One of the most visited cruise ports in the Caribbean is St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The island is conveniently found in the Lesser Antilles near the British Virgin Islands. It’s a perfect cruise destination for Caribbean cruise itineraries. In addition to being simply stunning it’s best known for being a popular duty-free shopping place in the region.
St. Thomas mixes the laid-back vibe of the Caribbean with the modernities of a metropolitan society to create a modern paradise. All this evidenced by the constant calls cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, and Holland America make to this destination.
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If you haven’t been to this well-known cruise destination then you should add this to your travel plans as you are truly missing out on a gem at sea. Your trip to this island will welcome you to gorgeous views, beautiful beaches, tasty cuisine, the best shopping and a world of fun on the water.
Things to Do in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Being a US territory, you can expect the best security, convenience in ease of transaction, communication, and movement. With all these amenities and supporting features, one would have to really try hard to not have a good time here. But don’t take our word for it, check out the following 15 awesome things to do in St. Thomas.
1. Explore Charlotte Amalie
After docking in St. Thomas, you can start by visiting the nearby town of Charlotte Amalie. This town is also the Capital city of St. Thomas. It will take you about 10 minutes to reach the town from the Havensight cruise terminal. Note there are two cruise docks in St. Thomas, Havensight is the larger of the two and the default cruise port. However large vessels the likes of Oasis and Allure of the seas are forced to dock at crown bay, the second cruise port.
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While it’s easy to get to the town on foot from havensight, it’s not so easy from Crown bay and you would need to take a taxi. When there are many ships in this port, other vessels are forced to dock offshore. In such instances, guests are usually tendered right up to the heart of Charlotte Amalie.
St. Thomas is very famous for its duty-free shopping and the great thing is that shopping starts right there in Havensight where most cruise ships docks. You can start your retail therapy there or visit the gorgeous town of Charlotte Amalie for more attractions.
Charlotte Amalie is a busy colorful town that is a host to colonial Danish architecture with a modern metropolitan touch. Enjoy walking down the beautiful streets of the town and taste the flavor of the island. One of the major tourist attraction is the historical district where most of the island’s ancient 17th-century buildings are found.
Marvel at the genius of ancient civilizations as displayed in the intricate designs and structures created by them. While you practice your photography skills.
2. Duty-Free Shopping
Have you been looking for affordable souvenirs in your travels with no luck? Then prepare to find them in St. Thomas. Enjoy the best duty-free shopping that the Caribbean has to offer. Splurge a little on some retail therapy in this island and save yourself the extra bucks.
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The island has every souvenir you would want to carry home. Enjoy tax and duty-free shopping and carry home, perfume, jewelry, clothes, fine china, paintings, souvenir and every other item that catches your eye.
Shopping takes place at the main street in Charlotte Amalie, Havensight Mall, Yacht Haven Grande, Red Hook and Crown Bay Center. Remember to keep your receipts in order in case you wish to send gifts back home.
3. Visit the National Heritage Sites
St. Thomas has something for everyone including the History Buff. St. Thomas used to be a Danish colony in the old days. The historic district has over 500 ancient buildings. The most notable of this include Black beard’s castle, Fort Christian and St. Thomas Synagogue.
Black Beard’s Castle
Black Beard’s Castle is located on government hill. Visit this site for scenic views of the island. Black Beard’s castle rumored to have been a home to a famous pirate back in the day was built in the late 1600’s. It was built to serve as a watchtower, to keep an eye out for Dane’s enemies. Take guided tours of the castle and learn the heritage and history of the port
Fort Christian is centrally located in Charlotte Amalie. The fort was also built in the 16th century and served as military grounds. It now hosts the St. Thomas museum and bears artifacts and history of the island. It’s hard to miss this brightly colored fort on your way from the cruise pier to the town.
St Thomas Synagogue
Visit a historic synagogue, the second oldest synagogue in continuous use in the US. St Thomas synagogue is found north of the central business district at Charlotte Amalie. This synagogue was built in 1833 and offers the history lovers the perfect place to explore the culture of the island.
4. Explore Underwater
Go exploring under water. St. Thomas is strategically located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Its tropical climate provides the best environment for fish and sea creatures to live in. When in St. Thomas make sure to visit Coral World Ocean Park. Here you will meet and greet sea lions, sea turtles, pet iguanas, and stingrays. You will also observe a wide variety of fishes in their natural environment including nurse sharks.
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There are 3 different events to engage in at Coral World Ocean Park, the helmet dive, swimming with the sea lions and the turtle encounter. Though time and money might only allow you to engage in one or two of these events you won’t want to miss any. All are fun and will leave you with an experience that you won’t soon forget.
Afterward, you can have lunch at the burger place in the park and go do some more snorkeling at Coki beach right next door. You can also shop for some souvenirs at the gift shop in the reserve. To make this even more memorable, a professional photographer takes photos of you interacting with these magnificent creatures and avails them at the end of the session for a fee.
5. Drake’s Seat
When you first visit St. Thomas, you will realize it’s surrounded by green rolling hills dotted with brightly painted residentials. This means you can enjoy panoramic views of the island and its surrounding neighbors on some of its high points.
To start with, there is Drake’s seat which has the perfect overview of Magen’s Bay. It’s a nice place to stop by, enjoy the view, rest a bit and take great photos before continuing your tour of the area. History says that this was sir Drake’s lookout point to spy on enemy ships and order attacks on them.
6. Mountain Top
Speaking of observation decks, the Mountain Top is another great area. Found 1500 feet above sea level, this is one of the highest points in the island. It affords you an advantageous view of the bay and several other islands.
