Boasting the perfect balance between classic, timeless allure and a trendy atmosphere, the Caribbean is a region that only gets more popular as time goes on.
However, while the likes of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and The Bahamas have become too commercialized for many travelers’ preferences, there are a couple of smaller destinations in the region that are emerging as the Caribbean’s trendiest hotspots.
St. Thomas and St. Croix are both experiencing remarkable growth in tourist arrivals this winter, enjoying a 20% and 70% increase, respectively, compared to the same time in 2019.
Here’s why travelers are flocking to these stunning Caribbean islands in record numbers:
Beaming in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, St. Thomas is a tropical paradise that’s perfect for beach lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and culture seekers alike.
If you decide to check out the idyllic island for yourself this upcoming season, here’s what you can look forward to:
What To Do
One of the main draws of St. Thomas is the abundance of water-based activities that take place in the area.
Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts of all levels can explore the colorful coral reefs the region is famous for.
The translucent waters make the experience feel that much more comfortable and enjoyable, even for total beginners (of course, so long as they’re accompanied by a licensed instructor).
Travelers in search of the adventure of a lifetime will be happy to learn that St. Thomas offers some truly world-class windsurfing and kiteboarding opportunities, and lessons for both hover around $130 for a two-hour session.
If you’re looking for something more laid-back instead, sailing and yachting are your best options.
Semi-private sailing expeditions in St. Thomas start at $109, so you won’t have to break the bank in order to get that quintessential Caribbean island experience.
What To See
After a long day enjoying marine pastimes, you’ll want to take the time to explore the region’s captivating historical sites, which are usually overlooked in favor of surfing lesions and dreamy beaches.
The Blackbeard’s Castle, for example, is a must-see.
The watchtower dates back to the 17th century, and you can even climb to the top and marvel at panoramic views of the island while imagining the pirates and privateers who once roamed the waters.
Those looking for something more fast-paced will love the Coral World Ocean Park, one of the region’s best interactive marine parks where visitors can learn about the local sea life while also getting to touch sea stars (p.s. you might even get to see a shark or two).
The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands has always captivated travelers’ imaginations with its picturesque landscapes and warm, vibrant culture, and, as luck would have it, more people than ever are getting to enjoy the island’s charm firsthand.
What To Do
While there’s no shortage of idyllic beach destinations in the Caribbean, few are as geographically diverse as St. Croix.
The island is home to the lush Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, making it the perfect place of refuge for nature lovers and kayakers alike.
So, paddle through the mangroves, sunbathe in the soft-sanded Turtle Beach, and hike through the tropical rainforests in search of hidden waterfalls – I can guarantee your trip to St. Croix will be one for the books.
What To See
The island’s attractions are as diverse as its landscape, catering to travelers from all walks of life.
Those looking to explore the local cuisine and architecture will love Christiansted, St. Croix’s largest town.
Here, you’ll find a charming blend of Danish colonial architecture and that quintessential Caribbean feel.
A day in Christiansted would be best spent strolling along the cobblestone streets, visiting historic sites like Fort Christiansvaern, and indulging in local cuisine at waterfront restaurants.
At night, the town comes alive with tantalizing music, offering a taste of that laid-back island feel we talked about earlier.
If you’re looking to spend your afternoon doing something a little more unique, though, I can’t recommend visiting the Cruzan Rum Distillery enough.
Here, guided tours take guests through the distillation process, from sugarcane to barrel aging, and culminate in tastings of the distillery’s finest creations, so make sure to come thirsty.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com