Your travels in a book

Learn more

Get the app!

Post offline and never miss updates of friends with our free app.

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android

New to FindPenguins?

Sign up

U.S. Virgin Islands

Curious what backpackers do on the U.S. Virgin Islands? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

Most traveled places in U.S. Virgin Islands:

  • WAFFLE WARNING: I had a bit of time on the plane...this entry is for the avid blog readers only.

    It's painful, coming down from the high that has been the last two months. Losing members of our pseudo family. Losing our home. Returning to the relentless packing and unpacking of bags. Our kitchen and our horse, gone with the wind.

    Patrick and Mary (Cats cousins) have a gigantic house in the hills above East End, Tortola. It's filled with their three young kids and little else, at least it looks that way because there's quite simply just too much space to fill. Well that or we've become overly accustomed to the confined quarters of Wind Seeker. Fittingly, the place is located just a few minutes from what may as well be their own private beach. Not bad.

    Finding this abode became somewhat of an afternoon activity. First off, road names and numbers don't really exist in the VIs. Houses are located "based on identifying features" ... I'm not joking. Unfortunately, many houses are built without said 'identifying features', rendering them somewhat unlocatable. In particular houses (like Patricks) which are not visible from the road, rely on 'identifying features' of a nearby 'identifying feauture' followed by a series of directions from that 'indentifying feature'. In fact, when you ask for directions the most common response would be "what does it look like?"

    To aid our navigation we had a tourist map (read: sketch), a few poorly remembered verbal directions, and what was left of google maps from last time I loaded that area. Now I know a poor craftsman blames his tools, but those are some pretty shitty tools. To keep us on our toes, our rental car had less engine than a scooter and Cat was driving up hills that made Mt Doom look like the Great Plains.

    So we got lost. We had no working phone, and what was left of google maps was dismally inaccurate.

    Whilst manoeuvring around other cars on a two-way single lane gravel road, our signs of distress were recieved by a lovely lady in a 4x4 - whose name we never learnt. Turns out, she knew a lady who knew where Patrick lived and kindly led us through a maze of roads that looked like driveways to our destination, under verbal direction from her friend on the phone. Her friend was, surprisingly, aware 'his cousin and two friends' were coming to stay - unknown to both Patrick and Mary as to who either of them were. Thank you mystery ladies and your island gossip!

    It was a welcome slap in the face: forget the internet and fraternise with the locals.

    I feel I've not spoken much about the BVI locals so I'll take a minute to do so.
    BVI residents are divided into two groups; belongers and (by default) non-belongers. Belongers are, as you could guess, those born on the island or descendants of those born on the island and they are essentially all members of the same family in one way or another. The head of the family is uncoincidently the Prime Minister, who seems to be able to do what he likes to look after his family and, I guess, his islands - although the former takes priority, often at the cost of the latter. Belongers have the upper hand in the employment market, with both employers and employees having to jump through numerous hoops and wait incredible periods of time to prove that a belonger could not do their job. Taxi driving for example, is reserved exclusively for belongers. It appears to the unsharpened eye of a tourist, that the belongers operate in their own right, and everyone else on the island is an inconvenience.

    I don't mean to labour a point but a pair of serial armed robbers have been loose on the island in recent months, and have targeted every supermarket except for the one owned by the Prime Minister. Apparently their identity is common knowledge and their background...well obvious. You get my drift.

    I have been disappointed in the friendliness and charm from the locals. Rumour has it they take some warming, and I'll believe that, but they put on a front which appears hostile and often unwelcoming. Few and far between offered little more than the necessary communication and we found far better dealings with non-belongers and tourists on the whole. Customs by far the worst culprit who have no idea what they're doing and punish you for trying to do it right. Of course, there were exceptions, and to be fair I'm not the chattiest of types but my impression stands.

