Getting a real total on the number of islands that comprise the Virgin Islands is tough to do, but the most common number you’ll hear is 60 total. Of these 60, only 8 are truly “inhabited,” meaning people make their permanent home there. The inhabited islands include four from the United States Virgin Islands (Water Island, St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix) and four from the British Virgin Islands (Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Anegada, and Virgin Gorda).
Many of the “private” islands are very famous–Necker Island is owned by Sir Richard Branson, who has both his permanent residence and a resort on island. Scrub Island and Peter Island are home to world class resorts, but not residents. Cooper Island is home to 5 residents, plus a small resort. Norman Island, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island,” is privately owned and uninhabited except for a restaurant at the Bight. Food and employees are boated in daily.
There are two commercial airports that serve the Virgin Islands. The main airport is on St. Thomas, and this airport is the main hub for most of the Caribbean. The second airport is on Beef Island, but is known as Tortola airport and only flies commuter jets that come in mainly from Miami, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. The largest plane that lands here is a 64 passenger turbo prop plane.
With so many islands and only two airports, how do people get from island to island? Boat is the main mode of transportation in this island chain. From St. Thomas (farthest west island) to Anegada (farthest east island), the distance is about 40 miles. In between those 40 miles, lay 59 of the 60 islands–you’re never out of sight of land. The 60th island, St. Croix, is the largest of all the islands, and the most isolated. In contrast to the mountainous terrain of the other islands, St. Croix is relatively flat; it’s highest point being Mount Eagle at 1,165 feet. There are about 50,000 full time residents here, and this island is home to the Cruzan Rum and Captain Morgan Rum factories as well as a large oil refinery, which is scheduled to shut down soon. St. Croix is also about 40 miles from the nearest island, which makes it tough to visit for day boat charters as the time to get there is significant–about 3 hours each way by boat. You can, however, charter a sea plane out of St. Thomas which has you there in about 30 minutes. The best way to see St. Croix is to spend a few days there.
So, when planning to visit the other islands–and if you come to the Virgin Islands–you should, choose a day boat charter company to take you from island to island. Enjoy the world’s best snorkeling, with turtles, rays, fish, and even dolphins and whales, depending on the time of year. Visit world famous beach bars, like Soggy Dollar, Foxy’s, the Willy T, and Ivan’s Stress Free Bar. Dine at beach restaurants like Sydney’s for fresh lobster, Pirate’s Bight for Chicken Roti, or Heidi’s on Water Island for delicious grilled to order burgers. Take in the stunning sights and sounds of the islands in luxury and comfort aboard on of Pirate’s Paradise Adventures 32 runabout power boats and take home the memories of a lifetime!
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