PLACES TO SEE AND THINGS TO DO WHEN SAILING THE USVI'S
St Thomas, St John, St Croix, Water Island
Rather than mapping out a day by day itinerary for the US Virgin Islands, it really makes more sense to describe all the options and let you decide where you want to go and what works best for you and your crew. Chartering in the USVI is a very different experience than what you will find when sailing the BVI's. It's much quieter, far less crowded, and will save you a little money by avoiding any customs fees. Most of our guests who do head to the BVI, still spend a night or two enjoying St John or Great St James.
You will want to plan a little differently when provisioning for a USVI only charter, as you will most likely be eating more meals onboard, which can actually be quite nice. You will be able to enjoy a great deal of privacy, pristine beaches, beautiful scenic hikes, as well as exciting nightlife and amazing restaurants in Cruz Bay, St John.
WITH THAT BEING SAID . . .
Here's what we would do on a week-long charter in the USVI
Sleep aboard night - Casual dinner at Dive Bar (in the marina) or a nicer dinner at Caribbean Fish Market
Day 1 - Sail around the East End of St Thomas for Magen's Bay/Lunch ashore/dinner onboard
Day 2 - Head to Lovango for lunch at Zozo's H2O/Red Hook for overnight and dinner
Day 3 - Sail along the North Shore of St John/ stop at Hawksnest for snorkeling
Sail to Francis Bay for overnight/Maho Crossroads for lunch & drinks/live music, then dinner onboard
Day 4 - Waterlemon Cay and Leinster for snorkeling and easy hike/sail to Hansen Bay (LimeOut) for lunch
Make your way to Salt Pond or Lameshur for quiet overnight and dinner aboard
Day 5 - Nice longer sail to Water Island/lunch at Heidi's or Dinghy's
Overnight in Lindberg Bay/dinner at Emerald Bay Resort
(OR, choose to anchor in Long Bay/marina slip at YHG for dinner & shopping downtown)
Day 6 - Breakfast at Emerald Cafe/then head back east and motor through Long Bay for the scenery
Pick up a ball on Honeymoon and spend some time in Cruz Bay for shopping and dinner
Day 7 - Pizza Pi in Christmas Cove for lunch and snorkeling/overnight for mooring
OR, spend the afternoon and evening in Secret Harbor on anchor (it's VERY calm here)
Day 8 - Early breakfast at Cruzan Beach Club in Secret Harbor, then back to base (15 min. from marina)
SEE BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS
ST JOHN - HAWKSNEST, TRUNK BAY, CINNAMON, FRANCIS BAY (Maho Beach)
One of the best things about starting and ending your trip in the USVI is taking advantage of spending some time on St John. With its long stretches of white sandy beaches and beautiful, mountainous terrain wrapped in rich foliage, as if draped in green velvet, St John is not to be missed. As you leave the channel from Compass Point Marina, you will already have St John in your sites. Take special note as you motor by Great St James and Christmas Cove, as this may be where you want to spend your last night of your charter. As you make your way along the North shore, take some time to stop to enjoy the beautiful, clear water and stop in a few of the quiet cays for a snorkel or for lunch onboard. A great place for this is Hawksnest and Oppenheimer Beach, made famous because it was the former home of Robert Oppenheimer, Father of the Atomic Bomb. this property was eventually given to the people of St John and is a spectacular, private recreation area. Continue sailing (or motoring) past Trunk Bay, Cinnamon, and Peter Bay, where the scenery is spectacular. Plan to overnight in Francis Bay, which is the most favored on the northeastern side offering excellent holding and protection. This is home to the new Maho Crossroads, where you can enjoy a bite to eat, cool Caribbean beverages, and most days live music. Sunday, Fun-Days and full-moon parties are the best! Plus, you're sure to see some turtle (and, donkeys)!
WATERLEMON CAY & LEINSTER BAY
As you make your way through the cut at Mary Point, Francis Bay, you will begin sailing into the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Don't miss the opportunity to stop for a snorkel and/or hike at Waterlemon Cay/Leinster Bay. Ranked the #1 St John Attraction on TripAdvisor. Here you will find stunningly clear water, abundant coral, and boundless marine life. Perfect snorkeling for all levels. There is also a beautiful and historic hike through the Annaberg Plantation. A very flat walk along the shoreline makes for a easy, relaxing self-guided tour of sugar mill ruins.
EAST END, ST JOHN
The Southeast Side of Coral Harbor has become one of the most popular spots on St John because of the newly famous Lime Out, a floating artisan taco restaurant and cool hangout! Hansen Bay is located on St John's East End, near the Coral Bay area. Great place for a lunch stop as you make your way to an overnight anchorage. Lime Out was recently name #3 Best Restaurant in the Caribbean by USA TODAY Readers' Choice 2020. Lime Out is open Tuesday - Sunday, 11:30 am- 5:00 pm.
People often ask about Coral Bay for overnight or dining, but we encourage bareboaters to choose another destination. The moorings in Coral Bay are mostly private, with many live aboard residents, and not alot to see or do there for boaters.
