St. Thomas: Overview
St. Thomas combines the natural beauty of the islands with an energetic, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the United States Virgin Islands, is the most visited port in the Caribbean and boasts one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. The city’s reputation as the shopping mecca of the Caribbean attracts visitors from around the world who are drawn to its elegant dining, exciting nightlife and international, duty-free shopping.
A mountainous island, St. Thomas offers stunning vistas in all directions, with views of the Caribbean from 1,500 feet above sea level. Breathtaking natural wonders like magnificent Magens Bay and Drake’s Seat are also world- renowned. For the sports-minded, St. Thomas is well known for its world-class yachting and sport fishing, and welcomes golf enthusiasts to the George and Tom Fazio-designed Mahogany Run Course.
The following are some of the island’s highlights and attractions:
St. Thomas has more than 40 pristine white sand beaches with turquoise waters.
St. Thomas provides some of the most scenic and picturesque views of the Caribbean. Visitors can enjoy beautiful overlooks, including Drake’s Seat and Valdemar Hill. Paradise Point Tramway lifts visitors 700 feet above sea level on a cable car, for one of the most spectacular views of Charlotte Amalie harbor. Situated at the top of the lift on Flag Hill is a complex that includes a café restaurant, a nature trail and several retail shops. Paradise Peak — a winding quarter-mile nature trail — gives visitors the opportunity to explore additional overlooks of the island.
Cruising the Caribbean
Attracting thousands of visitors each year, St. Thomas is the Caribbean’s number one cruise ship port, and truly a shopper’s paradise. Cruise ship passengers enjoy a special duty-free shopping status: No customs duties or sales tax are imposed on tourism-related items.
St. Thomas’ Mahogany Run, a George and Tom Fazio design, boasts 18 of the most beautiful and challenging holes in the Caribbean. Golfers extol the virtues of this 6,022-year, par 70-championship course for its sheer beauty and exhilarating play, especially on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes. This signature trio, aptly nicknamed the Devil’s Triangle, turns an already ambitious round of play into a veritable Cliffside drama in which golfers must overcome a formidable stretch of Caribbean Seat that sprawls between the tee and the green.
Wet and Dry Water Activities
Opportunities and facilities for snorkeling, scuba diving, snuba, parasailing, windsurfing and kayaking are all available within the beautiful turquoise waters surrounding St. Thomas. For those visitors who prefer to enjoy the water without getting wet, the U.S. Virgin Islands offers submarine cruises and glass bottom boat rides. Both day and night tours are available to explorers of all ages.
Historic Ft. Christian
Built in 1672, Fort Christian is a U.S. national landmark and the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands. Built to protect the town’s harbor from the raiding European armadas that sailed the Caribbean centuries ago, Fort Christian also once served as St. Thomas’ first Government House, a church and community government center. Today, the brick fortress is home to the Virgin Islands Museum, where early island memorabilia and antique maps trace the islands’ colorful history.
Coral World Marine Park & Observatory
Located on the northeast shore at Coki Point, Coral World is recognized as an internationally renowned tourist attraction. The 4.5-acre park consists of an underwater observatory tower, a tropical nature trail, a marine gardens aquarium, and an 80,000-gallon coral reef tank. The circular, glass-enclosed tank offers visitors a glimpse of the Caribbean Sea and its underwater inhabitants. The aquatic panoramic view provides an up-close look at beautiful species of coral, tropical fish, stingrays, barracuda, tarpon, moray eels, seahorses, crabs, nurse sharks, sea anemones, and more. Other special attractions include an open-air shark pool, a “touch” pond, and Sea Trekkin’.
Virgin Islands Carnival
Celebrated on St. Thomas each spring, the month-long celebration of Carnival provides revelers with extravagant displays of pageantry, spirited music festivals, mouthwatering food festivals and colorful parades.
St. Thomas Synagogue
Overlooking the pristine beaches and crystal-clear water of Charlotte Amalie Harbor, the Synagogue of B’racha V’shalom Uv’gimilut Hasadim (meaning “Blessing, Peace and Loving Deeds”) exists as one of the most impressive religious structures in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The dedicated Jewish community and congregation, traceable back to the late-17th century, completed the present synagogue in 1833. The synagogue’s membership continues to carefully maintain its interior, including the impressive Ionic columns and mahogany benches.
Local Arts and Crafts
Visitors can find a variety of locally made goods on St. Thomas, including paintings and silk-screened prints. Local artisans sell their products in the marketplace of downtown Charlotte Amalie, along Main Street, in Vendors’ Plaza, at Havensight Mall, and at other locations throughout the Island.
Fine Dining, Exciting Nightlife
St. Thomas offers a wide variety of culinary delights ranging from West Indian fare to international cuisine. Caribbean and West Indian delicacies such as conch, kallaloo, fungi, curried chicken, plantains, sour sop and johnnycakes are tantalizing additions to be sampled at many of the island’s first-class restaurants. Exciting nightlife includes performances of calypso, reggae, quelbe, jazz and pop music by talented local musicians.
Banana Daiquiris on Mountain Top
While touring St. Thomas’ higher elevations, visitors can treat themselves to a taste of contemporary island culture with a stop at Mountain Top for a refreshing banana daiquiri. Since the 1960’s, this site has offered the legendary cocktail made with local rum, cane sugar and bananas.
For information about the United States Virgin Islands, call 800-372-USVI (8784) and visit http://www.usvitourism.vi. As a United States Territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require proof of citizenship from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.