US Virgin Islands vs Hawaii: Which Should You Visit?

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If you’re planning a vacation to a tropical paradise, chances are you’ve considered both the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

Each of these stunning destinations offers incredible scenery, warm weather, and a plethora of activities to keep you entertained.

The US Virgin Islands, a group of beautiful islands in the Caribbean, offer vibrant Caribbean culture mixed with a touch of American ease.

On the other hand, the Hawaiian Islands lure travelers with their diverse landscapes, ranging from lush rainforests to impressive volcanoes, and a captivating Polynesian culture.

So which one should you choose? Let’s dive right into the main differences between these two tropical havens to help you make your decision.

Beach scene St Thomas USVI
Beach scene St Thomas USVI

What Type of Traveler is USVI For?

Are you in need of a sun-soaked escape? Then you should consider the US Virgin Islands (USVI) for your next adventure!

USVI offers steady year-round temperatures averaging between 75F(24C) and 82F (28C), making it an ideal winter sun destination for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

USVI is a haven for sailing enthusiasts, as the area is graced with cooling trade winds – perfect for yacht voyages or casual rides on smaller boats.

If sailing isn’t your thing, don’t worry; the triad of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix islands cater to every traveler’s taste.

  • For beach lovers: USVI boasts gorgeous sandy beaches, world-class snorkeling, and scuba diving. Get ready to snap some Insta-worthy photos with schools of colorful fish and postcard-perfect shorelines.
  • For history buffs and architecture admirers: Walk through time in St. Croix’s historic towns and visit centuries-old forts that overlook pristine seas.
  • For hiking and nature lovers: Explore well-marked hiking trails in St. John, where greenery and wildlife accompany you on your adventure through lush, protected parks.

As an added bonus, US citizens don’t technically need a passport to visit the USVI, but it’s always recommended to carry one just in case.

hiking in kaneohe oahu hawaii
hiking in Kaneohe Oahu Hawaii

What Type of Traveler is Hawaii For?

Hawaii, the tropical paradise of the Pacific, has something for every type of traveler.

Are you an adventure seeker eager to explore? Hawaii offers incredible hiking trails that lead to breathtaking waterfalls, lush rainforests, and some of the world’s most magnificent beaches.

If nature and wildlife are your thing, these islands host unique flora and fauna you won’t see anywhere else, including glimpses of the world’s most endangered species like the Hawaiian monk seal!

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For those who love history and culture, Hawaii is a melting pot filled with rich traditions from Native Hawaiian, Polynesian, and Asian influences.

As you wander through vibrant towns, take the time to attend a traditional hula performance or join a luau for an authentic Hawaiian feast!

And if you’re a foodie, your taste buds will surely delight in the diverse culinary landscape that spans from fresh poke bowls, and Spam musubi, to island desserts like haupia.

Rejoice, water sports enthusiasts! Hawaii is renowned for its world-class surfing, but don’t worry if you’re a beginner – there are tons of opportunities to learn the ropes.

Beyond surfing, embrace your inner mermaid or merman and embark on remarkable snorkeling and scuba diving adventures, where you’ll encounter colorful coral reefs and sea creatures.

Are you a fan of relaxation and pampering? This tropical haven has you covered too. Hawaii is home to many luxurious resorts, accompanied by soothing spa services that will have you wrapped in blissful tranquility.

Moreover, shopping aficionados will enjoy the perfect balance of local boutiques and high-end stores, catering to everything your fashion desires need.

Trunk bay on St John US Virgin Islands
Trunk Bay on St John US Virgin Islands

Location and Accessibility

The US Virgin Islands, nestled in the Caribbean Sea, entice you with its lush green hills, turquoise waters, and soft powdery sands tickling your toes. Apart from its stunning beaches, it offers a rich historical and cultural experience.

Hawaii, the volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, draws you in with its dramatic landscapes, multicolored sands, and unique Polynesian culture.

Its beaches are extraordinary and feature everything from serene bays to world-renowned surf spots.

Transportation Options

Planning to sunbathe on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands or indulge in surfing in Oahu, Hawaii? Whichever it is, navigating these paradises is simpler than you think.

In the US Virgin Islands, ferries are your best friends. They offer a convenient and affordable way to get around the main islands – St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix – plus, you can enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean waters as you float along.