    Economic development is not high on the list, and if I may speculate this could be because the only industry they need is tourism, who come by the boat load (cruise ship, ferry or private yacht) and have no other choice for their goods and services. Opportunities to develop good business appear plentiful and at times we struggled to understand why nobody would capitalise on them. Apparently the business permits are about as easy to get as one of Santa's reindeers so businesses go bust before they can even start trading. I feel their frustration.

    On reviewing this entry I see I've just unleashed a rant that I've been bottling for weeks. So I'll put myself in their shoes for a second. Why should we be friendly to people taking over our country? Why should we welcome tourists who aren't here to see us but to use us to witness (and often spoil) the beauty of our country? And why should we spend tedious hours stamping and signing the same forms, closed in a box in the island heat, when we could be fishing and diving instead? Why should we share our private beaches with strangers? I suppose it would feel like a constant invasion.

    Perhaps it is best the island keeps true to its roots and maintains its island life for which it is so very famous. I just hope that they see the value in what tourism brings to the island.

    Our exit strategy to Cuba conprised a ferry to St Thomas, a night in Marvin's Air BnB, a few rides in Marvin's 4x4, a few lectures on 'shaking the foundations of heaven and earth', followed by a flight to Miami, four hours in the airport and another very empty flight to Santa Clara. Sayonara sea legs, we gon' get that walk on!
    Read more

  • We're now four and although Dave will be missed, you and I both know the world is designed for fours. I'm feeling some heated rivalry of cards and dice coming up. This boat's nay short on competition!

    The boys are currently below the boat diving Santa Monica rocks - lots of speak of dinner, lets hope they walk the talk! We've got plans for St John and St Croix but the weather turns wild tomorrow and I'm not sure we want more forestay drama just yet.

    We've also booked Cuba for the end of January and our return flight is to Mexico, where we'll look to mosy south as far as dollar (or peso) allows. If you fancy a charity donation I take cash, card or bookings in my name! In the meantime, we'll turn the page on the Pirate phrasebook and pick up a Spanish one. Hola Senõr!

    Update:

    The swell has come in strongly and is battering exposed north and east coasts. The worst of the wind has passed but there's said to be more to come... We're holed up in St John, looking forward to some land based exploring and top notch snorkelling. Last night's anchor-dive-turned-crayfish-hunt proved successful and forced us to alter our dinner plans. I will never forget Scott with two arms clamped on a crusty under a rock. Looking for assistance, but unable to signal, Jools read his mind, swam down, and tugged him out by his chest, cray in hand. Hysterical tomfoolery at the ocean floor.

    Customs are again playing games with us. Hopefully I can extend my Visa to get off these islands!

    Second update: Terry's bay Crayfish Massacre

    That evening's underwater shenanigans were the start of many more in Rendezvous Bay. Combined efforts of boys and girl saw crayfish for dinner four nights in a row - an underwater massacre instigated by none other than Scottfish himself. By the time the fourth night rolled around, the infamous canned chicken was looking like a roast bird on Christmas day!

    But the treats did not come without consequence. We were hunting in terrain rich with spiny urchins (you know the black ones? Super spiny!). All four of us were spined (some more than others) at various underwater locations (remember we're just wearing shorts and gloves). The worst off was undoubtedly Jools who, after staking out an urchin free hole, was duly surprised when his decent sized catch dragged him through a nearby bed of the spiny buggers! His wounds were a sight to behold. That evening was spent with a pair of tweasers and two bowls of warm vinegar. The next day Jools tried to avoid further injury by sticking to windsurfing, only to return to the boat with more blood - nobody was surprised. Meanwhile, I was dropping catches left, right and center as we had crays swimming backwards for their lives as we got increasingly creative in our hunting methods - even so far as to incorporate the boat oars! All of our dives took place on the same stretch of coast (south of St John), over no more than 2nm of it...and only one dive was with SCUBA. The thrill of the hunt has us hooked, but we're still playing by the rules and there's been an increasing number of catch and releases as we mature as hunters. Scott however, won't pass a bug without giving it a cheeky tug on the antler...child...

