The very best issues do to in St Thomas: seashores, bars and turtle-filled bays

In case you’ve landed on the idyllic shores of St Thomas, likelihood is you intend to spend chunk of your journey on the seaside.

But with its storied historical past, wealthy tradition and wild nature, there’s far more to do on this island than merely eat, seaside, sleep and repeat (although there’s definitely nothing unsuitable with that). Listed below are 15 methods to take advantage of out of a visit to the beating coronary heart of the US Virgin Islands (USVI): our picks for the perfect issues to do in St Thomas.

Store on Primary Avenue in Charlotte Amalie 

Charlotte Amalie is among the busiest cruise ports within the Caribbean and its retailers, tucked amongst colourful Danish colonial buildings on Primary St, are a high draw. Most guests head to locations like AH Riise, which sells duty-free watches, jewellery, tobacco and liquor, however there are some extra uncommon spots which can be possible higher value your time. Among the many greatest is the Camille Pissarro Gallery, situated within the childhood residence of the famed Danish-French Impressionist. On show, you’ll see reproductions of his St Thomas scenes alongside works by modern USVI artists.

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Swim at Magens Bay

Although it’s one of many few seashores on St Thomas that calls for an entry charge, a visit to Magens Bay is value each penny. No different strip of sand within the USVI lies on the finish of such a deep cove, giving Magens an beautiful backdrop of emerald-green hills. With lifeguards, picnic tables, altering services, water sports activities and eating places, this spot has the whole lot a household might must spend a whole day planted on the pearl-white sands.

Drink and dine in Frenchtown 

The island’s “Frenchies” – Huguenots who emigrated to St Thomas from St-Barths throughout the mid-Nineteenth century – first populated this neighborhood of brightly painted body homes on the western aspect of Charlotte Amalie Harbor. These days, this fishermen’s neighborhood has a number of good eating places that overlook the water, together with the seafood bistro Oceana. You’ll additionally discover craft beer at Frenchtown Brewing (attempt the citrusy Hop Alley IPA) and a sprawling wine record at The Twisted Cork.

Take a day journey to Virgin Islands Nationwide Park

Whereas St Thomas is closely developed, two-thirds of neighboring St John is protected inside the Virgin Islands Nationwide Park, making it a improbable spot to flee the crowds. Widespread half-day hikes within the park’s limits embody the Lind Level Path, which snakes away from the ferry dock in Cruz Bay over to the secluded Honeymoon Seashore, and the Reef Bay Path, which traverses dense woodlands right down to historic petroglyphs and newer sugar-mill ruins. Smaller nature trails at Cinnamon Bay and Francis Bay are good for the little ones.

Discover USVI historical past at Fort Christian

This hanging red-brick fort in Charlotte Amalie dates again to 1672, when it was used as a degree of protection for that Dano-Norwegian authorities that administered the island throughout the colonial period. Right this moment, it homes a small museum that tackles the advanced historical past of the Virgin Islands, from its earliest Indigenous residents to the slaves introduced over from West Africa to work on sugar plantations. Consider it as an important cease to contextualize your expertise, significantly for those who join upfront for a guided tour.

Calypso is the soundtrack to life in St Thomas – particularly throughout Carnival each April or Might © TalbotImages / Getty Photographs

Hearken to calypso music

Calypso music is the soundtrack to life within the Virgin Islands. Many resorts rent bands to play on set nights every week, together with Bolongo Bay Seashore Resort and the Ritz Carlton’s Coconut Cove. You may also discover steel-pan teams performing in Frenchtown or Yacht Haven Grande. The very best time to take heed to calypso, nonetheless, is throughout the month-long Carnival celebrations (usually in April or Might) when artists compete for titles like Calypso Monarch or Finest Junior Calypsonian. 

Climb the “99 Steps” 

Rising from Kongens Gade up previous historic properties to a scenic viewpoint overlooking the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, this step-street – or frigang, because the Danes known as them – is among the greatest free issues to do on the island. Bougainvillea and hibiscus spill over wood railings onto the trail, making it an atmospheric stroll with loads of romantic spots for a photograph opp. Oh, and if 99 steps feels like lots, the precise depend is 103.

