Warm Highlights of St. Thomas, USVI

Part of the US Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is easy to reach and even easier to enjoy. Sometimes overlooked by tourists who instead head to other islands, I recently learned that St. Thomas is a great destination in its own right and here are some reasons why.

5 Estate Bakkeroe, Charlotte Amalie 00802, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Located on a bluff overlooking beautiful Charlotte Amalie Harbor, the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef is the ideal home base from which to explore the island. The capital city of Charlotte Amalie is a quick drive or ferry ride away and there are numerous self-drive options to explore the island on your own. The hotel also features an Adventures desk where you can book any number of fun, experiential activities.
6450 Coki Point Road, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 00802
While there are plenty of in-water activities around St. Thomas, one of the best is at the Coral World Underwater Observatory. At this interactive park, which is great for families, visitors can see marine life rescue efforts, play with crustaceans or hang out by the beach. They can also swim with the star residents of the observatory, the sea lions. Rescued several years ago from certain death, today the sea lions are crowd favorites. In a special interactive session you can learn more about the ongoing research and interact with them in a special pool. This activity is safe for the sea lions and the mental stimulation is an important part of their daily schedule.
5600 Royal Dane Mall, Suite 9, St. Thomas 00802, U.S. Virgin Islands
Because it’s a major cruise port there are plenty of tacky restaurants on St. Thomas, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get under the skin of the island and find places where the locals eat. One such restaurant, Gladys’ Cafe, serves up traditional Caribbean fare and is known as one of the best on the island. Skip the a la carte menu and instead get one of the lunch plates including curried chicken or goat served with red beans and rice, mac and cheese and fried plantains.
Magens Bay, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
This beautiful one-mile stretch was donated to the people of the Virgin Islands by Arthur Fairchild, a benefactor of the islands who’d made his fortune on Wall Street before retiring here. The usually calm waters of the heart-shaped bay make the beach the most popular on St. Thomas. Rent beach chairs and floats, and pick up lunch from stands selling burgers, pizza, and other snacks. Lifeguards are on duty every day.
33F+44Q, Route 37, St. Thomas 00802, U.S. Virgin Islands
One of the island’s best lookouts, Drake’s Seat offers a panoramic view of Magens Bay and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands to the east. The site is named for Sir Francis Drake, who is said to have kept watch over the harbor from this vantage point. (Was Drake benevolently watching over his own fleet or looking for ships to plunder? The answer will depend on whether you subscribe to the British’s regard of him as a celebrated explorer or to others’ belief that he was a brutal privateer.)
9343+5FQ, Saint Peter, St. Thomas 00802, U.S. Virgin Islands
Sometimes you have to be a tourist to enjoy the great pleasures that travel offers. That’s why a visit to Mountain Top on St. Thomas is a must-do activity for any visitor. In 1949, a British restaurateur began a mission to develop the best Caribbean libation. He finally settled on the now-famous banana daiquiri, which he first mixed on St. Thomas. The drink is still served up daily using the original ingredients at Mountain Top, an emporium of souvenirs and kitsch. Just walk through the mountains of t-shirts to enjoy both the drink and, honestly, one of the best views on the island.
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