Hawaii, on the other hand, has it all. From inter-island flights to ferries, buses, and car rentals, transportation options are abundant.

So, whether you want to glimpse a fiery Kilauea volcano or take a stroll through Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, getting around won’t be an issue.

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Climate and Weather

Oh, the endless battle between the tropical paradises of the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii!

But of course, one of the major aspects to consider when planning your vacation is the climate and weather. Let’s take a closer look:

Best Time to Visit USVI

The best time to visit the US Virgin Islands is from April to June, when the islands experience mild weather and very little rainfall.

During this time, you’ll enjoy a perfect balance of warm sunshine, refreshing trade winds, and clear skies.

Plus, you just might score better deals on accommodations and activities compared to peak season.

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Best Time to Visit Hawaii

In Hawaii, there’s no wrong time to visit, but the best seasons tend to be spring and fall.

These times provide the most opportunity for you to experience all that Hawaii has to offer without the heavy rainfall that can occur in the winter months.

Trust us, you’ll want to experience the gentle breezes and warm tropical sunsets without any clouds obstructing your view.

Lanikai Beach with Mokulua Islands in view oahu
Lanikai Beach with Mokulua Islands in view Oahu

Beaches

So, you’re trying to decide whether to visit the US Virgin Islands or Hawaii for your next beach vacation.

In this section, we’ll explore the alluring beaches of both destinations; buckle up and get ready for a sandy ride!

Beaches in USVI

The US Virgin Islands are an absolute paradise when it comes to beaches. Imagine yourself lounging on white sandy shores, with crystal-clear turquoise waters gently lapping at your feet. Sounds perfect, right?

Some of the most marvelous beaches you’ll find on these idyllic islands include Trunk Bay on St. John and Magens Bay on St. Thomas. Here’s what makes these beaches so irresistible:

  • Soft, white sand perfect for building sandcastles or just enjoying the sun’s warm embrace.
  • Vibrant marine life perfect for snorkeling and exploring the underwater world.
  • Relaxing atmosphere ideal for those seeking tranquility and a break from the hustle and bustle.

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Beaches in Hawaii

Hawaii’s beaches are nothing short of mesmerizing. With a mixture of white, black, and even green sand beaches, this tropical paradise offers an exciting variety for beach lovers.

Some of the most remarkable beaches on the Hawaiian islands include Waikiki Beach on Oahu and Poipu Beach on Kauai. Here’s what makes them truly extraordinary:

  • Unique sand colors with shades of black and green that you won’t find anywhere else.
  • Incredible surfing opportunities for beginners and pros alike, taking adrenaline rushes to a whole new level.
  • Fascinating geological formations like lava tubes and sea caves, providing a feast for your eyes and curiosity.

Which Has Better Beaches?

Drumroll, please! The truth is that both Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands have some seriously drool-worthy beaches to brag about.

In Hawaii, you have your pick of white, black, and even green-sand beaches, while the world-famous trunk bay beach in the US Virgin Islands is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

It’s a tough call – like choosing between two equally irresistible scoops of ice cream. But remember, sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination, so why not try both and decide for yourself?

Tranquil Caneel Bay St John
Tranquil Caneel Bay St John

Things to Do

If you’re struggling to choose between the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii for your tropical vacation, fear not!

Let’s dive into some of the most popular attractions and activities to experience in each destination.

Most Popular Attractions in USVI

In the US Virgin Islands, you’ll find a paradise filled with spectacular beaches, lush forests, and vibrant Caribbean culture across three main islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.

Here’s a quick list of some must-visit spots for each island:

St. Thomas

  • Explore the colorful Charlotte Amalie harbor, known for its duty-free shops and historical buildings
  • Take a scenic gondola ride on the Skyride for an unbeatable view of the island
  • Snorkel at Coki Beach and mingle with vibrant ocean life

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St. Croix

  • Be awed by Buck Island Reef National Monument’s underwater snorkel trail
  • Wander through the historical streets of Christiansted and Frederiksted
  • Relax on the gorgeous sandy shores of Rainbow Beach

St. John

  • Hike through the Virgin Islands National Park and discover stunning vistas, hidden beaches, and lush wilderness
  • Take a guided kayak tour along the shoreline, exploring mangroves and coral reefs
  • Visit the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins to learn about the island’s history

Most Popular Attractions in Hawaii

Hawaii, on the other hand, offers an entirely different set of adventures across its four main islands.

