15 Apr US Virgin Islands Trip Recap
Wednesday night we returned from a week long trip to the United States Virgin Islands. USVI had been on our radar for a long time and we knew we wanted to go somewhere to celebrate our 10 year anniversary and decided this was a great time to go to the USVI, especially with flight prices being so good!
Below I shared a little bit about what we did day-to-day as well as items we brought, links to some suits, coverups and more and some other random thoughts that will be helpful if you are going to the USVI!
Day 1 – Fly to St. Thomas
We took the first flight out of Dallas. We will pretty much do anything to get a direct flight, but unfortunately direct flights to St. Thomas did not exist which left us having a super quick layover in Atlanta.
After arriving in St Thomas we picked up our car rental, grabbed lunch and then made a stop at Cost U Less to pick up groceries. Essentially it’s St. Thomas’s version of Costco. If you are going to St. Thomas or St. John and are planning on being there for any amount of time, I would definitely recommend making a stop here. Prices are much better than anywhere else.
After getting groceries we checked in to our condo which we booked through VRBO. The condo was on Sapphire Beach, where we spent some time walking and looking around. This beach was full of seaweed and there were actually workers removing it from the beach while we were there. While we wouldn’t have wanted to stay at this beach the whole trip, it worked for our one night quick stop. Being that it was a long day traveling we called it an early night.
Day 2 – Ferry to St. John. Maho Beach
We checked out of our condo and spent some time walking along the marina and beach again. After leaving the area, we grabbed lunch and then got in line to take the car ferry over to St. John. We had read that the lines for the ferry could be long so we got there super early, which I would recommend. This might not be necessary for the pedestrian ferry, but since we were taking a car, we didn’t want to risk it. The car ferry was $50 round trip.
After arriving in St. John we headed straight to check into our condo which was in the Grand Bay Resort. It was right in Cruz Bay and was a great location because we could walk to all the restaurants. The views were of the bay were absolutely outstanding too. Here is the place we stayed.
After unloading we hopped in the car and headed for Maho Beach where we spent the afternoon. We were able to park right along the beach which made it easy with all of our stuff. This beach had super calm waters compared to the other beaches. And even though we didn’t use it, it also had chair and kayak rentals.
Day 3 – Reef Bay Hike and Trunk Bay Beach
Day 3 in the USVI was also our 10 year anniversary! We kicked it off by hiking the Reef Bay Hike which is a 4.4 mile out and back hike with 1,200 feet elevation gain that took us down to the beach. It was a great hike with the hardest part being the last 10-20 minutes as it was uphill and hot! If one were up for it, they could hike and bring their beach stuff down with them and basically have a beautiful beach all to theirselves. We had too much stuff to even consider doing so though. On the trail we saw deer which was so fun! There was also an old sugar mill we walked by too.
After the hike we drove over to Trunk Bay which was my favorite beach of the trip. There was a $5 fee per person at the beach, but it was well worth it. The waves at this beach were much more intense, which made it fun!
After spending the afternoon beach-side we made our way back to the condo to clean up and eat dinner. This was the only night we were able to get reservations and we were so thankful we did. We ate at Ocean 362 which worked out great!
Day 4 – Cinnamon Bay Beach
We went on a very, very quick walk at the same place we parked for Cinnamon Bay Beach. After Trunk Bay this was my favorite beach we visited. The waves were super strong and one definitely took me out, which we got a good laugh about.
Day 5 – Caneel Hike and Honeymoon Beach
We started out by doing the Caneel Trail hike, which was a 4 mile hike out and back hike with 1,700 feet elevation gain that took us to two lookouts, one was Caneel hill and the second one was called Margaret Hill. We enjoyed this hike, but it’s definitely a harder hike than Reef Trail.
After the hike we went to Honeymoon Beach. For Honeymoon beach we had to park in a parking lot and then take a shuttle which was $10/person. This beach had chairs for rental and was the only beach that had food for purchase. It was much more crowded than the other beaches and while it was amazing and we were glad we went, was probably our least favorite of them all.
Day 6 – Snorkeling Excursion
On day 6 we went on a snorkeling excursion! We took a catamaran that made it’s first stop at Christmas Cove, where we saw lots of fish and sting ray. After eating lunch we went to a second place to snorkel where we saw sea turtles. I couldn’t believe how big they were! We had a blast on the 5 hour excursion and we were so glad we did it. The excursion did include a pizza lunch and drinks too. The one we did is here.
After we went back to our condo and got ready for dinner. We spent awhile walking around town and trying to decide what to eat and ended up eating at the same place we ate the first night, Cruz Bay Landing.
Day 7 – Hawk’s Nest Beach and St. Thomas
On our last day in St. John we woke up and headed to Hawk’s Nest Beach, which was another nice beach. After a few hours at the beach we grabbed some ice cream before heading towards the ferry to go back to St. Thomas. The car line to go back to St. Thomas was much shorter, but we were still glad we got there early.
