The US Virgin Islands is the only Caribbean land area that belongs to the US. Located near Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands consist of three large islands and several small ones. The larger islands: Saint John, Saint Thomas, and Saint Croix house the most important business and tourist developments, while Water Island and the other small archipelagos are mainly national park areas and beaches.
Thousands of miles of white beaches and temperate climate make the US Virgin Islands an ideal destination for those wishing to relax on the sand or practice water sports. The US Virgin Islands, however, are much more than a beach destination. Many historical and natural attractions dot the islands, and offer all visitors a chance to enjoy the surrounding beyond the water edge. For those wishing to take on the water, the US Virgin Islands offers sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, and many other options. For those wishing to see a different side of the US Virgin Islands, there are other options.
The Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve in the US Virgin Islands contains the ruins of Fort Salé, a French settlement, plus large mangrove forests and several archaeological sites. The preserve is home to numerous endangered species. Another important natural area in the US Virgin Islands is the Coral Reef National Monument, which can be visited by people doing snorkeling or underwater swimming in general. The Buck Island Reef National Monument is actually an island. Though inhabited, it can be visited by snorkelers and kayakers.
The US Virgin Islands National Park is not only the largest in the area, but also the major territorial component (60 percent) of the island of Saint John. The park encompasses hiking trails, forests, waterfalls, mountain peaks, and archaeological ruins. Petroglyph paintings and carvings can also be found in the mountainside. There are two campgrounds inside the park's limits, so it may be possible to skip hotel luxuries and enjoy nature first-hand.
The Christiansted National Historic Site, a historical fortress, is one of the oldest areas in the US Virgin Islands. The site consists of five main structures, including the Danish West India & Genia Company Warehouse, which dates back to 1749. The Christiansted National Historic Site also holds several exhibitions on the history of slavery in the Caribbean and the ship trade with Europe.