There is no other place on earth more perfect for spending quality time with the family than in the Virgin Islands. The relaxing vibe, friendly people, delicious cuisine, stunning views and warm, clear waters of these Caribbean islands will make your stressful day to day life just melt away.
The best way to get the most out of your Virgin Islands vacation is to do a little advanced planning. Here are some useful tips that will make your time in the islands as easy and comfortable as possible.
Bring sun and bug protection: The Virgin Islands sun is pretty intense; it can cause severe damage to your skin. Even with constant trade winds keeping you cool, it’s still very important to protect yourself accordingly. Be sure to apply sunscreen throughout the day, especially in cloud cover. Also protect your head, skin, and eyes by wearing a hat and sunglasses. The price of sunscreen sold in the islands is really expensive, so pack it in your check-in luggage–remember, the airlines will confiscate it as a carry-on. The other element to be aware of is the “no-see-ums”–little nat-like creatures that come out at dawn and dusk, and immediately after rain, depending on the time of year. These things bite, and the bites itch like crazy. Be sure to get bug spray that contains deet. It’s the only thing that really works to keep them away.
Take precautions while on water: There are many calm and protected bays in the Virgin Islands, but you can never be too sure. When snorkeling, always work on a buddy system. Having a buddy does not only allow you and your partner to watch over each other, it also gives you the opportunity to share a unique and surreal glimpse of the Caribbean underwater life. Other things to watch out while on water, aside from heavy waves and unpredictable currents, are rocky outcrops, sea urchins and stinging sea corals. Keep your hands to yourself–you’d be surprised how painful a sting from a sea urchin can be. Also, there’s a tremendous amount of boat traffic on the water, so be sure where ever you are swimming or diving, there’s a flag up on the boat to indicate you’re in the water. Try to stay in designated swimming areas–there are tons–to be as safe as possible.
Driving is an adventure: Traffic in the Virgin Islands travels on the left side of the road. Getting used to the Virgin Islands traffic may take some time; that holds true whether you’re a pedestrian or driving a rental car. Crossing the streets on foot can sometimes be tricky because cars will be coming from opposite directions that you are used to. The other thing to keep in mind is that the islands are very mountainous and like most islands, the roads are not all in good repair. Go slowly, and beware of hidden driveways and hairpin turns. The other issue is that the views are so incredible, many people stop in the middle of the road to stare. You’ll also hear a ton of honking horns in the Virgin Islands–this isn’t meant to be rude. People in the Virgin Islands use their horns to say hello and communicate. It can be a little surprising at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly.
Be aware of your surroundings: Exercise safety precautions you always use when traveling anywhere else in the world. Wearing flashy jewelry and flashing large amounts of cash in public may attract unwanted attention. When traveling around town, especially after dark, stick to busy and well-lit areas. It is best to carry your cash and passport in a secure place on your body. If you’re traveling with a group, always inform other members where you’re off to and when you are expected to come back.
Wear appropriate clothing: Even though bathing suits are common attire at the resorts, the islanders are more proper, and bathing suits in public areas is just not acceptable. When you’re in town, wear casual clothing; shirts, pants, shorts, shoes–not swimming suits. If you’re at an event or Carnival, there’s appropriate attire for those times as well, but as a rule, only wear bathing suits when you’re at the beach or the pool.
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