Are you familiar with the Virgin Islands? You probably are – most people are familiar with the name. The one thing many aren’t aware of though is that this archipelago or group of islands is split into three sections. Officially they’re all known as the Virgin Islands and this is correct; however they are all overseas territories attached to different countries depending on which islands are involved. Here we will be looking at the US Virgin Islands, which as you may (correctly) guess are associated with the United States. These islands use the US dollar as their official currency.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The US dollar is split into 100 cents. You can use several different coins while you are in the US Virgin Islands, and these are the 1, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins. Technically the 50 cent coin can also be used but it isn’t very often around, as people don’t find it that popular. The same goes for the one dollar coin.
As for dollar banknotes you can look out for the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. In addition to these a $2 note has been issued but few people actually use it so you might not come across it during your travels.
From past to present – the history of the US Virgin Islands US dollar
The US dollar has been around for a couple of centuries now. However the US Virgin Islands were not always under the governance of America (and indeed, they aren’t now). Originally the islands ‘belonged’ to the Danish. They only passed to the US when a sale of the islands was successfully arranged back in 1917. So the US dollar has been in use on the islands for some time now.
How to get hold of the US Virgin Islands US dollar
This is easy enough since the US dollar is widely available from all the bureaux de change you can think of. This means you can be prepared and take some cash with you. It gives you one less thing to think about once you arrive.
It’s pretty easy to get hold of more dollars while you are on the islands too. There are lots of banks around so once you get your bearings you will know where the nearest one is for withdrawing more cash. St Thomas has plenty of cash machines and the other two main islands are fairly easy when it comes to finding cash machines and banks too.
Furthermore you’ll find it relatively easy to pay for things if you want to use a credit card. While there are some smaller places that may not accept them they are few and far between, making life easier for you.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the US Virgin Islands US dollar
As you can imagine you’ll have no trouble finding the latest exchange rate on the US dollar. Every good currency converter will include the dollar in its collection; furthermore you will usually find it listed at the top with other more popular currencies. If all else fails you can use the ISO code USD to find it quickly. Obviously the rate you see is only a guideline since it won’t include any commission added to your purchase when you exchange your own currency for the US dollar.
Anytime you travel abroad you want to know your trip will be a safe one. There is a useful page on the CDC website that covers the latest health information for anyone wanting to travel to these islands. You might find the information there quite useful. The page is at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/usvirgin-islands.
Travelling safely with the US Virgin Islands US dollar
The good news is you should be able to visit the US Virgin Islands with no problems whatsoever. Obviously there is always the vague chance something amiss could occur, but providing you take adequate precautions the odds of this are pretty low.
The biggest problem is really petty crime. Pickpocketing and bag snatching are the most inconvenient crimes but they are rarely violent. However it does make sense to limit the odds of being involved by not carrying too much cash with you. The cash you do have can be split into various pockets to limit the damage a pickpocket could do. In terms of jewellery you should keep it to a minimum where possible. Thieves will often pick the best targets so by limiting your attractiveness as a target you should be fine.
Where to spend your dollars in the US Virgin Islands – and what to spend them on
The Virgin Islands are collectively a large series of islands in the Caribbean. The US Virgin Islands are situated to the west of the British Virgin Islands, and consist of three major islands along with lots of other much smaller ones. The main islands you can visit are Saint Thomas, Saint Croix and Saint John.
The capital of the US Virgin Islands is the rather charmingly named Charlotte Amalie. You’ll find this on St Thomas and it is a lovely area that suits its name! It is a town rather than a city but it has a history stretching back over 300 years. Tourism is a major source of income for the town, especially since it is not unusual to see a huge cruise ship docked in the port.
You cannot miss Blackbeard’s Castle if you do visit the capital, as this is a popular landmark and is recognised as an historic landmark in the US. It is over 300 years old and it has been mooted that Blackbeard the pirate may have used this tower during his years of piracy. Whether this is true or not remains open for discussion, but the name and the story have both stuck!
Over on Saint John you can visit the Virgin Islands National Park. This is a truly amazing place, spread over some 7,000 acres so there is plenty for you to explore. This is a must-visit place if you happen to like hiking, since those in charge of the park maintain over 20 separate trails for visitors to enjoy. The diversity of the national park means you can enjoy some very different trails as well. For example there is a boardwalk trail along Francis Bay Boardwalk, a charming area that provides everyone – even those in wheelchairs – with the opportunity to make the most of the park. Elsewhere you can try the Salt Pond trail, which is not that demanding and offers the chance to arrive at a nice beach. If you are fairly fit and prepared for a bigger challenge you can head for the Reef Bay trail, a two-mile trail with some steep sections you need to be ready for. It will take a lot longer than your average two-mile walk to complete!
We did say there were three main islands and the third of these is of course Saint Croix. This island has its own series of attractions to appreciate, one of which is its many beaches. From Butler Bay to the Chenay Bay Beach, you are bound to find some impressive beaches among those available. Check which ones are closest to your accommodation if you are staying on this particular island and go from there.
One of the more unusual places you could go to is called Buck Island. According to information about the attraction this is actually underwater – a rarity for a US attraction. You’ve heard of a walking trail; well this island has an underwater trail for you to follow. You don’t need to be a diver to do this – you simply need the ability to go snorkelling. It is quite fascinating because there are underwater signs telling you what the nearby fish are called. If you don’t fancy getting into the water you can always try the beach nearby, since this is rather pleasant too. Boats will take you out to the island but you should be aware that this is understandably a popular place to go. Don’t leave it until that day to book a spot on the boat – make sure you book well in advance so you don’t miss out.
The US Virgin Islands clearly have plenty to offer to visitors. With various main islands to visit and lots of smaller ones that might also be worth a look, this is a gorgeous and tempting place to go to. Regardless of whether you want to explore and relax on the beaches, swim in the sea, take an underwater tour or explore some of the nature trails on the islands, you’ll be in heaven.
The islands are also more than capable of catering for tourists, yet they haven’t lost their essential charm either. This perfect balance makes the US Virgin Islands a great place to head for in the Caribbean if you want a memorable holiday. It may well have you wanting to go back for more.