Explore St Thomas USVI

St Thomas is home to dozens of day charter boats and water sports vessels. Serving as the "entry point" to the US Virgin Islands for most vacationers, St Thomas is rich in history, activity, shopping, and dining. Whether landing at the airy, laid-back Cyril E. King Airport (STT) or stepping off of a cruise ship in Havensight or Crown Bay, visitors are quickly welcomed by friendly locals and beautiful scenery. And no part of St Thomas better exemplifies the locals warm spirit than the capital city of Charlotte Amalie.

Charlotte Amalie, or Downtown as it's known, emcompasses both cruise ship ports, the airport, most of the island's famed duty-free shopping, and even a few resorts. For passengers arriving on cruise ships, Charlotte Amalie is their first- if not only- impression of St Thomas. Here you can dine on traditional West Indian cuisine, enjoy a tropical rum punch, or shop til you drop at one of the hundreds of stores downtown. St Thomas has come to be know as a shopper's paradise because many of the stores are duty-free, meaning visitors can save hundreds of dollars on luxury items like perfume, designer handbags, fine spirits, jewelry and watches. For those looking for more affordable shopping, visit Market Square, which was once the site of the Caribbean's largest slave auctions. Today the only thing being sold here are t-shirts, tote bags, and trinkets.

Once you've had your fill of shopping, Charlotte Amalie also serves as a perfect starting point for island exploration. Ride the ski chair lift up Paradise Point and experience the breathtaking views of the town and bustling harbor. A quick and easy way to experience St Thomas by water is to take a ferry to the tiny Water Island, the smallest and least populated of the inhabited US Virgin Islands. Visitors staying in Charlotte Amalie can also visit the famed 99 Steps. These stairs, which are some of the most photographed in the world, were constructed with the ballast that was used to keep Danish sailing ships upright on their eighteenth century transoceanic crossings. Cap off your day of Charlotte Amalie exploration by visiting Blackbeard's Castle, where the infamous pirate is said to have used the former Danish defense point for his own advantages. But to really experience all that St Thomas has to offer, you need to leave Charlotte Amalie and visit other island attractions.

Although roads are hilly and winding, the island is just 31 square miles, making it easy to explore the island on your own. If you're staying at a resort or villa without a car, or are just on St Thomas for the day as part of your cruise, the best way to explore the island is via "safari" cab, the trucks with seats in the beds. While this may seem unsafe to visitors, rest assured that this is a common way to travel on the island for visitors and locals alike. Depending on your destination, the fare can be as low as $1 per person. If you are traveling with a larger party, consider hiring one of these safari cabs as your personal guide for a few hours. The drivers are locals, and know many interesting and beautiful sites to show you.

Surely a "can't miss" stop on any visit to St Thomas is a trip to the famed Magens Bay on St Thomas's northern shore. Although St Thomas is home to over 40 beaches, Magens Bay is by far the most famous. The large blue bay, lined by a white sand beach, is one of the most photographed beaches in the Caribbean. Here, visitors can swim in the protected, warm blue waters, stroll on the three quarter mile long beach, rent a small sailboat or windsurfing board, or drift off to sleep on a float. Restroom and shower facilities, along with a snack bar, make this a great beach to spend the day. And just to the west of Magens Bay lies Hull Bay, which offers St Thomas's only surf break (when the swell is up, during the winter or a storm).

After leaving Magens Bay, head west towards Red Hook and you'll encounter another of St Thomas's great beaches and family attractions. Less than 20 minutes from Magen's Beach lies Coki Beach, which offers the best snorkeling on St Thomas. Coki Beach is a great place for families, as the water is very calm and kids can feed schools of people-friendly fish in waist-deep water. More advanced snorkelers will be attracted to the 100 foot visibility. Note that this beach can become quite crowded, so arrive early to avoid crowds when snorkeling. Located right next to Coki Beach is Coral World, a cross between an aquarium and an eco-friendly amusement park. Kids and adults can get an up close at thousands of fish in Caribbean Reef Encounter, hold starfish and urchins in the touch pool, pet a ray or shark, or even swim with the sea lions!

Not far from Ocean Park and Coki Beach is the other "town" on St Thomas, Red Hook. Red Hook offers local and visitors alike numerous shopping and fun, affordable dining options. This is also where most of the ferries to neighboring St John depart. The ferry rides are smooth, quick, and affordable, making it easy to visit St John for a few hours. There is also a Red Hook- based ferry company, Native Son, that serves the British Virgin Islands.

Thanks to its international airport and popularity with cruise ships, St Thomas is the gateway to the Virgin Islands. And there's no better way to experience the beauty of St Thomas and the USVI than from the water. Whether visiting for a day on your cruise, or staying for a week or more in a villa or resort, we can help you find the perfect day trip. If you want to go snorkeling, sailing, diving, half-day boat trips, trips to Norman Island, the Baths, and of course the Soggy Dollar, we can help you find the best boat for your group. Call or email us now!

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