Explore the US Virgin Islands

The United States of America, the land of capitalism, is one of the few nations in the world to increase its land size simply by buying it. In fact, the United States would be a much different country today if it hadn’t made prudent purchases in real estate.

First there was the Manhattan purchase, which pre-dated the nation’s establishment but which was nonetheless a genuine, if bargain-priced, purchase. The Louisiana Purchase saw a great swathe of Middle America be added to the country’s land registry. Alaska was a pretty nifty deal negotiated with the Russians well before gold was discovered there, and one of the smallest land deals was negotiated with Denmark in 1916, when the US bought, what became, the US Virgin Islands for a pretty fair price.

The US Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean and form part of the Lesser Antilles and Leeward Islands groups. They are comprised of three main islands; Saint Croix, St John and St Thomas, and there are some lesser islands such as Water Island, which is tiny, but became a popular stop for sailing vessels as it had plenty of easily accessible fresh water.

The island of St Thomas is the most populated of the islands, and is where the capital, Charlotte Amalie is situated. One of the main attractions here is Blackbeard’s Castle, a tower that was used by the Danes to spot pirate vessels. It was named after Blackbeard simply because he was the most famous of the Caribbean pirates, and it now forms part of a hotel complex.

St John is a short ferry ride from St Thomas and much of its area forms part of the Virgin Islands National Park. Its main town is Cruz Bay, but St John is best known for its incredibly attractive beaches, which make it a popular honeymoon destination. The best of the island’s beaches is considered to be Trunk Bay which has an underwater trail to add swimmers who snorkel along its coral reef.

St Croix is the largest, and most distant, of the main islands. The islands Point Udall is considered to be the most easterly point of the United States. St Croix also has some wonderful beaches, and it very popular with both SCUBA divers and snorkelers because of its coral reefs and the opportunity to do some deep diving off Cane Bay. St Croix is also a popular destination around Christmas as the islanders celebrate their biggest festival at this time when they break out colourful costumes and parade through the streets.

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