The US Virgin Islands are around 80 kilometres east of Puerto Rico. There are four main islands St Thomas, St John, St Croix and Water Island and many smaller islands. The islands are known for their white sand beaches and strategic harbours. Most are volcanic in origin and very hilly. They were settled by the Ciboney, Carib and Arawaks and were named by Christopher Columbus in 1493 for Saint Ursula and her followers.
Over the next 300 years, the islands were held by Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, France, the Knights of Malta and Denmark. The Danes unsuccessfully attempted to sell the islands to the United States early in the 20th century. The sale finally did happen in 1917 and the territory was renamed the US Virgin Islands. US citizenship was granted to inhabitants in 1927.
Two-thirds of St John is US National Park. It is tranquil and unspoiled, has fascinating trails, secluded coves, dazzling beaches, 18th-century ruins and dense forests. St John has just one town, Cruz Bay.
Friends of the VINP staff an information kiosk and will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay. There are tours by safari bus or jeep. Keep an eye out for Lucy Smith. Her wagon is adorned with cows' horns entwined with flowers and her tours are very popular!
Trunk Bay is St John's most popular spot and possibly the most famous beach in the Caribbean. It is home of a snorkel trail. Underwater signs identify the coral reef and fish life. The 200-metre trail takes around 30 minutes to explore.
The Westin St John Resort & Villas has 282 rooms and suites and 67 villas, most with patios or balconies and all facing Great Cruz Bay. The famous Westin Heavenly Bed is in all rooms, guaranteed to give the best sleep ever. Marble bathrooms, refreshment centres and many other touches ensure a great stay.
The resort has a state-of-the-art spa and fitness centre, complete with sauna, massage therapy and full spa services. Water sports abound. You can sail, snorkel, scuba, go fishing, play with water toys and rent a boat for the day. There are six day and night tennis courts, a pro shop, lessons and clinics.
Westin Kids Club, for children between three and 12, is more than just a babysitting service. Children are given gifts at check-in and there are all sorts of amusements. They can be booked into sessions which give parents a break and there are even night camps.
Westin Resort St John & Villas rooms start at around $365 a night.
Prices quoted correct at 5.07.2007
The US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea.
For further information
United States Virgin Islands
Department of Tourism
PO Box 6400
St Thomas VI 00804
Ph: 0011 1 800 372
Westin St John Resort and Villas
Great Cruz Bay
St John, US Virgin Islands
Ph: 0011 1 (340) 693-8000
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