The U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John along with the British Virgin Islands are among the most beautiful islands in the world. Home to heavenly powdery beaches and sunny days. Located in the Lesser Antilles 1,600 miles south-southeast of New York City and 1,100 miles east-southeast of Miami.
The islands are graced by soft tradewinds blowing from Portugal which could account for the fact that St. Croix was among the first islands to be sighted by Columbus on his 2nd voyage westward in 1493. He then sailed northeast, passing St. Thomas, St. John and Tortola, and called them collectively Las Virgenes.
After the excitement the islands then went back to sleep for more than a 150 years. They woke to find the flag of Denmark planted on St. Thomas, the French flag on St. Croix and the Union Jack flying over Tortola, where it still flies today. The Arawak Indian population had disappeared. Denmark later claimed St. John, bought St. Croix and built the Danish West Indies into thriving sugar cane and trading islands.
Slaves were imported from Africa in the early days to work the growing number of sugar plantations. After the Danish abolition of slavery in 1848, planters began to abandon their homes and the population and economy dwindled into nothing.
Threatened by German expansion during World War I, the U.S. bought the Danish West Indies in March 31, 1917. Expensive real estate that long ago was at an average of $300 per acre. In 1927, the residents were granted U.S. citizenship. Though U.S. citizens, taxpayers, and residents cannot vote for the President of the United States.
All aboard! This underwater ship provides you with a very dry look under the sea.
Coral World and Underwater Observatory
Watch the fish watching you at this spectacular aquarium.
When you reach the top of the 99 steps, this is where you can have that beer! A pirate once scoped out his victims from this mountain top location while hiding his riches nearby. The treasure you’ll find here today is a restaurant with an amazing view.
Completed in 1680, this former military base is the oldest standing building in the Virgin Islands. In 1874 the old watchtower was replaced with a clock tower. The fort eventually became a prison, police station, and local courthouse. It is now a National Historical Landmark with a museum that details the history of St. Thomas.
St Thomas ascends out of the sea to a range of hills that runs down its spine, is 13 miles long and less than 3 miles wide . When you disembark at Charlotte Amalie, which is the capital of St, Thomas, you will find yourself in the shopping capital of the Caribbean. This is just the beginning of your shopping adventure. No matter where you dock, Havensight or even at the Navy piers, you are sure to find many treasures awaiting your arrival. Here is a guide of favorites from your fellow cruisers:
Cruz Bay, is full of one-of-a-kind, very upscale boutiques. Cruz Bay has two major shopping areas. At the atmospheric, stone-walled Mongoose Junction (to the left of the dock) you will find highlights including the Bougainvillea Boutique for chic bathing suits, linen fashions, and straw hats. Bamboula, which sells everything from bed linens to keepsakes from all over the world, is St. John’s most eclectic shop. The Clothing Studio has hand-painted t-shirts, shorts, tank dresses and bathing suits. Check out Donald Schnell Pottery for hand-blown glass, kaleidoscopes and windchimes, and Ocean Leather for belts and accessories made out of fish-skin.
Adjacent to Margaritas is St. John Editions, which has fabulous fashions, including Lilly Pulitzer, Koko and Flax.
At Wharfside, Dreams and Dragonflies, which features percussion instruments, funky jewelry and hand-painted clothing, has replaced the landmark Isola. Verace is an exquisite jewelry boutique with distinctive, hand-made pieces by artists from around the world.
A bit out of the way but worth the short stroll is Pink Papaya, an artsy craftsy shop specializing in bright & bold colored Caribbean handicrafts.
A collection of pedestrian malls in St. Thomas. This is one of the most popular spots for cruise ship passengers.
This heart-shaped beach is considered one of the world’s finest and one of the most popular on St. Thomas. Despite its status, it’s surprisingly private!