Saint Thomas

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Travel Guide Caribbean United States Virgin Islands Saint Thomas

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Introduction

St. THOMAS

St. THOMAS

© Aplmac

Saint Thomas is the main US Virgin Island. Together with St. John and Water Island, it forms a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie.

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Geography

The district has a land area of 31.24 square miles (80.9 km2).

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Sights and Activities

Fort Christian

Fort Christian with its typical red bricks is located near the town of Charlotte Amalie. It is the oldest colonial building in the Virgin Islands and dates back to 1666. Since then, the fort has functioned as a bastion, jail, governor's residence and even a Lutheran church. Today, like many forts in the Caribbean, it functions as a museum which has some interesting historical exhibits.

Coki Bay

On the northeastern coast of Saint Thomas you can find Coki Bay. This bay is a very popular area for visitors wanting to enjoy the sparkling waters and white sanded beaches fringed with palmtrees. There are many species of fish here to be admired while snorkelling or diving and they are known to eat out of your hand! In the adjacent Coral World Ocean Park you can witness the marine life in a nice aquarium.

Charlotte Amalie

For a small Caribbean capital, Charlotte Amalie is not the worst place to spend some time. You can easily find some influence of the Danish colonists that were here some centuries ago. The red roofs of the houses are a very colourful match with the green environment and the capital itself is named after the wife of the Danish King Christian V. There is also a nice small harbor and the Emancipation Gardens Park where people celebrate Carinval. From here you can take ferries to the other islands of the American and British Virgin Islands. It is also a tax free town with enough shopping if that is your thing.

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Events and Festivals

St. Thomas International Rolex Regatta

The “Crown Jewel of the Caribbean,” as this prestigious race is called, takes place at the St Thomas Yacht Club each March. This yacht race, considered among the most competitive in the world, attracts sailors from throughout the Caribbean, Europe, and North America. Although the main race course is situated near Christmas Cove, there are also several side races. The Pilsbury Sound Race takes yachters around St John’s and St Thomas’ countless coves, while a challenging distance race occurs between Charlotte Amalie’s harbor and St Thomas’ East End.

U.S. Virgin Islands Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament

This eco-friendly fishing festival awards trophies not only to the fishers who catch the most blue marlin, but also to those who tag and release the greatest number of fish. Fishers from across the globe are invited to participate alongside some of the world’s greatest anglers. All proceeds from this prestigious event, held in St Thomas during the August weekend nearest to the full moon, go towards the Boy Scouts.

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Weather

Saint Thomas a very pleasant and tropical climate with generally warm and humid weather. The seabreeze makes things relatively mild though and water is never far away. Temperatures generally average around 30 °C during the day yearround and 23 °C at night. December to May is the dry season, where July to October is the rainy season, but this generally means some showers at the end of the day instead of days of rain on end. Hurricanes are possible though from August to October.

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Getting There

By Plane

Cyril E. King Airport (STT), 3 kilometres from Charlotte Amalie, is the main gateway.
About 10-15 airlines serve the island directly from places like San Juan, Boston, Miami, New York, Atlanta, Anguilla, Antigua, Saint Kitts, Sint Maarten, Montreal, Fort Lauderdale, Saint Croix, Virgin Gorda, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Chicago, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C..

By Boat

Puerto Rico - Saint Thomas vv
Every two weeks leaving on a Sunday at 1pm, there is a fast ferry between Fajardo in Puerto Rico and St. John and St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. In the opposite direction, boats leave every two weeks on a Thursday at 5pm from St. John and 6 pm from St. Thomas. The trip takes about 2 hours and services are wih Transportation Services Virgin Islands.

British Virgin Islands - Saint Thomas vv

  • There are about 4 operators which have ferry services between St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook) and Tortola (West End and Roadtown). Contact Road Town Fast Ferry for options. From Road Town on the British Virgin Islands there are ferries about every 50 minutes to Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. From Red Hook to Road Town is about 35 minutes. Contact Caribbean Maritime Tortola Fast Ferry (340) 777-2800), Smith's Ferry (340) 775-7292 or Native Son Inc. (340) 774-8685 for details about schedules and prices.
  • There are 2 crossings a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between Red Hook, St.Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John (USVI) for Jost Van Dyke (BVI).

Other US Virgin Islands

  • Passenger ferries operate between St. Thomas (Red Hook & Charlotte Amalie) and St. John (Cruz Bay). Car ferry service is available between Redhook, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John. There are three independently run car ferries and you only pay for the car, no matter how many passengers there are.
  • The Water Island Ferry travels between Crown Bay, St. Thomas and Water Island, contact Water Island Ferry (340) 690-4159 for details on services.
  • There is also a ferry between Christiansted, St. Croix and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The ferry departs from the Marine Terminals in Gallows Bay on St. Croix and in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, taking about 75 minutes to travel between the two towns. Check the Virgin Island Fast Ferry website for details about prices and schedules.

