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U.S. VIRIGN ISLANDS

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Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas
Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

St Thomas, St John and St Croix form the US Virgin Islands, a territory of the United States.  The islands were purchased from the Dutch in 1917 for $25 million in gold.  Due to the Dutch influence, this is the only territory of the US where they drive on the left hand side of the road.  Due to the US influence, most of the vehicles have the steering wheel on the left though, which makes driving a challenge.  St Thomas is about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico at the eastern end of the Greater Antilles.  The island is 13 miles east/west and 4 miles north/south for a total area of 31 square miles.  Rainfall of 2 - 3 inches is common in any month in St Thomas, but you can expect more than 5 inches of rainfall each month from September to November.  The capital and cruise port is Charlotte Amalie and the island of St Thomas has a permanent population of about 55,000.

Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

Attractions in St Thomas:

Things to see and do:

  • Magens Bay – One of the world’s best beaches according to National Geographic magazine.

  • St John – The smallest of the US Virgin Islands is only a 30-minuted ferry ride away. Two thirds of the island is a national park. Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins and Trunk Bay are two favorite sites.

  • Coral World Ocean Park – This is 4.5 acre marine park with 360-degree underwater views. You can pet sharks and hand feed stingrays.

  • St Peter Great House – On the site of the original 150-acre Plantation St Peter, the Great House boasts classic West Indian architecture and numerous Caribbean plants and fruits.

  • Mountain Top – This location features a souvenir shopping and excellent views of St Thomas and neighboring islands. It is the birthplace of the banana daiquiri.

  • Blackbeard’s Castle & Amber Museum – Blackbeard’s Castle is reached by walking up the 99 Steps. Along the way, visit the World Amber Museum and learn about amber’s 300 million year creation history.

St Thomas Tours:

Hotels in ST Thomas:


View USVI map

St Thomas with Carolina on the Caribbean Princess

There are two ports for cruise ships in Charlotte Amalie.  We were docked at the western part of town and our ship can be seen in the distant right in the picture below.  We took the Great House, Garden & Vistas  bus tour of Charlotte Amalie and toured the natural gardens.  We saw parrots in cages.  This was not a great tour.  On our second visit, we took the St John Island Tour which I highly recommend.

St Thomas with Tim on the Carnival Valor For another alternative, try the Mangrove Kayaking and Snorkeling instead.

Trunk Bay Tour on St John Island

Trunk Bay, St John, USVI

Trunk Bay, St John

with Tim Anderson - For our visit on the Caribbean Princess in November, we walked around near the pier in the morning. Walking here turned out to be a challenge caused by heavy traffic and sidewalks that weren’t continuous.  Not a great place for power walking. Luckily we did better with our afternoon excursion to the nearby island of St John. 

Our visit to Trunk Bay on St John’s USVI was fabulous but all too short.  We took the” Island Girl” ferry to Cruz Bay, passing homes of Kevin Costner, Tim Duncan and Michael Jackson.  At Cruz Bay we took a short open air truck/bus past Caneel Bay to Trunk Bay.  The bay was closed to snorkeling that day due to high swells.  We walked the length of the sandy beach and set up in the shade.  The surf was very tame and we enjoyed the cool refreshing waters.  It did finally knock Viki down though and sent her spinning around like she was in a washing machine.  Great fun and it was over way too soon.

Trunk Bay, St John, USVI

Trunk Bay, St John

To save on excursion fees, you can take a cab to the public ferry landing, where local ferries run every half hour.  At Cruz Bay you will also find cab rides readily available to the beach.  This one is a little tricky though, so it may be worth the extra price to have this all arranged by the cruise line. 

with Carolina - The Caribbean Princess stopped a second time at St Thomas on our two week cruise. This time we took the St John Island Tour, which was fabulous.  The island is only 9 miles long and two-thirds of it is made up of Virgin Islands National Park.  After a short 4 mile boat ride to the island, you take an tour in an open air bus to visit the Annaberg Sugar Mill, Trunk Bay, Caneel Bay, and Bordeaux Mountain.  We had a great time snorkeling, watching the iguanas & deer and relaxing on the beach too.

Caneel Bay, St John, USVI

Caneel Bay, St John

Trunk Bay, St John, USVI

Trunk Bay, St John

Trunk Bay, St John, USVI

Trunk Bay, St John

Iguana, St John, USVI

Iguana, St John

St John with Carolina on the Caribbean Princess

The Caribbean Princess stopped a second time at St Thomas on our two week cruise. This time we took the St John Island Tour, which was fabulous.  The island is only 9 miles long and two-thirds of it is made up of Virgin Islands National Park.  After a short 4 mile boat ride to the island, you take an tour in an open air bus to visit the Annaberg Sugar Mill, Trunk Bay, Caneel Bay, and Bordeaux Mountain.  We had a great time snorkeling, watching the iguanas & deer and relaxing on the beach too.  

Mangrove Lagoon Kayaking and Snorkel

St John with Tim Anderson - On our visit to St Thomas on the Carnival Valor in February, the weather had warmed to 85 degrees.  We went on a kayaking, hiking and snorkeling tour with Virgin Islands Ecotours in the Mangrove Lagoon.  This was a great excursion.  I was apprehensive as I've never been snorkeling and I hate going out beyond my depth.  Once I got out there though, they couldn't get me back.  A highlight was swimming in the shallows among thousands of small silver sides.  They engulfed me in all directions and only moved to avoid contact with my fingers and arms as I swam.  I highly recommend this tour.

Carnival Valor, VI Ecotours, mangrove lagoon, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Mangrove Lagoon, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Silver sides,  mangrove lagoon, St Thomas, USVI

Silver Sides, Mangrove Lagoon, St Thomas, USVI


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