After arriving in St. Thomas we checked into our hotel at the Ritz Carlton and spent the afternoon and evening in the pool! After a week at the beach it was nice to switch it up and be pool-side with amazing beach views.
Day 8 – Fly Home to Dallas
On the last day in St. Thomas we went kayaking and stand up paddle boarding at our hotel and then spent the rest of the time in the pool and hot tub. After that we made our way to the airport. We were told, and we had read, that we needed to get to the airport 3 hours early. But we would not do that again. It only took us 30 minutes to get through customs and security, so one hour, or maybe two if it’s the weekend, would have been plenty.
What to bring
The condo we stayed at in St. John had beach chairs, a cooler and towels, which are pretty much all musts for when you are at the beach. I would definitely recommend booking at a place that provides these items.
In addition, we always bring these items to the beach:
Pool float – You will definitely be glad you have this. It’s easy enough to blow up and then you can leave on your last day for someone else to use.
Beach blanket – We bring this on every trip. Definitely a must!
Tent – The sun is intense! We definitely are always thankful to sit in the shade.
Tarp – This provides another place to sit and put all your stuff out.
We brought our hammock, which we also take with us most places we go, but we never used it as there was no good trees to hang it on. If you are hammock people like us, I vote to leave yours at home.
Other helpful things to have are always yeti coffee cups and/or big water bottles.
Also, the number one question I received on instagram was “how did you take all your pictures?” We did so using the DJI Mavic Mini Drone. If you like taking pictures and/or travel a lot, we highly recommend this drone!
You can shop more of the items, including my bathing suits here:
We were very glad we had a car! While taxis are very easy to use it was much easier having a car, especially if you want to go on hikes or go to the grocery store etc. They do drive on the left side of the road, but Colby had done that in plenty of other countries so it really was no problem.
When we were there you had to have reservations for all of the restaurants (minus the super causal beach bars). This might not always be the case, but just a heads up.
Most of the beaches don’t have places to purchase food, so make sure to pack a lunch and/or bring snacks.
If you are going to the Virgin Islands for the beaches then we definitely recommend going to St. John and not St. Thomas.
As far as beaches, Trunk Bay was our favorite. If you only have a few days I would recommend Trunk Bay, Cinnamon and Maho Bay.
Someone asked how the USVI compared to Hawaii, and I think it depends on what you want. If you want the nicest beaches, I would say hands down, St John. If you want more adventure and better hikes, then I would say hands down Hawaii. We were hoping for more hikes in St. John, but there wasn’t a ton. There are also not as many adventure options like helicopter tours, which Hawaii has.
St John was also nice because it was only a one hour time difference for us, where as Hawaii is five. I am sure if you are on the west coast though, it is easier to go to Hawaii than it is the USVI.
St John feels like an underdeveloped country, just like Aruba or Jamaica, where Hawaii is much more American-feeling and modernized. So that might also help make your decision for you.
If there is something I did not touch on that you want answered, please leave a comment on this post or email me!
Our Prior Vacations:
I didn’t start sharing our traveling adventures on the blog until the end of 2013, but you can see some of our vacations below. You can also see our best tips for traveling on a budget here!
Western Caribbean Cruise
South America: Argentina
South America: Torres Del Paine
South America: Lake Region
South America: Santiago + Coast
Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio
Costa Rica: Santa Teresa
Costa Rica: La Fortuna
Caribbean Cruise – Grand Turk + Dominican Republic
Caribbean Cruise – Aruba + Curacao
Colorado Ski Date #2
Europe: The Netherlands
Europe: Montenegro + Greece
Colorado Ski Trip #4
Northern California + Lake Tahoe
Yosemite + Napa
Eastern Caribbean Cruise: Grand Turk + San Juan
Eastern Caribbean Cruise: St. Kitts + St. Maarten
Colorado Skip Trip #5
Utah: Zion and Bryce National Parks
Utah: Arches National Park
Florida Trip Recap
Western Caribbean Cruise
Colorado Trip #6
Brooke SimkinsPosted at 11:20h, 16 April
Looks like you need to add Chicago, IL to that list of trips!
Amy SilversPosted at 11:44h, 16 April
My husband and I would love to go to St. Thomas in June for our 10 yr anniversary. We had our honeymoon there and would love to return. We have been wondering if we would need negative covid test before or after traveling or have to quarantine while we are there. Did you have to have neg covid test before going or when coming home? Your pictures remind me how beautiful St thomas and St. John truly are and how much I miss it.
Alexis WPosted at 17:02h, 16 April
Happy anniversary! This looks like an amazing trip! I loved the photo of your communion cup on the beach…how memorable! We had our 10 year anniversary last year and our date night looked like takeout on the fog on a bench. haha! We’re making up for it with a great vacation next week. And you totally affirmed my decision to buy a pool float to take which Jason thinks is crazy. ha!