Here are some highlights to help you plan your Hawaiian getaway:

Oahu

  • Catch some epic waves on the North Shore’s world-famous beaches like Waimea Bay and Pipeline
  • Pay homage to history at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial
  • Stroll through Waikiki, where the bustling city meets the beach

Maui

  • Take a scenic drive on the Road to Hana and admire the breathtaking coastline
  • Snorkel or scuba dive at the crystal-clear Molokini Crater, home to diverse marine life
  • Experience a stunning sunrise at Haleakalā National Park’s summit

Big Island

  • Witness lava flowing and steaming at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Stargaze atop Mauna Kea, one of the world’s best celestial observation spots
  • Wander through lush botanical gardens and waterfalls in Hilo

Kauai

  • Hike the renowned Kalalau Trail along the mesmerizing Napali Coast
  • Marvel at the picturesque Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”
  • Drift down the tranquil Wailua River on a kayak or paddleboard
The Road to Hana Coastline view Maui
The Road to Hana Coastline view Maui

Nightlife

Whether you choose the US Virgin Islands or Hawaii, rest assured that you’ll get your nightlife fix in these tropical paradises.

Nightlife in USVI

Get ready for some tropical fun when you explore the nightlife in the US Virgin Islands. With several amazing spots to choose from, you’re in for an incredible time.

Stroll through the vibrant streets of Charlotte Amalie, the island’s capital, teeming with lively bars and clubs to dance the night away.

For a unique dining experience, don’t miss out on the famous restaurants in neighboring Frenchtown.

Feeling adventurous? Take your party spirit to Red Hook, where block-style parties offer an unforgettable night. And, if live music gets your toes tapping, Havensight is the spot for you to groove!

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Nightlife in Hawaii

Say “aloha” to the exhilarating nightlife in Hawaii! From beach bars to trendy nightclubs, Hawaii has it all.

Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is where the party’s at, with renowned surfing spots and luxury resorts.

Feel the sand between your toes as you dance the night away or relax with a cocktail at a chic beachside bar.

Head over to Maui’s Lahaina town to catch an astonishing sunset, followed by an evening of live performances and local cuisine in its vibrant bars.

Got a passion for hula dancing? Discover the magical energy of Hawaiin culture in the traditional performances at Luau parties, a must-visit on your island getaway.

Cruz Bay St John United States Virgin Islands with a lot sailboats
Cruz Bay St John United States Virgin Islands with a lot sailboats

Where to Stay

In this section, we’ll go through the top-notch options to make your vacation in the US Virgin Islands or Hawaii truly unforgettable.

Most Popular Areas to Stay in USVI

The islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix each have their own unique charms.

St. Thomas is known for its bustling harbor, shopping, and lively nightlife. St. John offers more tranquility with lush, unspoiled landscapes, and St. Croix merges history with natural beauty.

Hotel Recommendations for USVI

Now, let’s talk about where you’ll lay your head. In St. Thomas, the Ritz-Carlton offers luxury accommodations with jaw-dropping ocean views. Prefer something more intimate? Check out Galleon House for a cozy B&B experience.

For a peaceful retreat in St. John, we recommend Caneel Bay Resort. Nestled within the Virgin Islands National Park, this eco-friendly resort will make you feel at one with nature.

Finally, on St. Croix, consider the historic The Buccaneer for its charm, amenities, and stunning beachfront location.

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Most Popular Areas to Stay in Hawaii

Ready to explore Hawaii? Each island has its own distinct personality. Oahu is home to bustling Waikiki beach, while Maui is celebrated for its lush landscapes and beautiful beaches.

The Big Island offers incredible geological wonders like volcanoes, and Kauai is nicknamed “The Garden Island” for its lush, green landscapes.

Hotel Recommendations for Hawaii

For a fabulous Oahu stay, you can’t go wrong with the iconic Halekulani Hotel. The beachfront property offers top-notch service and a serene atmosphere in the heart of Waikiki.

For a true taste of paradise on Maui, try Fairmont Kea Lani, where each room is a suite or villa amid lush gardens.

On the Big Island, relish in the luxury of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, where you may even spot sea turtles on the beach.

