U.S. Virgin Islands hotels
Hotels on St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix tend to complement each island's distinct personality. On St. Thomas, where abundant nonstop flights bring many families, most visitors opt for pricey chain hotels like the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. There are also a handful of family-run inns and B&Bs—mostly in Charlotte Amalie and Frenchtown—that are more affordable but often lack beach access.
At 84 square miles, St. Croix is the largest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands. It's also the least visited, which is why you're virtually guaranteed to find an affordable hotel (even more so during shoulder season, when rates drop dramatically). Some of the most economical hotels are in Christiansted, convenient to restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Well-appointed beach resorts are scattered across the island, but are generally less luxurious than their St. Thomas counterparts. Frederiksted—St. Croix's west-end town—is extremely sleepy unless a cruise ship is in port. You might want to consider staying closer to the action in Christiansted.
Eco-types and those longing for lush island isolation should consider staying on St. John, which is largely made up of national park land. Here, most accommodations have a green bent, whether they're Maho Bay's environmentally friendly cottages, beachside campsites at Cinnamon Bay, or the luxurious eco-retreat at Caneel Bay. You'll also find a handful of affordable inns near Cruz Bay. Another option—and a surprisingly affordable one—is renting a villa like those at Gibney's on Hawksnest Beach. Rates vary widely, but a one-week rental in high season starts at around $2,000.
For rental properties throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact Caribbean Villas and Resorts (800-338-0987; caribbeanvilla.com), VIVA! Villas Inc. (888-856-4601; vivacations.com), and Catered To Vacation Homes (800-424-6641; cateredto.com).