Fort Christian - a top item in St. Thomas best things to see and do. (Courtesy of USVI Department of Tourism)

What makes St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands such a tourist magnet? In 2023, the island and the rest of the USVI saw a significant increase in tourism. The Caribbean tropical paradise attracted 2,688,000 visitors, with about 2,009,000 cruise passengers. The incredible things to see and do in St. Thomas help drive the tourism surge in the USVI.

This mountainous island, fringed by idyllic beaches, continues to gain popularity as an idyllic Caribbean vacation spot, particularly for honeymooners. St. Thomas is the Caribbean shopping capital, attracting thousands of visitors each year to buy goods duty-free. Plus, being a part of the United States means using the dollar and having easy access with a passport.

St. Thomas offers more! The weather here is pretty much perfect year-round. Think sunshine, warm trade winds, and balmy evenings. It’s ideal for sipping cocktails and enjoying dinner in a luxurious hotel or resort.

Discover all the attractions that this wondrous island has to offer below:

Natural Attractions | St. Thomas Things to See and Do

Beaches

St. Thomas boasts over 40 beaches, each offering something unique. Here are a few must-sees:

  • Magens Bay: This horseshoe-shaped beach on the north shore is a classic Caribbean dream. It boasts calm waters, soft white sand stretching for nearly a mile, and plenty of space for sunbathing.
  • Coki Point: Rent beach chairs and umbrellas, or grab a bite at one of the many beachfront restaurants here. The highlight? Excellent snorkeling right off the shore. Expect colorful fish, coral reefs, and even occasional sea turtles.
  • Sapphire Beach: This picture-perfect beach on the south side offers crystal-clear turquoise waters and calm conditions. Lounge on the pristine sand, rent kayaks for a scenic paddle, or try stand-up paddleboarding.

No matter which beach you choose, swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling are all top activities. Many beaches also offer rentals for water sports equipment like jet skis and paddleboards.

Marine Life

The underwater world around St. Thomas teems with incredible life. Dazzling coral reefs, colorful fish, playful dolphins, and stingrays gliding along the seafloor make it a snorkeler’s paradise! Beginners can explore the reefs off beaches, while experienced divers can head to deeper waters for shipwrecks.

Popular spots for diving and snorkeling include Buck Island Reef National Monument, a protected underwater wonderland. Coral World Ocean Park is another top attraction. Here, you can swim with dolphins and sharks (safely, in a controlled environment, of course!).

Parks and Reserves

Nature lovers won’t be disappointed. The Virgin Islands National Park, occupying nearly half of St. John Island, is accessible by ferry from St. Thomas. It boasts beautiful beaches and lush hiking trails through forests teeming with wildlife. It also houses historic sites like Annaberg Plantation, which has sugar mill ruins.

St. Thomas itself has nature reserves worth exploring. Lindqvist Beach, part of Smith Bay Park, offers a pristine beach and calm waters perfect for a relaxing afternoon. Keep an eye out for pelicans diving for fish – they’re quite the acrobats!

Historical Sites | St. Thomas Things to See and Do

St. Thomas boasts a rich history, evident in its many forts and plantations. Don’t miss these two fascinating sites:

Fort Christian

This imposing fort in Charlotte Amalie is the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands. Built by the Danes in the 17th century, Fort Christian was a critical defense point and government center for centuries. Walk the thick stone walls and imagine soldiers keeping watch or the governors holding court within these grounds.

Today, Fort Christian is a museum showcasing the island’s history through exhibits on Danish colonial life. It also features pre-Columbian artifacts and the fascinating story of pirates who once roamed these waters. Don’t miss the chance to climb the tower for panoramic views of the harbor and town.

Blackbeard’s Castle

This castle perched atop a hill overlooking Charlotte Amalie is steeped in legend. Whether or not the infamous pirate Blackbeard ever set foot here is debatable. However, there’s no denying the scenic views from the watchtower. Imagine pirates using this very spot to scan the horizon for approaching ships.

