Regular flights are scheduled between St. Thomas and St. Croix, and between St. Thomas and Tortola. Seaborne Airlines (tel 866/359-8784; www.seaborneairlines.com) flies between St. Thomas and St. Croix on several runs daily; Seaborne also flies between St. Thomas and Beef Island, Tortola. Cape Air (tel 866/227-3247 in the U.S. and U.S.V.I.; www.capeair.com) offers regularly scheduled flights between St. Thomas and both St. Croix and Tortola.
St. John has no airport; passengers usually land first at St. Thomas, then take the 20-minute ferry ride to St. John.
Ferry service is a vital link on the Virgin Islands and a wonderful, leisurely way to see these beautiful islands by water. On the U.S. Virgin Islands, public ferries between St. Thomas and St. John (private water taxis also operate on this route) run at regular times all day long. Launch services link Red Hook, on the East End of St. Thomas, with both Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas and Cruz Bay in St. John (not to mention Tortola and Virgin Gorda). At press time, there was no regular ferry between St. Thomas and St. Croix (although plans were in the works at press time for a high-speed ferry service between the islands).
Ferries are also a vital link between the U.S. Virgins and the B.V.I.—and the interisland public ferries are generally a more economical alternative to flying between the U.S. Virgins and the B.V.I. Ferries run from both ferry terminals on St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook) to either West End or Road Town on Tortola, a 45- to 55-minute voyage. In the B.V.I., ferries and private boats link Road Town, Tortola, with the island’s West End; there’s also service to and from Virgin Gorda and some of the smaller islands, such as Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Note that on some of the really remote islands, boat service may be only once a week. Many of the private island resorts, such as Peter Island, provide launches from Tortola or from the airport in St. Thomas.
Inter Island Boat Services (tel 284/495-4166; www.interislandboatservices.com): Makes runs between Red Hook (St. Thomas), Cruz Bay (St. John), and the West End (Tortola), with stops on Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada. Rates between St. Thomas and Tortola are $30 one-way; $45 round-trip.
Native Son (tel 284/495-4617 in the U.S.V.I. or 340/774-8685 in the B.V.I.; www.nativesonferry.com): Makes daily runs between St. Thomas (both Red Hook and Charlotte Amalie) and Tortola (both West End and Road Town). Prices are $30 one-way; $50 round-trip.
Road Town Fast Ferry (tel 340/777-2800 in the U.S.V.I or 284/494-2323 in the B.V.I.; www.roadtownfastferry.com): Offers daily runs between Charlotte Amalie and Road Town, Tortola, on sleek air-conditioned high-speed catamarans. Fares are $35 one-way; $60 round-trip; group rates available.
Smith’s Ferry Service (tel 340/775-5235; www.bviferryservices.com): Known as the “Tortola Fast Ferry,” Smith’s operates daily service between Tortola and St. Thomas; between Tortola and Virgin Gorda; and charter service to outer B.V.I. islands. Prices $30 to $40 one-way; $50 to $60 round-trip.
Speedy’s (tel 284/495-7292; www.bviferries.com): Speedy’s operates routes between Charlotte Amalie (St. Thomas) and Tortola (Road Town); Charlotte Amalie and Virgin Gorda; Tortola (Road Town and Beef Island) and Virgin Gorda. B.V.I. domestic fares are $20 one-way, $30 round-trip. Fares for travel between the U.S.V.I. and the B.V.I. are $25–$40 one-way, $45–$70 round-trip.
A rental car is often the best way to get around each of the Virgin Islands. Just remember the most important rule: In both the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands, you must drive on the left.
All the major car-rental companies are represented in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including Avis (tel 800/331-1212; www.avis.com), Budget (tel 800/626-4516; www.budget.com), and Hertz (tel 800/654-3131; www.hertz.com); many local agencies also compete in the car-rental market. On St. Thomas and St. Croix, you can pick up most rental cars at the airport. On St. John, there are car-rental stands at the ferry dock. Cars are sometimes in short supply during the high season, so reserve as far in advance as possible.
Parking lots in the U.S. Virgin Islands can be found in Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas, and in Christiansted, on St. Croix (in Frederiksted, you can generally park on the street). Most hotels, except those in the congested center of Charlotte Amalie, have free parking lots.
Even though taxi service in the British Virgin Islands is readily available, we highly recommend renting a car, particularly in Tortola. Given that, you’ll have to drive on the left along roads that can be hairy or feel like roller-coaster rides. (If you plan to stay in the B.V.I. longer than 30 days, you must purchase a temporary local driver’s license for $10 from police headquarters or a car-rental desk in town.) You must be at least 25 years old to rent a car in the B.V.I. Most of the major U.S. car-rental companies are represented on these islands, but you’ll find a number of reliable local companies as well, many conveniently located near the ferry docks and in the main towns. Vehicles come in a wide range of styles and prices, including Jeeps, Land Rovers, mini mokes, and even six- to eight-passenger Suzukis. Weekly rates are usually slightly cheaper.
Note: There are no car-rental agencies at the airports on Tortola or Virgin Gorda.
GASOLINE -- St. Thomas has plenty of service stations, especially on the outskirts of Charlotte Amalie and at strategic points in the north and in the more congested East End. On St. Croix, most gas stations are in Christiansted, but there are also some along the major roads and at Frederiksted. On St. John, make sure your tank is filled up at Cruz Bay before heading out on a tour of the island.
Gas stations are not as plentiful on the British Virgin Islands. Road Town, the capital of Tortola, has the most gas stations; fill up here before touring the island. Virgin Gorda has a limited but sufficient number of gas stations. Chances are you won’t be using a car on the other, smaller British Virgin Islands.
Taxes are already included in the printed price. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons.
BREAKDOWNS -- All the major islands, including St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda, have garages that will tow vehicles. Always call the rental company first if you have a breakdown. If your car requires extensive repairs because of a mechanical failure, a new one will be sent to replace it.
Taxis are the main mode of transport on all the Virgin Islands. On St. Thomas, taxi vans carry up to a dozen passengers to multiple destinations; smaller private taxis are also available. You’ll find plenty of taxis on arrival at the airport. On St. John, both private taxis and vans for three or more passengers are available. On St. Croix, taxis congregate at the airport, in Christiansted, and in Frederiksted, where the cruise ships arrive. On all the islands, you’ll see more and more open-air safari “buses” (more like retrofitted flat-bed trucks) capable of handling up to 30 passengers, which taxi drivers use largely to transport groups (for instance, cruise-ship passengers) on island tours and excursions. Increasingly, these safari buses are also used as pickup and dropoff taxis.
Throughout the U.S.V.I, standard per-person taxi rates are set by the local government (look for a complete rate listing at the St. Thomas airport or in free local magazines like “This Week”)—but it’s always good to confirm the rate before the ride begins.
On the British Virgin Islands, taxis are readily available and, on some to the smaller islands, often the best way to get around. Service is available on Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada, and rates are fixed by the local government.
Tip: It’s highly recommended that if you find a good taxi driver on the islands, get his or her card—not only will you have a reliable driver to drop you off and pick you up places but most drivers are smart and entertaining island guides. Rates for sightseeing taxi tours are also generally regulated by the government. The standard taxi tour on St. Thomas, for example, is $50 for one or two passengers and $25 per extra passenger.
The only islands with recommendable bus service are St. Thomas and St. Croix. On St. Thomas, buses leave from Charlotte Amalie and circle the island; on St. Croix, air-conditioned buses run from Christiansted to Frederiksted. Bus service elsewhere is highly erratic; it’s mostly used by locals going to and from work.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.