What is the best way to see the U.S. Virgin Islands in one day?

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Andrea Milam

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to explore all of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ three beautiful islands in one day, as St. Croix is 40 miles south and a plane ride away from St. Thomas and St. John, which are separated from one another by a mere 20-minute ferry ride. So here’s how to best explore the islands depending on which area you’re visiting.
 
If you begin in St. Thomas, it’s easy to travel to St. John, so you can do both islands in one day. Start off in St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie, where some of the region’s best duty-free shopping can be found among historic buildings dating back to the 1600s. Once you’ve given your credit card a workout, it’s time to head to St. John to cool off, so hop on a taxi to Red Hook and catch an hourly ferry to Cruz Bay.
 
When you arrive on St. John, you can easily hire a taxi driver. Ask him to take you on a tour of the island’s stunning north shore, whose beaches are part of the V.I. National Park and therefore remain in their beautiful natural state. Head out to Maho Beach, whose placid, gin-clear waters make this beach a favorite among families with young children. Then make your way back toward Cruz Bay, stopping at beaches along the way, like Cinnamon Bay and the famed Trunk Bay, which often appears on top 10 lists for its jaw-dropping allure. Once you’ve experienced the beauty of St. John’s north shore beaches, ask your driver to stop at the Cruz Bay overlook and watch the sun set over St. Thomas for the perfect ending to your day.
 
If you begin on St. Croix — at 28 by 7 miles, the biggest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands — you can explore plenty of history and beauty. Start off in Christiansted, perusing the eclectic shops housed in historic Danish buildings and exploring Fort Christiansvaern, an 18th-century fort constructed by Denmark, which owned the Virgin Islands until 1917. From Christiansted, you can easily pick up a taxi. Ask your driver to take you along the island’s picturesque north shore, making time for a stop at Cane Bay, a beautiful beach where there’s always a good crowd of people looking to kick back and have some fun. From there, continue west along the vista-laden North Shore Road before heading south for St. Croix’s rainforest. Ask your driver to take you along Mahogany Road, where you’ll see the biggest trees and the lushest, most dense greenery on the entire island. Finally, stop in Frederiksted, a nearly 300-year-old town where you can amble among historic buildings, including the striking red and white Fort Frederik, built in the 1750s to stave off pirates. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants to check out before you make your way out onto the Frederiksted Pier, the ideal place to watch the sun set after your busy day of exploring.

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