The U.S. Virgin Islands is an archipelago located in the Lesser Antilles. St. Thomas is the most cosmopolitan of the U.S. Virgin Islands, offering a lively atmosphere and tempting duty-free shopping. The island remains high on many vacationers’ list, eager to lay eyes on its spectacular harbor, the historic town of Charlotte Amalie and its stunning white sand beaches. There’s an abundance of land and sea-based activities including scuba diving, jet skiing, sailing, hiking and kiteboarding, to name a few. Cuisine from around the world is available at the local restaurants but be sure to try local street foods like pates and johnny cakes.
Magens Bay Beach
The mile-long heart-shaped white sand beach has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, which makes it a popular spot for weddings and parties. The average water temperature year-round is 77 degrees (like bath water!). Price: $5 per person 12 and older plus a $2 parking fee. www.magensbayauthority.org
More from SwimLife
Listed on the National Historic Register, this landmark is located in the heart of Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the Virgin Islands. The structure has served as a fortress, general quarter and jail. Take a self-guided tour of its exhibits and the quaint church. then head to the roof top for an amazing view of downtown. Price: $10 for adults.
Coral World Ocean Park
Coral World is popular with locals and visitors alike, offering dolphin experiences, sea lion encounters, touch pools, lorikeet feedings and other animal encounters. Guests should try the Sea Trek helmet dive which allows you to walk underwater along a coral reef trail. Price: $23.50; encounters range from $64-$185. www.coralvi.com
Zora of St. Thomas
Zora Galvin has been making leather sandals since 1962. The sandals are handcrafted and custom-fitted to every buyer’s foot. There are dozens of styles and colors of leather available. Sandals require two visits to get the perfect fit. If time is limited, semi-custom sandals are also available. www.zoracustomsandals.com
Stair-like streets, unique to the island, date to historic days when many roads didn’t exist. This is a must do on St. Thomas, not only for the exercise but also to see the beauty on the way up. You’ll get an incredible view of Charlotte Amalie harbor when you make it to the top. Fun fact: there are actually 103 steps.
Pronounced pa-tay, this Virgin Islands street food is essentially fried dough filled with beef, conch, saltfish, chicken or lobster. They can be found all over the island at little mom and pop shops or food trucks. Ask a local who has the best pate and you’ll get a variety of answers. Delicious no matter where it’s from.
Day Trip to St. John
A visit to St. Thomas most definitely should include a day trip to St. John, which is just a 12-minute ride on the passenger ferry from Red Hook on the East End. This nature-lover’s paradise is quaint with a bustling town downtown in Cruz Bay. There are no stop lights, but you might have to brake for a donkey or two. Heading out of town on Northshore Road, there is one beautiful beach after another. Head to St. John’s second town, Coral Bay, to enjoy tacos at the floating bar, Lime Out. The last ferry departs St. John at 11 pm. Price: $16.30 round trip for adults, $2 for children. www.varlack-ventures.com