St. Thomas “wows” me every time. Just. Wow. The island is not only breathtaking, but filled with friendly islanders, shopping, and delicious food! Of the three tropical islands that make up the USVI, St. Thomas is the main island. A passport is not required for U.S. citizens traveling to the island from the states, or its territories (although I travel with my passport and highly recommend it for safety reasons). Another bonus: the US dollar is the currency exchanged, and visitors usually don’t pay roaming charges, depending on the cell carrier.
Magens Bay Beach
If you visit St. Thomas, I promise you will not be disappointed with Magens Bay Beach. Imagine swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing at one the most calm beaches in the Caribbean. If you arrive by cruise ship, go to Magens Bay early in the morning when few people are on the beach. Several taxis are at the cruise terminal, or book an excursion through the cruise company. Fun fact: Magens Bay is noted as one of the “world’s most beautiful beaches” by both Conde Nast and National Geographic. There’s even a bar that serves delicious fruit smoothies. Chair rentals and snorkeling equipment are also available to rent!
Mecca of Duty Free
I love shopping, but I especially love shopping in St. Thomas. The cobblestones streets (I really love cobblestone streets) colored Danish buildings, and the smell of Cruzan rum gets me every time. St. Thomas has some of the best duty free shopping in the Caribbean. This means deals can be found at amazing prices with no sales tax. Remember, the key to truly saving is to do a little research before purchase.
Skyride to Paradise Point & The Bushwhacker
Rum. Yum. It goes without saying that when traveling to the islands, tasting Cruzan rum is a must. With each trip I take, I try the local food and drink, and this chocolate flavored cocktail is THE BEST that I’ve tried! Each island has a unique drink, and for St. Thomas, The Bushwhacker is it’s claim to fame. How to get one? For just $21 for adults, and $10.50 for kids, take the Skyride to Paradise Point, and enjoy an amazing view 700ft above the town of Charlotte Amalie. Once you’re to the top, order The Bushwhacker from the bar.
Note to self: The cocktail tastes like a chocolate milkshake, but it is not a milkshake. Beware. Here is a recipe of the Bushwhacker that I make at home from Rum Therapy. By the way, this tastes exactly how they make them at Paradise Point!
St. John, Trunk Bay
If you’re in St. Thomas and hankering for adventure, St. John is the more remote, quite island of the two. You can arrive by ferry, or a private means of transportation. Ferry is easy from St. Thomas, and is a walk on concept. Once you arrive by ferry, take a cab to Trunk Bay where you can snorkel in an underwater park. Imagine snorkeling in the bluest of blue water, with an underground snorkel map to guide you. Once again, snorkel equipment is available for rent, and a delicious beach bar is on site. Watch out for the birds though! Cover your food.
St. John on Independence Day
Can you say Carnival? St. John is a blast on the week of the 4th of July. Arguably some of the most fun I’ve had during this holiday has been on St. John. Emancipation Day is the local holiday, acknowledging the abolishment of slavery, and celebrated on the 3rd of July. The street parade reminds me of a Mardi Gras parade, but in the Caribbean it’s so much more fun! In addition, booths line the parade with local rum, food fair, and souvenirs.
The costumes are elaborate, and beautifully embellished. Furthermore, the music from the steel band is off the chain! If your booty doesn’t start moving at this parade, then you should try a rum drink for some liquid courage!
St. Croix, AKA Mardi Croix!
I love beach festivals. Give me a friendly beach atmosphere, a little 5 o’clock somewhere, and we have reason to celebrate! St. Croix is often an overlooked island, and home to beautiful Cane Bay. While my favorite thing about Cane Bay in the scenery, Mardi Croix, (a version of Mardi Gras) is also a popular event that takes place on the beach! Each year before Fat Tuesday, Cane Bay is transformed into a colorful celebration. So, dive for beads, dress up, and join in the fun. There’s vendors along the parade path as well in Cane Bay to keep you occupied. Again, it’s very popular so get there early! Don’t be shy… grab a table, and order food at one of the waterfront venues before marching in the parade with visitors and locals alike.
Water Island Goals
- Go to Water Island by ferry. Travel time: 15 minutes from ST. Thomas
- Sun and Sip at Honeymoon Bay (I hear there’s a not-so-fancy floating bar)
- Swim with Sea Turtles, duh.
- Ride around in a golf cart. Because… Why not?
- Make it back to St. Thomas in one piece.