US Virgin Islands - Facts

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  • Important pre-arrival information: All nationalities arriving by private yacht need a valid US visa, which must be obtained in advance of arrival, or be already in possession of a visa waiver entry in their passport. See Formalities for all the details.
  • The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) are an archipelago comprising hundreds of small islands and cays. The western part is US territory, while the eastern half is a British dependency.
  • The islands are located to the east of Puerto Rico are in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.
  • The USVI consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and many other surrounding minor islands. The territory’s capital is Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas.
  • St Thomas is the most developed island and gets busy with cruise-ship traffic. St John has most of the parkland and is equally popular for hiking and snorkeling. St Croix has great scuba sites and rum factories.
  • Several enclaves exist for cruisers such as Crown Bay Marina, Yacht Haven Grande, American Yacht Harbor, Independent Boat Yard and St. John.  Elephant Bay on Water Island is open for anchoring and there are a number of small beach bars welcome visitors.
  • The population of 110,000 includes large communities of Caribbean, American, Danish, French, Asian, African and Middle Eastern residents. The official language is English, though Spanish and Patois are spoken.
  • The official currency is the United States dollar (USD), the currency also used by the British Virgin Islands. For specifics see Yachting Essentials.
  • Time zone is (GMT-4). For specifics see Yachting Essentials.
  • The climate is tropical rainforest, influenced by the trade winds. From December to March the daily average temperature is around 24/25 °C (75/77 °F), it is hotter and more humid during hurricane season; from May to October. See Weather below for more detail.
  • Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, hit the USVI in early September 2017. The storm had a sustained wind speed of at least 185mph.
  • The island uses the IALA-B (red right returning) buoyage system.
  • See Yachting Essentials for more.

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US Virgin Islands was last updated 4 months ago.

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  1. February 27, 2024 at 8:31 PM
    profile photo
    Sue Richards says:

    A large plume of Sahara Dust is expected to impact the Virgin Islands over the next couple of days. The Department of Disaster Management advises that residents and visitors take the necessary precautions to reduce the effects of the dust. Effects of the dust are:
    – Dry Cough
    – Sore Throat
    – Itchy Watery Eyes
    – Sneezing
    – Running Nose
    A few tips :
    Keep hatches closed.
    Wear a dust mask where necessary.
    Drink plenty of water and fluids.
    Keep relevant medication close by.(inhalers, sinus medication, pain reliever)
    Please note that if health conditions get severe due to dust exposure, seek medical attention.

  2. February 21, 2024 at 1:34 PM
    Kris Hearst says:

    Your clearance instructions say that you must be registered with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources – this is only if staying long term, and/or in an anchorage for longer than 14 days – not for all visiting yachts

  3. January 19, 2023 at 9:00 PM
    valentina says:

    We just arrived in St. Thomas from PR. We are a USA flagged boat and US Citizens. I tried to use the CBP Roam app and our entry was denied. I called St. Thomas CBP and they told me we did not need to clear in again between the territories. Once cleared in at PR we were good to go for all US island territories. I recommend and update to Noonsite.

    1. January 20, 2023 at 1:35 PM
      profile photo
      Sue Richards says:

      Thank you Joshua! Yes, the requirement to clear in if coming from the PR was to ensure compliance with COVID testing, when testing went away this requirement did as well. Thanks for picking up on this – I’ll amend Noonsite.

  4. November 7, 2022 at 1:36 AM
    sbonder says:

    Dinghy slashed at Cruz Bay dinghy dock. Security for the ferry 10’ away saw nothing. Police don’t care and cannot help us get back our boat. Finally found a guy to bring us back for 200.
    Been coming here for 20 years- this is a first for me.

  5. April 26, 2022 at 6:03 PM
    fredladon says:

    We are sailing from St Kits (not checking in) to St Croix. The COVID testing requirements are un clear. Do we need a COVID test if we are fully vaccinated and boosted?

  6. November 9, 2021 at 7:55 AM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    From USVI Cruisers FB Keith Pomeroy:

    We were able to talk to the supervisor of CBP St Thomas today to confirm that the ROAM app is working perfectly and that everyone entering the USVI is being denied due to an agreement with the USVI Board of Health that requires all people to be seen by the National Guard to verify compliance with the USVI travel portal requirements. National Guard representatives are at all the normal CBP locations (Cruz Bay STJ, Charlotte-Amalie Ferry terminal STT, and the airports STT & STX) during normal business hours.
    This has just recently been put into effect with no timeline for ending.