    Rendezvous bay had more to offer than just food. Having really just stumbled across the place, we were delighted in what it offered. The water was flat, super flat. The bay was largely deserted, save for the odd day trip charter. The anchorage was free (few and far between on St John). The water was clear, I'm talking at least 20m vis on the good days. And the snorkelling was epic; we made friends with the resident turtle, Terry, whom we literally watched eat breakfast every morning - same spot, same time. Eddy and Elma the eagle rays also made regular appearances, along with Steve the stingray and his parasitic fish friends and of course, the many members of Terry's family. Quite the underwater zoo! Oh, and if you think I've gone crazy by naming all my aquatic friends, you're right. But you should hear me talking to them!

    Now you can see why our accidental night at Rendezvous turned into four. The only drawback was frequent, heavy and frustratingly short downpours which kept the hatches closed and boat hot.

    We ventured along the coast during a few of the days to explore the National Park that is, largely, St John. A 'top five things to do' list had us hiking the Reef Bay Trail on a blustery day. After ascending for a good few sweaty hours, we reached the top of the trail. Unfortunately for us, the top of the trail finished a few hundred yards short of the peak of the island. Somewhat dumbfounded we asked around and discovered there was no way to get to the peak, or any nearby peaks, and our best bet was to get on a bus and go climb a headland. It was impossible to see the ocean from anywhere, save for a glimpse from atop a brick wall. National Park you say.

    Bitterly, and in denial, we continued to ask around. A local assured us of "Great views" on an alternative route back to the boat. We followed it and arrived at the beach, again with little more than a glimpse of the ocean. We loitered through a mosquito infestation and had our packed lunch on the beach in the pouring rain. Not quite how we planned it, and thoroughly disappointed, but it's hard to make us unhappy when we're eating orzo pasta.
    Read more

  • Wind. Blustery breeze.

    Hunkering down under the aeroplanes in the flattest, most protected water available. Coincidently a very nice spot! We're playing it safe until with winds drop back down below 20kts, at least for now.

    We've picked up the princess, she's alive and buzzing at the warm weather and clear blue water. To top it off, our anchorage happened to be host to numerous families of turtles, who popped up all over the bay, and forced us into countless impulsive swims. We also got the windsurfer up and running over these two days. Believe it or not, everyone our boat can windsurf - how's that??!

    It was great to be waiting on the weather. In a nice location we just had time to burn. Everyone set their own clocks and did their activities as they pleased. Not that we were ever on a hectic schedule, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

    I'm going to take the liberty here to offer a little insight to the weather. Jump to the two paragraphs if you don't like weather. So I bet you're thinking we get sun all day and moon all night, right? Wrong. We're riddled with showers, all the time. Although the sun is shining for most of the day, it doesn't take good eyes to spot a darkening cloud on the horizon. Contrary to weather at home, these clouds arrive quickly and leave quickly, torrenting with rain. Squalls would be the best way to describe them, as the reliably bring wind, lot's of wind, and heavy downpours. Often, in less than a minute, they're gone. With five or six of these per day or per night, it's infuriating. Hatches open, washing out; hatches closed, washing in. And by washing I mean electronics. Close the hatches and the bot roasts. First world problems, I know.

    We're also sitting in the trades, so we reliably get easterly wind and swell. It makes for easy route planning. It also makes for easy guidebook writing, as authors need only provide guidance for one wind direction. And in the charting world, a western anchorage is a safe bet. With regard to the temperature. I've seen only 26 and 27 degrees since we got here. More consistency than Fraser's presence in class during his study in Otago (never).

