The island of St. Thomas is steeped in history – in the 1700s it was a refuge for pirates and it is still home to Blackbeard’s Castle, a remnant from these times. Exploring this gorgeous tropical paradise means walking down sandy beaches and cobbled colonial streets, sipping cocktails in Magen’s Bay (where the banana daiquiri was invented), surfing in Hull Bay, and watching the sunset.
Major Cities in St. Thomas
The main city in St. Thomas is Charlotte Amalie, which is the capital of the US Virgin Islands. In fact, the locals will refer to Charlotte Amalie as “town” and any other location on the island as “country.” Charlotte Amalie is a small city with a dramatic seaside location and an abundance of historic architecture – it is the best place to stay in St. Thomas.
How to Get There
By Air: There are non-stop connecting flights from the US mainland to St. Thomas. Many of the flights make connections through San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airport on St. Thomas is Cyril E. King.
By Sea: There is a cruise ship dock in Charlotte Amalie and many cruise lines stop at St. Thomas with departures from Norfolk, Miami, San Juan, Virginia and New York City.
What is St. Thomas Known For?
This island is known for being the home of the impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and during your visit you can see his birthplace.
Best Activities to Do in St. Thomas
Stroll through the narrow cobbled Danish colonial streets and alleyways of Charlotte Amalie and visit the many antique shops, local vendors and clothing boutiques. If you are interested in history, you can visit Fort Christian, a historic fortress which dates back to 1672. Then, climb up the 99 steps (which were constructed in the 1700s) and admire the view from Government Hill – one of the best things to do in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands.
You can also take a trip to Frenchtown, which is named after the French-Caribbean immigrants who once settled there in the mid 1800s. Arrive as early in the morning as you can, so that you can buy the fresh fish straight off the boat. Another one of the best things to do in the Virgin Islands is to visit Red Hook, which is a peaceful village located on the western end of the island. It is a popular starting point for fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving in St. Thomas.
Also, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Blackbeard’s Castle, a National Historic Landmark. It is located at the highest point of Government Hill, a great vantage point for Danish soldiers to spot enemy ships. Blackbeard the pirate did sail in the nearby waters in the 18th century and local lore suggests that he used the tower as a lookout.
Interesting Facts about St. Thomas
- St. Thomas Synagogue on St. Thomas is the oldest synagogue that currently exists under the flag of the United States of America.
- The bricks that were used to build the 99 steps were brought all the way from Denmark as ballast in the hulls of sailing ships.
- St. Thomas has several open air covered trucks called safaris, which have bench seats and operate between the high traffic points of the island such as Crown Bay and Charlotte Amalie.