  7. April 2, 2020 at 6:19 PM
    wholybee says:

    Corona Virus updates. I just got off the phone with CBP asking questions for several yachts on their way here. I was told the only restriction is that they must not have been in Asia or Europe in the past 14 days. Normal Visa rules apply-non US and Canadian citizens need a visa or will not be allowed to enter. Canadians and US citizens can use the ROAM app to check in. Others need to go to an office to be fingerprinted.

    Also, regarding fees. When I checked in a few days ago, I was charged $30 for a use sticker, good for unlimited entries into the US for the current year. The sticker to be mailed in 3-5 weeks, but all you really need is to give the order confirmation number.

  8. February 26, 2020 at 2:48 PM
    Sapphire says:

    We have recently spent a month cruising the USVIs and the following are our thoughts post visit.

    Dropping the hook on St John’s is extremely limited as the National Park control a large percentage of the coastline and only leave a few suitable bays for cruisers who do not want to purchase mooring balls at US$26 per night. Day use of these balls is free to 5.30pm, however, fees become due for overnight stays. There is a 50% discount for US citizens over the age of 62. There a two permitted anchorages within the park boundary, Francis Bay & Lind Pt, but fees are still due to use these spots overnight. You are not allowed to land your dinghy within park waters, nor tie it in anyway to the shore. You are also not allowed to drop an anchor offshore to hold it.
    I would not recommend anchoring in Cruz Bay for check-in/out, it is busy and tight. Lind Pt, just around the corner is a perfect compromise and a very easy dinghy ride to C&I. We stayed for 14 nights in Hansen Bay, outside of the Park. It was a pleasant anchorage, very quiet, with reasonable holding (we experienced a 6 day blow, gusting to 40kn). We anchored just south of Pelican Rock. Waters were very clear and coral and fish life was the best we have seen in all of the VIs. The floating taco bar, Lime Out, was no longer in situ, we understand due to legalities.
    I have recently read that beaches on the VIs are public, (at least) up to the high tide mark, so don’t be persuaded by vigilant locals who say they are all private and attempt to chase you off.
    In Park waters, boats are limited to 30 days in any 12 month period.
    Useful marine visitor map

    We were hoping for more anchorage options in St Thomas, but again there didn’t seem to be that much choice. We spent most of our time anchored in Hassel Bay West which gave us easy dinghy access to the town, shops and good supermarkets; all within an easy walk of the free dinghy docks in Crown Bay marina and Yacht Haven Grande marina. We chose this anchorage over the main harbour, which is large and seemed fairly ‘choppy’ whilst we were there. When the Christmas Winds swung around our spot was rolly for a while, even for a catamaran, as we ended up beam-on to the incoming swell. The N and W of Water Island is now full of mooring balls and it is difficult to find a spot to anchor with sufficient swing room amongst them to allow for the Christmas Winds. Charlotte Amalie caters for the cruise ships, so be prepared for all the usual souvenir shops. There is a reasonable marine store just off the dinghy dock in YHG marina. Also a hardware store close by and plenty of restaurants and bars.

    There are more anchorage options on the north of the island but we did not use them due to the winter northern swells.

    We did not encounter any issues with the DPNR but were disappointed with the attitude of the CBP officers on St John’s in relation to non US Nationals use of ROAM (see my previous comment under ROAM).

    We did not visit St Croix.

  9. February 18, 2020 at 1:51 PM
    garychurch says:

    For purposes of US Customs and Immigration, CBP does not recognize the USVI as the same CBP Region as Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgins. Therefore, you need to clear US customs once in the USVI and a second time all over again in Puerto Rico or the Spanish Virgins. We cleared in St. Croix assuming we were back in the US – wrong. We anchored in Culebra thinking we had been cleared into to US. It was only after going to Marina del Mar we were advised we needed CBP clearance and St. Croix didn’t count.

