In This Article
The Virgin Islands are very easy to get to from the U.S. With plenty of amazing resorts to choose from, we'll see you at the beach!
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As of March 1, 2021, the US Virgin Islands are open and welcoming visitors with a negative COVID-19 test. You can read more about the travel protocols in the US Virgin Islands before you take your trip.
The British Virgin Islands are also open and welcoming visitors, although with more restrictions including multiple tests, tracking during your stay and more. You can read more about the travel protocols in the British Virgin Islands before you take your trip.
The Virgin Islands offer a truly quintessential Carribean experience – beautiful white sand beaches and that clear blue water that you see in pictures. While they’re split into the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands offer a unique Caribbean experience that doesn’t even require your passport.
Regardless of whether you choose the U.S., British, or even both, the Virgin Islands are within easy reach from a number of U.S. destinations, making it a perfect destination for a long weekend getaway, or a lengthy visit for some rest and relaxation.
There are experiences at all price points in the Virgin Islands for every type of traveler, and points and miles can help offset some or most of those costs. We look at some ways to use points and miles to make your getaway to the Virgin Islands possible.
How to Book Flights to The Virgin Islands with Points and Miles
There are a number of ways to get to the Virgin Islands by air. However, the options available will mostly be dictated by your destination, whether you choose the U.S. Virgin Islands or the British Virgin Islands.
Here’s a breakdown of your options.
U.S. Virgin Islands
American Airlines offers nonstop service from Charlotte (CLT), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA) to Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on the island of St. Thomas. Seasonal service is also available from Chicago , New York and Philadelphia.
If you’re looking to travel to St. Croix, your options are much more limited as American Airlines only offers nonstop service from Miami to Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX). Seasonal service is also available from Charlotte.
Off-peak economy pricing to both destinations starts at 12,500 American AAdvantage miles one-way per person. You’ll most likely find award space consistently pricing at peak economy pricing for 15,000 American miles one-way per person, especially during peak travel dates.
If you don’t have any AAdvantage miles, or you’re able to fly one of the non-stop American Airlines operated flights to St. Thomas, you should consider booking with British Airways Avios.
The nonstop flights from Miami to both islands will run you 9,000 Avios one-way per person in economy. Flights from Charlotte to both St. Thomas and St. Croix clock in at 11,000 Avios one-way per person in economy, and the flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to St. Thomas will run you 13,000 Avios one-way per person.
Since British Airways is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, it’s an easier award currency to earn than AAdvantage miles. But this option really only makes sense if you are able to book one of the nonstop flights since British Airways charges for each segment you fly, and the route really becomes cost-prohibitive if you have to connect.
If you do have to book an itinerary with a connection, you should consider booking via Iberia Avios instead of British Airways Avios. The programs are similar except for one key component – Iberia charges based on the total distance flown rather than per segment like British Airways. Translation: if you need to connect, it’ll likely cost fewer overall miles booking via Iberia Avios than British Airways Avios. Just remember, booking an American Airlines flight with Iberia Avios requires a round-trip booking.
For example, if you’re flying to St. Croix out of season, then flying from Charlotte means you’ll have a connection in Miami. This clocks in at 20,000 Avios booked via British Airways Avios.
If you were to book the same exact flights instead through Iberia, it’ll cost just 23,000 Iberia Avios, a 3,000 mile increase per person but this is for your round-trip flight.
Nonstop flights from Miami to both islands will run you 9,000 Avios one-way per person in economy.
Delta offers nonstop service from Atlanta (ATL) and New York (JFK) to St. Thomas (STT). Seasonal service is also available from Boston (BOS) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP).
If you’re looking to travel to St. Croix (STX), your Delta options are really limited as they only offer seasonal service from Atlanta.
The hardest thing in booking award flights with Delta Skymiles is that they no longer publish an award chart. This makes it somewhat difficult to plan ahead since there’s no true way of knowing what the saver level award rates for any route will be.
Your best bet will be to see what the lowest award rates are for Delta flights to St. Thomas or St. Croix by utilizing the Price Calendar on Delta’s website when running your search.
For our chosen dates of travel, it pretty consistently shows that a one-way economy flight would clock in at 17,500 Skymiles per person. This is inline with pricing displaying elsewhere on the schedule, so it would be a reasonable assumption to plan on it costing at least this many Skymiles. However, during peak seasons, you should plan on Delta raising the prices.