Besides the panoramic views, it’s also home to the world-famous banana daiquiri. I know a banana drink isn’t anyone’s first choice for a great drink, but you will simply love this drink. It’s made with Cruzan Rum originally made on the island and is very tasty. Other than enjoying delicious daiquiris, the best duty-free shopping in St. Thomas is found at the mountaintop. Enjoy shopping for clothes, jewelry, accessories, perfumes, and many more. And at the best prices on the island.
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7. 99 Steps!
To enjoy the beauty and architecture of this island climb the 99 steps up government hill that lead to Blackbeard’s castle. St. Thomas’s landscape is a hilly one, and most residential areas are built on the mountainsides.
The Danes used to build staircase streets up the hills to make navigation of the place easy. There are many such stair cased streets on the island but the most popular is 99 steps. This staircase has simple short steps and is lined with flowers on either side. Its steps are made out of bricks that were brought from Denmark. Enjoy the architecture of the lovely houses found on either side of the staircase while utilizing this perfect photo op.
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8. Paradise Point
Ride the view on your way to the Paradise Point sky ride, a popular attraction in St. Thomas. Not for those who fear heights. The sky ride will elevate you 700 feet above water as you cross the bay from Havensight to Charlotte Amalie. The 7-minute ride is the best way to see all of St. Thomas and the bay beneath dotted with numerous boats and yachts. The ride also affords you spectacular views of the mountainside and its residential houses.
Once you get to the observation decks at Point Paradise you will have even more advantageous views of the island’s majestic bay and neighborhoods. The place also features a restaurant for when you get hungry or thirsty. Enjoy signature drinks, great meals, and spectacular views.
An eco-tour of St. Thomas is one of the best tours you can take in the Caribbean. Visit the mangrove lagoon on this tour and go kayaking, snorkeling or even paddle boarding in this beautiful ecosystem. The mangroves arrange themselves in small islands and their cover offers a natural home for sea and animal life. Enjoy snorkeling and exploring this tropical paradise. Tours are offered by cruise lines and local tour operators.
10. Dive in St. Thomas
St. Thomas has an abundance of coral reef systems that support the over 500 fish life in its waters. Book a diving excursion and dive in any one of the many sites around the island. Dive to underwater wreck sites where you will see plenty of fish.
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Dive at Coki beach, cows and calf’s, and tunnels of thatch dive sites for more variety. Beginners can also get in on the fun and even learn how to scuba through certified-professional divers in the island.
11. Magens Beach
Longing for a perfect beach day? Then enjoy one at St. Thomas. This island has plenty of beaches, you would have to visit the island for a longer period to experience them all. Among the four best is Magen’s Bay beach, Sapphire Beach, Lindquist Beach and Coki beach.
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Magens Bay beach stretches one mile between the two peninsulas jutting out at either end. Found on the northern side of the island, the beach is perfect for swimming, sunning and water sports. The beach has calm warm, shallow waters courtesy of the North Atlantic conditions and the two protective peninsulas on its side. Enjoy a beach day here on the long stretch of clean soft sandy beach, to complete your cruise vacation.
The beach charges $4 for use and in return provides clean amenities for use. There is a restaurant on the beach as well that serves a hearty dish of salt fish.
12. Sapphire Beach
If you love snorkeling then sapphire and Coki beach are the places to visit. Sapphire beach is found on the eastern side of the island. It’s a bit rocky and has a lot of coral, but it also has the clearest waters and is good for snorkeling. There are plenty of shaded spots on the beach as well. Visit this beach for a nice day of rest and exploration
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13. Lindquist Beach
While Magen’s and Sapphire beach are good choices for beaches, they are also good choices for a few thousand others as well. If sharing a beach space with a sea of people isn’t your thing, then try out the beautiful Lindquist beach.
This is one of the secluded beaches on the island. It’s located on the eastern side of the island and is completely secluded. Enjoy a tranquil beach bum day at this beach. It charges $4 for access and $2 for parking and the only amenities available on the beach is a clean bathroom and lifeguard services. Thus, carry your own lunch and beach towels to enjoy your day here.
14. Tour to Nearby Islands
Island hopping in St. Thomas is also widely practiced by tourists visiting the island. Visit the nearby uninhabited water island and enjoy its perfect beaches or visit the natural parks in St. John. All in all, book a trip to these islands found 20-30 minutes away from St. Thomas by boat.
15. Taste of St. Thomas
Enjoy the taste of St. Thomas with its Mediterranean and Caribbean menu. Don’t just go back to your ship for lunch but try out delicious cuisines such as callaloo, pate (a St. Thomas version of empanadas), and the funjee (a popular side dish made from salted cornmeal).
You can also have the delicious bull’s feet soup, conch fritters and Indian inspired roti’s. For your sweet tooth enjoy Johnny cakes and dumb bread at local café’s. Notable places to visit for these dishes include Cuzzins, Bumpas, island flavor, Jen’s café and Glady’s café. For drinks try bushwhacker, banana daiquiri, and the painkiller.
As you can see St. Thomas is full of fascinating features and a whole list of activities to engage in. So, it might come as a shock, that this is not an exhaustive list. There are more things to do on the island, like teeing in the famous golf course on the island, fly and sport fishing, visiting botanical gardens and butterfly farms and much more.
Now that you know what to expect, plan your cruise accordingly and enjoy the charm of this beautiful place. That’s all for now, do have a lovely cruise. Happy Cruising.