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Your guide to St. Thomas
Welcome to St. Thomas
Home to the capital city of the Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas is the most bustling island of the bunch. It houses a network of bays and harbors and is a natural arrival point for cruise ships, yachts, and container ships, all of which nestle in its vibrant port. Charming Charlotte Amalie — inflected with Danish and French influences from the island’s extended period as a European colony — welcomes them with all the amenities visitors look for, including inviting restaurants and trendy shops.
Sport fishing, golfing, and diving are all popular pastimes here. The waters around St. Thomas are home to a dizzying array of sea life, including seahorses, octopuses, and moray eels: many visitors come here to dive and snorkel, hoping these creatures make an appearance. You’ll also find gorgeous white-sand beaches, verdant hillsides, and intriguing historical buildings, such as the oldest synagogue in continuous use on United States soil, whose floor is covered in sand.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in St. Thomas?
A key appeal of a Caribbean vacation is that you’re likely to encounter balmy weather all year long. Most days in St. Thomas are favored with sun and warmth, although it’s worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast between June and November, which is hurricane season. St. Thomas celebrates Carnival in April with street parties, dancing, parades, and music.
What are the top things to do in St. Thomas?
Construction on this imposing Gothic revival fortress made of red brick began in 1672. Erected by the Danish, the building features a three-story oval tower and is the largest fort on all the Virgin Islands. Locally harvested rainforest mahogany was used for doors and window frames, and the bricks are held together with mortar made from burnt shells and coral.
Established more than 60 years ago, the funky artists’ community of Tillett Gardens sits on a former Danish cattle farm. Sheds and other agricultural buildings have been repurposed as brightly painted shops, galleries, and restaurants, surrounded by the tropical landscape. You can take an art class here, attend a live theater performance, or just wander the quirky enclave.
The hills of Charlotte Amalie are threaded with steep stone steps, which makes their navigation just a bit more manageable. The most famous are the 99 Steps, constructed from stone brought to the island as ships’ ballast. Take a picturesque hike shrouded on each side by colorful foliage and you’ll be rewarded with a view of Blackbeard’s Castle at the top. Historians look askance at claims the eponymous pirate lived here — it was built by the Danish military — but it has an impressive storybook look all the same. Once open to tours, the castle has been closed since 2017, when it was damaged by a hurricane.