St. Thomas has Long Been a Favorite Destination for Visitors from Around the World.
Thousands of vacationers, many of them repeat visitors, make the island their home away from home each year.
Beautiful beaches, fabulous shopping, premier accommodations and a rich culture and history all help to make this capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands the perfect place to visit. Try Caribbean Tour Services a U.S. Virgin Islands full-service destination management company that provides groups visiting the islands with creative itineraries and comprehensive management of logistics based on an in-depth understanding of the industry and the islands.
Ever since Columbus discovered the Virgin Islands during his second voyage to the New World in 1493, they have proved to be an irresistible lure for more foreign powers than any other territory: The flags of Spain, France, England, Holland, Denmark and the United States have flown over these islands. The first successful colonization attempt commenced officially in 1666, when the Danes took possession of St. Thomas.
In 1674, four houses/taverns taverns were built along the waterfront to the west of Fort Christian-until then the only structure built on the coastline of the mostly agricultural colony. These taverns were so popular with the early settlers and the rough-and-tumble seamen who called at St. Thomas that the tiny settlement became known as Taphus, or Beer Hall. The name remained in use until 1691, when the town was renamed Charlotte Amalie (Ah-MAHL-yah) in honor of the wife of King Christian V.
During that time, two industries flourished on the island-the slave trade and piracy, which provided the economy with the boost it needed to develop and grow. By the 1700s, piracy gave way to legitimate trade, with prosperous merchants replacing buccaneers along the streets of Charlotte Amalie. In 1764, St. Thomas was declared a free port, and by 1800, it was the trading center of the West Indies.
There's always a welcome place to explore on St. Thomas
The next few years saw the island's fortunes decline due to a combination of natural and political troubles. Fires repeatedly burned down the town of Charlotte Amalie in the first two decades of the century. Trade embargoes, rising competition from the beet-sugar trade and the abolition of the slave trade in the early 1800s all had an impact on the Virgin Islands' economy.
By 1900, due in part to the end of slavery in 1848 and to the development of steamer ships capable of longer journeys without stopovers, St. Thomas' economy no longer held the prominence it enjoyed just a century before, Then in 1917, during World War 1, the United States bought the Virgin Islands for a total of $25 million in gold. Prosperity returned to the U.S.V.I. after World War 11, primarily because of the islands' free-port status and the general increase in air and sea travel. In the late 1950s, when Cuba was closed as a port to American travelers, St. Thomas moved into a new position of importance as a preeminent tourist mecca.
St. Thomas Activities
No visit to St. Thomas would be complete without exploring Charlotte Amalie. Fascinating architecture, beautiful houses of worship and intriguing museums are just some of the things to discover while walking through its narrow streets. Fort Christian, located right on the waterfront in downtown Charlotte Amalie, is the oldest building still in use on the island, dating back to the 1670s. Used as a fort, a courthouse, a police station and a jail, the building now houses the largest historical museum in the Virgin Islands. If you can make the climb up the towns famous 99 Steps, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the harbor. The St. Thomas Synagogue is definitely worth a visit regardless of your faith.
Once an 18th-century Danish artisan's home, The Seven Arches Museum has been lovingly converted by its owners. Named for the seven arches that support its 11 welcoming arms" staircase, the little museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the people that lived there. The time sherbet-hued Legislature Building, with its impressive Danish architecture, played an important part in the islands history it was the site of the ceremonies transferring ownership of the Danish Virgin Islands to the United States in 1917.
Around the island, you'll find a multitude of activities that will make your stay even more memorable. Take in breathtaking views from such places as MountainTop, Drake's Seat and Paradise Point. Amaze yourself with St. Thomas' natural wonders, on land at the St. Peter Greathouse and Botanical Garden, and under the sea at Coral World, the islands unique underwater aquarium. Tillet Gardens is the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Coral World Map
Embark on the treasure hunt of a lifetime with the fabulous shopping on St. Thomas. Whether you shop the historic streets of downtown or check out Havensight Mall, there's no limit to the bargains you can find on brand-name, quality merchandise. A $1,200 duty-free allowance for U.S. citizens makes shopping a must, and with the selection of fine jewelry, liquor, perfume, artwork, linen, clothing, crafts and more, you'll 11 want to get something for everyone on your list -- especially yourself!
The sports enthusiast can enjoy a myriad of adventures on land and sea on St. Thomas, Golfers can tee up at Mahogany Run, named one of the top 18 golf courses in the Caribbean by Caribbean Travel and Life magazine. Active visitors and sun worshipers alike will flock to St. Thomas' 40 beaches for sport fishing, yachting, boat racing, parasailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, jet skiing or heavy-duty sunbathing.
Fascinating architecture, beautiful houses of worship and intriguing museums are just some of the things to discover while walking through Charlotte Amalie.
Mariners will appreciate the massive charter yacht fleet on St. Thomas, where for the price of a hotel room you can experience a luxurious high-seas adventure complete with gourmet meals and beverages, water-sports equipment and more.
Die-hard revelers won't want to miss St. Thomas during the month of April, when the island celebrates Carnival. Spectacular parades, fireworks, calypso contests, dance competitions, Mocko Jumbies and nonstop eating, drinking and dancing in the streets highlight one of the best-known celebrations in the Caribbean.
St. Thomas Accommodations
Whatever your preference, St. Thomas has the perfect getaway just for you. With more than 3,000 rooms available ranging from luxury oceanfront suites to intimate hillside cottages, the possibilities are almost endless, and you can be sure that there's always a great place to stay. (handicapped accessible hotel list).
Besides crystal-blue waters filled with colorful marine life, St. Thomas' beaches boast some of the finest luxury resorts in the world. Incredible views, fabulous dining and every amenity imaginable are the hallmarks of these legendary properties-and all make for the vacation of a lifetime.
Lovers of culture, nightlife and bargains will want to consider the historic hotels of Charlotte Amalie. The latest in amenities, along with a unique glimpse into the islands history, are often part of the package, along with dramatic views of Charlotte Amalie Harbor. Proximity to shopping and nightlife, as well as the availability of meeting space for large groups, are also advantages to this type of accommodation.
Want all the comforts of home while you're away? The villas and cottages of St. Thomas provide the ultimate in privacy arid casual to luxurious living for just the two of you, the whole family or even a group of your friends-all in a beautiful tropical setting.