If the idea of spending the Fourth of July in the Caribbean seems a bit un-American, think again. There are some islands that not only celebrate America’s Fourth, but also sprinkle in their own special cultural flavoring to make it spicy, fun and unexpected.
Three U.S. Virgin Islands That Love the Fourth. St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John are a tempting trio of lovely, idyllic islands (where you can visit sans passport – woo hoo!) that actually start their celebrations before July 4th. Folks down here start partying days prior with the celebration of Emancipation Week, which honors Emancipation Day, July 3rd – the day that commemorates the freeing of the slaves by the Island’s colonizers in 1848. All the fun takes place in Festival Village in Cruz Bay, St. John. This is not-to-be missed!
St. John: A July 4th Parade as American as Plantain Pie. While all three heavenly isles celebrate these holidays in their own signature style, the epicenter of activity is in St. John. The main event is J’ouvert, a large Carnival street party and parade in Cruz Bay that begins well before dawn on the morning of July 4th. The crazy fun fete includes costumed dancers, calypso bands and dancing until the sun comes up.
St. Croix: Big Fun into the Wee Hours. This escape haven generally celebrates on the afternoon of July 4th into the early morning of Sunday July 5th. Join the party peeps in Frederiksted, which is the heart of St. Croix, for music, food, fun and of course a stunning fireworks extravaganza.
St. Thomas: Where You Go to Chill. This sweet isle has perhaps the mildest of celebrations of these three. While festivities are more minimal, you can still expect to end the day with a big ‘ole fireworks display over the spectacular Cruz Bay harbor.
San Juan, Puerto Rico – Another Party Spot for the Fourth. If you want to stay a little closer to the mainland U.S., Puerto Rico is a great option. Like the U.S. Virgin Islands, the dollar is welcome here so you won’t have to hassle with exchanging your money.
Here are some fun things to do on the Fourth:
- Tour Old San Juan for its historic sites but also because there is often a Fourth of July celebration there, with local food and music, fireworks, and oceans more.
- Swing by the Cattlemen’s Barbecue Competition at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan on July 2nd and 3rd. Dig into delish food (regardless of who wins), and rock out/dance to live music. Look for authentic Puerto Rican lechon aka a young pig slow-roasted over a fire on a spit. Other delicacies to try include pigeon peas, cassava, blood sausage, and other signature dishes of the locals.
- Head out to Luquillo Beach 30 miles east of San Juan, where the sand is delicious and the water crystal clear. A coral reef protects Luquillo Beach from strong oceanic currents, and coconut palms line the bay. Another option is to hop on the Fajardo ferry and hit the nearby islands of Vieques or Culebra. The beaches are beautiful and parties are held at these sunny spots every July 4th.
- Explore El Yunque Rainforest, located in the northeastern section of Puerto Rico. This lush locale sits on the seaward side of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains and better still, it’s the only tropical forest in the U.S. National Forest System. The mountainous jungle gets doused with plenty of rain each year, which produces lots of verdant greenery and wildlife. Keep an eye out for El Toro peak, rivers and waterfalls, rocky crags, jungle trails, and antique petroglyphs of the Taino Indians who once inhabited the island
While the Fourth is a good excuse (not that you need one) to visit the Caribbean, let’s not forget the main attraction of these islands that transcends this raucous, joyous holiday – the long, endless stretches of beaches where you can melt into relaxation and cast your cares aside. This, dear readers, is what the Caribbean is all about.
So what are you waiting for? If you call CheapCaribbean at 800-915-3162, our BhDs can plan your trip. These wise Sherpas of travel take care of everything – soup to coconuts – and love, LOVE doing this. You can also check out our site and browse all our spectacular all-inclusive vacation packages. After you see all we have to offer, we suspect you’ll be giddy and raring to go. Whether it’s the Fourth or you just want to get away, we live to make sure your tropical vacay is nothing less than sparkling.