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Getting Around

If you want to tour the island thoroughly, without the restrictions of a large bus tour by your hotel or cruise ship, consider hiring a cab/driver for a few hours. Many are amiable and well-qualified to show you places the buses can't or don't go, and where buses go, your driver can time your arrival to avoid the bus crowds. For 3-5 hours, a common rate is around $50 per hour, so four or more people can have a "private" tour for much less than all on a "bus" tour. Cab drivers are happy to oblige, so you should have no trouble hiring one at any resort, the cruise ship docks, downtown or in shopping areas.

By Car

There are plenty of rental car offices in the airport and around Charlotte Amalie. Traffic drives on the left side of the road, and all cars are US Specification left-hand drive cars. Outside of Charlotte Amalie, the roads are mostly narrow and quite dangerous if you go too fast. Obey the speed limits and take the curves with caution. Local drivers are rather aggressive, and they speed around the turns and honk liberally, although the horn is used more often to say "hello" or "thank you" than express displeasure.

Major routes are marked with two-digit route numbers (beginning with 3 and 4 on this island), and minor connectors get three-digit numbers. The sign of choice is black numbers on a white circle, the same as several states on the mainland. You generally should not stray off the numbered routes (except in Charlotte Amalie) unless you need to do so to go to your hotel or resort. Unlike St. John or St. Croix, all of St. Thomas' numbered routes are paved. However, the routes are not well signed on most of the southern half of the island, especially around Charlotte Amalie, and they are prone to suddenly turning off onto another road or changing numbers without notice.

If you are planning to go on a driving tour, bring a good map, then, if you want any hope of following the numbered routes. Most rental car offices hand out a map with a rental; if you didn't get one, the same map can be picked up at most stores. The one in the back of your guidebook is likely not detailed enough. However, even if you do have a map, you may still have to ask a local for directions. If you are in this situation, be aware that any question such as "How do I get to Route 30?" will be almost universally met with a blank stare. The route numbers are mostly for tourist convenience; locals do not know the numbers, or even the road names in most cases. Often you will get directions such as "Turn left at the fork in the road, then right at the gas station."

By Bus

Several tour operators offer professional tours to popular locations by air-conditioned bus. You can make arrangements privately, or through your hotel concierge or cruise ship.

By Taxi

  • Tourist taxis will take you anywhere at a premium, from one end of the island to the other. Airport to Red Hook is probably $30, from Charlotte Amalie to the Airport is about $15, and from Charlotte Amalie to Red Hook about $20. Agree to a price before you get in the car. Taxi prices are PER PERSON so a trip for 4 to Meagans bay for your group could easily run you $50 each way! The big truck taxis will charge by the person, the legitimate taxis will have a meter, and the gypsy taxis will bid for your service and all of them will be waiting in crowds outside restaurants and bars after dark. There are approximately 3,000 taxis on the island, half gypsy (unlicensed).
  • Dollar taxis run from sunrise to sunset, whenever they feel like it. They have one route with set stops. If you want to ride one, ask someone where to wait for one. They look just like the tourist taxis, but they will be filled with locals instead of tourists. They go from the end of airport road to Sapphire Bay and back, one way. Yes, one way, it goes in a figure 8 from the Airport, through Charlotte Amalie to the mall in the middle, out to the east end, back to the mall and downtown again. If you go farther than the mall then it will cost you $2, for shorter trips only $1. The taxis run at random but frequently enough. The dollar taxis do not run all the way to the airport, so don't try it. Their last stop is near Brewers Bay, a good mile from the terminal.
  • Safari Cabs - Endless "safari cabs" (pickup trucks converted to offer 3-5 covered bench seats) go back and forth from downtown and ships' docks etc. If you look like a tourist dockside or on the street downtown, you will be asked quite often but amiably if you need a ride. The standard fee is $4 per person each way.

By Foot

Once you've reached any area (e.g., "downtown", Havensight, Red Hook), walking becomes the preferred way to get around. However, the island in general is too expansive and hilly to explore totally on foot, especially if you are on a limited schedule, e.g., on a cruise ship.

