© 2012 Connecting: Solo Travel Network & Danielle Hammill. Information.
Note: This article is reproduced here for inspirational value alone and will not normally be updated.
Therefore, all facts, figures, and author's opinions are subject to change as time goes on.

The Virgin Islands on a Budget – A Solo Travel Report

By Danielle Hamill

Photo credits
USVI beach scene: Idreamphotos © Dreamstime.com
USVI ferry: B Johnson © VirginIslands.Guide.info

Traveling to a tropical paradise such as the U S Virgin Islands does not have to mean spending your life savings. USVI Beach beach scene. © Idreamphotos Dreamstime.comIf you are traveling solo and are on a limited budget, there are plenty of great options. The first trick is to pick the right location. Charlotte Amalie on the island of St Thomas is a great example. Flights are plentiful and fares are heavily discounted. Everything you need to enjoy your vacation is located within a small area, so you won't need to spend a fortune renting a car. You'll find plenty of ways to experience all that a tropical island offers while traveling alone – and without breaking the bank.

Lodging

Lodging will be one of your largest expenses when traveling to Charlotte Amalie, but there is no need to go overboard. A number of budget-friendly hotels exist in Charlotte Amalie that are both clean and accommodating. Listed below are three hotels in convenient locations that offer rooms between US$80 and US$160 per night.

Transportation

Without a doubt, the most inexpensive way to get around the island is by bus. Ferry USVI. © B Johnson. VirginIslands-Guide.infoYou can board the bus (actually it is more likely to be a van than a "bus") for under US$1 and make your way to most major attractions in and near your hotel. If you are using the buses, you will need to be on "island time." While the schedule may call for a bus to stop at least every hour, you should arrive early, and bring something to amuse yourself while waiting. If you need to be at a particular location at a specific time, hire a cab. You can also explore beyond the island of St Thomas at little expense. Consider taking a ferry to the island of St John for example. There are multiple ferry services offering individual tickets. The journey from Charlotte Amalie to Cruz Bay is typically less than US$10, and you'll enjoy a great view during the entire twenty minutes.

Dining

You have to eat, but you don't have to overspend on meals, especially in Charlotte Amalie where great Caribbean fare is available in abundance. Sure, you may plan to splurge one night at a great restaurant like Banana Tree Grille Restaurant at Bluebeard's Castle Hotel, known for its elegant dining overlooking Charlotte Amalie Harbor. But there are a bevy of restaurants in the city and nearby that will satisfy your cravings and please your palate without emptying your wallet. Restaurants where you can expect to spend under US$20 for a full dinner per person include:

Beaches

While not all of the beaches on St Thomas are free, the cost of admission is very low. Consider picking up a picnic lunch and some beverages at a local supermarket to further your savings by avoiding the beachside vendors and restaurants while lounging in the sun. Charlotte Amalie's closest beach options include Magens Bay ($1 admission), Coki Point Beach, and Grand Beach. If you take the ferry to St John, you should consider checking out one of the world-famous beaches in the national park.

Attractions

Budget-friendly attractions in and around Charlotte Amalie include:

Shopping

While it may seem counter-intuitive to think about shopping when you are on a budget, the duty-free deals in St Thomas are so good that it may be costing you money to not take advantage. After all, Charlotte Amalie is known for having the best shopping on the island, so you won't have to travel very far from your hotel to pick up a few souvenirs. Vendor Plaza in historic downtown Charlotte Amalie is where local craftsman set up carts to sell their wares such as local art work, crafts, clothing, food, beverages, and more. For shopping that is a little more on the high end, head to Main Street and the next two streets over where you'll find the best duty free shops filled with products such as jewelry, designer clothing, perfume, and spirits.

Even without much forethought, you can enjoy your dream vacation in the U S Virgin Islands on a budget. Yes, airfare can be costly, but finding reasonably priced accommodations and interesting places to eat and explore allow you significant savings. So, expect to have memorable fun and a cost-saving adventure in Charlotte Amalie.

>> DH

Danielle Hamill is a graduate of the Creative Writing program at Florida State University. She currently writes for Interactive Internet Websites, Inc, which hosts a network of Caribbean travel guide sites, including VirginIslands-Guide.info. You can reach her at dhamill@iiwinc.com

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