    Yesterday we motored up to Great St James Island to get a better angle to attack St Croix in an Easterly breeze. During his evening anchor dive, Scott meandered over to a nearby rocky outcrop. With Felicity and I in tow, we stumbled across a massive crayfish in around 1m of water. The rest is history. Scott's appetite for hunting cray is enormous. No crack goes unsearched and no craycray goes unattacked (size pending of course). After wrestling this sucker out of it's (particularly small) hole, we realised that there was no other way back to the boat than swim. Furthermore, the shallow water was surging with the swell, and sea urchins littered the alcove. With both hands tied up with said fish, swimming was tough. Witnessing Scott get smashed on rocks, urchins and pricked by a fiesty crustacean was undoubtedly the highlight of my day. Felicity took her sweet time getting the dinghy as Scott's shallow injuries mounted. After an eternity she (the cray) was safe in the yacht and fed us four for dinner...with leftovers. A fantastic end to an otherwise uneventful day.

    As a little aside, who's reading my blog?? I literally have no idea who's reading this. A teacher, some time during my numerous years of education, told me I should tailor my words to my audience. Send us a like or a comment if you're reading and let me know what you want to read more about!!
    Read more

  • One of the most popular cruise ports actually holds lots of great things to experience. We are the less tourist travelers and that may be hard to find here, but not impossible. Coki Beach was a great place to get away from it all. The beach is cluttered with locals and the water is crystal clear. We even got some great vegetarian eats! Another amazing spot, which I think will become much more touristy in the near future, is Secret Harbor Beach. With a bar just steps from the sand, it's hard to beat.Read more

  • We landed. The kids are super excited!

    Our taxi driver likes to run red lights. 5 minutes out of the airport. Kids meet the St croix police. This was not quick stop either, he couldn't find his registration at all. Plus he wanted us to say the light was yellow. It was sooo red.

  • We went to c'sted for dinner before heading back to our hotel for the moko jumbies. We saw giant tarpon along the boardwalk.

    Major and Evie enjoyed the moko jumbies. They also enjoyed the fire eater/glass walker. The kids got to limbo with the fire eater.

  • We walked around c'sted. Kids love feeding the aggressive Tarpon. Of course they have a favorite dog that they see everytime. I bought my cruzan hook bracelet. The store also sells hurricane bracelets. Each bracelet is different, like each hurricane that has hit. The Katrina one is crazy looking. Hugo was pretty cool. I really really liked them.

    First time I have been to a place with a menu in Danish. The food was excellent. The kids danced. And the kids danced with the house cat. The waiter said it is the first time they have ever seen someone try and dance with their wild cat. Thankfully, Evie, did not get scratched.Read more

  • We were in the ocean the entire day. No pool, just ocean. The kids are relaxed and settling in.

    Dave and Greg went fishing and Dave caught 2 fish! They may have been 3 inches but totally worth the sea sickness he got to get them. Poor Dave. On another note their captain is moving to Tampa bc the airport got 2 billion and he is running the flight operations so he sold his business. Dave had only eaten a banana and all the captain would talk about was Bern steakhouse and Ted Peters, Dave was not happy.

    Dave came back and took a nap on the beach and a random paddleboat with local school kids ran into him. It was very funny

    We ran into an Irish woman who has lived here 30 years. She looked at evie and asked if she is Irish and said Major looks Scandinavian. She thoroughly enjoyed Evie having Kathleen as her middle name. She also said Major would looks so very Scandinavian which made him smile.

    We picked up our jeep and went to the famous La Riene's Chicken Shack where we ran into friends from the plane. The chicken is very, very good. Tomorrow we head out for an all day event.
    Read more

  • The eastern part of the island is very, very beautiful. We started our morning with a drive to Isaacs Bay. You hike 10-15min down to the beach. There is no amenities, and no one around. The water had coral growing straight to the top of the water. The fish were larger. The rays were very large here. The hike back was a little hot but easy with little incline. Easily Daves fav part of the trip. I would have to agree. It was amazing.Read more

  • Wow. I really love Frederiksted. The old dutch archways on the buildings and the main street that goes along the ocean with the old park, was absolutely stunning. I wish we had taken pictures. We snorkeled the pier and it was pretty neat. Knife fish etc. Lots of grasses under the pier. A turtle. Pretty cool.

