In 1917 towards the end of World War I the United States made an investment in Caribbean real estate with the purchase of what now are the United States Virgin Islands from the Danish for a cool $25 million. This turned out to be a smart investment; today it has become a popular destination from those on the mainland – especially escaping the colder winter months.
There are a number of airlines that offer flights to the airport on St. Thomas from the mainland (American, Delta, Spirit & United among others). Citizens of the USA do not need a passport to fly here from the mainland USA – simply a driver’s license will do (however if you want to visit the British Virgin Islands a short ferry ride away, you will need your passport).
The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas is the premier destination resort on the island. Located about as far from the airport on this island as you can drive (25 minutes); the property is a self-contained isle of calm, relaxation and impeccable service. The 30 acres contains a number of luxury rooms (in buildings named after flowers), several restaurants, plenty of drink options and a significant number of water activities to participate in.
One excursion offered by the resort is an evening catamaran ride on the Lady Lynsey to the neighboring island of St. John. As you cross the channel you will enjoy good drinks, hors d’oeuvres and the company of guests – all relaxed and enjoying the picturesque natural environment.
The vibe on the catamaran across from the Ritz Carlton St Thomas to St John is young and energetic – popular with couples celebrating marriage milestones – either honeymoons or 10 or 20 year anniversaries. With plenty of snacks, an open bar and relaxing ‘vacation’ conversation, this hour sail will pass by rather quickly.
After disembarking it is a short taxi ride up the hill to Asolare Restaurant which delivers stunning views of the bay below, 35 different Island rums and a variety of seafood. For a romantic night out in the Caribbean it does not get much better than this
Magens Bay was once listed as one of the top beaches in the world by National Geographic magazine. The bay is sizable with a long curved strand of fine sand that allows you to find some privacy if you like or hang out next to the cafe or bar if you prefer the company of people. Entry admission is based on local/resident + vehicle. Get here early for less crowds. Saltwater showers.
Lindquist Beach and Smith Bay Park are located on the east part of the island. This smaller curved beach circles partway around an aquamarine bay. There is plenty of white sand – no vendors are here which is refreshing. Entry admission is based on local/resident + vehicle. The walk to the beach is down a short path from the parking lot next to the gate attendant. Very nice bathrooms and freshwater showers.
Frenchtown is a hub of restaurants, expats, several drinking establishments and some small homes. This part of the island has a nice vibe – it is close to Charlotte Amalie but decidedly separate.
Twisted Cork Cafe is located in Frenchtown; walking into the restaurant is like walking into a whose who of wineries from around the world with many Napa wines represented with winery names hanging on the wall – taken from wooden wine boxes. Nice seafood options. Some Asian Fusion dishes.
Hook, Line & Sinker – as the name indicates is all about seafood. It is perched at the edge of a small bay in Frenchtown with windows that look directly onto the marina. Try their conch when in season – also nice grilled Mahi Mahi. Features a centrally located robust bar – this was the one restaurant we visited that was able to made a perfect Capirinha (Brazilian drink).
Betsy’s Bar & Grill offers friendly staff, a fully stocked bar, a homey atmosphere, pool tables in the back room and some nice eats. Located in Frenchtown it is only about a 10-12 minute drive from the airport. This is a great spot to whittle away an evening.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, TORTOLA DAY TRIP
From St. Thomas, Ferry’s leave from the Edward Blyden Marine Terminal to Road Town located on the island of Tortola. Tickets can be purchased the day of your departure or online. Day parking is located in a small parking lot across the street from the ferry terminal.
Road Town is a largest town on Tortola and it is worth exploring the harbour area for the colourful shops and restaurants. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and eating – make a beeline for Cane Garden Bay Beach located on the north west side of the island (about a 20 minute ride from Road Town).
A taxi stand is located near the ferry terminal – taxis can easily be found here. Cane Garden Bay Beach can get crowded at times with beach goers (there are a number of shops and small restaurants located along the beach); to escape the crowds, simply walk further down the beach past all the beach chairs.
Brewers Bay is the neighboring beach/bay and is generally much less crowded than Cane Garden Beach – only one restaurant and one small bar on opposite ends of the beach (along with one guesthouse).