Things to Do in US Virgin Islands - page 2
Caneel Bay is one of the first beaches you come to as you drive up North Shore Road out of St John’s main port, Cruz Bay. Much of the coastline here is monopolized by an extensive resort, but they guarantee access to Caneel Bay and their restaurants adjacent to the beach are accessible also. The area was once a plantation and the ruins of the old sugar works make an atmospheric detour. The beach itself is a three-dimensional postcard, while snorkelers will delight in sting rays, barracudas and other sea life.
Back in its heyday, the Annaberg Sugar Plantation was one of 25 facilities on the island producing sugar, along with molasses and rum. All that remains today are ruins, but they are an important reminder of St John’s past, and visitors can walk a trail that leads them through important structures such as slave quarters, windmills and factory remains.
Learn about 18th- and 19th-century sugar production and the importance of Annaberg, where slaves were brought in to clear the dense hillsides and terrace the slopes, allowing for farming. Slaves were also involved in actual sugarcane production and completed tasks like planting, harvesting and processing. When slavery was later abolished, the plantation was subdivided into small farms. Evidence suggests there were at least 16 slave cabins at Annaberg, each constructed using branches woven together with a mud, coral and lime mixture called daub.
Want to get away from it all? Once you get to Buck Island, there is no more "all" to get away from – this is about as secluded as the Caribbean gets (presuming you don’t own your own island). The ravishing clear waters of the Buck Island Reef National Park protected area are teeming with busy tropical fish darting around colorful coral. Accompanied tours along the underwater trails mean even first-time snorkelers will get the most out of this sea haven. And after that burst of activity, the soft, white sands of Turtle Beach – voted by connoisseurs as one of the world’s best – invites you to lie back and do precisely nothing.
In the old days of Imperial Empires and the early colonization of the Caribbean, tall ships would set their ballasts with huge stones and offload them when filling up with spices and other exotic Caribbean goods, leaving the stones as a reminder of their visit. Intrepid residents of Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas have since decided to use these stones as a stairway up the city’s hills, which serves to remind residents of their colonial roots.
What makes the 99 Steps (there are actually 103; 99 Steps has a better ring to it) an attraction, however, is the lush foliage on either side of the stairway and the spectacular view from high atop the mountain once you make the climb. At the top you'll see Black Beard’s Castle. Innovative explorers have learned that a cab can be taken up to the top to avoid walking up 103 stairs. It’s easy, however, to take the 99 Steps downward at a leisurely pace.
High above Charlotte Amalie is Skytsborg (“sky tower”), a round defensive tower built by the Danish in 1679 to watch for enemy ships which might attack Fort Christian and other harbor settlements. While there was a real pirate called Blackbeard (Edward Teach) who prowled nearby waters, his association with the site owes more to tradition than history.
And anyway, who needs a history lesson when you have one of the great Caribbean views laid out before you. The visual feast encompasses dramatic green slopes, bobbing yachts, hulking cruise ships and outlying islands. Facilities at the site include a swimming pool and snack bar.
More Things to Do in US Virgin Islands
Honeymoon Beach is a peaceful cove characterized by a long, soft sandy beach that gently curves against the turquoise sea and is framed by palm trees and lush greenery. Though often visited by those vacationing on the Caribbean island of St Thomas, Honeymoon Beach is actually located on Water Island, a tiny isle that is a short distance offshore from St Thomas. Both islands are part of the US Virgin Islands. Honeymoon Beach provides a respite from the harried shoppers in Charlotte Amalie and is a good alternative to St Thomas' popular Magens Bay.
Honeymoon Beach provides an ideal respite for travelers to forget their lingering work stress from back home and just relax. The beach has a large stretch of sand next to calm waters, making it an ideal place to swim. Restaurants, bars and bathrooms are also conveniently adjacent to the beach.
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