Fortunately, Delta miles are relatively easy to earn since they issue a number of co-branded cards, and are also transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards. The points transfer to Delta instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
Beware, as American Express does charge an “excise tax” on all transfers to domestic partners such as Delta. It will run you $0.06 cents per point ($6 per 10,000 points transferred) with a maximum of $99 for a single transfer. In the grand scheme of things this is minimal but you should be prepared for it.
Jetblue offers nonstop service from New York (JFK) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) to St. Thomas. Seasonal service is also available from Boston (BOS). Additionally, a new route from Newark (EWR) to St. Thomas (STT) is scheduled to begin in July, 2021.
Jetblue doesn’t offer service to St. Croix, so you would need to fly to a neighboring island such as Puerto Rico or St. Thomas, and then take a separate flight aboard a local airline to your final destination of St. Croix.
JetBlue prices their award flights based on the cash price of the tickets. This means that the cost of an award flight in terms of JetBlue TrueBlue points needed to book it is directly correlated to the cash price of the ticket.
Your best option for searching for award space is going to be by using JetBlue’s Best Fare Finder. You can use the Best Fare Finder to find available award space and the prices for your desired dates of travel.
Unless you’re topping off your TrueBlue account to get enough points to complete a booking, if you’re a Chase cardholder, this may seem counterintuitive but your best bet for booking JetBlue operated flights with Ultimate Rewards points will actually be to book via the Chase Travel Portal.
Since JetBlue prices award flights based on the cash price of tickets, the cost in Chase Ultimate Rewards points will likely be comparable to booking with TrueBlue points if you’re booking with a Chase Sapphire Reserve. Furthermore, by booking this way, you will also earn TrueBlue points for the flights since it’s the equivalent of making a cash booking.
If you’re short on JetBlue TrueBlue points, they are a 1:1 transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points. CapitalOne and American Express Membership Rewards are both also transfer partners, but they don’t transfer 1:1 to JetBlue TrueBlue. Instead, 250 American Express Membership Rewards points transfers into 200 TrueBlue points, and 1,000 Capital One Venture miles transfers to 750 JetBlue TrueBlue points. So your best bet is to utilize Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points.
Although Southwest doesn't fly directly to any of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you can fly to Puerto Rico using the Southwest Companion Pass and then connect on a short inter-island flight.
Southwest Airlines doesn’t fly to any of the U.S. Virgin Islands. So why are you mentioning it in an article about flying to the Virgin Islands?
Southwest does fly to the neighboring island of Puerto Rico. And from Puerto Rico, you can catch a number of small inter-island flights to various other islands throughout the Caribbean that you would book as a separate ticket.
My wife and I did just this on our trip home from the British Virgin Islands in February 2020 – we booked a InterCaribbean Airways flight from Tortola in the BVI to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to then pick up a Southwest flight home.
This can be a great option if you’re flying to any of the Virgin Islands, especially an island like St. Croix or the British Virgin Islands that are less accessible by air than an island like St. Thomas.
Additionally, it’s a great option if you’re a holder of the Southwest Companion Pass, which is a buy-one-get-one-free pass for all Southwest flights. You can use your Companion Pass to get you 90% of the way there, and a short separate flight to finish your journey.
United only offers seasonal nonstop service from Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Newark (EWR) and Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on the island of St. Thomas (STT). They do not offer service at all to St. Croix.
Similar to Delta, United doesn’t publish an award chart anymore. With that, in order to find out award pricing your best approach will be to run award searches on United’s site and use their 30-day calendar view to see what the lowest priced award flights are, especially if you have flexibility in your travel dates.
However, you can expect to pay at least 35,000 United miles round trip per person in economy for most United flights to St. Thomas. If you’re booking award flights within 30 days of travel, you can expect to pay a bit more in miles in order to book your flights – our findings indicate anywhere from 2,000-2,500 United miles one-way per person in economy.
Don’t forget, if you’re a Chase co-branded United cardholder, or you have elite status with United, you’ll have access to expanded award availability on this and all United operated flights. During peak travel dates, this benefit can really come in handy as you would have access to award space that the general public can’t see.
There are also a number of other ways to book United operated flights with a number of Star Alliance partners. One of the easiest ones to use is Avianca LifeMiles. It’s a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One so it’s easy to earn in large quantities and quickly. Plus, all 3 of these programs regularly run transfer promos, allowing you to lower the amount of net miles you need for a redemption.