    Also, be aware that when entering the US special arrangements need to be made to dispose of “foreign trash”. We brought trash from St, Barth and they wanted $75 in St. Croix to dispose of it. Since we were on a boat we were allowed to carry it on to Puerto Rico and pay a nominal fee at the marina for disposal. Be aware however trash from St. Croix is considered “foreign” when arriving in Puerto Rico. Glad we didn’t pay twice.

  10. March 25, 2019 at 5:21 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Thanks for this information. We’ve contacted the DPNR for clarification and have updated information on anchoring and listed it under ‘restrictions’.

    1. October 30, 2019 at 8:37 PM
      kathyv says:

      please see below for a more recent “clarification.”

  11. March 13, 2019 at 2:20 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Update on the anchorage situation in the

    Friday we have been boarded by 3 officers of DPNR in Brewer’s Bay. We are on a Canadian sailboat in transit. The officers gave us a Notice of violation. On the notation, we were asked to leave Brewer’s Bay because we exceeded the 14 days. And we MUST contact DPNR for an anchoring permit.

    Monday the 11 March 2019 we had a meeting with the Director of DPNR
    Howard Forbes. I have insisted on the miss information on this regulation.
    After the meeting, we can stay in Brewer’s Bay without passing the 14 days.

    If you visit the USVI
    .. IF YOU STAY OVER 14 DAYS IN ANY Anchorage IN A 6 MONTH PERIOD IN ST THOMAS you NEED an anchoring permit in a DESIGNATED area.

    You can anchor in Brewer’s Bay but you must respect the 14 DAYS. For the anchorage permit, you must get a permit at DPNR office. Charles W. Turnbull Regional Library second flood. 84R6+86 Anna’s Retreat, St Thomas, Îles Vierges des États-Unis tel. 340 773 5774

    S/V Eaudree96

    1. October 30, 2019 at 4:51 PM
      kathyv says:

      I wish DPNR would make its laws crystal clear to everyone. There is a taco/bar boat that has been operating in Hansen Bay, St. John since March 2019. It is towed from Johnsons Bay, in Coral Harbor to Hansen Bay in Round Bay everyday except Mondays. It does not leave USVI waters. According to DPNR under JP Oriel, the count restarts everytime you leave your anchorage. Therefore staying at the same anchorage site for as long as you like is easily accomplished. Take a short day trip. You don’t even have to leave the territory waters.
      For the sake of transparency, I should be clear that I strongly disagree with this new interpretation, and believe that it negates the intent and meaning of the law. I am a resident of St. John’s East End who is directly impacted by a hugely popular taco/bar that is allowed by DPNR to operate as much as they like in previously residential neighborhood.
      Incidentally, anyone with plans to enjoy the tranquil, beautiful, healthy Hansen Bay may want to reconsider.

    2. October 30, 2019 at 4:53 PM
      kathyv says:

      I meant to say previously tranquil…

  12. February 8, 2019 at 3:33 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Update on traffic and clearances between BVI and USVI. There is ferries traffic only from Road Town to Charlotte Amalie. Other lines are not available. US customs for private yachts are open in Charlotte Amalie and Cruz Bay.

    I just came in for clearing in and out and it took just the time to fill the paperwork.

    For non-US residents who have ESTA, do not believe the ferry companies in Road Town, who want to force you to buy a roundtrip ticket, saying it is requested by US officials. This is a lie, but there is little chance you can buy a one-way ticket to any company.

  13. January 11, 2019 at 3:30 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    The Leinster Bay Morning Radio Net is broadcast at 8:20 AM on channel 68. The net provides weather, announcements, requests for the relay, and a daily fun fact about the Virgin Islands National Park

  14. December 21, 2017 at 7:28 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Update on clearing in at Christiansted. We had to go out to the airport to get both our passports stamped and have the boat cleared in. You cannot clear in at the wharf as the computer systems are not up and running there yet. The best is to call the airport st (340) 778 0216 to get the current clearing in the procedure.

    It seems to be changing day to day as things come back online. When I called I told them I needed to clear in a private vessel. Try to get there before 4 pm. Immigration and clearing in the boat took about an hour but mostly due to the computer system being very slow.

  15. December 11, 2017 at 11:27 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Update from Joan Conover (SSCA) – SY Growl Tiger – just arrived in the VIs.

    St. Thomas is open for just don’t want to DRIVE anywhere..recommend taking a tour bus or taxi.

