VIRGIN ISLANDS

The U.S. Virgin Islands, about fifty altogether, are east of Puerto Rico, one thousand miles southeast of Miami. The major islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. All are mountainous with many beaches and bays with great appeal for beach lovers and for boaters. Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas (population about 100,000) is the capital. St. Thomas is a vibrant, relatively prosperous island. The former Dutch proprietorship is still evident in the architecture. The town is always busy, known for night life, inexpensive drinks and higher-priced food. St. Thomas, along with the other U.S. Virgin Islands, receives about 790,000 stay-over visitors and about 700,000 cruise arrivals. It is the most frequent cruise ship stop-over, a place where passengers crowd in for a day’s shopping, then back to the ship for the night.

A boat trip away from Charlotte Amalie is the magnificent little island of St. John, location for one of the most beautiful low-key resorts in the world, a Rock resort, Caneel Bay Plantation. About half of the island is the Virgin Islands National Park, donated to the U.S. government by Laurance Rockefeller. Included in the park are breathtaking underwater acres, considered by many the region’s best snorkeling and scuba grounds. Cinnamon Bay, highly regarded campground in the national park, has concrete cabins, tents, and tent sites.

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