SALT POND AND GREAT and LITTLE LAMESHUR BAY, SOUTH SHORE, ST JOHN
If you're really looking for privacy and beautiful quiet cays, the South Shore is the perfect place as long as the weather cooperates. There is a great hike here up to Ram's Head with expansive views of the Atlantic. Please refer to your Cruising Guide for detailed information for entering this area.
Next to Salt Pond, you will find Great and Little Lameshur Bay. Both are very protected except when there is a rare South wind or the seas are from the South. In any of these bays, you will need to be prepared for dinner onboard as there are literally no services available. Just peace and quiet!
GREAT CRUZ BAY, HONEYMOON, AND CANEEL
This area is the most popular location among our charter guests for their last night. Since mooring or anchoring in Cruz Bay is prohibited since ALL of the balls are private, Honeymoon and Caneel offer plenty of options for those wanting to dinghy in to town. Cruz Bay offers many dining and shopping options, as well as a vibrant nightlife, both in the downtown area, as well as Mongoose Junction. It is definitely a good idea to make a reservation for most of the restaurants in St John, so be sure to plan ahead. There are a couple of dinghy docks accessible and that will be covered during the chart briefing. A few of our favorite restaurants are shown below, but there are many other choices outside of these.
GREAT ST JAMES AND LITTLE ST JAMES
Another nice spot to spend the last night of charter is Christmas Cove at Great St James. This area is only about 30 minutes outside of Compass Point Marina and is home to the world famous Pizza Pi, #4 on the USA Today Readers' Choice for Best Restaurants in the Caribbean. We always see turtles here and quite often spotted eagle rays. Unfortunately, Little St James has recently become quite the tourist attraction because of its infamous owner, Jeffrey Epstein. Little St James is referred to by the locals as Pedophile Island. On the bright side, there's great snorkeling there!
One of the newest attractions in the US Virgin Islands is Zozo's H2O located on Lovango. Private and charter boats are welcome, and there are also private ferries from Red Hook and Cruz Bay. They are in the process of adding more mooring balls to avoid having anyone drop anchor on the very delicate reef in this area. There are other developments in the works for Lovango and we will bring you more information as available.
On the far East End of the island, near our marina, you will find Red Hook, a small, but bustling area where most of the nightlife on the island takes place. There are numerous restaurants with a wide-range of dining options, some cool retail stores, and a very nice grocery store/wine shop. Most any night of the week you'll also be able to find live music at one of the many bars in this vibrant and lively hot spot.
American Yacht Harbor offers daily/nightly slip rentals with a reservation. There is also a very convenient fuel dock near the Red Hook ferry terminal where you can refuel and/or top up water.
Red Hook , St Thomas
One of our favorite places! The water is almost always calm here, great snorkeling, cool pool bar/restaurant, and a nicer restaurant for the evening, Sunset Grill. This is the closest bay to our marina, only about 15 minutes to the channel markers. This is a great place to stay pre-or post-charter as well. We have many guests who take advantage of this beautiful condo resort, especially given its convenient location and gorgeous setting.
Surrounding Long Bay is the main "city area" that includes Havensight (cruise port area), Yacht Haven Grande (mega-yacht marina), Charlotte Amalie (downtown), and French Town. All of these areas combined is a shopper's paradise with a wide-range of shops. From high-end designer stores down to the bargain hunting mecca affectionately known as "Tent City", there's something for everyone. If you plan to visit the downtown area during your charter, we can make suggesting for mooring, anchoring, or slip rentals during your chart briefing.
This is one of the 4 islands that make up the USVI. It's not as well-known as the big three, St Thomas, St John, and St Croix, but it's very popular for those of us who live and work here. It's a fun, yet quieter version of BVI's White Bay. Here you will find Heidi's Honeymoon Grill and Dinghy's Beach Bar. There's always something great going on here including Live Music, Movies by the Sea, Dinner Under the Stars, and Sunday Brunch. You might want to consider renting a golf cart to cruise around the island and enjoy a few spectacular photo ops.
Home to Emerald Beach Resort, Lindberg is normally a nice, calm anchorage. If the wind and seas are from the south, you will not want to overnight here. The resort has gone through a remodel/rebuild and has a nice pool, restaurant and bar. Great place to chill!
The largest of the Virgin Islands, St Croix is surrounded by the largest barrier reef system in the Caribbean, making it somewhat challenging. There are two towns on St Croix, each with its own unique vibe and personality. Christensted looks very much the same today as it did in the colonial days, when it was the capital of the Danish West Indies, and most of our charter guests who venture down to St Croix choose this area.
Charteres go to St Croix for a few very specific reasons . . . diving, golfing, and to explore Buck Island Reef National Monument. If you are planning a visit to Buck Island, be sure to prepare in advance as you will need a mooring permit to be able to do so. Green Cay Marina is also a favorite overnight spot, but you will need a reservation. This marina is right next to Tamarind Reef Resort and Spa and overnight marina guests have access to all the resort amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, and state-of-the-art fitness center.
If you happen to be there on Bingo night, be sure to sign up early. They sell out every time!
There are also some really great places to dine on St Croix and we have listed a few of our favorites below.