Between seaside rum shacks, sophisticated beach bars, and exuberant live music festivals, there's no shortage of diverting activities for the pleasure-seeking traveler to enjoy while visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the three main islands are so distinct from one another, each location's nightlife offerings are unique. St. Thomas is the most populated island and the most popular with tourists (especially in the winter). As far as nightlife is concerned, visitors should look into four key areas on the island: Charlotte Amalie (the island's capital and largest city); the neighboring Frenchtown (renowned for its dining scene); Red Hook (known for its block-style parties); and Havensight (plentiful live music).
Nightlife on the St, Crois and St. John is much more low-key, though there are plenty of chic bars and restaurants in Christiansted or Frederiksted (St. Croix), while Cruz Bay is the site of many popular hotspots in St. John. From beach bars to rum shacks, late-night restaurants, live music venues, read on for your ultimate guide to the nightlife in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
When vacationing in the Caribbean, every moment not spent beside that tropical turquoise ocean is—in our opinion—a travesty. That being said, we’ve found the best seaside spots for you to frequent on every island:
- St. Croix: Head to the waterfront at Hotel Caravelle to spend an afternoon at Rumrunners, a seaside watering hole that is just as popular with locals as it is with tourists. Grab a spot at the bar and order a rum cocktail of your choice—we recommend the frozen daiquiris. Later in the evening, take advantage of the plethora of seafood options available on the menu (the scallops are a reliable favorite).
- St. John: When vacationing in St. John, Woody’s Seafood Saloon in Cruz Bay is an absolute must-visit. The saloon boasts a “World-Famous Happy Hour” every afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m., and the marked-down prices certainly are legendary. Tried-and-true rum recommendations include the Rum Punch (of course) and the B.B.C., a Baileys and Banana Concoction first popularized in the nearby British Virgin Islands. After you’ve had enough swimming and sunshine for the day, head up to the Rooftop Bar at Gallows Point Resort to enjoy a round of sundowners as the sun sets over Cruz Bay (an exceedingly romantic vista, indeed).
- St.Thomas: Head to Honeymoon Beach—one of the most famous beaches not only in St. Thomas but in the entire West Indies—and grab a drink at Dinghy’s Beach Bar & Grill. Also, be sure to check out the outdoor Tiki-Bar scene at the Cruzan Beach Club (located in Secret Harbour Beach Resort) and the Sapphire Beach Bar, which overlooks the wondrous Sapphire Bay—a seaside setting that is as picturesque as it sounds.
The Caribbean is known all around the world for its rum—and the U.S. Virgin Islands certainly does its part to keep that tradition alive (passengers are often served a painkiller upon arrival at Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas).
For some must-try rum drinks, sidle up to the bar at The Longboard in St. John to order one of their world-famous Frozen Painkillers. Enjoy your afternoon refreshment on the open-air porch before returning to the glorious Cruz Bay for waterfront relaxation.
Another place to find a deadly and delicious) rum cocktail in St. John is the sophisticated bar of 1864, in Mongoose Junction. . And, while we’re on the topic of rum cocktails and elegant ambiance, head on over to St. Thomas to explore the open-air rum bar in the Old Stone Farmhouse, where you can toast your rum punch in the courtyard beneath the stars. Finally, visit the home of the world’s first banana daiquiri at Mountain Top—and enjoy a sample mixed with the most important ingredient: Cruzan Rum, of course.
Of course, there's plenty of rum in the USVI but travelers would be surprised to discover how many breweries there are to be explored throughout the archipelago—at least one for every island, in fact.
- St. Croix: Visitors to St. Croix should do a tasting of the local hops at the Leatherback Brewing Company, located in Frederiksted.
- St. John: The Virgin Islands Brewing Company offers travelers the opportunity to sample the local beer at The Tap Room at St. John Brewers (be sure to try the Tropical Mango Ale).
- St. Thomas: St. Thomas boasts three local breweries. Visit Frenchman’s Brewing, the only nano-brewery serving fresh craft beers in historic Frenchtown, before checking out the handcrafted selection of local hops at Rock City Brewing Company, in the capital of Charlotte Amalie. Finally, peruse the beers on tap at the Northside Bistro & Brewery along Hull Bay Road.
When it comes to checking out live music, there’s an array of festivals and events that occur throughout the year—including the Crucian Christmas Festival, the Mardi Gras Annual Parade, and, of course, Carnival (there is a separate celebration of the latter on every island). But, you don’t need to be visiting during a particular time of year to catch some live music during your visit. Check out the live music every Thursday during the weekly Taste of the Caribbean buffet at the Coconut Cove, rock out in a parking lot at the cult-favorite local haunt, Duffy’s Love Shack, or let loose to some wildly entertaining performers at The Keys- Dueling Pianos (all of which are located in St. Thomas).
There’s no shortage of late-night restaurants for travelers to extend their meal into some post-dinner dessert wine or cocktails. In St. Croix, we recommend perusing the custom-infused blend of the craft cocktails in Zion Modern Kitchen or ordering a glass of late-night glass wine on Savant's backyard patio.
Tips for Going Out in the U.S. Virgin Islands
- The public transport in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a bus service known as VITRAN, and it runs on all three islands. The schedule for St. John, however, concludes in the early evening, and late-night schedules for St. Croix and St. Thomas can be delayed and unpredictable, so it's not a safe bet to plan on catching the bus for your ride home to the hotel.
- There are no ride-sharing services in the U.S. Virgin Islands, such as Uber or Lyft. There are, however, multi-passenger vans, though the charge is per person based on the destination (eliminating the cost-incentive of traveling in groups).
- Taxis are plentiful in the nightlife capitals throughout each island, including Christiansted and Frederiksted in St. Croix; Cruz Bay in St. John; Charlotte Amalie, Frenchtown, Red Hook, and Havensight in St. Thomas. But revelers should arrange for their pick-up and drop-off in advance (especially if leaving or returning to a more remote part of the island).
- "Last Call" varies by the bar—and 10 p.m. is not unusual—though you will find more late-night options open past midnight in Red Hook and Havensight in St. Thomas.
- Tipping policies are the same as the U.S., with 15-20 percent gratuity expected and smaller bills given to bellboys, hotel staff, and more.
- There are no open-container laws in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the legal drinking age is 18.