    Crown Bay Marina is up and running since the storm, we have a slip with water..electric still being connected. The restaurant is open, laundry is open, free wifi thanks to VIYA and good grocery store here for provisioning (Publix). Good fuel as well.

    Charlotte Amalie, all tourist shops (Gucci) are open, there is a museum display on hurricane damages(20.00 bucks entry!!) and three cruise ships in port, two in Charlotte Amalie, and one at Crown Bay.

    USCG has cleared the channels but the main harbour has lots of white moorings/buoys which we can’t tell what they are for (sunken boats or a new mooring field?). Damaged vessels line the western side of the harbor..and on the Water Island side near Crown Bay, boats are grounded – two or three on the eastern side and several on the northern Water Island side.

    There is a great unsung hero on Water Island..a lady (Marion?) who flew back to the USA on at her own cost and came back with 20K worth of supplies and gensets for the island. Will try and find her.

    Boat Taxis actively running from Crown Bay. The airport is open. American flying as well as a puddle jumper to San Juan then onto the USA from there. People are needing dock worker is washing cars to put food on the table.

  16. September 30, 2017 at 8:26 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    An update from Island Global Yachting (IGY):

    In the wake of Hurricane Irma and Maria, the IGY Marina at Yacht Haven Grande – Charlotte Amalie and American Yacht Harbor Marina at Red Hook, are currently under repair.

    As of September 19th, 2017, the airport at St. Thomas was not open to commercial carriers, however, was accepting private aircraft and humanitarian relief flights. At present, it is expected that the St. Thomas airport will be operational to commercial flights sooner than St. Maarten.

    St. Thomas hotels have been affected by the hurricane, several hotels are closed and preparing for renovation. Many of the others are open but are focused on accommodating relief agencies such as FEMA, the FBI, and other law enforcement personnel.

    Several banks are open and welcoming customers with some having cash withdrawal limits in place.

    All IGY Caribbean marinas will be partially operational for the upcoming 2017/18 Winter Season and are expected to include crew amenities such as; the gymnasium, swimming pool, and food and beverage outlets within our facilities gated locations.

  17. April 26, 2017 at 8:25 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Please ensure you read Noonsite page
    This explains that Canadian and Bermudan citizens DO NOT require a visa to visit USVI.

  18. March 21, 2017 at 11:24 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Arrived in St. Thomas a few days ago. Prior to arrival, I called Customs to confirm the Visa requirements as all of the guides and this site said it was required and yet when I went to the Government site and it appeared we were ok. I wanted clarification.

    As a Canadian (not landed immigrant in Canada) we did NOT require a visa, even though arriving on our boat. As explained to me, “as long there is no reason for you to be turned away at the border coming in from Canada, you are fine to come in here”. That meaning, no DUI’s, criminal record, dual citizen etc. When we arrived customs was a breeze.

  19. November 21, 2016 at 3:22 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    If you leave USVI for BVI it’s not necessary going to the custom to clear out in USVI.

  20. March 18, 2016 at 2:21 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    One of the most peaceful anchorage place in St Thomas Is in its north side, in Magens Bay, Is a very good shelter And the Beach Is lovely

  21. February 22, 2016 at 4:16 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on behalf of Lisa Torkelson:
    St Thomas USVI.

    Didn’t realize Monday (15th Feb) was Presidents Day (been a few years since we’ve been in US waters) so just wanted to pass along that the Sundays/holidays overtime fee is $35. Normally free. Ouch.

    As a US Citizen, we are free to leave without another visit to Customs, unless we’re going to a foreign nation. In this case, we can go in to get a departure paper for the next country visited.

    We were asked today if we had any trash on board. Knowing the US rules are stringent, we had already disposed of it before leaving for the USVIs. Peter was asked the same in 2012 when checking into Cruz Bay St John.

    Had to sign a paper that stated the waste would be disposed of in a proper facility (i.e. pay to have it burned or something crazy thing like that). On the other hand, trash was not mentioned when we cleared in St. Thomas on Monday.

    Easiest (and cheapest) solution – Best to deal with trash before entering any US waters.

  22. November 12, 2015 at 4:15 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    National Park Mooring Fees will increase January 1, 2016, to $26 per night. US citizens age 62 or older can apply for the Senior Pass which allows a 50% discount on National Park fees.