For a blend of adventure and relaxation in Kauai, check into The Lodge at Kukui’ula, where you’ll be spoiled with endless activities and breathtaking views.

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head

Dining & Restaurants

Let’s dive into the culinary world of the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii! Both of these fantastic destinations will delight your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

Get ready to expand your taste horizons and indulge in flavorsome food adventures.

Eating in USVI

In the US Virgin Islands, you’ll find a delightful blend of Caribbean and American cuisines.

One of the must-try dishes is the local favorite “johnnycake”, a delicious fried bread that pairs perfectly with your morning coffee or as a snack during the day.

Seafood lovers will relish the fresh fish dishes and tasty shrimp options that you’ll find at various eateries.

Go beyond the usual food and indulge in some local delicacies like Conch, which can be found in various forms – from ceviche to stew.

Additionally, don’t forget to try the famous West Indian roti, a fantastic flatbread stuffed with spiced meat or vegetables. Is your mouth watering yet?

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Eating in Hawaii

If you hop over to Hawaii, you’re in for a treat as well! The unique blend of Polynesian, Asian, and American flavors will have your palate dancing with joy.

When in Hawaii, you cannot miss trying the iconic poke bowl – fresh raw fish marinated in a delightful mix of soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. Served over rice, it’s like a symphony of flavors you’ll never forget.

Feeling a bit more adventurous? Then, go for the loco moco, a hearty dish that consists of rice topped with a juicy hamburger patty, a fried egg, and smothered in gravy. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser!

Hawaii will charm you with local delights such as shaved ice, which is perfect for those warm beach days, and their famous sweet Hawaiian bread.

You can’t leave without trying their famous Spam Musubi – a sushi-inspired snack made of spam, rice, and nori.

Cruz Bay St John USVI
Cruz Bay St John USVI

Budgeting for Your Trip

We’re about to dive into the cost factor when choosing between the ever-gorgeous US Virgin Islands and the breathtaking Hawaii for your next getaway.

When it comes to flights, the prices can vary, but in general, you might find more budget-friendly options flying to Hawaii, especially if you’re traveling from the US mainland.

The variety of airlines serving the Hawaiian Islands increases competition and might lead to lower fares for you, lucky traveler!

As for accommodations, both destinations offer a range of options from luxurious resorts to cozy vacation rentals that’ll make you swoon.

However, it’s worth noting that the average nightly rate in the US Virgin Islands is typically lower than in Hawaii. So, if you’re a budget-savvy vacationer, this might pique your interest.

Transportation in both destinations can include taxis, rental cars, or even public transportation.

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While you might find that rental cars are more readily available in Hawaii, for the US Virgin Islands, taxis are typically cheaper and provide a convenient alternative to getting around.

Food, glorious food! Both destinations serve up appetizing dishes that’ll make your taste buds dance.

In general, the cost of dining out or grocery shopping might be slightly lower in the US Virgin Islands. Sure, it’s not a big difference, but hey, every penny counts!

Which is Cheaper to Visit?

Tropical vacations can be quite the investment! When it comes to affordability, the US Virgin Islands tend to have a slighter edge over Hawaii.

Though both destinations have their own luxury and budget options, you’ll generally find that USVI offers more wallet-friendly choices for accommodations and activities.

So, if you’re looking to save some cash while still enjoying a sun-soaked paradise, USVI might be the way to go!

na pali coast kauai hawaii usa sp
Na Pali Coast Kauai Hawaii USA

Which is the Best Island for Honeymoon?

Either destination can offer a dreamy setting for a honeymoon retreat. In Hawaii, the dreamy island of Maui is a top choice with its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and mesmerizing sunsets.

On the other hand, the US Virgin Island of St. John with its unspoiled white sand beaches might just melt your heart, too!

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with both options. It mostly comes down to your preference for a genuine Hawaiian or Caribbean vibe.

Comparison to the Caribbean islands

Let’s play a game of spot-the-difference, shall we? One key distinction to keep in mind is that the US Virgin Islands are part of the Caribbean, while Hawaii is situated in the Pacific Ocean.

Both spots offer stunning beaches and lush nature, although Caribbean islands tend to have a more laid-back vibe and a rich historical background.

Hawaii, on the other hand, boasts active volcanoes and a unique Polynesian culture. Each destination has its own flair, so pick your paradise accordingly!