Within Walking Distance
The old warehouses that once held pirates’ loot still stand along the waterfront in the Danish town of Charlotte Amalie—only these days it’s not pirate booty inside, but shops, shops, and more shops. Stray farther inland and you’ll find pockets of 19th-century houses and the charming brick-and-stone St. Thomas Synagogue, built in 1833 by Sephardic Jews on steep, sloping Crystal Gade.
Dating from 1672, rose-hued Fort Christian rises from the harbor to dominate the center of town. Many a condemned pirate was hanged in its courtyard. Directly across from Fort Christian is the Legislature Building, built in the late 1800s. Take the St. Thomas Skyride to Paradise Point Tramway to the top for a dramatic view of bustling Charlotte Amalie Harbor on your Carnival cruise to St. Thomas.
Beyond the Port Area
The St. Peter Greathouse Estate and Gardens, at Rte. 40 near Hull Bay, adorns 11 acres of the volcanic peaks of the island’s northern rim. It’s a tropical paradise, filled with colorful West Indian plants and trees, a rainforest, an orchid jungle, and waterfalls. From a panoramic deck, you can see up to 20 of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nearby, on Rte. 40, is the scenic lookout from Drake’s Seat, with spectacular views of Magens Bay below. A mobility and wheelchair access excursion with Accessible St. Thomas Island Tour makes it easy for anyone to tour the island.
Beaches In St. Thomas
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, has a number of good beaches, all of which are easily reached by taxi. Arrange for your driver to return and pick you up at a designated time. Located 3 miles north of Charlotte Amalie, Magens Bay is often hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and Downtown Shopping & Magen’s Bay Getaway combines beach, views, and shopping in one excursion. In the northeast, there are many popular spots for snorkeling amid dense schools of fish and Two Island Power Cat Snorkeling Adventure and St. John Champagne Catamaran Sailaway takes you to them. You can wear your most daring swimwear at trendy Morningstar, in Frenchtown.
Stick around this neighborhood till dusk, when the island’s former French enclave celebrates to the beat of fungi, local music played on homemade instruments by scratch bands. Bluebeard’s Beach Club, a little to the east, has a secluded setting. Still farther east, the Bolongo Bay is a serene spread of sand where you can feed hibiscus blossoms to iguanas. With powdery white sand and coconut palms, little Secret Harbor, at the far eastern end, is a veritable postcard of Caribbean charm.
Shopping in St. Thomas
Shopping is the number-one activity in Charlotte Amalie, and the main streets (called gades here in honor of their Danish heritage) are a veritable shopping mall. Dig hard enough and you’ll sometimes find well-known brand names at savings of up to 40% off prices in the U.S. Shop for duty-free luxury goods like jewelry, watches, cameras, china, and leather. The local Cruzan Rum is so cheap you’ll think it’s mismarked. Many cruise passengers shop at the Havensight Mall, where Carnival cruises to St. Thomas dock, but the major shopping is along the harbor of Charlotte Amalie.