St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Caribbean

Charlotte Amalie town on St. Thomas island, USVI, Caribbean

Charlotte Amalie town on St. Thomas island, the capital city of the US VI.

St. Thomas Vacations

St. Thomas, being the least virgin of the Virgin Islands is the place for those looking for action. If your holiday means sports, activities, shopping, dining and night life in addition to sun and sea, then St. Thomas is the perfect destination.
To be fair, the island also encompasses some of the region’s most gorgeous beaches as well as some of best snorkelling/diving spots, and, if you are a sailor, this is one of the most convenient and well-equipped bases for cruising around the Virgin Islands or further into the Caribbean.

On the downside St. Thomas does suffering a lite crime rep, mainly petty thievery and burglary, with a bit of drug-oriented mayhem among locals on the side. Traffic downtown can be frenzied, chaotic and noisesome as car horns are more important than brakes in this part of the world. And then there are the mosquitoes. . .

The panoramic view from Blackbeard's Castle above Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas, USVI, Caribbean

The panoramic view from Blackbeard’s Castle above Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas.

St. Thomas Things to Do

Lindquist Beach, St. Thomas, USVI

Lindquist Beach, St. Thomas.

Mountain Top, Charlotte Amalie, from the highest point on the island at 1, 500 feet, admire the spectacular view of Magens Bay, St. John and British Virgin Islands while enjoying a ‘world-famous Banana Daiquiri’.

99 Steps and Blackbeard’s Castle, Charlotte Amalie, built by the Danes in the mid 17th century, the so-called 99 steps (we didn’t bother counting but apparently the actual count is 103) is a lovely hike up Government Hill to Blackbeard’s Castle, said to be the lookout tower of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard the Pirate. For a modest admission fee you can even enjoy the swimming pool and a drink with the panoramic view, guarded by Jack Sparrow. Check the opening hours, especially in the low season or when no cruise ships are plagueing the town.

Shopping, Charlotte Amalie, Main Street, Yacht Haven Grande (a marina with up-scale boutiques) and Havensight Mall are both located east of St. Thomas Harbour. Charlotte Amalie is definitely the Virgin Islands’ shopping heaven as it also attracts residents of other Caribbean islands, particularly from the more expensive neighbours, BVI.

Best Beaches

Magens Bay

Magens Bay, St Thomas, USVI, Caribbean

Magens Bay. Photo by DBKing.

Lindquist Beach

Also known as Smith Bay Beach, this small, unspoilt beach is a hidden treasure favoured by locals, $2 pp charge to access, but no amenities there at all. Try also similarly lovely Coki Bay, north of Lindquist, where is said to be one of the island’s best snorkelling spots.

Magens is the largest and most popular swimming beach in St. Thomas with masses of powder sand and calm shallow water. Facilities are excellent so this is a superb place to spend a day.

Secret Harbour Beach

A palm-fringed white sand beach with an unmatched setting and good snorkelling. It belongs to a 3 star hotel resort with a good reputation.

Hull Bay

Located on the north shore, Hull Bay is west of Magens Bay and open to rough Atlantic waters soits reef break offers the best surf in St. Thomas in winter months.
The beach is an off-beat place and a local’s favourite as the part of the beach is shaded and the sea is generally calm outside winter. The bay is also a fishermen’s playground so watch out for boats.
For wind-surfers try Sapphire Beach, near Red Hook, for fair winds and decent surf as well as snorkelling and views of St. John.

Brewer’s Bay

Despite being very close to the airport, is a surprisingly pleasant large white beach, almost deserted during week days. It is a locals’ hangout at weekends.

Honeymoon Beach, Water Island

This heavily vegetated island near St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie harbour, is ideal for a short trip with just a 10 minute ferry ride. Secluded and tranquil Honeymoon Beach is the best secret in the island, unless cruise ship battalions choose to invade on that day.

Scuba Diving

Cow & Calf, two large rocks encrusted with coral off the southeast coast and Sail Rock with three cone-shaped pinnacles.

Wreck of Wit Shoal II, home to barracuda, yellowtail snapper and grouper, this 330-foot former Navy tank-landing ship sank in 1985 and is covered with brilliant coral communities. West of Saba Island, southwest of St. Thomas.

French Cap, an islet 6 miles offshore, this rarely visited diving spot is known for the Pinnacle, several tall rock spires shooting up from the sea floor swarmed by reef fish, sharks and rays.

Getting there

St. Thomas has an international airport near the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. Most visitors fly in with American Airlines, United, Delta or US Airways or their partners directly from/via New York, Miami, Atlanta or San Juan (Puerto Rico). Flights can also be found from other Caribbean islands such as Tortola, St. Maarten and Dominica. Alternatively there’s always a yacht or cruise ship!

Local Transport

Charlotte Amalie's main street, St Thomas, USVI, Caribbean

Charlotte Amalie’s main street, St. Thomas.

Taking a tour operated by tour/taxi companies or a private driver/guide on St. Thomas is not a bad idea as the island is small enough to see its highlights in half a day and can be arranged easily at the airport or your hotel.

Taxis are reasonable with more less fixed rates per person (for example, from the airport to town cost $7). Budget travelers can save money by using Vitran or Dollar Taxi (also known as open-air taxis) which cost 1 or 2 dollars for a short trip. Alternatively there’s Safari Cab, a collective mini bus service, but both may need local’s advice on how to recognise them, when and where they run.