    Rhythms at Rainbow Beach was quite nice. Great beach bar. Decent food. Good swimming beach. Could easily go there again. My fb live video was there.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Virgin Islands of the United States, Amerikanische Jungferninseln, U.S. Virgin Islands, V.S. Maagde-eilande, Amɛrika Virgin Islands, የአሜሪካ ቨርጂን ደሴቶች, جزر فرجين الأمريكية, ABŞ Virqin Adaları, Віргінскія астравы, ЗША, САЩ, Вирджински острови, Ameriki ka Sungurunnin Gun, মার্কিন ভার্জিন দ্বীপপুঞ্জ, Inizi Gwercʼh ar Stadoù-Unanet, S.A.D. Devičanska Ostrva, Illes Verges nord-americanes, Americké Panenské ostrovy, Ynysoedd Americanaidd y Wyryf, De amerikanske jomfruøer, U.S. Vɛrgin ƒudomekpowo nutome, Αμερικανικές Παρθένοι Νήσοι, Usonaj Virgulininsuloj, Islas Vírgenes de los Estados Unidos, USA Neitsisaared, Birjina uharte amerikarrak, جزایر ویرجین ایالات متحده, Duuɗe Kecce Amerik, Yhdysvaltain Neitsytsaaret, Sambandsríki Amerikas Jómfrúoyggjarnar, Îles Vierges des États-Unis, Oileáin na Maighdean S.A.M., Illas Virxes Estadounidenses, યુ.એસ વર્જિન આઇલેન્ડ, Tsibiran Birjin Ta Amurka, איי הבתולה האמריקניים, अमेरिकी वर्जिन टापू, Američki Djevičanski Otoci, Amerikai Virgin-szigetek, Kepulauan U.S. Virgin, Bandarísku jómfrúaeyjar, Isole Vergini Americane, 米領ヴァージン諸島, Visiwa vya Virgin vya Marekani, ಯು.ಎಸ್. ವರ್ಜಿನ್ ದ್ವೀಪಗಳು, 미국령 버진 아일랜드, Bizinga bya Virigini eby'Amerika, Bisanga bya Vierzi ya Ameriki, ຢູເອສເວີຈິນໄອແລນ, Mergelių salos (JAV), Lutanda lua Vierzi wa Ameriki, ASV Virdžīnas, Nosy Virijiny Etazonia, Девствени Острови на САД, യു.എസ്. വെര്‍ജിന്‍ ദ്വീപുകള്‍, यू.एस. व्हर्जिन बेटे, ယူအက်စ် ဗာဂျင်း ကျွန်းစု, De amerikanske jomfruøyene, संयुक्त राज्य भर्जिन टापु, Amerikaanse Maagdeneilanden, Dei amerikanske jomfruøyane, ୟୁଏସ୍ ଭର୍ଜିନ୍ ଦ୍ବୀପପୁଞ୍ଜ, Wyspy Dziewicze Stanów Zjednoczonych, Ilhas Virgens dos EUA, Inslas Verginas Americanas, Amazinga y'Isugi y'Abanyamerika, Insulele Virgine S.U.A., Виргинские о-ва (США), Âzûâ Virîgo tî Amerîka, ඇමරිකානු වර්ජින් දූපත්, Panenské ostrovy - USA, Ameriški Deviški otoki, Zvitsuwa zveAmerika, С.А.Д. Девичанска Острва, Amerikanska Jungfruöarna, யூ.எஸ் கன்னித் தீவுகள், యు.ఎస్. వర్జిన్ దీవులు, หมู่เกาะยูเอสเวอร์จิน, ʻOtumotu Vilikini fakaʻamelika, ABD Virgin Adaları, Віргінські острови США, امریکی ورجن آئلینڈز, Quần đảo Virgin, Mỹ, Orílẹ́ède Etikun Fagini ti Amẹrika, 美属维京群岛, i-U.S. Virgin Islands