Who wouldn’t love a beach vacation, spending time in the sun and the sand; and getting away from a cold and windy winter? That is exactly what we got, when Mrs. CurryOnTravel and I spent the weekend in St. Thomas. Located in the Caribbean, the island is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and definitely on our list for a sunny getaway. Famous for its crystal-clear water, white-sand beaches, and of course, their daiquiris.
What to do there
The most famous beach at St. Thomas is Magen’s Bay. Featured in many magazines as one of the best beaches of the world, it is one of the most popular spots on the island. We started our day, making our way to the island. Our first stop was Mountain Top.
As the name suggests, located on top of the mountain; Mountain Top provides a scenic view of the island. You can clearly see Magen’s Bay Beach from the overlook, and on a clear day you can see as far as the British Virgin Islands. You have to navigate a massive gift shop to get to the overlook, but get here early in the day to beat the crowds. Try their world famous Banana Daiquiri as you shop for deals.
Hacking Tip: The open secret at St. Thomas is that the island is dependent on the cruises that come to its pier. Places like Mountain Top, Charlotte Amalie, Havensight, and Magen’s Bay Beach are crowded from Sunday to Thursday, so it’s best to enjoy them on Friday or Saturday. It is even difficult to get cabs, as they cater to cruise ships, in the busy areas of the Island. Plan your trip to avoid the busy days, and you won’t have to fight the crowds. Hold the cabs in remote areas, such as Mountain Top and Havensight; as cabs can be hard to come by.
After Mountain Top, we headed to Charlotte Amalie. The downtown area for St. Thomas, the Charlotte Amalie has the prop-up shops, luxury goods, and restaurants. St. Thomas does not charge taxes, so it’s the perfect vacation to shop for any luxury items on your list. Hop from shop to shop to find numerous choices. Grab a ride to the Havensight Mall, for more options on shopping or restaurants.
Stop by Barefoot Buddha for a healthy lunch, and an amazing cup of espresso. A great spot located close to the Havensight Mall, the hippie restaurant has great options and the friendly service helps you decide the new options to try.
As the sun was climbing up, and we could feel the heat, it was the perfect time to visit Magen’s Bay Beach. A 15-minute cab ride away, the beach has an entrance fee for visitors. A day pass costs $5 per person. One of the most beautiful beaches, enjoy it when the crowds are less, and the sun is bright. The beach has great amenities for water activities, and shower facilities are provided.
Hacking Tip: St. Thomas does not have a proper transportation system. The cabs and ‘safari’ cabs are the alternative to buses. Car rentals are available, however, we would not recommend them for a 3-4 day trip (even though it is a US territory, they drive on the other side of the road). Safari cabs are cheaper as you’re traveling with a big group, and the drivers help you get to your spot. Use the call-in cabs for visiting remote areas, or for late nights. Using common sense and some planning will help keep your trip issue free.
The next morning we took a ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. A neighboring island, St. John is a 20-minute ferry ride away, and a great opportunity to check out some of the beaches there while doing island-hopping. The Honeymoon Beach is one of the most secluded and famous beach in St. John, and there are two ways to get there: a) take a water taxi, or b) hike about a mile through the mountain. Of course, we went with option B.
After the ferry dropped us off, we made our way to the Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center. The guides were very friendly, and they provided the directions to Honeymoon Beach, via the Lind Point Trail. Taking the hike that starts behind the center, we followed the trail and the occasional sign to the overlook point. You’ll get a beautiful view of the beach at St. John. Take some pictures as you continue to make your way to Honeymoon Beach.
Seclusion is part of the charm of Honeymoon Beach. You can enjoy the beach with handful of families, with Virgin Ecotours providing any water activity equipment you may be interested in, and Bikinis-on-the-Beach bar/grill serving you up some cool drinks on a hot day. It’s not a bad way to recover from the hike. The tranquil sound of the water soothes you as you enjoy your second daiquiri. The underrated Honeymoon Beach became one of our favorite spots.
Hacking Tip: The ferries between St. Thomas and St. John run every hour. You can take the ferry from the Red Hook area in St. Thomas, tickets are about $16 for non-residents. Take the earlier ferry to avoid the later rush, this way you’ll finish the activities at St. John with ample time. Expect some traffic coming back, as many folks commute between the islands for work. There are taxis in St. John that can take you to other spots; and restaurants and bars are everywhere on the island. Use the open-bottle laws to take some beverages with you to the beach, or just about anywhere.
As the ferry dropped us back in Red Hook, we decided to hop around the area. For any grocery needs, supplies, or a pit stop for any beverage needs you may have, Moe’s a great option. Stocked with anything you may need, the grocery store carries a good collection of food and drink items; though the prices can be higher than what you’d expect in the States. As the day was turning to the evening, we went to Island Time Pub for refreshment and dinner. Overlooking the Yacht Club, the view is great as you enjoy their amazing happy hour deals. Try their pizza, as it hits the spot after a day of hiking and relaxing.
Additional things to do
St. Thomas was greatly impacted by Hurricane Irma and Maria. Due to the damage sustained by the island, several tourist areas such as Blackbeard’s Castle, and many hotels were closed to the public. You can enjoy all the water activities and beaches on the island, however certain areas will remain closed until they are rebuilt.
There are just too many beaches to list but some of the notable beaches to enjoy are Coki Point Beach, Lindquist Beach, and Sapphire Beach. These beaches do not have an entry, so you’ll get a chance to interact with more locals than other tourist areas.
How to get there
Enjoy St. Thomas either as a day stop from a cruise, or fly in for a weekend stay. Shop around for great deals on daily flights from Miami and Fort. Lauderdale. Or if you’re on a Caribbean cruise, plan a day for St. Thomas. The island is also close to British Virgin Islands and St. John, perfect for Island Hopping.
Where to stay
Several hotels are being rebuilt, but the Marriott and Margaritaville resorts are open for business. Expect a $25 per night resort fee to help contribute to the rebuilding efforts. Some hotels and Airbnb options are available as well. Resorts are great option if you want to enjoy the beach without worrying about the logistics.
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