It’s mid-April and you’re probably at your desk reminiscing about the good ‘ole times when you were able to enjoy this thing called “college spring break,” or daydreaming about your next summer adventure and where you should spend those hard-earned vacation days.
Allow me to offer up my two cents. The U.S. Virgin Islands make for one unforgettable summer vacay. Why you ask? Here are my 10 reasons why you should drop everything and go to the USVIs.
The saying goes that April showers bring May flowers, so the lush islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix will never look more green, more vibrant, more perfect for your Instagram feed than after a few springtime showers – picture turquoise waters with varying blue hues, blossoming pink and golden yellow flowers, and cliffside lookouts with views, quite literally, for miles. Hey there, Puerto Rico!
2. T-minus two hours
St. Thomas is just a two-hour flight from Miami and has direct flights from New York, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta and Charlotte, so it’s an ideal escape for a long weekend (cough, cough Memorial Day). With the right flight, you’ll be wheels up at breakfast and lounging on the beach by lunch.
3. Expired passport? No problem!
The U.S. Virgin Islands, as the name implies, is technically a part of the United States. Like Puerto Rico, the archipelago is an American territory, so you don’t need a passport to travel there. Fun fact: the U.S. Virgin Islands just celebrated its centennial, marking its 100th anniversary as a U.S. territory. The three islands were bought from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million…pocket change for stars like Jay and Bey.
4. Sun-kissed locals
Many of the locals who work in the service industry used to live stateside but packed up their lives for a change of pace. While you’re off exploring the islands, talk to the locals, as their stories will fascinate you.
5. Rock solid
Thanks to the USVIs position on two very active tectonic plates, the islands record an average of three mini earthquakes each day! Don’t be alarmed though, the earthquakes are rarely felt, and the islands’ unique geology are what make this Caribbean destination so stunning.
Sounds cool, right? The beauty of traveling to the USVIs is its proximity to neighboring Caribbean islands like Tortola and Jost van Dyke, which are part of the British Virgin Islands and just an hour away by ferry boat. If you’re going to island hop though, you’ll need your passport, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
7. Help save the sea turtles
Yes, Earth Day is right around the corner, but what’s the harm in caring for the environment year-round? St. Thomas (a.k.a. sea turtle galore) is one of the best places to come face-to-face with green sea turtles, as well as hawksbills and leatherbacks that once migrated from Barbados. Thanks to the new island-wide ban on plastic bags, which sea turtles mistakenly take for jellyfish and choke on, you’ll indirectly help the little guys. Essentially, just leave plastic bags at home, as fines can range from $500-1,000!
Let’s be real – craft beers are all the rage nowadays; that’s what makes spots like Tap 42 such popular hangouts. St. Thomas’ brand new microbrewery, Frenchtown Brewing Co. is an absolute must! Go there on Friday nights from 5-7:30 p.m. to sample four specialty brews, including a Hop Alley IPA and a French Farmhouse Saison. The Saison has a tint of orange undertones (like Shock Top or Blue Moon) and was definitely my fave.
9. Frenchman’s Reef is paradise
I’m a little (OK, very) biased, but the Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, located on St. Thomas, is a tropical paradise in the heart of it all. “The Reef” as we like to call it, is just a 15-minute drive or boat ride into downtown and its cliffside views, rum bar, infinity pool and warm sandy beach is where you’ll find me 90% of the time. Sidenote: for my fellow Bachelor fans out there, yes, this is where Nick and the ladies stayed during last season’s episode. Hopefully your trip has fewer tears.
10. Night kayaking
Picture this – kayaking under the stars in a clear-bottom kayak, retrofitted with powerful LED lights so you can see the rays, turtles and four-feet tarpon swimming beneath you. I’ve traveled a bit in my time at DPR, and this is still one of the coolest things I’ve done. Try it – you won’t be disappointed and will walk away with a newfound appreciation for corny pirate jokes.