Top 10 Things To Do In St. Thomas

There are many things to see on St. Thomas. Here are the top 10 things not to be missed while you are enjoying your stay.

St. Thomas may not be the largest island in the USVI (that honor belongs to St. Croix), but it is widely considered to be the hub of the islands and for good reason. Its bustling port city, Charlotte Amalie, is the capital of the USVI, offering visitors the best of shopping, dining and sightseeing, while the entire islands boasts some of the most beautiful beaches and spectacular views anywhere in the Caribbean.

There is definitely no shortage of interesting things to see and do while visiting St. Thomas. Here are the top 10 things not to be missed while you are enjoying your time on the island.

1. Coral World Marine Park & Undersea Observatory - this amazing attraction is full of carefully-designed displays and exhibits that let you get up close and personal with the abundant marine life found under the ocean waters. A three-story underwater observation tower located 100 feet off shore lets visitors watch fish, coral and other sea creatures in their natural environment, while an 80,000 gallon glass-enclosed coral reef tank houses exotic sea life for easy viewing. There is also a tropical nature trail to explore, a garden aquarium, a children's touch pool and an open-air pool that houses sharks and giant eels. If you can, try to catch one of the daily fish or shark feedings for an inside look at some of the wonders of the Caribbean deep!

2. Estate St. Peter Greathouse Botanical Gardens - A beautiful estate covering 11 acres, the gardens are the perfect way to explore the natural beauty of St. Thomas. You can follow one of several self-guided nature trails that wind through over 200 varieties of tropical plants and trees, an orchid jungle and an art gallery featuring works by native artists. The gardens are located 1,000 feet above sea level and a viewing deck in the gardens provides an amazing glimpse at over a dozen of the other islands that make up the collective Virgin Islands.

3. Magens Bay Beach - Selected by both National Geographic and Conde Nast as one of the finest beaches in the world, you should definitely be sure to visit beautiful Magens Bay. This heart-shaped bay boasts calm turquoise-blue waters, an amazing white sand beach and many facilities for families, including picnic tables and easy rentals for water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling and swimming. A great place to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing or hiking, Magens Bay is not to be missed.

4. Duty Free Shopping in Charlotte Amalie - St. Thomas is widely known as the best shopping spot in the Caribbean, and there is no better place to do your shopping than Charlotte Amalie. It is where nearly all the major cruise ships dock and bargain-hungry passengers explore the wide variety of shops for great deals and unique items. Many duty-free bargains can be found, especially on goods such as perfume, liquor, electronics, china, jewelry and clothing. Many of these items can be found at prices that are 40 to 60 percent lower than in the United States, making it worth your while to pick up some things to take home. The waterfront area is a great place for hunting bargains - the old seventeenth century warehouses that used to hold rum, spices and other goods for trade are now home to a variety of shops with all sorts of shopping treasures.

5. Walking tour of Charlotte Amalie - There is more here than just good shopping - the color and charm of the Caribbean come vibrantly to life in this busy waterfront town. Travelers from all over the world used to flock to this old-world Danish port, as did pirates and sailors. At one time, St. Thomas was also the biggest slave market in the world. Old warehouses, once used for storing stolen pirate goods, have now been converted to shops. There are also many historic buildings, most of which can be seen on foot in about 2 hours. As a break from the shopping, try taking a walking tour of the city's attractions. There are many intriguing landmarks and points of interest including Fort Christian and The 99 Steps, which were built from the ballast bricks of the tall ships coming from the old world (By the way there are actually 103 steps!) Be sure you to wear comfortable walking shoes, plenty of sunscreen and don't forget your camera. There are many beautiful sports worth photographing - the town's architecture reflects the island's culturally diverse past, so on your walk you will find Danish red-tile roofs, French iron grillwork, and Spanish-style patios.

6. Fort Christian - This fortress is St. Thomas's oldest standing structure and has been designated as a national landmark. It was built in 1671, although the clock tower was added later, in the 19th century. Fort Christian has served a variety of purposes over the years - it was used as a jail, town hall, courthouse and church. Today it houses a museum featuring artifacts that help tell the story of the USVI from a historical and cultural perspective, as well as detailing the natural history of the islands.

7. St.Thomas Skyride - this unique attraction offers visitors a tram ride up to Paradise Point, 700 feet above sea level, where you can enjoy sweeping views of Charlotte Amalie harbor, especially impressive when many of the cruise ships are in port. The tramway operates six cars, similar to those used at ski resorts, for the short ride to the summit. At the top, you can not only take in the amazing scenery, but also visit shops and the popular restaurant and bar.

8. Mountain Top - Another scenic viewpoint worth the trip is Mountain Top. At the peak of St. Peter Mountain, this viewing spot is an impressive height of 1,500 feet above sea level, offering spectacular views of both the US and British Virgin Islands. In fact, National Georgraphic has rated its view of Magens Bay as one of the ten best views in the world. It also features a small shopping area for browsing and has the honor of being the home of the world famous Banana Daiquiri. It's a wonderful place to poke around, relax and enjoy one of these delicious Caribbean concoctions, while you take in the amazing views and the beauty of the island.

9. Blackbeard's Castle - This interesting structure was built in 1679 by the Dutch as a watchtower for the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. Located at the highest point on Government Hill, it served for many years as an excellent vantage point for Danish soldiers to spot enemy ships and protect Fort Christian from attacks. Originally named Skytsborg Tower, over the years it took on the name of Blackbeard's Castle as a nod to the infamous pirate that sailed the surrounding waters in the early 1700's. It is one of four National Historic sites located in the USVI.

10. Day trip to St. Croix or the British Virgin Islands - St. Thomas is also a wonderful stepping stone to some of the other nearby islands, including neighboring St. Croix and the BVI. You can easily spend a day on another island and return the same day by taking a ferry or even a small airplane. Regular ferries and flights operate daily between St. Thomas and both St. Croix and St. John. Either of these places make a wonderful day trip. On St. Croix, you can experience the picturesque cities of Christiansted or Fredriksted, your choice of unspoiled white sand beaches and the only casino in the USVI. St. John in the BVI offers a wide variety of activities, including sugar plantations, hiking trails and lovely beaches and scenic locations. St. John is a wonderful place to explore if you want to experience the unspoiled outdoor beauty of the Virgin Islands.

Hopefully these suggestions will serve as a guide on what to see and do while visiting St. Thomas. It is a colorful, vibrant island where natural beauty, history, and upscale shopping and dining all intermingle to create a wonderful vacation experience, and it is a destination that the whole family is sure to enjoy.

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