The same Newark to St. Thomas flight costs the same 17,500 LifeMiles one-way per person in economy. While on the surface it appears to be 1:1 in the total number of points required, if you are able to time your transfer right, you could potentially book this same flight for 12,500 Membership Rewards points one-way per person if you overlapped with a 1:1.4 transfer bonus to LifeMiles, which is one of the recent promotions they ran.
To get to the British Virgin Islands, you’ll need to connect through another Carribean island such as Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, or St. Maarten.
British Virgin Islands
There are no direct flights from the mainland U.S. to the main airport in the British Virgin Islands, the Terrance B. Lettsome Airport (EIS).
Instead, to get to the British Virgin Islands, you’ll need to connect through another Carribean island such as Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, or St. Maarten.
All 4 islands offer a variety of different airline service by many of the same airline options outlined above.
Additionally, as the British Virgin Islands are made up of a number of islands, some of these islands have airports that offer service directly to them. If you’re staying on Virgin Gorda, or Anegada, you can instead fly directly here from San Juan, Puerto Rico via smaller inter-island flights instead of flying to Tortola (EIS).
Your best bet is to consult the British Virgin Islands Tourism Site for additional help for your particular situation and to figure out your logistics options.
Where to Stay in the Virgin Islands with Points and Miles
Now that you know how to get here, let’s look at some places to stay using points and miles. This isn’t an all inclusive list by any means, but it highlights some of the main hotel options that you can easily redeem points for.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Carambola Beach Resort
Armed with free night certificates from holding one of the Marriott credit cards? Carambola Beach Resort on the island of St. Croix might be just the spot to redeem them. This category 5 Marriott property is built on an old sugar plantation on the north shore of St. Croix, and boasts some stunning Caribbean architecture. The famous Annaly Bay and Tide Pools are located just a short distance away, and are a famous hiking destination.
The Westin St. John Resort Villas
Like St. Croix, St. John is a tough destination to book hotel stays with points given the very limited options, but the Westin St. John is Marriott’s only property located on the island. This Category 7 Marriott property will run you 60,000 points per night at the standard rate, and cash fares can normally average up to $700 per night during the peak season.
It’s a large resort, partially because it was originally designed as a timeshare property in its former life. This comes with some perks, though – most rooms are larger than standard hotel rooms, and include kitchens and laundry machines. It offers almost as many villas as it does hotel rooms, so you have a number of options.
One note: You can’t fly directly into St. John. You most likely will want to fly into St. Thomas, and then take a short ferry ride from St. Thomas into St. John, and then transport to the hotel.
Frenchman’s Reef Marriott Resort, St. Thomas
The Frenchman’s Reef Marriott Resort has been closed since 2017 due to significant damage from Hurricane Irma. But under new ownership and management, and fresh off of a $200 million renovation in conjunction with the Noni Beach Resort, the hotel will be reopening in June 2022.
This Category 7 Marriott property will run you 60,000 points per night at the standard rate, and while we don’t know what cash fares will be until it opens, we expect them to regularly run more than $500 per night.
This dramatic hotel sits atop a cliff overlooking the entrance to Charlotte Amalie, the main cruise ship terminal in St. Thomas as well as the capital city.
If you can find off-peak dates at 50,000 points per night, either for redeeming points or using free night certificates from a card like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, redeeming at essentially a brand new hotel after a $200 million renovation would be a great option.
Noni Beach, a St. Thomas Resort
Opening in June 2022, the brand new Noni Beach, a St. Thomas Resort, will be a Marriott Autograph Collection Resort. Also a Category 7, it will run you 60,000 Marriott points per night. It’s next door neighbor is the Frenchman’s Reef Marriott Resort, and together they will have just emerged from a $200 million renovation when they open their doors in June 2022.
Noni Beach will be the first Autograph Collection resort in the US Virgin Islands, and will be made up of 94 rooms, and a very upscale design. If you’re looking for a more intimate setting, Noni Beach might be your best bet.
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas
Ritz-Carlton’s aren’t known for being cheap hotels. And right on cue, The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas is no different. This Category 8 Marriott property will set you back 85,000 points to book a standard night. If that wasn’t expensive enough, then the $85 per night resort fee on top of that just might be.
If you’re instead paying cash for your stay at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas and are a cardholder of The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, then you have access to American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR). By booking travel through American Express FHR, you get access to additional benefits and discounts at select hotels around the world, including The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas.
