no negativity toward gay persons visiting the USVI, people might give a second glance if they notice an embrace but nothing that would be considered intimidating.
Events & Holidays
What are the dates for Carnival, Bastille Day Fishing Tournament, St. Croix Jump Up…?
Visit the Events Calendar.
What holidays are celebrated?
- January 1 – New Years Day
- January 6 – Three Kings Day
- January – Martin Luther King’s Birthday
- February (3rd Monday) – Presidents Day
- March 31 – Transfer Day
- April – Holy Thursday
- April – Good Friday
- April – Easter
- April – Easter Monday
- May (last Monday) – Memorial Day
- June (3rd Monday) – Organic Act Day
- July (4th Monday) – Supplication Day
- July 3 – V.l. Emancipation Day
- July 4 – Independence Day
- September (1st Monday) – Labor Day
- October – Columbus Day & Puerto Rico-USVI Friendship Day
- October (3rd Monday) – Hurricane Thanksgiving Day
- November 1 – Liberty Day or D. Hamilton Jackson Day
- November 11 – Veterans Day
- November (4th Thursday) – Thanksgiving
- December 25 – Christmas
- December 26 – Christmas 2nd Day
Will my cell phone work there?
Sprint and AT&T Wireless are cellular phone providers in the Virgin Islands. Some other cellular services work in the Virgin Islands however roaming charges are likely as they operate off the networks of the locally established cellular phone providers.
Are there payphones? Should I get a phone card?
There are limited payphones on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. They are typically located in public areas: shopping areas/centers, hotels, post offices. Phone cards are a good idea; you can purchase them on island at grocery stores, calling centers and gas stations. Local calls – 35 cents for five minutes (this charge applies to public payphones). Calls within the territory are free. Calls to the US Mainland are long distance.
Are there post offices?
There are several U.S. Post Offices on the three larger islands. There are mail collection reciprocals at the airports. Postal Service rates are the same as the U.S. mainland.
Are there internet cafes?
There are internet cafes on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
Money & Banking
Is the US dollar used?
Yes. It is also used in the British Virgin Islands.
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Yes, with a few exceptions: small shops, roadside vendors, taxis, small purchases.
Are ATMs easy to find?
Yes, there are ATMs on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John at banks, in some large grocery stores, at some hotels.
What are the best buys?
Alcohol, Jewelry, Linens, Crystal, some Electronics.
What is the duty-free allowance?
- If you return directly or indirectly from a U.S. insular possession (which includes the U.S. Virgin Islands), you are allowed a $1,600 duty-free exemption. You may include 1,000 cigarettes as part of this exemption, but at least 800 of them must have been acquired in an insular possession. Only 200 cigarettes may have been acquired elsewhere.
Example: If you were touring the Caribbean and you stopped in Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other ports of call, you could bring back five cartons of cigarettes, but four of them would have to have been bought in U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Similarly, you may include five liters of alcoholic beverages in your duty-free exemption, but one of them must be a product of an insular possession. Four may be products of other countries. Duty free allowance on alcoholic beverages applies if you are 21 years old, it is for your own use or as a gift and it does not violate the laws of the state in which you arrive.
Travel to More Than One Country
- If you travel to a U.S. insular possession and to one or more of the Caribbean Basin countries, for example, on a Caribbean cruise, you may bring back $1,600 worth of items without paying duty, but only $800 worth of these items may come from the Caribbean Basin country(ies). Any amount beyond $800 will be dutiable unless you acquired it in one of the insular possessions.
Example: If you were to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Jamaica, you would be allowed to bring back $1,600 worth of merchandise duty-free, as long as only $800 worth was acquired in Jamaica.
Keeping track of where your purchases occurred and having the receipts ready to show the CBP officers will help speed your clearing customs.
Is there sales tax?
Packing & Clothing
What sorts of cloths should I bring?
Frequent visitors to the Virgin Islands will tell you ‘put everything you want to take on the bed to pack… but before you pack put at least half of the stuff back because you aren’t going to need it’. Casual, tropical friendly (in terms of the weather), beachwear will suffice. A few pairs of shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, flip flops, swim suit or trunks, a couple causal outfits to wear to dinner. Visit the Packing Tips section for more suggestions.
What is the dress code like at restaurants?
The majority of restaurants in the Virgin Islands are casual; this means you will see patrons wearing everything from linen outfits with matching purses, shoes, accessories to shorts and a tank top. There are a few dressier restaurants located at resorts like Ritz Carlton on St. Thomas and Caneel Bay on St. John.
