St. Thomas is one of the U.S. Virgin Islands and therefore is a U.S. Territory. In fact, if you have certain U.S. cell phone carriers (ex. AT&T), you will have service on the island. Lots of travelers use St. Thomas to travel to other islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, St. Thomas is a very nice island that makes it worth a visit on it’s own.
Unique to St. Thomas:
- Ride in their unique taxis
- Visit Blackbeard’s Castle
- Beautiful beaches
- Coral World Ocean Park
- Known for it’s shopping
- Gateway to other islands in the USVI
Magen’s Bay Beach – Since we only visited St. Thomas for the day, we did a cruise ship tour that combined Magen’s Bay Beach with Blackbeard’s Castle. The drive to Magen’s Bay Beach (by taxi) was very scenic and stopped at the top of a hill where we got a beautiful view of the beach from above (See right). When we arrived, we had about two hours to enjoy ourselves at the beach which included grabbing a drink at the restaurant onsite. Magen’s Bay beach is surrounded by land on three sides so the water is very calm and relaxing. St. Thomas has several pretty beaches, but Magen’s Bay was perfect for us since it’s a great beach to just relax at.
Blackbeard’s Castle – I feel like Blackbeard’s Castle is the landmark that I think of when I hear St. Thomas, so I thought we needed to visit it. With that in mind, we booked our cruise ship excursion to include both a beach and a stop at the castle. Unfortunately, I ended up pretty disappointed. I guess I should have done more homework before we left, but the castle doesn’t actually have any history with Blackbeard the pirate. It was built by the Danish to be a watchtower and the name was eventually changed to Blackbeard’s castle. So while it’s a famous historical landmark, it’s not quite as cool without the pirates. In terms of what to expect, the tour is self-guided. The best part is the man who tells the story of Blackbeard at the entrance. He is quite a storyteller and is very entertaining. Then you have to wait in line to climb to the top of the tower as it has a pretty low capacity. The view from the top is pretty nice and worth climbing if you’re already at the Castle. Then you climb down lots of stairs (it’s called the 99 Steps) and can wander into some old buildings full of antique furniture. And that’s all there is to see at Blackbeard’s Castle. The cruise ship tour ends in the middle of downtown Charlotte and you can wander through shops and make your own way back to the ship.
Shopping – St. Thomas is known for it’s duty free shopping. It’s not something we did on our trip other than to stop in a few souvenir shops and send some postcards. We also wandered into an antique shop just out of curiosity.
Coral World Ocean Park – I don’t know much about Coral World other than to say the excursion was an option through our cruise ship. We had recently been to Dolphin Cove in Jamaica, and I believe the two parks are very similar so we passed on it.
Next time I visit St. Thomas:
- Okay, I actually feel like I saw most of St. Thomas so on my next visit, I would like to ferry to one of the neighboring islands like St. Johns which has a large national park.
Ride the taxis! The open air taxis in St. Thomas are unique and different from anywhere else that we’ve been. It’s easy to find one downtown that will take you back to the ship.
I don’t know, I’ve only ever visited by cruise ship!
Restaurants/ Meals & Drinks:
Jen’s Island Cafe and Deli – After climbing down all of those stairs, we stopped in Jen’s Island Cafe and Deli and got a couple of appetizers to share for an afternoon snack. It must’ve just been just fine because I don’t remember anything good (and definitely nothing bad) about the place and I don’t have any pictures either!
Tips/ Things to Know:
- The official currency is the U.S. dollar!
- I have no idea what this windmill is, but it looked cool so I took a picture…. I bet a bunch of other tourists do too!
My Time Spent on the Island:
- 1 day cruise port in January 2017, on the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas