Driving etiquette in the USVI

Travel Tips — By kelowitt on March 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm

If you’re planning to rent a car and drive during your vacation in the Virgin Islands, there are a few things you should know (besides the fact that we drive on the left here)!

1) Addresses: Street addresses are not common, except in downtown Charlotte Amalie, and few roads have signs (or even names). If you need to get somewhere outside of downtown, don’t ask for an address, just ask where it is, what landmarks it’s near, and how to get there. For example, if you want to go to Buddha Sushi, get on the road that goes past the Havensight cruise ship dock, heading toward Red Hook. After a couple of miles you’ll pass the Bolongo Bay resort, then the Total gas station. The restaurant is on the left side, opposite the Schnitzel House.

2) Be polite. Drivers in the USVI are more polite than on the mainland. You’ll notice that they let pedestrians cross (even if they’re not in a crosswalk), they let other cars cut in if they’re coming out of a driveway, and they let oncoming cars turn right in front of them if the oncoming car is holding up traffic in the other direction. If you want to signal to someone to cross or cut in, honk once. To thank someone for letting you cut in, honk twice.

3) Beware of road hazards. Potholes, goats, donkeys, steep inclines….the list of road hazards is long and legendary. But as long as you keep your eyes and ears open, you’ll be fine. With potholes, slow down and steer around so you don’t damage your car. With animals, let them pass, or steer around if you can do so safely. Since many of the mountain roads are perilously steep, make sure your transmission and brakes are in top condition, and don’t attempt to drive home at night after a big meal (or several drinks). That’s what taxis are for!

4) Don’t speed. It’s hard to go more than 30 miles an hour on any road in the USVI, since they are usually narrow, winding, or crowded. So in most cases you can’t speed, even if you tried. But if you do happen hit a long, smooth stretch of empty road, don’t be tempted to put the pedal to the metal. It’s really not worth it. You’re on vacation on a beautiful island!!! Slow down, relax, and enjoy the view.

If you go with the flow and follow these unofficial rules, and you’ll have a much nicer driving experience.

Tags: driving, road etiquette, road rules

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