Kayak the Mangrove Lagoon to Cas Cay

On the southeastern coast of St Thomas, the Cas Cay-Mangrove Lagoon Marine Reserve is an idyllic place for a morning paddle. As you squeeze via slim mangrove alleyways, you’ll be able to seek for colourful birds such because the green-throated carib or red-billed tropicbird. Virgin Islands Ecotours runs kayaking journeys via the Mangrove Lagoon that embody snorkeling round a shipwreck and a brief hike on the uninhabited Cas Cay. Additionally they hire kayaks or paddleboards for a DIY journey.

Take a meals tour

At first look, St Thomas can appear overrun with generic eating places serving pizzas, burgers and Caesar salads. That’s as a result of conventional West Indian delicacies tends to be additional again from the seafront and off the crushed path. In case you want serving to discovering native flavors, enlist the assistance of the guides at St Thomas Food Tours, who will introduce you to the whole lot from rum muffins to conch fritters and callaloo on a 2.5-hour journey round Charlotte Amalie.

People snorkel the blue waters next to a catamaran by the sands of Buck Island National Park, St Croix, US Virgin Islands, USA
Chartering a ship permits you discover outer islands, distant reefs and abandoned seashores © Malachi Jacobs / Shutterstock

Constitution a ship to discover additional afield

Chartering a ship is among the hottest actions on St Thomas because it’s the one sensible method to discover outer islands and distant reefs. Typical itineraries revolve round both snorkeling (maybe at Lovango Cay, Buck Island or Little St James) or bar-hopping (maybe at White Bay on Jost Van Dyke or a floating restaurant like Pizza Pi). Most charters depart from marinas both close to Pink Hook or Benner Bay on the East Finish of St Thomas since journeys have a tendency to move towards St John or the British Virgin Islands. 

Get cultured at Tillett Gardens

Removed from the standard vacationer circuit within the Anna’s Retreat sector is that this colourful artists’ colony, which lures the island’s hippies, thinkers and outsiders for all kinds of artistic pursuits. Not solely is there a 150-seat theater, but additionally artwork galleries with portray courses, quirky espresso retailers and stay reggae music on the weekends. Close by, you should definitely try Mango Tango, the place the standard of up to date artwork on show far exceeds something you’ll discover in downtown Charlotte Amalie. 

Get pleasure from much less touristy nightlife in Pink Hook

If Charlotte Amalie comes alive throughout the day, it’s Pink Hook that retains the get together going effectively into the night time. This small port city within the East Finish is the place island residents go to hang around after the cruise vacationers depart for the night, tossing again rum and cokes at long-running favorites just like the tiki-themed Duffy’s Love Shack, which payments itself as “the perfect car parking zone bar on the planet.” Different late-night decisions embody the Faucet & Nonetheless (for craft beer) and the Island Time Pub (for moonlit harbor views). 

A sea turtle shot underwater, from above, in the waters off St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Caribbean, USA
After swimming with the turtles, seize a beer with the locals at a Brewers Bay bar © Sherry Conklin / Shutterstock

Snorkel with sea turtles at Brewers Bay 

Tucked away behind the airport – and in entrance of the College of the Virgin Islands – Brewers Bay has all the time attracted extra locals than vacationers. (Maybe that’s why all the ocean turtles and stingrays really feel prefer it’s one of many most secure locations round for them to swim?) This low-key spot is a good place to tune in to the vibe of island life, grabbing a beer and a pate (fried pastries full of meat) from one of many meals vehicles after you’ve frolicked communing with the ocean creatures.

See the place the Caribbean and Atlantic meet

There’s a small strip of sand on the wild western tip of St Thomas the place the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet. Generally known as Mermaid’s Chair, it’s one of many USVI’s best-kept secrets and techniques. This uncommon double-sided seaside (which is greatest seen at low tide) is reached by way of a 1.3-mile (2km) hike, which begins at The Protect at Botany Bay, descending from there to some spectacular viewpoints and quiet rocky coves. Good strolling sneakers are a should.

Take the ferry to Water Island

Positioned simply quarter-hour by ferry from St Thomas, tiny Water Island feels delightfully distant, with few retailers or eating places and simply 200 everlasting residents who get round in golf carts. Anticipate nice mountaineering, biking and kayaking, in addition to three sandy seashores, probably the most well-known of which, Honeymoon Seashore, bursts to life at lunchtime when it swells with thirsty day-trippers. The Virgin Islands Campground, an eco-resort right here with self-contained wooden and canvas cottages, is among the few glamping experiences within the Caribbean and an awesome motive to spend the night time.