Tropical island breezes, a rich history, and banana daiquiris that will knock your socks off—St. Thomas is a hop skip and a jump from the continental United States yet feels worlds away. As a US Territory, visitors do not need a passport, although I suggest one if you want to visit nearby islands as well. From Blackbeard’s Castle to hidden culinary gems in the city, to sweeping views with some of the world’s top ranked beaches, St. Thomas is a “must” for the travel bucket list.
High atop Mountain Top overlook of Magens Bay, the sweeping views of the surrounding landscape are well worth the winding roads to this destination 1,400 feet above sea level. Famous for banana daiquiris on-island, this is a good spot to sample one while taking in the views. Nearby, the Phantasea Tropical Botanic Gardens have a viewing deck and lush walking trail that is also worth a visit and for adventure seekers, ziplining through the trees can be found at Tree Limin’ Extreme.
Blackbeard’s Castle is another great spot to take in the local history and culture. An actor explains the tale of Blackbeard (and it turns out, it’s not his castle at all, just in name…) and the informal self-guided walking tour down towards the shore is interesting and well worth the visit.
Time for lunch: we head to Gladys’ Cafe. The secreted gem of dining is hidden in one of the many alleyways off the main streets of St Thomas located in the Royal Dane Mall. Fresh fruits and vegetables piled high on the bar, platters of fresh grouper and conch fritters stream past us as we take our seats. A local favorite, the home-style cooking and house hot sauce are especially noteworthy and we stuff ourselves with the fresh fare.
After lunch, shopping is a popular pastime on St Thomas, with an abundance of luxury goods lining the cobbled streets. After maneuvering storefronts of sparkling gems, shining watches, designer fashions and dazzling crystal, the next stop is the Paradise Point Skyride.
A beautiful view after a short gondola, the high ticket price doesn’t warrant the vista payoff. Essentially the same view as from the top of Blackbeard’s Castle, this may be one stop to skip on the itinerary. Instead, head back down by the water and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the town, soak in the Caribbean rays and watch the moored boats in the harbor.
If traveling by cruise liner, keep in mind ships keep their home-time not the port time. Depending on the time of year, it is advised to keep a wrist watch set to the ship’s time.
If staying on-island, try to schedule visiting the recommended locations where there are few or no ships docked for the day.
A personal driver is a great way to see the island, making for an expedited experience complete with local insight. US dollars are the official currency, so paying for purchases and tipping is extremely easy.