Called the most "unvirgin" of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is for those who want action. It is the shopping mart of the Caribbean, centered on the bustling capital of Charlotte Amalie. The port is also the busiest cruise-ship harbor in the West Indies. To escape the crowds, retreat to the island's famous beaches, including Magens Bay, hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The surrounding turquoise sea attracts yachties and fishermen with such trophy-worthy catches as the blue marlin.
Things to Do
Pretty 18th-century buildings surround the harbor of the active port of Charlotte Amalie, where warehouses once filled with pirate booty still stand. See the colorful Caribbean water world from an Atlantis submarine dive. Explore island history in the redbrick Fort Christian. Laze in the white sands at Magens Bay, or seek shade under the coconut palms of Secret Harbour on the East End. For a little seclusion, try Limetree Beach or Vessup Bay.
Spend freely at the designer boutiques and jewelry stores of Charlotte Amalie. Sift through pottery, silk-screened fabrics, candles, and watercolors at Tillett Gardens, or duck into the warehouses on Main Street for island trinkets and clothing. When you tire of French perfumes and Swiss watches, head for Market Square for ackee, cassava, and breadfruit, or buy local crafts and souvenirs from nearby Havensight Mall. Duty-free shopping bargains include china, crystal, perfumes, jewelry (especially emeralds), Haitian art, clothing, watches, and items made of wood.
Nightlife & Entertainment
St. Thomas sizzles with the most extensive nightlife in the U.S. or British Virgin Islands. Charlotte Amalie still swings with waterfront pubs and bars, but much of the action has shifted to the bars and restaurants of Frenchtown. The big hotels have the most lively options, and after a day in the hot sun, you can wind down with a cocktail and local fungi band playing traditional music on homemade instruments.
Restaurants & Dining
St. Thomas adds an eclectic mix of cuisines — including American, Italian, Mexican, and Asian — to its spicy Caribbean palate. Charlotte Amalie is dense with restaurants, but the East End has a variety of spots as well. Seafood specialties abound, such as "ole wife" and yellowtail at waterfront dining rooms, or splurge on Coral Bay crab cakes served with island rémoulade on an elegant terrace. Most local restaurants serve johnnycake, a popular fried, unleavened bread.