When to Go
Year-round. High season is mid-December to mid-April.
How to Get There
By plane to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, then taxi or bus to Red Hook, then ferry across Pillsbury Sound to Cruz Bay, a 20-minute ride. Or, try to catch one of the less frequently scheduled ferries from Charlotte Amalie—the boat takes 45 minutes, but the dock is much nearer the airport.
How to Visit
If you have only one day, drive the North Shore Road as far as the Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins, taking time to stretch your legs along some seaside trails—and perhaps do a little snorkeling. Return via Centerline Road, stopping at the ruins of Catherineberg Sugar Mill. On a second day, consider hiking the Reef Bay Trail, explore the island's East End, visit Saltpond Bay, and walk to Ram Head. With more time, sign up for some of the excellent ranger-led tours and activities. If you're driving yourself, be prepared for steep, often potholed roads with blind curves, and stay on the left. The speed limit is 20 miles per hour. An alternative is to hire a taxi and guide.
Where to Stay
Cinnamon Bay and Maho Bay Campgrounds are both located in the park (the latter, however, is privately owned). Accommodations at Cinnamon Bay include bare sites (picnic table and charcoal grill included), tents, and cottages (with four twin beds, electrical lights, a fan, and a gas stove and charcoal grill).
At the eco-friendly Concordia Eco-Resort, choose from tent-cottages tucked high among the park's foliage or studios with private baths.
Accommodations outside the park include private villas, resorts, B&Bs, hotels, and campgrounds. For more information, check out www.usvitourism.com.
Driving is on the left side of the road, in the British style.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Heed beach-closing advisories. Also, know your limit when snorkeling and swimming, as strong waves can be dangerous. Also, while in the water, the general rule is: "If it's not sand, don't stand!" Avoid stepping on coral to protect both yourself (it can be sharp) and the coral.
You may encounter animals while driving, hiking, or hanging out on the beach. These are wild—do not touch or feed them. Also, do not eat unknown fruits or plants on the island. The Machineel tree (a.k.a. Death Apple), for example, produces a poisonous crab apple-like fruit. Even touching its sap can result in skin irritation.