Gateway to the Caribbean's Best Sailboat Destinations
The Virgin islands of the United States, as they are officially called, are a Caribbean territory of the USA that's a top sailing destination in itself, particularly around the two northern islands of St Thomas and St John. Furthermore, the US Virgin Islands as they are more commonly known provide convenient access for US citizens, and people travelling to the Caribbean through US airports, to a wide range of other exotic tropical islands with highly-developed sailing charter services. In other words, one of the very best places to begin your Caribbean sailing holiday adventure.
There's much to see and do on a sailing charter around St Thomas and St John. A little distant to the south is the largest island in the group, St. Croix, less visited and a half-day sail away. The most popular course out of St Thomas's Compass Point marina will take you east to St John and the fabulous Virgin Islands National Park, then beyond to the British Virgin Islands. It's just 22 nautical miles sailing from St Thomas to the eastern end of Tortola. But you won't want to do it in one day. there's far too much to experience along the way!
There are numerous options for getting to the USVI and chartering a sail or power boat. Our Caribbean sailing experts are here to help you on your way.
Discovering the US Virgin Islands by Sailboat
Fly into Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and it's a short drive east across the island to Compass Point marina. Pass through Charlotte Amalie and stop awhile to see the capital and main port. Or save that for later as part of your sailing itinerary and use it as a base for exploring the western half of St Thomas. Use American Yacht Harbor at Red Hook at the eastern end for more discovery around the island's marine reserve waters and idyllic Great St James island. Then sail east to nearby St John and its National Park.
The Virgin Islands National Park covers more than half of St John's land area. The island is home to just over 4,000 people, compared to St Thomas's 52,000, so it's a place of peace and tranquility with plenty of anchorage space for everyone to spread out and enjoy it. Cruz Bay is the main port of entry and very busy with ferry traffic, while Coral Bay at the eastern end is a big harbor popular with cruisers. In between a number of bays both north and south at the heart of the national park have buoys for overnight stays.
Take time out to explore the national park, for an appreciation not only of the natural environment but also the history and cultural remnants of these islands, once the Danish West Indies. That explains many of the place names you will encounter.
If sailing south to St Croix, head for Christiansted and use that as a base for exploring the island, which is also packed with a quite fascinating history. It's more likely that your next ports of call will be in the stunning locations that are the British Virgin islands, where you can be with a couple of hours' sailing.
With the US Virgin Islands being popular for cross-border charters, it's important to know your documentation requirements before you travel. Non-US visitors require a visa or visa waiver to enter the US Virgin islands. British Virgin islands authorities require a valid passport for short holiday stays. Charters to the Spanish Virgin Islands are normally done out of Fajardo in Puerto Rico. Before travelling west from USVI, check requirements and any restrictions on charters in that direction.
There may also be restrictions on sailing to St. Croix, depending on experience.