St. Thomas, located about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico, is the second-largest U.S. Virgin Island. When cruise ships slip into dock (up to 11 at a time!), the narrow streets look as though pillaging pirates have truly found where X marks the spot. (Don’t worry: When frenzied spending starts to weigh heavy on your conscience, you can cleanse yourself in the quiet and regal natural beauty of nearby St. John, just a short ferry ride away.) Also ready for exploring are a variety of excellent restaurants, champagne-hued beaches, and colorful sightseeing beneath the sea.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
- Entry requirements: Passport, or photo I.D. and original birth certificate
- Language: English
- Currency: U.S. dollars
- Flight time: 3 1/2 hours from NYC; 11 hours from Los Angeles; 8 hours from Chicago; 7 hours from Dallas
- Getting around: Taxi, bus, rental car (keep left!), ferry
When To Go: St. Thomas at its best
- Best weather: February to August. Year-round temperatures range from 69 (winter evenings) to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy season runs from September to January.
- Best prices: Mid-April to mid-December; exact dates vary by hotel. Hurricane season swirls from June to November (September is trickiest).
What To Do
- Stroll on sugary beaches: Magens Bay, once named one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic, is the island’s most famous stretch of sand. (Be sure to stop in at nearby Udder Delight, where you can buy a Cruzan rum-splashed milk shake.) Coki Beach, Sapphire Beach, and Morning Star Beach are also alluring escapes.
- Golf: The recently renovated, George and Tom Fazio-designed, 18-hole Mahogany Run Golf Course boasts a distracting view of the islands and a tricky 3-hole “Devil’s Triangle” in which you must clear a slice of Caribbean Sea that lies between the green and your tee. Call (800) 253-7103 to make reservations.
- Explore underwater: Divers and non-divers alike will love the aquatic sights off St. Thomas. Those who prefer to stay dry can sightsee in the Undersea Observatory or at one of many aquariums and pools — where you can also pet stingrays and sharks. Certified divers will revel in the island’s many wrecks — including the Cartanser Sr., a World War II cargo ship, and the Major General Rogers, an intentionally sunk Coast Guard ship with a resident barracuda — and reef-encrusted tunnels at Thatch, Grass, and Congo Cays.
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