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No Passport to Paradise

Fantasizing about getting away with the whole family to somewhere warm this winter? I’ve got just the place. A place so easy to visit – you don’t even need a passport and your cellphone still makes local calls – but still feels like a different world. The US Virgin Islands is a magical retreat just south of mainland US where the sun always shines and the water is always warm, just like the people. And it’s perfect for children! Let me tell you a little about it…


  • Put Your Feet In The Sand 1 of 12
    Put Your Feet In The Sand
    The US Virgin Islands is a place with tons of activities to entertain the whole fam, but the best part is most definitely sinking your toes into the warm, white Caribbean sand. You can get the full scoop on everything the USVI has to offer at visitusvi.com.
  • The Islands to See 2 of 12
    The Islands to See
    The USVI is comprised of three islands (some say 4, but water island is teensy). Visiting all 3 would be lovely, but for a quick trip, St. Thomas and St. John are located right next to each other, about 40 minutes by air from Puerto Rico. Bring your passport and you can take day trips to the neighboring British Virgin Islands like Tortolla. Or if you are close friends with Richard Branson you can hop over to his private Necker Island, where Nick Lachey was getting married while I was in town.
  • Start with St. Thomas 3 of 12
    Start with St. Thomas
    Begin your trip on St. Thomas. This is the more lively of the two islands, with nightlife in Red Hook and many delicious restaurants to enjoy, along with high-end shopping at Yacht haven Grande, where Cruise Ships dock. This island is worth more than a day off a cruise though. Make sure to book a local tour through VI Eco Tours to get an inside look at the nature of the island.
  • Coral World 4 of 12
    Coral World
    Make sure to take the kids to Coral World, where you can see the sea life of the Caribbean and even have a close encounter in the water with sea lions. Yes, that's me smooching an actual sea lion.
  • Where to Stay 5 of 12
    Where to Stay
    There are many options on St. Thomas, from affordable condos with kitchens to private homes overlooking the water. We enjoyed the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas, which has a kid's club for drop off fun every day of the week. The view from our room's balcony wasn't bad either.
  • Cruise the Bay 6 of 12
    Cruise the Bay
    Well, my husband's name is Carleton, so this picture is kind of obligatory.
  • Feel Good 7 of 12
    Feel Good
    Everyone looks prettier with the island sun and breeze, but make sure to pack the sunscreen!
  • St. John 8 of 12
    St. John
    Next you'll head to St. John -- which is another world from St. Thomas. A quiet, dreamy island that is exactly the kind of paradise you would imagine. It is primarily a nature reserve donated to the US by Laurence Rockefeller -- and it is sublime.
  • Caneel Bay 9 of 12
    Caneel Bay
    Caneel Bay is a sprawling serene property with seven private beaches where you can choose from rooms or small homes. The on-site childcare facility hosts daily activities and hikes so the kids feel like they're at summer camp while you soak up the sun, play tennis, or snorkel.
  • Trunk Bay 10 of 12
    Trunk Bay
    Grab a lift to Trunk Bay, the most beautiful beach in the world. Rent some snorkeling equipment and follow the underwater plaques to find rays, fish, and all sorts of magic.
  • Wild Donkeys 11 of 12
    Wild Donkeys
    St. John is home to wild donkeys, deer, and other wildlife, who roam freely and without fear.
  • Local Food 12 of 12
    Local Food
    Caribbean food is wonderful -- don't forget to try local specialties like Conch Fritters. For an amazing meal on St. Thomas visit The Old Stone Farmhouse where you can pick your fresh cuts from the kitchen with the chef. On St. John, the view and food at Asolare will blow your mind.

Jaime Morrison Curtis is author of the bestselling book Prudent Advice: Lessons for My Baby Daughter (A Life List for Every Woman) and founding co-editor at Prudent Baby, the premier DIY destination for crafty moms seeking ways to make their lives even more stylish and beautiful.

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