By booking via FHR, you’re eligible for a $100 food and beverage credit to be used during your stay, in addition to daily breakfast for two, room upgrades when available, noon check-in when available, 4pm check-out guaranteed, and complimentary Wi-Fi. You also earn 5x Membership Rewards on prepaid FHR bookings if you book with an eligible Amex Platinum card. So if you’re paying cash for a stay, this would be a great way to book it.
Wyndham Margaritaville St. Thomas
Parrotheads can unite at the Wyndham Margaritaville St. Thomas. Inspired by the legendary Jimmy Buffett, you can escape from reality into Margaritaville on the tranquil waters of Water Bay in St. Thomas.
Wyndham Rewards is a currency we don’t cover as in depth as we should, but this resort is a great place to redeem Wyndham Rewards.
An award night here will run you 15,000 points per night. With cash rates regularly averaging $300 during a number of dates throughout the year, this translates into a great value.
If you don’t have any Wyndham Rewards points, you can transfer points from Capital One miles to Wyndham Rewards. Unfortunately, the points transfer at a 2:1.5 ratio. So it’s worth comparing the cash cost of your dates to the award costs. There are certain scenarios where if you need to transfer Capital One miles from a product like a Spark or Venture product, that you might be better off just booking a cash fare and erasing it with Capital One miles.
British Virgin Islands
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection
Being able to book a private island with points sounds like a dream right? Well, Scrub Island Resort technically makes that possible. This Marriott Bonvoy Category 8 property with just 65 rooms will run you a cool 85,000 points per night under the standard rate. Cash rates can easily average $750 per night plus, so it adds up quickly.
If you’re able to snag off-peak dates for 70,000 points per night, I would definitely consider booking a stay here, especially if you can use Marriott’s 5th Night Free perk on award stays. Otherwise, unless you’re just flush with Marriott points, you might consider redeeming elsewhere.
I stayed at Scrub Island in Feb 2020, so if you’re interested in reading a more in depth overview, you can read my review of Scrub Island.
Wyndham Tortola BVI Lambert Beach Resort
There aren’t a lot of hotels located in the British Virgin Islands that you can directly book with points. But thankfully, the Wyndham Tortola BVI Lambert Beach Resort is one of these.
Located in the East End of Tortola, the secluded resort is a beachside oasis located on a stunning beach. And if you’re looking for a quiet and somewhat off-the-beaten path experience, the fact that this hotel has only 38 rooms should be just what you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, an award night here will run you 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points per night. With cash rates regularly averaging $100-$200 during a number of dates throughout the year, using Wyndham Rewards points actually doesn’t translate into a great value. You’re better off paying cash, or using a purchase eraser card like the Capital One Venture Credit Card.
Rosewood Little Dix Bay
This is consistently rated as one of the best resorts in all of the Caribbean. And it comes with a hefty daily rate to boot.
You probably won’t end up using points to stay here since the nightly cash rate tends to average $800+, making it a bad redemption. But if you are paying cash, and are a cardholder of The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, then again by booking travel through American Express FHR, you get access to additional benefits and discounts at select hotels around the world, including the Rosewood Little Dix Bay.
By booking via FHR, you’re also eligible for benefits that include a $100 food and beverage credit to be used during your stay, daily breakfast for two, room upgrades when available, noon check-in when available, 4pm check-out guaranteed, and complimentary Wi-Fi. You also earn 5x Membership Rewards on prepaid FHR bookings if you book via an eligible Amex Platinum card, so again on a cash stay, this would be a great way to book it.
Things You Should Do in The Virgin Islands
The options are endless for activities to do and things to see in the Virgin Islands. Here are a few favorite options to consider based on your destination of choice.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Don't miss some of the most amazing beaches in the Caribbean that you can easily get to from many of the Virgin Islands.
Buck Island in St. Croix
If you’re staying on St. Croix, a half-day trip to Buck Island is a must. This is the only marine national park in all of the United States. Sadly, all of the years of overfishing as well as coral bleaching have severely deteriorated the marine ecosystem on Buck Island and its sea gardens, but it’s still worth a visit for scuba diving or snorkeling. Regardless, one of the best beaches in all of St. Croix is located on Buck Island, so you can still relax on this white sand beach and soak in the sights.
