It's no wonder that so many people across the globe think of nowhere else to go with their vacations than to the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean. What some Americans tend to overlook, is the fact that we have a part of paradise that we call our own, The U.S. Virgin Islands. No passport needed here, just your driver's license and some sun block. That is, of course if, you are an American citizen. More and more, vacationers are discovering these jewels of the Caribbean. So without further ado let's explore...
Charlotte AmalieIn 1671, Danish settlers created a permanent colony on St. Thomas, the capital of the US. Virgin Islands and most cosmopolitan of the three islands, which boasts a colorful history of swashbuckling pirates. They named the colony after their queen, Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel, built Fort Christian and established plantations. Charlotte Amalie, which showcases some of the best displays of colonial architecture anywhere in the Caribbean, was actually Denmark's second largest city in the 1840s.
Along the waterfront, centuries old warehouses that once contained molasses, rum and spices are now filled with hundreds of duty free shops. Great sights abound also, with a view of Hassel Island, located in the middle of one of the Caribbeans largest and busiest deep water ports. 125 of this little island's 135 acres is now owned by the Virgin Islands National Park.
HavensightHavensight is an area two miles east of Charlotte Amalie. It is the location of one of the island's cruise ship terminals, as well as many shops, and the Havensight mall. St. Thomas is one of the most cruise-ship visited islands in the Caribbean and has some of the best duty free shopping in this part of the world. About 1.5 million cruise ship passengers land here each year.
The 99 StepsThere are actually 103. Starting on Government Hill and ending right above Haagenhouse, this is a very popular attraction and when you reach the top, you'll find Blackbeard's Castle. Bricks to build the steps were brought from Denmark as ballast in the hold of many sailing ships.
Cruz Baysun and sand that is the quintessential picture of a deserted tropical island.
By no means deserted, when you first arrive at Cruz Bay, just a short walk from the dock you are greeted by the visitor's center, boutiques, restaurants and taxis to take you to oneof the many beaches and destinations around the island. Stop by the Marketplace, an all inclusive Caribbean-style palazzo or Mongoose Junction, for excellent shopping and dining. The real attraction here, though, is the State Park and the beaches.
Virgin Islands State Park
Annaberg Plantation Ruins
St. Croixconverted the cane into rum, sugar and molasses. America's first trade secretary, Alexander Hamilton, grew up here learning about foreign currency as an orphan working for a Christiansted merchant. Point Udall here is the easternmost point of the United States.
The Steeple Building
This landmark was built in 1743 and was St Croix's first Lutheran Church. Two Sunday services were held each week. One in Danish and the second in Dutch-Creole for non whites.
The Government House
Fort FrederickFinished in 1760, this was the western defense of the island.
I hope you have enjoyed this little trip to the Islands.