Travel and Safety Tips for the US Virgin Islands

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Travel and Safety Tips for the US Virgin Islands

Posted on June 16. 2014

Known as The American Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of three major islands in the Caribbean Sea: St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. These islands provide a playground for those wanting to see a beautiful slice of the Caribbean with a twist of America thrown in on top. Before you set off though, there are a few things you probably want to know for your health and safety in Virgin Islands.

Visas and Entry Requirements

In order not to be surprised at the U.S. Virgin Islands border, keep in mind that visa and entry requirements are identical to those of the mainland United States of America. Therefore, U.S. citizens do not require a passport to visit islands, but if your flight or cruise coming to the U.S. Virgin Islands or heading back home goes through another country, you must bring your passport for re-entry to the mainland United States. All others are required to have a passport and a visa except for Canadian citizens and residents of countries who participate in the Visa-Waiver Program. It is recommended to check with the U.S. Embassy in your country before departure.

Health and Safety Tips

Staying healthy in the U.S. Virgin Islands is easy as top notch medical care is abundantly available, especially on St. Thomas. In addition, the mosquitoes on the islands are not of the Malaria-carrying variety and the water in the U.S. Virgin Islands is safe to drink. For those with extremely sensitive stomachs, bottled water may be a good choice.

Christiansted, US Virgin Islands

The sun is extremely strong in the U.S. Virgin Islands and like any other Caribbean destination, you are highly encouraged to use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. It is also recommended to limit your exposure to the sun during the first couple days of your trip, that way your skin has a chance to get used to the more intense rays. Make sure to re-apply the sunscreen after swimming and if you ever experience chills or dizziness as the result of a sunburn, seek out medical care immediately.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a fairly safe destination for tourists, but you would be wise to take some precautions when in the bigger cities. Most importantly and especially at night, you are advised to avoid walking on hidden back streets. These types of streets in Charlotte Amalie (St. Thomas), Christiansted (St. Croix), and Frederiksted (St. Croix), have been the scene for some very violent crimes, some of which have even been perpetuated against tourists. St. John is a serene and very safe place, comprised mostly of a U.S. national park. In fact, it is almost completely crime free, with the exception of the occasional unguarded camera snatched off of the beach.

Motorists drive on the left side of the street. U.S. citizens with a current driver’s license can drive for up to 90 days. There is a law in the U.S. Virgin Islands that prohibits the use of cellphones without an earpeace while driving. To stay safe and if it can be avoided, do not use a cellphone while driving.

Tourist Traps

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a haven for cruise ships, and when the ships dock, the towns along their route spring to life with activity. Some of that activity revolves around jewelry stores, and some of these stores are known as tourist traps as they have been known to mark up their prices just for the cruise ship passengers.

Important Numbers

Emergency: 911 Department of Tourism Helpline: St. Croix: (340) 772-0357 St. John: (340) 776-6450 St. Thomas & Water Island: (340) 774-8784

Where to Stay

For a comprehensive list of U.S. Virgin Island hotels and other accommodation, visit our Destinations page.


Photo: Jpheym Jason P. Heym, Seascape Pool Center, Inc. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

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