US Virgin Islands travel guide

The result of the US Virgin Islands' history and location is a unique blend of Danish heritage and American modernity. Add to that a dose of the relaxed and friendly attitude typical of the Caribbean, and you've pretty much got the measure of this territory. With miles of glistening beaches, first-class diving facilities and verdant tropical vegetation, there is more than enough to seduce even the pickiest of visitors.

Don't let the name fool you too much. It's true that Americans favour the islands as a beautiful haven from the mainland – it's not called 'America's Paradise' for nothing – and those from the US don't even need a passport to visit. But this isn't just an American playground.

The Danes' legacy is evident in Christiansted, on the largest island, St Croix, where historic sites include Fort Christiansværn (dating from 1774) and the Old Custom House. St Thomas too retains much of its Danish influence; in the capital, Charlotte Amalie, converted warehouses now house stylish boutiques.

Apart from exploring the interesting history of these islands, which are situated in the Caribbean Sea (not far from the equally imaginatively named British Virgin Islands), there's terrific seafood to be sampled here, as well as water sports, and of course spectacular beaches. The nightlife is buzzing, with countless bars – beach bars, wine bars, lounge bars – as well as one enormous casino. For a little in the way of high culture, head to the Reichhold Center for the Arts.

Those seeking unspoilt natural beauty should head to St John. With no airport, and two-thirds of the island's deep valleys set aside as a national park, this is an ideal retreat.

An easy, unchallenging destination, the US Virgin Islands may not be the most culturally compelling choice, but the territory promises good fun, relaxing times and a sun-kissed reprieve from the rat race.