St. Thomas

Start: Fort Christian.

Finish: Magens Bay Beach.

Time: 2 1/2 hours.

Best Time: Sunday, when traffic is lightest.

Worst Times: Wednesday and Saturday, when traffic is heaviest.

Begin at Fort Christian, in the eastern part of Charlotte Amalie, and head west along the Waterfront. To your left, you'll see cruise ships anchored offshore, and to your right, you'll find several shops. Continue west on Route 30 and pass the Cyril E. King Airport on your left. As the road forks toward the airport, keep right along Route 30, which runs parallel to the airport.

At about 2 1/2 miles from Fort Christian, on your right, will be:

1. University of the Virgin Islands

Established in 1961, this is the major university in the Virgin Islands. It's a modern complex with landscaped campus grounds; its primary attraction is the Reichhold Center for the Arts.

Continue west on Route 30 until you reach:

2. Brewers Bay

The bay will be on your left. You may want to park and go for a swim, as this is one of the better beaches on the island.

Continue 4 miles west, climbing uphill through scrub country along a hilly drive past the junction with Route 301. This far-west stretch of Route 30 is called:

3. Fortuna Road

This is one of the most scenic areas in St. Thomas, with sweeping views of the water and offshore islands on your left. Along the way, you'll come across parking areas where you can pull off and enjoy the view (the Bethesda Hill vista is particularly panoramic). The districts you pass through -- Bonne Esperance and Perseverance -- are named after the old plantations that once stood here. The area is now primarily residential. At Bordeaux Hill, you descend sharply and the road narrows until you come to a dead end.

At this point, turn around and head back east along Route 30. Be careful: The road is poorly marked at this point. At the junction with Route 301, turn left and head northeast. You will come to another junction at:

4. Crown Mountain Road

This is the most scenic road in the Virgin Islands. Turn left here onto Route 33. The road will sweep northward before it makes an abrupt switch to the east. You will be traversing the mountainous heartland of St. Thomas. Expect hairpin turns during your descent. You'll often have to reduce your speed to 10 mph, especially in the Mafolie district. The road will eventually lead to the junction with Route 37, where you should go left, but only for a short distance, until you reach the junction with Route 40. At one point, routes 37 and 40 become the same highway. When they separate, turn right and stay on Route 40 to:

5. Drake's Seat

This is where Sir Francis Drake is said to have looked out over the sea and charted the best routes through the Virgin Islands.

Continue left onto Route 35. The road will veer northwest. Follow it all the way to:

6. Magens Bay Beach

Magens Bay is hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Here you can rent Sunfish sailboats, glass-bottom paddle boats, and sailboards. Lounge chairs, changing facilities, showers, lockers, and picnic tables are also available.

Finish up your tour at Magens Bay Bar & Grill, Magens Bay Beach (tel. 340/777-6270), an ideal place for light meals on this heart-shaped beach. You can order sandwiches, salads, pizza by the slice, soft drinks, and beer and other alcoholic beverages. It's open daily 9:30am to 5pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.