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Cape Air Introduces New Route from St. Thomas to Anguilla, Marking an End to LIAT’s Era

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In a significant development for regional air travel, Cape Air has unveiled a daily flight service starting March 8, connecting St. Thomas’s Cyril E. King International Airport with Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport in Anguilla. This 55-minute journey, scheduled to depart from St. Thomas each afternoon, caters to travelers arriving in the Virgin Islands, seeking convenient onward connections to Anguilla.

Linda Markham, President and CEO of Cape Air, expressed her enthusiasm for the new service. “With over twenty-five years of commitment to the Caribbean, Cape Air is honored to contribute to Anguilla’s tourism sector,” she stated. Markham emphasized Cape Air’s longstanding practice of linking island communities to major cities and facilitating seamless connections with partner airlines.

Markham further highlighted the service’s role in strengthening the bond between the communities of Anguilla and St. Thomas, enhancing the accessibility to their respective home islands.

Joseph Boschulte, the Commissioner of the Department of Tourism, lauded the introduction of this route as a boon for the U.S. Virgin Islands. He remarked that it not only enhances regional connectivity but also paves the way for increased inter-island travel from neighboring nations in the Lesser Antilles.

This announcement by Cape Air arrives at a poignant moment, coinciding with the cessation of operations by the regional airline LIAT. LIAT’s final commercial flight embarked this week from St. Vincent’s Argyle Airport to St. Lucia’s George F.L. Charles Airport, drawing the curtain on its 50-year history of connecting Caribbean nations. The airline, a collaborative enterprise among various Caribbean governments, succumbed to financial challenges and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, eventually entering administration.

While LIAT 2020 (Limited), the proposed successor to the airline, is in its early stages, it has not yet disclosed details regarding aircraft acquisition or an operational start date.

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Travel Tips: How to Plan Your Stay in USVI

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Planning a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands involves considering the best times to visit, navigating transportation options, and exploring the diverse range of activities and accommodations. Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure you make the most of your stay.

Optimal Travel Period

To experience the best of the USVI, timing your visit is crucial. The high season from December to March offers the most pleasant weather with temperatures between the mid-70s and high-80s and minimal rainfall, though it attracts the largest crowds and higher prices. For a balance of good weather and fewer tourists, aim for April to June. Avoid the peak hurricane season from July to November, which brings increased rainfall and potential storms​.

Getting There and Around

Accessing the USVI is straightforward, with Cyril E. King Airport (STT) in St. Thomas and Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX) in St. Croix serving as the main gateways. Most flights connect through San Juan, Puerto Rico. For cruise travelers, St. Thomas is a primary port, with additional facilities in St. Croix and St. John​.

Within the islands, renting a car is the most convenient option, particularly on St. Thomas and St. Croix. Driving is on the left side, and rentals are readily available at the airports. Alternatively, taxis and ferries offer reliable transportation, making island hopping easy and accessible​.

Where to Stay

Accommodation options vary across the islands. St. Thomas features numerous resorts and hotels, catering to those seeking vibrant nightlife and comprehensive amenities. St. John, with its abundant natural beauty and fewer resorts, is ideal for a more serene and nature-focused stay. St. Croix provides a mix of historical charm and modern comforts, perfect for a balanced experience.

Activities and Attractions

The USVI offers a wealth of activities to suit all interests:

  • Snorkeling and Diving: Discover the underwater wonders at Buck Island Reef National Monument and Trunk Bay, renowned for their clear waters and vibrant marine life​​.
  • Sailing: The consistent trade winds make the USVI perfect for sailing. Consider a sunset cruise or a day trip to smaller islands like Water Island​​.
  • Hiking: Trails in Virgin Islands National Park on St. John offer breathtaking views and immersive nature experiences. Popular hikes include the Ram Head Trail and the Reef Bay Trail.
  • Historical Sites: Explore cultural landmarks such as Fort Christiansvaern in St. Croix and the 99 Steps in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to delve into the rich history of the islands​.

Cultural Etiquette

When visiting, it’s important to respect local customs. Begin interactions with a polite greeting such as “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or “good evening.” Dress modestly when away from the beach, ensuring swimsuits are covered in public areas. Many small vendors prefer cash, so carry some for convenience, though ATMs are widely available​.

Packing Essentials

Prepare for the tropical climate with lightweight clothing, sun protection like reef-safe sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Bring comfortable footwear for exploring and consider packing snorkeling gear to enjoy the pristine waters. Insect repellent and a reusable water bottle are also useful additions​.

By following these tips, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable stay in the USVI. From stunning beaches and adventurous activities to rich cultural experiences, the islands offer something for every traveler. Safe travels and enjoy your tropical getaway!

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Family Travel: Activities for All Ages in the Virgin Islands

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The U.S. Virgin Islands are a perfect destination for family vacations, offering a diverse range of activities that cater to all ages. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or educational experiences, the Virgin Islands have something to keep every family member entertained. Here’s a guide to some of the best family-friendly activities across St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

St. Thomas: Adventure and Exploration

1. Coral World Ocean Park Coral World Ocean Park is an interactive marine park where families can learn about marine life through exhibits and activities like the Undersea Observatory and touch pools. This park is ideal for children and adults who are fascinated by the ocean.

2. Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline For the adventurous family members, the Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline offers a thrilling experience. This zipline features eight platforms, six ziplines, and two skywalks, providing stunning views of the island and the Caribbean Sea. It’s suitable for kids aged five and up​.

3. Skyride to Paradise Point Take the Skyride to Paradise Point for breathtaking views of the Charlotte Amalie harbor. This aerial tramway rises 700 feet above sea level and is equipped with restaurants and shopping, making it a great spot for a family day out​.

