On our first trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, my friends and I rented a Ford Taurus. That turned out to be a very bad idea. First of all, getting on the car barge at Red Hook took forever due to the low clearance at the bottom of the car. Everyone had to step out of the car and we had to unload some luggage to be able to move up the ramp of the car barge. Then, navigating the steep roads and narrow roads on St. John was another beast itself. Based on these experiences, my recommendation would be to stay away from renting sedans. We rented a Jeep Wrangler on our second trip and that allowed us to actually have fun driving around St. John. See the attached picture and imagine yourself driving around in that on your next trip to St. John.
St.Thomas can be an WONDERFUL island to be the first island to go when you are younger (9-12) i went there for my birth day when i was 9 (my age now) and it wasn't so bad it's really beautiful depending on where you happen to be i haven't seen any body get in to your cars I'm going on a cruise for 10 days that will my 2nd time being in the U.s. Virgin Islands you may think sense I'm so young that i won't know what i am saying well news i do i read a lot about my trips before i happen to go on it now back to St. Thomas and one Warning is that there are Wild Animals like Donkeys,Goats(st john)and birds of all sorts it has a BUNCH of dead washed up jelly fish on Megan Bay. it's an wonderful island so next time you want to go on a trip but can't decide where to go go to St.Thomas/St.John when i get back from my cruise i will tell you about the Great Strupe Kay and more places so don't think that St.Thomas is bad because of what people think but i think maybe they lost their own stuff and thought it was stolen oh and i almost forgot you may see things like a zoo there and you want to go to it your children get to feed birds out of a cup they're friendly there on my B-day people sang Happy Birthday and people were driving by Clapping for me i LOVED it there so please go there i want it to even better when i look at this page again even if YOU don't like it there just TRY to compliment it please!
You mix the impoverished locals with the relatively rich tourists staying at resorts, and of course you are going to have incidents of theft on a regular basis. STT & STX are worse than STJ for all crimes. Charlotte Amalie is bad for pickpockets & purse snatchers during the day, and it's a veritable den of iniquity at night. It used to be a great night spot, but anymore you can hear random gunshots around town and it's pretty scary - very sad.
Be careful about what you leave in the car, or who might see you leaving it in the trunk, since this is one of the islands where some local car rental employees take spare keys around to the popular spots & help themselves to whatever they find in the cars from their rental agency that are parked there. No joke, this happened to us on St. Maarten, and to another friend on STT. They even locked it back up after they left!
And of course the easiest targets are the tourists lounging on the beaches. Local kids will be all cutely playing on the beach while you lie around like a Great Northern Beluga on your beach chair, and when you pop into the water for a swim or when you nod off, they'll zip up & grab whatever they can.
Take sensible precautions! Wear a waterproof belt back (see link below) with your valuables in it for swimming or snorkeling. And don't leave anything you can't afford to lose around on the beach.
Wear sunscreen & protective gear as appropriate, especially in your first few days on the islands. And be sure to drink lots of water - bottled water, that is - so you won't get dehydrated, especially if you've been drinking alcohol.
You don't want to ruin the balance of the trip because you were careless in the beginning!
Please check with the local tourist information to find out about any swimming hazards you might encounter, where & when. At sheltered beaches like Magen's Bay on the Caribbean side of STT, you won't have to worry so much about tides or undertow, & there will be lifeguards on duty. This would be much safer if you'll be bringing children with you, or if you are an inexperienced swimmer.
There may also be jellyfish warnings at certain seasons, or you may need to watch out for waverunners & such if you get out of the safe swimming zone on a resort beach.
Yes, it's true. And that's not all. These islands are hilly, the roads are difficult to maintain so there are potholes where you least expect them, there's usually no safety shoulder on steep curves, the locals drive like madmen ON THE LEFT, there are lots of half-drunk American guys later in the day who will try to plow you down even if you remember to drive on the left, there are goats, chickens, donkeys AND PEOPLE everywhere, and if you do have a fender bender or other accident with a local, even if the other guy is in the wrong, you will be the one to pay.
It may be a US territory, but the US several years ago relinquished rule to local jurisdiction, and it's been a dreadful downhill slide into mayhem ever since. Sorry, but it's only true.
