St Thomas Attractions
Covering 32sq.mi/84sq.km, St. Thomas' mountainous terrain is home to approximately 50,000 residents. The second largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St Thomas lies 40mi/65km east of Puerto Rico and stretches 3mi/5km in length and 12mi/19.2km in width.
Stretching along the well-protected harbor on St Thomas' southern shore is the bustling historic port town Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today, St Thomas is one of the top cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean.The eastern end of St Thomas offers a multitude of beaches as well as natural and historical attractions. The northwest coast is comprised of a large string of bays and coves, while a mountainous spine runs through the center of St Thomas. Peaks such as Crown Mountain rise more than 1500ft/457m. Popular recreational activities on St Thomas are exploring historic Charlotte Amalie, hiking, diving, snorkelling and sportfishing. Renowned for its duty-free shopping, St Thomas offers visitors a wide selection of fine goods from jewellery, clothing, and fine art.First inhabited by the Ciboney native Indians c2000 BC, evidence shows that the Taíno and Carib natives groups also settled on St Thomas. Christopher Columbus named the Virgin Island chain in 1493 without actually setting foot on St Thomas. Spanish colonists and adventurers arriving after Columbus managed to depopulate the island by 1555, forcefully driving away the indigenous Taíno and Caribs. By 1665 the Danish began establishing a colony on St Thomas, but attacks from the English and disease caused the colony to fail.Colonization was again attempted in 1671, and by the late 1700s island settlements prospered through trade with St Croix. In 1716 Denmark asserted its neutrality in the European wars by advertising St Thomas as a free port and safe haven for ships of all nations of Europe. St Thomas became a diverse colony home to people of various religions and nationalities including Danes, Dutch, English, Germans, Jews and African slaves.Two English invasions in subsequent years resulted in occupation until 1815. Ownership returned to the Danish but the island suffered setbacks due to hurricanes and smallpox epidemics. In 1848, a population of about 6,000 black slaves was officially emancipated. In the late 19th C the island established itself as a major coaling station for steamships.The U.S. bought the islands is 1917, and the U.S. Navy took over island rule until the 1950s. Throughout the next five decades the U.S. government saw the potential of St Thomas as major tourist destination and widespread development ensued. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw disaster from three major hurricanes.
Lying in the western end of St Thomas Harbor, Water Island is the so-called fourth U.S. Virgin Island. Covering 490ac/198ha, Water Island is home to about 125 residents and provides a relaxed atmosphere perfect for exploration by cycling. Most weekends feature a Saturday night picnic dinner and Sunday afternoon beach party hosted by islanders.Throughout WWI and WWII, Water Island was used as a military reserve by the U.S. government and then as a chemical warfare test facility. After 1951, some U.S. citizens began to build homes on the island, which was not officially ceded to the U.S. Virgin Islands until 1996. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo destroyed the lone tourist resort on the island, somewhat decreasing tourist activity on Water Island. However, guest houses are available.
Honeymoon Bay Beach
Honeymoon Bay Beach found at the head of a cove on Water Island is relatively undeveloped and generally not crowded. The southern shore of the bay features good snorkelling.
St Thomas Carnival
Taking place during the last two weeks of April, the St Thomas Carnival features parades, food fairs, beauty pageants and calypso contests. Most of the festivities are centered in Charlotte Amalie in a specially constructed Carnival Village. Interesting sights and sounds of Carnival are mocko jumbies (costumed stilt walkers representing African spirits), scratch bands, costumed parade marchers and 50-piece steel drum bands.The Carnival in St Thomas is the second largest Caribbean festival, exceeded only by the Carnival at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Originating in Trinidad in 1783, the Carnival festival is rooted in West African rituals of masquerade that have been applied to the celebration of Christian Lent.
Lying in the middle of St Thomas Harbor, Hassel Island covers 120ac/49ha of land that is protected by the National Parks Service. The island was originally connected to the mainland until 1865 when it was separated by the Dutch to help water flow more freely, thereby reducing sewage build-ups which spurred cholera epidemics.In the late 19th C, Hassel Island was a repair facility and coaling station used by various shipping lines. Today, Hassel Island is part of the Virgin Islands National Park and features ruins from the shipping era that are listed on National Register of Historic Landmarks.
Frenchtown, United States Virgin Islands
Frenchtown is a small fishing village founded by French Huguenots who immigrated to St Thomas in the mid-19th C from the French island of St Barts. Today, the frequent cruise ships dock in Frenchtown, and the village has become the most frequented restaurant quarter on St Thomas. Lying on a peninsula on the western side of St Thomas Harbor, Frenchtown is characterized by brightly colored frame homes and was once populated by a community of 1500 people speaking a mix of West Indian Creole and 18th C Breton French.
Paradise Point Tramway
The Paradise Point Tramway transports visitors 700ft/213m above sea level to Paradise Point, offering excellent vistas of St Thomas. The ride takes seven minutes each way, and at the top there is a self-guided nature trail and tropical bird show. An observation deck, cafes and boutiques are also found at Paradise Point.
Address: 9617 Estate Thomas Tramway Building, Frenchtown, St Thomas 00802, United States Virgin Islands
Opening hours: 9:30am-4:30pm
Always closed on: Epiphany (3 Kings' Day ) - Christian (Jan 6), New Year's Day (Jan 1), Martin Luther King's Birthday - USA (3rd Monday, Jan), President's Day - USA (3rd Monday, Feb), Transfer Day - US Virgin Islands (Mar 31), Memorial Day - USA (last Monday, May), Organic Act Day - US Virgin Islands (3rd Monday, Jun), American Independance Day (Jul 4), Hurricane Supplication Day - US Virgin Islands (4th Monday, Jul), Emancipation Day - US Virgin Islands (Jul 3), Labor Day - USA (1st Monday, Sep), Columbus Day/Puerto Rican Friendship Day - US Virgin Islands (2nd Monday, Oct), Local Thanksgiving Day - US Virgin Islands (3rd Monday, Oct), Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Veteran's Day - USA (Nov 11), Liberty Day - US Virgin Islands (Nov 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Easter Monday - Christian, Maundy (Holy) Thursday - Christian, Good Friday - Christian
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $16.00, Child 12 & under $8.00, Child 5 & under FREE
Useful tips: Each Wednesday evening the tram-ride is free to watch the sunset (5 p.m. - dark).
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
The Havensight Mall features over 180 stores and businesses, offering everything from locally made goods, fine jewellery, liquor, electronics, books, gourmet markets and more. There are also restaurants and cafés in the mall.
West India Company Cruise Ship Dock
Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament
The Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament takes place in late August and supports the St Thomas Boy Scouts. The event draws sportfishers from around the world to participate in the tag-and-release competition.
Lying 2mi/3.2km north of Hull Bay off the North Shore of St Thomas, Hans-Lollik Island covers 500ac/202ha of undeveloped land. The western end of the island features a pristine beach with lots of shade.
International Rolex Cup Regatta
The International Rolex Cup Regatta is a three-day event in early April featuring world-class racing boats and crews. The event is hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club and sponsored by Rolex.