The United States Virgin Islands, USVI, are made up of three islands: St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. Although cruisers love the USVI, St. Thomas is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean. In fact, it is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world! St. Thomas is a shopper’s paradise, full of trendy boutiques and shopping arcades. Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas, is lined with beautiful beaches. I have been there several times and never tire of it.
St. Thomas’s Exceptional Charlotte Amalie
The Dutch West India Company founded the first settlement in St. Thomas, circa 1672. By the 17th century, the islands were divided into two units, one English and one Dutch speaking. In 1917, the United States purchased the Dutch half.
Downtown, the 118-year-old mint green Italian renaissance structure is the House of Legislature for the USVI. Fort Christian, with its clock tower on top, is a famous landmark from the 17th century, and was named after King Christian V. This building has served as the Governor’s house, a church, prison, and police station. Today, it is a National Historic Site under renovation. Charlotte Amalie was first inhibited by migrating Indian tribes from South America, 3000 years before Columbus discovered it in 1493. St. Thomas was a haven for buccaneers, though tourists have replaced pirates, today.
The History of Charlotte Amalie
At the turn of the 18th century, St. Thomas had become the base for Caribbean legendary pirates, including Black Beard and Captain Kidd. For a small fee, you can visit Blackbeard’s Castle. The United States first realized the Virgin Islands’ strategic and important location during the Civil War and wanted to purchase it. No no deal was struck until WWI, when they paid $25 million dollars for ownership. St. Thomas is 13 miles long, 4 miles wide, and maintains a 73-89 degree temperature year round.
Magen’s Bay is stunning! Its white sand beaches are often photographed, especially from the top of Flag Hill. To get there, take the sky ride to Paradise Point, a seven minute ride. Magen’s Bay is continually voted one of the top ten beaches in the world by National Geographic Magazine.
Conveniently enough, St. Thomas’ main street for shopping is “Main Street”. Long stretches of arcade style shopping are the backdrop for the amazing jewelry stores. Nice shopping locations lie on the waterfront, as well. St. Thomas is known for its expensive perfumes and diamonds. My favorite exquisite jewelry store is Little Switzerland, with other locations in Barbados, St. John, and Key West.
FYI: St. Thomas’ local cuisine include Johnnycakes, beans, rice, grouper, red snapper, passion fruit, and guava.
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