St. John: Nature and Relaxation

1. Virgin Islands National Park Much of St. John is covered by the Virgin Islands National Park, offering pristine beaches, hiking trails, and historical ruins. The Reef Bay Trail is a popular hike that leads to the Sugar Mill ruins and ancient petroglyphs, perfect for a family adventure​​.

2. Trunk Bay Trunk Bay is one of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean, known for its crystal-clear waters and an underwater snorkeling trail. It’s a safe and enjoyable spot for children and adults alike to explore marine life and enjoy a day by the sea​.

3. Maho Bay Beach Maho Bay Beach is ideal for families with young children due to its shallow waters and gentle waves. Here, you can often spot sea turtles and rays, making it a delightful experience for little ones​.

St. Croix: History and Conservation

1. Buck Island Reef National Monument A visit to Buck Island Reef National Monument is a must. Families can take a catamaran tour to this uninhabited island, which is perfect for snorkeling and exploring the coral reefs. The island’s Turtle Beach is frequently ranked among the world’s most beautiful beaches​.

2. Fort Christiansvaern For a touch of history, Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted offers an engaging glimpse into the island’s colonial past. This well-preserved 18th-century fort provides educational tours that are suitable for children and adults interested in learning more about the island’s history​.

3. Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge At the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, families can participate in sea turtle conservation programs. The refuge is home to nesting sites for the endangered leatherback sea turtle and offers educational opportunities to learn about these magnificent creatures​​.

Tips for a Great Family Vacation

  • Best Time to Visit: The ideal time to visit the Virgin Islands is from December to April, avoiding the hurricane season which runs from June to November​​.
  • Accommodations: Many family-friendly resorts offer a range of amenities. Consider staying at places like the Buccaneer in St. Croix, which caters specifically to families with children​.

The U.S. Virgin Islands provide a perfect mix of adventure, relaxation, and education for families. Whether you’re exploring historical sites, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or simply enjoying the beautiful beaches, there’s something for everyone in this Caribbean paradise.

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Best Travel Routes for Exploring USVI

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The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) offer a wealth of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and recreational activities that make it a premier travel destination. Comprising three main islands—St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix—each island has its unique charm and highlights. Here’s a guide to the best travel routes for exploring the USVI, ensuring you experience the best the islands have to offer.

St. Thomas: Gateway to the USVI

Starting Point: Cyril E. King Airport

St. Thomas is often the starting point for travelers, given its well-connected Cyril E. King Airport. Upon arrival, renting a car is advisable as it offers flexibility, but taxis are readily available too. Public transportation exists but can be unreliable, especially in the evenings​ (TripSavvy)​​ (Fueled By Wanderlust)​.

Must-Visit Attractions:

  • Charlotte Amalie: Explore this historic capital city, known for its Danish colonial architecture and vibrant shopping scene. Don’t miss Blackbeard’s Castle and the 99 Steps, which offer panoramic views of the island​ (Divergent Travelers)​.
  • Magens Bay: Relax on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, with its calm turquoise waters and white sandy shores​ (Divergent Travelers)​.
  • Coral World Ocean Park: Perfect for families, this park provides an educational experience about marine life, including an underwater observatory​ (Divergent Travelers)​.

Route to Red Hook:

Travel to Red Hook on the island’s eastern end to catch the ferry to St. John. The drive offers scenic views and takes about 30 minutes. Make sure to check the ferry schedule in advance​ (Fueled By Wanderlust)​.

St. John: Nature’s Paradise

Arriving at Cruz Bay:

The ferry from Red Hook drops you at Cruz Bay, the lively center of St. John. Here, you can rent a Jeep, which is highly recommended due to the island’s rugged terrain​ (Fueled By Wanderlust)​.

Key Highlights:

  • Virgin Islands National Park: Covering two-thirds of the island, the park is a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Popular trails include the Reef Bay Trail and Ram Head Trail, which lead to stunning vistas and historical ruins​ (TripSavvy)​.
  • Trunk Bay: Famous for its underwater snorkeling trail, this beach is perfect for both relaxation and adventure​ (Fueled By Wanderlust)​.
  • Coral Bay: Visit this quieter side of the island for a more laid-back experience, with quaint shops and local eateries.

St. Croix: A Blend of Culture and Adventure

Travel Options:

St. Croix, the largest of the USVI, is a bit farther from St. Thomas and St. John. You can reach it via a short flight or a longer ferry ride. It’s advisable to plan this leg of your trip separately to accommodate travel time​ (TripSavvy)​.

Top Experiences:

  • Christiansted and Frederiksted: Explore these two historic towns, rich with colonial architecture, vibrant markets, and waterfront dining​ (TripSavvy)​.
  • Buck Island Reef National Monument: A must-visit for snorkelers, this protected area offers some of the best underwater experiences in the Caribbean​ (Earth Trekkers)​.
  • Point Udall: Visit the easternmost point of the United States for breathtaking sunrise views​ (TripSavvy)​.

Driving Around St. Croix:

Renting a car is essential for exploring St. Croix. The island’s diverse landscapes range from tropical rainforests to arid plains, offering a variety of scenic drives​ (Fueled By Wanderlust)​.

Travel Tips

  • Timing and Planning: Consider the ferry and flight schedules when planning your island-hopping itinerary. Early reservations for car rentals and accommodations are recommended, especially during peak seasons.
  • Local Cuisine: Each island boasts unique culinary delights. Don’t miss out on fresh seafood, Caribbean specialties, and local rum​ (TripSavvy)​​ (Divergent Travelers)​.
  • Safety and Comfort: Always carry water, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes, particularly for outdoor activities and hikes.

Exploring the USVI through these routes ensures a comprehensive experience of its natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re hiking in national parks, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or simply relaxing on a beach, the USVI promises an unforgettable adventure.

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