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Introducing US Virgin Islands

St John is the greenest island, literally and figuratively. It cloaks two-thirds of its area in parkland and sublime beaches, ripe for hiking and snorkeling. It also leads the way in environmental preservation, with limited development and several low-impact tent-resorts for lodging. Dizzying cruise-ship traffic and big resorts nibbling its edges make St Thomas the most commercialized island. St Croix is the odd island out, located far from its siblings and offering a mix of rainforest, sugar plantations, old forts and great scuba diving. Its economy is not based on tourism, which makes it feel even more off-the-beaten path.

While the islands are American territories (and a favorite of American tourists since they don’t require a passport), West Indian culture remains their strongest influence. Calypso and reggae rhythms swirl through the air, and curried meats, callaloo soup and mango-sweetened microbrews fill the tables.