Please be careful, whether snorkeling, diving or just wading & swimming, to avoid damaging the coral & other sealife. Coral is incredibly fragile; it takes many long years to grow back. I have already seen SO much damage done to the popular underwater spots on these islands. Novice divers often inadvertently crash into coral on their first few swims, and gather seashells at whim. But all of these habits make the sites that much less beautiful for the next visitor, and bring the reefs that much closer to destruction.
Charlotte Amalie is a relatively small city by continental US standards, but comes replete with its share of dangers nonetheless. The island overall is not very wealthy, and some neighbourhoods (especially those which are mainly public housing) can be unsavoury. Even in the historic districts, some back alleys are to be avoided, lest one wishes to be followed incessantly by beggars looking to do some odd job to earn a few dollars or merely to annoy you relentlessly with whining. Your eyes deceive you: some of the most beautiful alleys can be treacherous at night, while some ramshackle streets can actually be quite safe. As the shops close early in Charlotte Amalie and the pedestrian population dwindles, it's best to stick to affluent, well-lit areas like Government Hill and to rely on taxis for conveyance.
Since the cabs in the Virgin Islands are usually nondescript old vans, many people try to fool tourists into believing they're licensed cabbies in order to earn an extra buck. When I was shopping for groceries in the town of Red Hook, St. Thomas, a guy climbed down from a bar perched above the supermarket parking lot and offered to help us transport our groceries. We obliged, believing him a cabbie, and endured a wild ride on the island's roads, dipping and rushing at far greater speeds than were acceptable for cabs. When we arrived, quite a few of our groceries had been smashed up. On the plus side, it was a bit cheaper to have enjoyed the services of the unlicensed cabbie. Still, be on the lookout for anyone with a van or SUV offering a ride.
The north beaches on St. John and St. Thomas can be adversely impacted by unusually large waves (Atalantic swell) on occasion - happend one day during our week. This both makes the currents stronger and ruins underwater visability - we couldn't see anything on Coki Beach in St. Thomas as a result. On a day like this, have a backup south shore beach - such as Salt Pond in St. John and Secret Harbour in St. Thomas.
If you travel to the Virgin Islands by ship, don't feed the birds from your balcony, or the deck of the ship. I did so as we were entering port at Charlotte Amalie - BIG mistake!
Instant scene from a Hitchcock film. We were descended upon by a flock of birds before the croissant I tossed out could even hit the water! (see picture above)
The seagulls were pretty harmless, though, and went away as soon as we went back in our room and they knew there wasn't any more food. =)
For the most part people are friendly and helpful, you'll often see a lost item hanging from a bush - a local habit of placing found items where they can be seen by an owner retracing his steps. However, in any densely touristed area you need to watch your pockets (mostly on St. Thomas). St. John is quieter and has less crime, but use common sense by sticking together and avoiding dark or unfamiliar areas at night. The Police Station on St. John is easily reached at the center of downtown Cruz Bay.
We spent a year on St. Thomas. Only go there on your way to somewhere civilized, such as St. John. St. Thomas continues to spiral down into anarchy: the government is as inept as it is corrupt; violent crime, despite attempts to conceal it, continues to soar. The island remains true to the pirate and slaver ethos from which it sprang: visiors are regarded at best as a food source, often as prey. It's worse than anywhere we ever worked in Africa. If you must go there, remember, despite the flag, you're not really in America. Take all the precautions you would in any Third World country. (But, better yet, unless you wish to see what a society on the abyss of anarchy is like, go elsewhere.)
In St Johns, it seems that there is some drugs business....and I believe it. But at no time we were into troubles, even at night.
Tortola is 100% safe...and I would be the first surprised if something should ever happen on this heaven !
They drive on the left side of the road here, like in Britain. Be careful! My uncle had a little bit of trouble with this and was rewarded by a shout from a local driver, 'You're on the wrong side of the road. Stupid.'
Magens Bay Road, , 00802, Caribbean
Good for: Couples
7338 Estate Bakkeroe, Charlotte Amalie, Caribbean
Good for: Business
The hotel rooms were old and the bathroom's were rusty, dirty, and downright disgusting. The food...more