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Virgin Islands Travel Guide
 Caribbean Travel Guide > Lesser Antilles > Caribbean Leeward Islands

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Welcome to the Virgin Islands (VI) on Paradise Islands. The two separate island groups consist of the American isles "USVI" (Saint Thomas, Saint Croix and Saint John) and the British isles "BVI"; Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and a large number of smaller atolls including the world famous Necker Island resort.

The VI are are all part of the Caribbean Leeward chain at the very top of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. They are located south east of the Bahamas and just east of Puerto Rico. St Thomas in the USVI is often the first port of call for cruise ships departing from Old San Juan in Puerto Rico or Miami in Florida.

Jost Van Dyke

 

The BVI are not as developed and consist of over sixty separate isles. The main island is Tortola with the BVI capital Road Town. These are unspoilt romantic hideaways with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.

The BVI are one of the most popular sailing destinations in the World attracting thousands of private boats which can explore the secrets of the 60 island chain and still feel like there is enough space for everyone. Little gems such as Norman Island (the inspiration for "Treasure Island"), Anegada, Cooper and Peter are just waiting to be explored.

Trunk Bay St John

 

The USVI consist of three larger isles of which the main one is Saint Thomas with it's capital Charlotte Amalie. This is a busy town and the most popular cruise port in the Caribbean. The USVI capital town of Charlotte Amalie was named after a Danish Queen.

It has the best shopping opportunities in the USVI with a busy main street full of quaint shops and a colourful harbour front lined with old Danish buildings. The other main isles are Saint Croix and Saint John (which is stunning); together with some 25 smaller isles and cays.

Charlotte Amalie St Thomas

The isles were first recorded by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the West Indies in November 1493. Columbus sailed past and named them after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 followers ("Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Virgines" or "Islas Virgines" for short). On this second voyage to the New World he did not stop at the Islas Virgines, but sighted and named Saint Croix (which he called "Santa Cruz"); Gorda, Tortola and Peter ("San Pedro").

Columbus was headed for Hispaniola (now known as Puerto Rico and Haiti) with seventeen ships and over one thousand men to establish a permanent settlement and convert the natives of Hispaniola to Christianity. The previous year, on his first voyage to the West Indies, he had lost one of his three ships and he was forced to leave 39 crew behind on Hispaniola. When he returned in 1493, they had all been slaughtered by the native Caribs. 

There was very little European interest in the
Virgin Islands region for the next 169 years until the Dutch established the first permanent settlement on Tortola in 1662. Prior to this date and at some time before 1615, the Dutch privateer Joost van Dyk (an official "pirate", authorised to raid and plunder); used Soper's Hole as an operational base and later moved to Road Town in 1625.

Travel, vacation and cruise guide to the Caribbean. All text and images are Copyright Paradise Islands org. All photographs on this Caribbean travel guide are obtained with the permission of the owners and come from various sources including the islands tourist boards. Some of our own maybe reproduced with permission - please see notes attached to each image to avoid any copyright penalty.
 

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Guana

Guana

St Thomas Cruise Port

St Thomas Port

Cane Garden Bay Tortola

Cane Garden Bay

Anegada

Anegada

Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay St John

Savannah Bay

Savannah Bay

Scrub Island

Scrub

Cruz Bay St John

Cruz Bay St John

White Bay Jost Van Dyke

White Bay JVD

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour

VG Yacht Harbour

Sandy Spit BVI

Sandy Spit

Buck Island St Croix

Buck St Croix

Virgin Gorda Baths

The Baths VG

Norman Island BVI

Norman