Climb the stone steps for a bird’s-eye view of the town, harbor, and surrounding islands. The watchtower is a fascinating piece of history, showing how these strategic outposts once functioned.

Shopping | St. Thomas Things to See and Do

St. Thomas is a shopper’s paradise, particularly for those who enjoy duty-free savings. Here’s what you can expect:

Downtown Charlotte Amalie

Get ready to wander through a maze of colorful streets lined with shops and boutiques. Jewelry stores are a major draw, offering everything from sparkling diamonds to locally crafted glass pieces. Techies will love the deals on electronics. You’ll appreciate the wide selection of liquor and tobacco at duty-free prices.

Don’t forget to look up – many stores are housed in beautifully preserved historic buildings, adding to the shopping experience.

Local Markets

For a taste of local culture and unique souvenirs, head to the bustling market squares. Friendly vendors sell everything from handmade crafts and colorful fabrics to local hot sauces and fruits here. These markets are great places to find unique gifts and support local artisans.

Remember to bring cash for some of the smaller vendors, and don’t be afraid to haggle for the best price – it’s expected!

Adventure Activities

St. Thomas also caters to thrill-seekers, offering various activities to get your adrenaline pumping:

Water Sports

Beyond the serene snorkeling and kayaking, St. Thomas offers options for a more high-octane experience. Buckle up for a jet ski ride, skimming across the turquoise waters and feeling the wind in your hair. Test your balance with stand-up paddleboarding, enjoying a unique perspective of the coastline while getting a workout.

For a breathtaking aerial view, try parasailing. Soar high above the island, taking in panoramic vistas of the beaches, bays, and surrounding islands.

No matter your preference, there’s a water sport waiting to make your Caribbean vacation unforgettable.

More importantly, charter a yacht for a fantastic vacation cruising the US and British Virgin Islands islands.

Hiking Trails

Lace up your hiking boots and explore the island’s natural beauty on foot. Virgin Islands National Park, accessible by ferry, boasts several well-maintained trails offering stunning views and diverse ecosystems.

The Bordeaux Mountain Trail is a moderate hike with rewarding panoramas of the north shore and surrounding islands. Keep an eye out for colorful birds and lush vegetation along the way.

For a more challenging trek, try the Lind Point Trail. This trail leads to a dramatic overlook and historic petroglyphs — ancient carvings left behind by indigenous people.

FAQs | St. Thomas Things to See and Do

Q1: What are the top attractions in St. Thomas?

St. Thomas is known for its beautiful beaches, historic sites, and vibrant local culture. The top attractions include Magens Bay Beach, Charlotte Amalie, Little Buck Island, and the Skyride to Paradise Point.

Q2: What water sports can I enjoy in St. Thomas?

The warm Caribbean waters of St. Thomas are perfect for water sports like sailing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.

Q3: What is the best way to explore St. Thomas?

We recommend renting a car to explore the island at your own pace. Taxis are also available, but having a vehicle allows for more flexibility.

Q4: Can I visit other islands from St. Thomas?

You can consider a day trip to nearby islands like St. John or St. Croix. Each island has its unique charm and attractions.

Q5: What is the best time to visit St. Thomas?

The best time to visit St. Thomas is from April to June when the weather is pleasant and the tourist crowds are smaller.

Q6: What are some unique experiences in St. Thomas?

These wow experiences include sailing on a catamaran to Little Buck Island. Consider also strolling through the historic streets of Charlotte Amalie and zip-lining through lush rainforests.

Set Sail for Yachting Bliss!

To elevate your St. Thomas experience, explore hidden coves, pristine beaches, and neighboring islands aboard a private yacht. Charter the Caribbean, part of the CKIM Group, specializes in creating luxurious crewed yacht vacations in the region. Contact us today for a memorable Caribbean holiday.

To plan your travel to St. Thomas, contact ILX Travel, our sister company. Let their expert travel planners help you craft the perfect itinerary.