St. John’s Famous North Shore Beaches
There are a number of beaches along St. John’s North Shore that are quintessentially Carribean – beautiful white sand and clear blue water. They are some of the best in all of the Carribean, and time spent on some if not all of them should definitely be a part of your time on St. John. In no particular order, be sure to include Trunk Bay Beach, Cinnamon Bay Beach, Maho Bay Beach, Hawksnest Beach, Salomon Beach, Gibney Beach, Caneel Bay or Honeymoon Beach in your itinerary. You won’t regret it.
Magens Bay in St. Thomas
Magens Bay is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches thanks to its beautiful white sand beach and clear blue water, and it’s setting amongst the green hills of St. Thomas and the vast coconut palms. It’s exactly what you picture when you think of the Caribbean.
British Virgin Islands
The Baths at Virgin Gorda
Arguably the most popular attraction in all of the British Virgin Islands is the Baths at Virgin Gorda. This fascinating geological wonder is quite something to experience as you hike by weaving your way through a massive formation of granite boulders along the edge of the ocean. There are some great pools and swimming holes to explore, and it’s truly something.
Get there early though as during the peak season, the baths can get very crowded!
Day Trip to Anegada
Anegada is the northernmost island in the BVI’s. It’s a coral atoll, and is only about 14 square miles in total. It’s highest point is only 28 ft above sea level. It’s total population is only 285, and yes you read that right. Given the population, and challenge of getting here, it’s literally off the beaten path.
But it has some absolutely incredible beaches, arguably the best in all of the BVI. Which is why you should definitely make a day trip here to explore it.
You can get there via a daily ferry service run. It’s about an hour and fifteen minutes each way leaving from Trellis Bay or Road Town depending on which days you travel. Or you can make the hop via a 15 minutes flight on a few different inter-island airlines like the VI Airlink for less than $100 per person.
Be sure to rent a scooter or a Moke vehicle ahead of time to explore the island. If you’re there early enough, eat breakfast at Neptune Treasure along with the rest of the island. After that, start exploring the beaches. When we visited in 2020, our personal favorite was Cowwreck beach, where we sat beachside and ate famous Anegada lobster and had a few cold beverages. Heaven! Other great beaches are Loblolly Beach and Jack Bay Point.
Joost van Dyke Beach
Arguably the most popular beach in all of the British Virgin Islands, most people swing by Joost van Dyke at least once to make the pilgrimage to the Soggy Dollar bar. This world famous beachside bar is located on the most incredible stretch of beach along White Bay, and is home to the Painkiller drink. So be sure to tie up your boat and swim ashore for a few drinks and delicious food for a fun day in the sun.
How to Earn Points and Miles for Your Trip to the Virgin Islands
Regardless of which destination you choose, you’ll likely find that flexible reward currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership rewards will be your best option for booking flights to The Virgin Islands.
Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Chase Ink Preferred credit card, and Chase Freedom Flex help you to earn lots of Ultimate Rewards points in a hurry thanks to generous welcome bonuses as well as bonus categories for ongoing spending. In addition, if it’s Membership Rewards points you’re after, the American Express Gold Card will help you earn points fast thanks to 4x at restaurants worldwide, including takeout, delivery, and Uber Eats as well as 4x at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per year in purchases.
You can use some of the transfer partners of both currencies to book flights on airlines such as Delta, JetBlue, American Airlines and United.
When cash fares are low you could even look to book flights in the Chase Travel Portal. Be sure to steer clear of the American Express Travel Portal in most cases as this won’t be your best option for redeeming your points and miles.
These certainly aren’t the only currencies that will get you to the Virgin Islands. There are tons of other options to help you earn other valuable points and miles across a number of currencies and loyalty programs. You can earn American Aadvantage miles with co-branded cards offered by both Barclays and Citi. American Express also offers a slew of Delta cards, and Chase also offers both personal and business United cards.
Final Thoughts on a Getaway to The Virgin Islands
As you can see, you have tons of options for booking a trip to The Virgin Islands. Even better, it’s up to you on whether you want to use your passport or not for this adventure based on your destination of choice.
Regardless of your choice, trips to the Caribbean are just inherently expensive. However, we’ve outlined a few options above for you to have a fantastic experience at a fraction of the retail price thanks to points and miles.
Cards in This Article
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
Total AAdvantage Bonus Miles
after your first purchase and payment of the $99 annual fee
Membership Rewards® Points
after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.