7 Important Things to Know Before Visiting the US Virgin Islands

7 important thing to know before you visit the US virgin islands


So, you are planning a trip to the beautiful US Virgin Islands? You undoubtedly have a few questions about passports, packing, and an array of other things. Visiting a new destination naturally comes with questions of the unknown, especially one that is outside of the US. To help I have put together a guide of important information about the US Virgin Islands addressing everything from travel questions to packing tips. Here are my top 7 important things you need to know before visiting the US Virgin Islands.

Bring Your Passport

baths virgin gorda british virgin islands
The Baths in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix) are US territories, so you will not need your passport to enter any of those islands. Flights to St. Thomas are similar to any other domestic flight you would take in the States; except for the current paperwork needed for COVID-19. While you don’t need your passport for the US Virgin Islands, you will need it if you wish to visit the British Virgin Islands (Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, etc.) that are nearby. The BVI’s are home to the Baths, amazing historical sites and hikes, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. You will also most likely need it if you plan to take one of the many boating excursions.

Carry Cash

shops charlotte amalie us virgin islands
Shops in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Being a US territory, the official currency in the US Virgin Islands is the US Dollar. Fortunately for island hoppers, this is also the case for the British Virgin Islands as well. While many businesses on the islands accept major credit cards, there are still many places who will only accept cash (taxis, ferries, smaller vendors and restaurants, etc.). This is especially the case outside of St Thomas. Due to this you should always have cash on hand.

The US Virgin Islands are also duty free. This means that there is no tax added to the things that you buy; the price you see is the price you pay. When it comes to tipping, most restaurants follow an US in this respect. The gratuity is only included with large parties, but tipping is expected anywhere from 15% - 20%.

Cell Phone Service

St. Thomas has the same major cell phone providers as the States, but not all carriers are created equally there. Both Sprint and AT&T are stationed on the island, have good service, and are treated the same as a domestic service. T-Mobile also has very good service on the island and there are no roaming charges for its use. At the bottom of the list is Verizon with the worst (if any) service of all. It is worth noting that if you travel to other islands, you could possibly ping towers in the British Virgin Islands and would then be charged for international roaming. So, when traveling to islands other than St. Thomas, it is recommended to keep your phone on airplane mode to avoid extra charges.

When to Visit

magens bay us virgin islands
View of Magen's Bay in St. Thomas from Drake's Seat.

December to March is the peak season for travel to the US Virgin Islands. These are the driest months of the year with an average temperature in the 70’s. So, if you visit during this time, you will have the best weather, but with that you will also find the most crowds. Prices for hotels and excursions will be higher and you will need to make reservations for just about everything.

April to June is also a great time to visit the islands. The climate is mild, with only a little rainfall, so you should have nice weather for your visit. There are also far less crowds during these months, meaning that you won’t have to deal with so many people milling about. This is also when St. Thomas’s Carnival happens.

July to October is hurricane season for the region. Temperatures rise to the 80’s and there is much more rain. There is still a good chance you can visit when there isn’t a storm though. And this will mean that you will have far fewer tourist to share the island with.

Pack Lighter Than You Think

magens bay us virgin islands
The beach at Magen's Bay, St. Thomas

“Island Casual” is the norm in the US Virgin Islands. Wearing a swimsuit is of course ok when you are at the beach, but not for walking around town. When off the beach you will want to wear normal clothes, but there is no need to pack dress clothes. Even at nice restaurants you will not need to dress up. For guys, it is appropriate to wear shorts or pants with a shirt. And for girls, anything from shorts or pants with a blouse to a sundress. For all occasions, flip-flops are always in style. So don’t worry about packing so much.

Electrical outlets in the US Virgin Islands are the same as in States, so you will not need to bring a converter for your chargers. I do recommend bringing sunscreen with you though. You will be able to find it much cheaper in the States than you will on the islands. If you have your own snorkeling gear, or at the very least goggles, it would be a good idea to bring them to save on rental. And there are always opportunities to see some amazing sea life. And of course, do not forget your camera!

Drive on the Left

cars charlotte amalie us virgin islands

Unlike the Continental US, vehicles in the US Virgin Islands drive on the left. Some say that this is due to the donkeys people used for transportation being used to traveling on the left side of the road when the US bought the islands in 1917. The more probable reason is that it dates back to when the majority of vehicles were owned by British expats on the islands prior to the sale. Either way, it has persisted until today. What might make things slightly easier for American tourists is the fact that most cars are ‘left-driven,’ just like vehicles in the States. Most rental cars will have a small sticker in the window reminding you to stay left.


covid 19 rules us virgin islands

COVID-19 is unfortunately still a part of our everyday lives and you will need to plan for it in preparation for your trip to the US Virgin Islands. All tourists are required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal and get cleared to travel to the islands. For US citizens taking a flight from the States or Puerto Rico or a ferry from the BVI, you will need to submit a negative antigen or COVID-19 test result taken within 5 days of arrival. For US citizens arriving on an internationally flight, you will need to submit a negative result within 3 days of arrival if vaccinated or 1 day if unvaccinated. All non-US citizens must be vaccinated and follow the above rules.

If you decide to take a day trip or longer to the BVI (which you absolutely should!), you will need to also look at the COVID rules for the BVI before making that trip. It should be noted here that you can use the same test result that you used to enter the BVI to return back to the US Virgin Islands, and vice versa.

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  1. Since I saw a house hunters show in the US Virgin Island, I am dying to visit there. Thanks for sharing this informative post.

    1. You should! It is an amazingly beautiful place and so easy to get to.

  2. Oh the memories! One of my favorite trips ever was with friends to spend 10 days relaxing on St John. It was so fun, relaxing, and a great time to connect. Thanks for bringing back the memories and I highly recommend visiting the BVI and USVI!

    1. Your welcome! The virgin islands are great! Each one of them has something special.

  3. Thank you very helpful information. I hope to be able to visit one day!

    1. Your welcome. You absolutely should visit someday. It is a great place.


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