You’re planning a Caribbean vacation and want to go to the Virgin Islands. But, which of the Virgin Islands should you visit – the U.S. Virgin Islands or the British Virgin Islands?
How do you compare islands that are, for all intents and purposes, similar? The decision really comes down to the overall ambiance of the islands and what your expectations are for your visit. Both islands are surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean with white, sandy beaches. But, with all these similarities, what would make you choose one set of islands over the other?
If you want more hotels, more shopping, and more activities the U.S. Virgin Islands is the place for you. Because there are more things to do, the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered to be more family-friendly. Additionally, you will find livelier nightlife in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The beaches on the U.S. Virgin Islands are gorgeous and most of the beaches have restroom facilities. And how can you not consider the biggest tourist attraction on St. John Island – the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park? The park encompasses more than five thousand acres and includes an underwater garden filled with coral reefs. Above ground you have a choice of taking a hike along its hiking trails, witnessing the historic ruins filled with petroglyphs, taking in the scenic bays, and swimming or scuba on its beautiful beaches.
The British Virgin Islands are a bit more laid back yet are considered to be more luxurious. They have a less robust nightlife as compared to the nightlife you can find in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Their beaches are free but they are less developed than those you find on the U.S. Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands does have the Baths National Park, which is located in Virgin Gorda, with grottoes and snorkeling locations as well as hiking trails. Getting to the British Virgin Islands, however, is a bit more complicated than going to the U.S. Virgin Islands because no major airport services the area. If you are coming in from the United States, you will need to fly to other Caribbean islands such as St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Maarten, or Puerto Rico and connect from there. There is a ferry service from St. Thomas to Tortola and a charter service from Puerto Rico. If you are flying in from Europe, the easiest route is flying into Antigua and taking a ferry service to the islands. Because it is a British territory you will need to make sure that you bring your passport.
If you are a beach lover who is looking for a variety of outdoor adventures that you can do with your family or significant other then the U.S. Virgin Islands is the place for you. It’s easily accessible from the United States and Canada with daily flights from most major airports with a ferry connection from St. Thomas to the other islands.
If you are into sailing or boating as well as watersports that include diving and looking for a place that is low-key, the British Virgin Islands just might appeal to you. It’s not easily accessible from the United States or Canada but you can fly into Tortola or into St. Thomas and take a ferry to the islands from there.