The smallest and last to become a US Virgin Island (1996) Water Island is a largely undeveloped island just a few minutes ferry ride from ST. Thomas. Although residents enjoy the quiet and isolation, Water Island can be expensive as it’s often necessary to pay for parking for a to remain car on St. Thomas and pay for daily ferry rides to work or gas to bring themselves in a dingy, as the island has virtually no jobs. It takes a pretty patient person to live on Water Island, though for the right type, it can be rewarding.
The largest and quietest island, St. Croix is 28 miles long and the most agriculturally friendly, offering organic locally grown foods at several farmers markets. While tourism is the top industry, there are fewer tourist than St. Thomas or St. John. There is excellent scuba diving as St. Croix boasts the largest living reef in the Caribbean. There are three golf courses, including a world class Robert Trent Jones course. Crime is sometimes higher than the other islands and in general, the population tends to be less transient. It can take longer to make friends but it’s worth the effort. There has been slightly higher unemployement and fewer job opportunities than in St. Thomas in the last two years. Hovensa, the local oil refinery, the hospital and the government offer some of the best chances for jobs. There are educational facilities from pre-school through university. St. Croix is twenty minutes by sea plane or two hours by ferry, from St. Thomas and about 50 minutes from Puerto Rico. St. Croix also has the only casino in the Virgin Islands for those who enjoy gambling. There are lots of interesting historical sites including forts, churches, St. Croix Government House the Whim Plantation Museum, and the Cruzan Rum factory. Nearby Buck Island is a favorite dive and snorkel spot but St. Croix is generally too far from the British Virgin Islands for island hoping day trips.
With one of the busiest and most exciting ports in the caribbean, St. Thomas is considered the most urbane of the US Virgin Islands. Offering more shopping, services and amenities than anywhere else in the nearby caribbean, St. Thomas draws not just tourists, but an eclectic mix of visitors from all over the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa. A vibrant flow of dialects and cultures can be experienced there. Larger than St. John and smaller than St. Croix, St. Thomas is just 13 miles long by 4 miles wide. The mountainous topography allows for stunning tropical views, treasured by locals and visitors alike. Boaters, and those who enjoy sport fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, love St. Thomas for it’s proximity to the numerous British Virgin Islands. Island hopping is a popular weekend activity and there are more than 60 islands, many uninhabited to explore.
On island, Magens Bay, consistently voted one of National Geographic Magazine’s top ten most beautiful beaches, is a local favorite for family and community gatherings, water sports and hanging out. St. Thomas has over 40 beaches, each with a character of its’ own. There is a large selection of bars, restaurants and entertainment options. So many businesses means more job opportunities. The tourism industry, the university, several private schools, retail, government, the hospital and many medical clinics, the power and water plant, and cable company offer some of the best prospects for work. There are many rentals for those not yet ready to buy. The main population stays steady at around 50,000. In addition, there are thousands of younger folk who tend to stay on island for a year or two and before heading back to their mainland homes. More mature, stable newcomers tend to buy homes or build and remain as permanent residents. Travel in and out of the VI is often easier and less expensive as St. Thomas is the USVI hub airport.
Choosing just the right island is a personal decision. Do you long for a laid back agricultural island, an artsy place full of beautiful nature and lots of tourists, a bedroom island that offers lots of quiet, or an the excitement, beaches, reduced living expenses and convenience of a Caribbean destination island. Make sure you research thoroughly and work with a trustworthy and knowledgable agent to help make your transition to Margaritaville both fun and successful. Whatever your choice, welcome!
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