The Top Experiences in St. Thomas

Hannah Hinson



Welcome to St. Thomas! From the moment your ship docks near Charlotte Amalie, you’ll be surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, lush tropical hills and the anticipation of having arrived at one of the most beloved islands in the world.

Its 50,000 residents are some of the most welcoming people in the Caribbean. You’ll experience their hospitality as soon as you disembark and begin exploring the island. St. Thomas is one of the three largest Virgin Islands of the United States and is known for being one of the most developed and liveliest places in the Caribbean. It offers everything from high-end shopping to snorkeling or the simple joy of relaxing on a beach. Here are a few of the best experiences to look forward to in St. Thomas.

Time at the Beach

One of the world’s best beaches is located right in the center of St. Thomas. Magens Bay is home to a long, curved stretch of white sand with calm, shallow, crystal-clear water and is surrounded by rolling green hills. Travelers of all kinds feel at home in the family-friendly atmosphere here, making it perfect for a day trip.

[caption id="attachment_9201" align="aligncenter" width="611"]Family laughing and embracing as they walk along on a Caribbean beach Family enjoying one of the pristine beaches of St. Thomas[/caption]

There are plenty of other beaches to explore in St. Thomas. Lined with coconut trees on the island’s east side, the small, picturesque Coki Beach is popular with snorkelers. Nearby, the secluded Lindquist Beach is known for its soft, warm sand and is a favorite spot for a picnic lunch with a stunning view. Or visit one of the many eateries near Sapphire Beach, a trendy lunch spot both tourists and locals enjoy. 

Enjoy the Scenery

One of top shore excursions for cruise travelers in St. Thomas is its Skyride to Paradise Point, a gondola-style tram that reaches 700 feet above sea level and offers views from Charlotte Amalie all the way to St. Croix. You’ll have stunning views of the tropical foliage giving way to the turquoise waters surrounding the island. Best of all, this tram is not far from where cruise ships dock.

[caption id="attachment_9202" align="aligncenter" width="611"]Wide, scenic view of St. Thomas island with boats, buildings, and green hills on a clear day Stunning island views of St. Thomas[/caption]

Drake’s Seat, overlooking Magens Bay, is another great option and is accessible via car or taxi. From this vantage point, the English pirate Sir Francis Drake is said to have watched for enemy ships of the Spanish fleet. Meanwhile, adventurous travelers may want to pursue underwater sightseeing, as St. Thomas offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the region, including colorful coral reefs and even a shipwreck or two.

Step Back in Time

The historical landmarks of St. Thomas hearken back to the Colonial period. In downtown Charlotte Amalie, tour the 17th-century grounds of Fort Christian, the oldest structure on the island, which was once used as a military barracks and prison. You can also explore the historic sites and Danish manor houses of Kongens Quarter.

[caption id="attachment_9203" align="aligncenter" width="611"]Remains of a historical landmark in St. Thomas used for military purposes Fort Christian, a 17th-century military building[/caption]

Make your way to the famous “step street,” built by the island’s previous Danish government. Known as St. Thomas’ 99 Steps, the historic stairway is surrounded by flowers and trees that leads to the foot of Blackbeard’s Castle, a hilltop watchtower that may have been used by the infamous pirate Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. Nearby is St. Thomas Synagogue, the second-oldest synagogue in the United States.

Shop and Relax

Charlotte Amalie is one of the busiest duty-free shopping ports in the Caribbean, which means it’s a place to find amazing bargains and iconic products. From Havensight Mall near the cruise port to the boutiques on Main Street, visitors can find everything including luxury brands and affordable souvenirs.

[caption id="attachment_9204" align="aligncenter" width="612"]Tourist stops for souvenirs in pink storefront in the historic district of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas A shop storefront in Charlotte Amalie, a historic center and shopping district[/caption]

Be sure to make your way to the historic Market Square in downtown. At this open-air fruit-and-vegetable market, you’ll discover fresh produce, handmade crafts and spices—all sold by local vendors. And not to worry, the U.S. dollar is accepted across the island.

Most importantly, take your time to soak in the sights, sounds, colors and textures of this fascinating island. St. Thomas is one of the most naturally beautiful destinations in the world. It’s always one of our favorite cruise stops. Join us on one of our upcoming Caribbean cruises and it might become one of yours as well!