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Eat

  • Craig & Sally's, 3525 Honduras (Frenchtown), ☎ +1 340 777-9949. Lunch: W-F 11:30AM-3PM; dinner W-Su 5:30PM-10PM. This 20-year-old restaurant is one of the island's nicest, and a pretty classic Frenchtown choice. It's fine dining, with the islands reputed "best steak," and a tapas menu that changes nightly. You'll find of the best wine lists in the islands. If you are hoping for an island-themed, kitschy-vacation place (or even simply a place with a view over the Caribbean), this is not that—it is quite simply an top-notch restaurant that happens to be located on Saint Thomas. $25-50.
  • Frenchtown Deli, ☎ +1 340. This hole-in-the-wall has an extensive lunch menu with delicious salads and sandwiches. They also serve breakfast, and are located in Frenchtown, right next to Hook Line & Sinker.
  • Gladys' Cafe (Garden St (a narrow/quaint alleyway) between Main St and Veterans Dr, Royal Dane Mall), ☎ +1 340. 7AM-5PM daily. Offers tasty Caribbean and American dishes and a small bar, in a friendly atmosphere. She may sing along with the classical jazz recordings playing for background.
  • Hook, Line, & Sinker (Frenchtown), ☎ +1 340 776-9708. Lunch: M-Sa 11:30AM-4PM; brunch: Su 10AM-2:30PM; dinner: M-Sa 6PM-10PM. Excellent food and friendly service right on the waterfront. The swordfish is quite good. $14-37.
  • Mafolie Restaurant, 7091 Estate Mafolie, ☎ +1 340 774-2790. 5PM-10PM daily (bar: 5PM-11PM). The food, classic American surf and turf, emphasis on the surf, is very good but not up to par with and more expensive than what you can find at a select few high end Saint Thomas restaurants. But the view really is magnificent. You will sit on a hill with a perfectly centered/framed view overlooking Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas Harbor, and Hassel Island. As such, this is a much better option for an early dinner, as the value of the view sets along with the sun. $35-70.
  • Oceana, 8 Honduras (Frenchtown, right on the water), ☎ +1 340 774-4262. Tu-Su 5:30PM-10PM. Particularly nice at sunset. Excellent seafood, can be expensive. $35-65.
  • Rancho Latino (Vitraco Mall at Havensight), ☎ +1 340. Tasty Dominican (think Spanish-Caribbean) cuisine in a casual spot surrounded by tourist traps near the cruise ships.
  • Room with a View (In Bluebeard's Castle), ☎ +1 340 774-2377. M-Sa 5PM-10PM. Just outside of town, great steaks and seafood, and often considered the finest dining on the island. Nice view, too. $28-70.
  • Shawny's Shack, 5331 Yacht Haven Grand (Yacht Haven), ☎ +1 340 344-9814. A kiosk serving tasty West Indian food to the people taking a break from serving the tourists food. So yes, this is very much a locals' place. But don't get in the way during their lunch break - they need to get back to work quickly!
  • Thirteen, 13A Estate Dorothea (On Crown Mountain Rd), ☎ +1 340 774-6800. Generally considered one of the island's top foodie destinations, Thirteen is hard as hell to find if you aren't simply taking a cab. It's on the north side of the island, and pretty far up, making for a distinctly cool, if not chilly breeze while you eat your meal. The decor is laid back, cool, and stylish, while not competing with the flashy, upscale Contemporary American cuisine for your attention. Service is uncommonly on-point for the island! Reservations are a must. $25-55.
  • Victor's New Hideout (On a hillside overlooking Crown Bay from the west.), ☎ +1 340. Offers tasty Caribbean cooking with a beautiful view and fresh breezes. Tricky to get to, not really walkable, but locals (e.g., taxi drivers) know how to reach it, and worth the effort.

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Drink

With bottled liquor so inexpensive, most "watering holes" are for visitors, yet offer attractive prices.

Most resorts and many restaurants have bars if not nightclubs. You'll also find a few nightclubs in or near shopping areas, as well as Frenchtown and Redhook.

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Sleep

  • Crystal Palace Bed and Breakfast, Downtown, ☎ +1 340 777-2277, toll-free: +1 866-502-2277. $90-140.
  • Galleon House Bed and Breakfast, Downtown, ☎ +1 340 774-6952, toll-free: +1 800-524-2052. $75-$150.
  • 1829 (Downtown, Government Hill), ☎ +1 340 776-1829.
  • Beachcomber (Lindberg Beach).
  • Best Western (Lindberg Beach).
  • Discount Ritz-Carlton Rentals (East End), ☎ +1 877 388-9802, e-mail: bgarrity@lachicotte.com.
  • Holiday Inn.
  • Nancy's Vacation Rentals, 6800 Estate Nazareth, Red Hook (Between the Ritz-Carlton and the St. Thomas Yacht Club near the village of Red Hook), ☎ +1 301 963-5912, e-mail: info@nancys-condos.com. 9am-5pm EST. Each unit comfortably sleeps from 2 to 8 guests on king and queen beds. They are located within the Elysian Beach Resort on Cowpet Bay Beach on the East End of St. Thomas. $150-$550.
  • Pineapple Rooms and Villas (East End of St. Thomas), toll-free: +1 800-479-1539, e-mail: stayusvi@aol.com. Ten one-story buildings in a gated residential village, with a pool at the center. Near Coki Beach.
  • Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, 5 Estate Bakkeroe, ☎ +1 340 776-8500, fax: +1 340 715-6193. Largest resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands with 11 restaurants and bars and three pools. AAA 3 diamond. From $350.
  • The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas Hotel (The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas Hotel), 6900 Great Bay, ☎ +1 340 775-3333. On the coast. Features 180 guest rooms and suites, four restaurants and 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
  • Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina, 6720 Estate Smith Bay, ☎ +1 340 775-6100, toll-free: +1 800-524-2090, fax: +1 340 775-2403. Nice self-contained beach resort away from downtown. $225-700.

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This is version 13. Last edited at 7:59 on Aug 13, 19 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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