Headed to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands in the morning…I could hear the sounds of Calypso and steel drums already. I love St. Thomas and the Caribbean! The sun, white sand and turquoise water all seem to call my name.
On Our Way to St. Thomas!
Taking an early morning flight to the US Virgin Islands, we were excited to spend a week in St. Thomas which included a fun day trip to the beaches of St. John! The views of the Caribbean Sea and the islands below were amazing. As we approached the Virgin Islands we could see ribbons of white sand beaches and water as blue as the sky. Wow…one week to explore, swim, snorkel, shop and enjoy the food and music of the islands!
Exiting the airplane at the St. Thomas airport is on the tarmac and not in an enclosed airport as we are accustomed to. Walking directly into the airport terminal you are immediacy greeted with a complementary sample of local rum – cheers! That’s a nice way to start a vacation. We picked up our luggage and our rental car and headed for Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove where we would be staying for the next 4 nights.
Where We Stayed in St. Thomas
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Our villa at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove was beautifully decorated, spotlessly clean and had a fully equipped kitchen. Frenchman’s Cove is located on the south side of the island only 6 miles from the airport. It’s near Charlotte Amalie, the capital and largest city of the US Virgin Islands.
While at Frenchman’s Cove we stayed in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath villa with a stunning view overlooking the Pacquereau Bay. The pool and beach were both inviting!
A Look at Some of the Beaches on St. Thomas
We wanted to see Magen’s Bay overlook from Drakes Seat on the first day of our vacation. Magen’s Bay and the surrounding islands can be seen from the overlook at Drake’s Seat located at the top of the hill on Route 37. Legend has it that 16th-century explorer Sir Francis Drake kept watch on his fleet from this vantage point. I don’t know if the legend is true but I can only image that he had one of the best seats on the island. We were amazed by the view!
We drove down to Magen’s Bay Beach and paid the $4. per adult entrance fee. The beach itself is surrounded by high cliffs which gives it the spectacular view from above. It was late afternoon when we arrived so we didn’t have a chance to swim or snorkel. The beach is stunning and we were able to walk the beach for awhile which was so relaxing we didn’t want to leave!
We saw many tropical flowers growing wild in St. Thomas. These are the beautiful flowers of the Shell Ginger plant.
Sapphire Beach on St Thomas has my vote for the most beautiful beach on the island. The beach is clean, the water crystal clear and the snorkeling is some of the best you will find on St. Thomas. Not to mention the breathtaking scenery surrounding you as you relax on this peaceful stretch of beach.
We also stayed at Bluebeard’s Castle Hotel
Bluebeard’s Castle Hotel is where we stayed for the next 3 nights. Located high on a hilltop it has stunning views of the harbor and the town of Charlotte Amalie. The staff here was extremely friendly and helpful. The rooms at Bluebeard’s have been newly renovated. We had a 2nd floor room with a balcony and a view of the harbor. We really enjoyed the spectacular view of the port with the cruise ships as they arrived and departed. The lights on the hillside of town in the evening were like tiny jewels in the mountains. Beautiful and very romantic! While staying at Bluebeard’s Castle be sure to request a room overlooking the harbor in Charlotte Amalie.
The Flamboyant Tree burst with brilliant red flowers during the summer months in the Caribbean. They reminded me of the bright flowers we saw during our recent trip to Culebra, also in the Caribbean.
This is the view of the beach and Marriott’s Morning Star Resort from Frenchmen’s Reef Resort. I love the hills surrounding this beach. What a beautiful setting!
Lindquist Beach was our favorite beach on St. Thomas. We paid the 2$ parking fee and parked right at the edge of the beach. The beach is small and private and the water is crystal clear. The view across the bay is amazing, you won’t be disappointed.
At Lindquist we found the best snorkeling to be on the right side of the beach. We found lots of colorful fish congregating around the rocks and coral close to the shoreline. Grab your snorkel gear and jump in!
Historic Sites on St. Thomas
Blackbeard’s Castle is located on the highest point on Government Hill in St. Thomas. It was built in 1679 as a watchtower to protect the harbor by spotting enemy ships. We drove to the top of the hill but you can also reach Blackbeard’s Castle by climbing the historic 99 steps. The steps were built from the ballast bricks of the tall ships coming from the old world. The ships would then return to Europe filled with products produced in the islands. The view from Blackbeard’s Castle, as you can imagine is one of the best views on the island. The ruins, which are on the National Register of Historic Places, are of the Pedersen Estate. Dating from the 17th century, they are part of an archaeological dig to learn more about life in the early years in the Caribbean.
On our self-guided walking tour of Charlotte Amalie we found that Fort Christian, built in 1680, is the oldest standing structure in the USVI. This building has served as the town center, a government building, and a jail. Today, it houses the St. Thomas Museum. I think the building looks pretty good for its age don’t you?
Shopping in St. Thomas
The shops in downtown Charlotte Amalie, once used as warehouses during the 17th and 18th centuries to store goods for trade, were almost left for ruin. Several natural disasters including hurricanes and fires left the warehouses in need of major re-building. It would take years to rebuild the old warehouses to house the fancy boutiques and stores that line the streets today. There are hundreds of duty free shops along the streets and alleys of Charlotte Amalie. You can find buys on jewelry, alcohol, china, crystal, perfumes, cameras, watches and much more. You will also find several restaurants, candy shops, and souvenir stores here. We saved this stop for our last day in St. Thomas and enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the shopping area.
Some facts to help plan your trip to the US Virgin Islands:
- If you are a US citizen, no passport is required. You will need to show proof of citizenship when departing the island such as a raised seal birth certificate and a government issued photo ID. If you are not a U.S. citizen, then a passport issued by your country of origin is required
- The U.S. dollar is the form of currency used
- Your valid U.S. or foreign drivers license is accepted…but be prepared to drive on the left hand side of the road
- English is the official language. Spanish is also commonly spoken
- The U.S. Virgin Islands enjoys warm sunny weather year-round. The average winter temperature is 77ºF (25ºC), and the average summer temperature is 82ºF (28ºC)
- Protect yourself from the intense Caribbean sun by apply sunscreen often and wearing a hat and sunglasses. Sunburn can ruin your vacation!
It was a great week in the US Virgin Islands for us. We had fun exploring the island of St. Thomas and taking the ferry for a day trip to St. John. But mainly just being in this carefree laid-back atmosphere makes everything better. We were blessed with good weather for most of our time there and felt sad when it was time to leave. As I mentioned earlier, I love the Caribbean!
What thoughts, ideas or tips do you have for traveling to the Caribbean?