Sunrise & Sunset
When does the sunset in (fill in the blank)?
During the summer months the sun rises around 5:44am and sets around 6:57pm. During the winter months the sun rises around 6:46am and sets around 5:49pm.
How many islands are there? Can I easily hop from one to the next?
There are four major islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands; St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and Water Island. There are however some 50 small islets and cays. For more information visit Virgin Islands Geography.
Island hopping is possible by ferry service, seaplane and air service. The ability and island choices varies. From St. Thomas it is possible to island hop to St. John and Water Island by ferry and to St. Croix by ferry, seaplane and air service. From St. John it is possible to island hop to St. Thomas. From Water Island to St. Thomas. And from St. Croix to St. Thomas. It is possible to visit the British Virgin Islands from St. Thomas & St. John. Note: The options listed are for direct travel only; it is possible to leave St. Croix by ferry to St. Thomas and continue from St. Thomas to St. John on another ferry for example. Or to take the seaplane from St. Croix to St. Thomas and continue to the British Virgin Islands by ferry; however these options take quite a bit of commute time and can be pricey for a daytrip. Visit the Ferry Schedules for more information.
Are the ferries reliable?
Yes, the inter-island ferries operating in the USVI are reliable. For more information visit: USVI Ferry Schedules.
What is your time-zone? Do you observe day-light saving?
Atlantic Standard Time. We do not recognize day light saving time in the Virgin Islands. So during daylight saving time, First Sunday in April to Last Sunday in October, we are the same time as Florida (East Coast USA). When daylight saving time ends in October then we are one hour ahead of Florida (East Coast USA).
Population & Taboos
New Yorkers are New York residents. What are the people that live there called?
Virgin Islanders is used for all those from the USVI. For each island the following names are used: St. Thomas – St. Thomians. St. John – St. Johnians. St. Croix – Crucians. Water Island – Water Islanders.
I heard that there are British & American islands, is that so?
Yes the Virgin Islands as a whole includes the British Virgin Islands, the United States Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands.
Are the residents of the USVI American?
Residents that were born in the U.S. Virgin Islands or naturalized are American.
Any particular taboos I should be aware of when visiting the Virgin Islands?
Virgin Islanders are quite conservative, so it is seen as an insult when visitors walk around in swimwear (for ladies) or without shirts (for the gents) if not on the beach or poolside. This situation can be seen in the main ‘tourist shopping areas’, particularly in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas as it is a popular cruise ship port of call. Visitors clad in only a bikini top and shorts or bareback with shorts are likely to receive a surly response from customer service in stores. Be respectful and wear shirts and beach cover ups when everywhere else besides the beach and pool.
A long standing tradition in the Virgin Islands is greeting someone before any transaction of any kind starts. So it is strongly recommended to say Good Morning or Good Afternoon before asking ‘how much is this’ or ‘how do I get to such and such place’. And Good Morning is the suggestion… not Hello or Hi – they don’t have the same effect. Saying ‘Excuse Me, how much is this’ rather then ‘Good Morning, waiting for a response and then asking the question’ will sometimes be ignored. Adding a ‘How are you today?’ is a nice addition as well.
Real Estate & Moving
I visited the islands and would like to buy a condo or property. Any help?
I would like to move to the islands. What type of jobs are there, apartments?
What are the regulations for traveling to the Virgin Islands with dogs/cats?
There is no quarantine for cats/dogs from the US mainland to the USVI. A health certificate from your veterinarian stating the animal has not been exposed to any communicable diseases, is not sick and is up to date on vaccinations. Rabies shots should be at least 30 days prior to arrival and no longer then one year. Additionally, the certificate should state that the animal is not coming from an area that is under quarantine for rabies.
Note: Contact your airline and inquiring on their policies for traveling with pets. Policies vary by airline.
Rotary Club Meetings
Do you know when and where any Rotary meetings take place?
- St. Thomas: Rotary Club of St. Thomas, Room With A View, Bluebeard’s Castle Thursday, 12:00 pm.
- St. Thomas: Rotary East meets on Wednesdays at the Bolongo Beach Resort in the conference room at 6:30 pm.
- St. Thomas: Rotary Club of Charlotte Amalie meets Tuesdays at the Best Western Emerald Beach Resort at 6 pm.
- St. Thomas: Rotary II meets on Wednesdays at the Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef at 12:15 pm.
- St. Thomas: Rotary St. Thomas Sunrise meets on Tuesdays at Windward Passage at 7 am.
- St. John: Rotary Club of St. John meets on Fridays at the Westin Hotel Beachfront at 12:30 pm.