U.S. Virgin Islands
Arrival Briefing
Part 1

Driving is on the LEFT. They were afraid to change it when the US purchased the land. Now it's way too late.

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Area: St. Thomas, 32 square miles. St. John, which is 4 miles east of St. Thomas and 7 miles west of Tortola in the BVI, is 28 square miles. St. Croix, which is located 40 miles south of St. Thomas, is 84 square miles. Approx. 70 cays, islets and rocks form the entire U.S. Virgin Island chain.

Language: English

Population: St. Thomas 50,000; St. John, 2,500; St. Croix, 50,000.

Time Zone: Atlantic Standard Time, 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Documents: A passport is necessary for all except U.S. citizens, who can get by with either a voter's card or certified birth certificate. Although the U.S. Virgin Islands are an unincorporated territory and all residents are citizens of the U.S., everyone--regardless of nationality--has to clear customs upon departure. When several flights are departing at the same time, customs can get very backed up, so allow yourself plenty of time.

Currency: The US dollar is standard. Credit cards are taken almost everywhere. Banking hours are 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Taxes & Tipping: A government tax of 8% is added to all hotel bills. In addition, some resorts add a 15% service charge, plus another US$5 per night as an energy surcharge. For taxis and restaurants, tips of 10-15% are expected. There is no sales tax.

Electrical Current: Same as for most of North America, 110 volts, 60 cycle.

Getting There: American Airlines ( www.aa.com ) has direct flights from many parts of the U.S. to St. Thomas and St. Croix; St. John does not have an airport. American Eagle flies in more than a dozen times daily from San Juan. Delta ( www.delta-air.com ) has non-stop flights to St. Thomas in winter.

To reach St. John, the easiest and fastest way is to take the ferry (340/776-6282) from Red Hook at the eastern tip of St. Thomas to Cruz Bay . Except for 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. departures from Red Hook, the ferry runs hourly from 6 a.m. to midnight. The trip takes about 20 minutes. It's also possible to take a 45-minute boat from the Charlotte Amalie waterfront but this schedule is not as regular.

To reach St. Croix from St. Thomas, American Eagle departs from the airport several times daily. It's also possible to take the Seaborne Seaplane (340/773-6442) from the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. A hydrofoil (340/776-7417) also makes the one-hour trip twice daily. It's the slowest as well as most expensive way to travel but also one of the more interesting.

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