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Romantic USVI

Romantic Dining
Romantic USVI
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a popular vacation destination with love-struck honeymooners, and for good reason: Clement weather, fine food and drink, and a laid-back vibe make the islands a great place for romance.
Photo courtesy of Jacob Whyman/The Buccaneer
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    Romantic Dining
    Romantic Dining
    Sunshine is the best lighting for the region's scenic views, but by night the faint flicker of candlelight sets the ambience for a different side of the islands. In St. Thomas, reserve a candlelit table for two at Oceana. In a building that dates back to the 1600s and with a menu that riffs on classic seafood themes, this is a super-romantic venue. The Buccaneer resort on St. Croix has numerous open-air and beachside restaurants that turn the romance dial up to 11. Located at Pelican Cove on St. Croix, the Palms serves diners under a canopy by the pool or beneath the stars overhead. Rhumb Lines, in Cruz Bay on St. John, is a favorite location for wedding and anniversary parties: The enclosed patio may not have beach views, but the lines of twinkling lights strung between palm trees lend the restaurant a romantic magic.
    Photo courtesy of Jacob Whyman/The Buccaneer
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    Bring Home the Romance
    Bring Home the Romance
    Shopping may not seem like the most romantic thing to do on a trip, but bringing home a souvenir can transport you back to your vacation. Justin Todman is known as the "Broom Man" for his continued attention to the art of broom making. In an African custom, couples jump over one of his handmade brooms to symbolize the beginning of their life together. You can find his work (and the work of many others) at the Native Arts and Crafts Cooperative on St. Thomas. On St. Croix, visit Sonya Ltd. and check out the delicate hook bracelets. Wear one with the hook facing outward to signify an open heart; the hook facing inward communicates a happy marriage.
    Photo by Kristy Alpert
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    Where to Sneak a Kiss
    Where to Sneak a Kiss
    There's no shortage of romantic places to steal a kiss on the U.S. Virgin Islands. Uninhabited Buck Island, a national monument, is a natural choice. Located 1.5 miles north of St. Croix, this quiet, secluded, and beautiful island sits among ecologically rich waters, is largely surrounded by a barrier reef, and provides nesting grounds for sea turtles. Estate Whim, on St. Croix, was once a working sugar plantation and factory but today is a museum. The grounds—dotted with ruins, gardens, and restored buildings—offer a picturesque backdrop for stealing a kiss. On St. Thomas, you can take the Skyride aerial tramway up to Paradise Point and wait for sunset; the view over Charlotte Amalie harbor is made for sharing.
    Photo by Macduff Everton/age fotostock
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    Getting Close to the Culture
    Getting Close to the Culture
    The history of these sunlit islands has gone a bit dark from time to time. Bearing witness brings you closer to the people who call this region home. You can see their stories told in the petroglyphs carved by some of the earliest residents here; at the site of the first visit by Columbus, which signaled the beginning of colonization; in the coves and bays, where pirates and privateers used to moor their ships; and, of course, in the ruins of plantations at which enslaved people labored for centuries. Before they became part of the U.S. in 1917, the islands had been ruled by the French, Dutch, English, and Danish, and reminders of each are still felt in the very names of the islands, in the cuisine and crafts, and in the colonial buildings left behind. Find lingering signs of pirates at Blackbeard's Castle and in local celebrations of pirate history and their beverage of choice. Much pride is taken in St. Thomas's native son, painter Camille Pissarro, who moved to France to study art and became one of the pivotal members of the Impressionist movement. Getting to know the history of a place brings both a greater respect for it and deeper connection.
    Sandra Foyt
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    Sway to the Islands' Rhythm
    Sway to the Islands' Rhythm
    Dancing close together in front of a live band on the U.S. Virgin Islands is an impossibly romantic way to spend an evening. Local music ranges from reggae to steel drums to soft jazz, and there are tons of opportunities to sway to the smooth sounds of the islands. Duffy's Love Shack, on St. Thomas, revs up at night with patrons and locals dancing the night away in the parking lot. Drink St. John, a bar in Cruz Bay, is known for its live music; every third Friday night at Frederiksted Beach, on St. Croix, enjoy the live Sun Set Jazz and More series under the stars; if you can't wait that long, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, on St. Thomas, has live music every night.
    Photo courtesy of Bolongo Bay Beach Resort
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    Sunset Sailing and Moonlight Kayaking
    Sunset Sailing and Moonlight Kayaking
    What could be more romantic than sailing into the setting sun while sipping champagne and listening to the sound of waves crashing against the hull of your boat? Plenty of tour operators offer sunset sailing excursions: On St. John, look up Calypso Sailing Charters; on St. Croix, check out Big Beard's Adventure Tours; and on St. Thomas, try the Adventure Center. The latter also offers a Night Kayak with LED Lights tour each evening. Led by a guide, you paddle a two-seater kayak fitted with LEDs and a transparent bottom that is your window into the ocean, where you can see ballyhoo, tarpon, and sea turtles. Exploring the islands after dark is a very different—and very romantic—Caribbean experience.
    Photo by Kristy Alpert
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    Active Fun on Dry Land
    Active Fun on Dry Land
    A hike along the Reef Bay Trail may take you away from the beaches, yes, but the views! The birdlife! The petroglyphs! The crumbling ruins of historic plantations! You'll find much to romanticize during your mountain trek. Another popular hike, up to Drake's Seat, wins you views for miles, all the way across to the British Virgin Islands and down over spectacular Magens Bay. If a round of golf is as close to hiking as you're willing to get, rent some clubs and play Mahogany Run Golf Course, on St. Thomas. Holes 13, 14, and 15 run along cliffs above the churning ocean, revealing a bit of drama rarely seen in the mellow USVI.
    Walt Adams/age fotostock
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    Add Spice to Your Life
    Add Spice to Your Life
    With numerous infusions of rum and varieties of hot pepper sauce, the U.S. Virgin Islands are swimming in piquant and exciting flavors. Take some home to add some spice to your life. At Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, on St. John, you can sign up with Trinidad Charlie to learn how to make your own hot sauce. Or try something entirely different on St. Thomas, and book a hands-on sushi-making class with Chef Yuko; the ingredients go beyond the catch of the day to include local fruits and sauces, and results in sushi rolls that reflect the flavors of the islands. Finally, local edibles are the focus at the annual St. Croix Food and Wine festival, with chefs offering instruction to participants.
    Photo courtesy of Yuko’s Cooking