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Thursday,  June 13, 2024 12:40 AM 

USVI: "Not just another Caribbean destination"

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  •   04-20-2015  11:28 am

USVI: "Not just another Caribbean destination"

For travellers who believe that if they’ve seen one area of the Caribbean, they’ve seen it all, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) will prove that between the culture, people, attractions and cuisine, there is still a lot to discover.

“The Caribbean is a wonderful collection of islands, and every single one has its own unique culture, history, and sense of [community],” Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism for the USVI told PAXnews.com during a media lunch and presentation. “If you’ve seen one, you’ve only seen one. So go and try another one!”

Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism, U.S. Virgin Islands

A collection of islands that are an insular area of the U.S., the USVI is known for its beaches, duty-free shopping, Caribbean carnivals, and of course, rum (USVI’s main industry, along with tourism).  

Its three main islands, St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas are situated very closely to each other, and according to Nicholson-Doty, while they may be similar in their offerings of snorkeling, sailing and sun, they are very distinct in their traditions, events and attractions.

St. Croix, known for its history and cultural authenticity, was settled by seven different colonial powers back in the 17th century, and boasts significantly unique architecture as a result. It was the location for USVI’s emancipation of slavery in 1848, and is also the island to visit for distilleries, churches, museums and forts (built for fending off pirates). Most recently, St. Croix has made a name for itself in the world of culinary tourism, embracing a farm-to-table ideology with its new, locally-focussed restaurant, Zion Modern Kitchen.

St. John, the smallest of the main islands (two-thirds of which are made up of national park land), is the USVI’s destination for eco-travellers. There are more than 20 trails for hiking enthusiasts, petrified cave drawings, and an underwater trail. Travellers in St. John will find sugar plantation ruins, churches (some said to be haunted), and colourful waterside villages.

St. Thomas, home to USVI’s capital, Charlotte Amalie, is a hub for shopping, yachting and educational marine attractions. It’s also surrounded by a number of smaller islets, most notably Water Island, a quaint and quiet destination fast making a name for itself as the fourth main island on USVI, due to the recent re-development of its former Water Island Hotel property – destroyed in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo and untouched ever since.

Nicholson-Doty explained how the closeness of the territory’s islands provide travellers with a variety of cultural, environmental, historical and recreational experiences within the same trip.

“Our tourists can [quite easily] have an island-hopping vacation,” Nicholson-Doty told PAX. “That is a unique opportunity offered by only a few destinations in the world.”

Few of those other destinations are as accessible from Canada as USVI, which is a 2.5 hour flight from Miami, and a 3.5 hour flight from New York.

According to the commissioner, “we’re really easier to get to than most people think. There are so many connections available, travellers can depart in the morning and be on the beach in the same afternoon.”

While the Caribbean is a popular destination for Canadians looking to escape the overcast months of winter, both Nicholson-Doty and USVI, with its plethora of summer festivals and events, made it clear that it has no intention of being classified as a seasonal destination.

Summer festivals in the USVI:

May

  • St. Croix Ironman Triathlon 70.3
  • St. Croix Yacht Club Memorial Day Regatta
  • Friends of the National Park Beach-to-Beach Power Swim
  • Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club Memorial Day Tournament
  • Arts Alive Annual Spring Arts and Crafts Festival

June

  • St. John Festival

July

  • Mango Melee and Tropical Fruit Festival
  • July 3rd VI Emancipation Day Celebration
  • St. John Festival 4th of July Parade
  • Annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament
  • Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club Open Kids Tournament

August

  • USVI Open Blue Marlin Tournament
  • Texas Society Chili Cook-Off

September

  • Annual Love City Triathlon

PHOTO: Brent Carnegie, vice president, Canlink Travel Representatives; Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism, U.S. Virgin Islands; Elaine Carnegie, president, Canlink Travel Representatives; Charlie Agostino, sales manager, Canlink Travel Representatives

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