This month D. G. Kaye takes us to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. A beautiful island with crystal blue seas.. as you will discover from our travel correspondent.
Welcome to this month’s edition of my Travel Column at Smorgasbord Travel Magazine. This month we’re visiting the beautiful island of St. Thomas – one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
St. Thomas is one of the trio of islands that make up the U.S Virgin Islands along with St. Croix and St. John. The capital city of St. Thomas is Charlotte Amalie, boasting a population on that island of over 52,000 people and a land mass of approximately 32 square miles. St. Thomas has almost 50% more population than the other two islands.
Christopher Columbus discovered the island back in 1493, and the Ciboney people were the first to inhabit the island. In 1666 Denmark and Norway conquered the island and by 1672 the island was run by the Dano-Norwegian chartered company, taking over the island and dividing the land into sugar cane plantations, resulting in the importing of slaves to tend the plantations. Some of the largest slave auctions in the world were held in St. Thomas.
In 1691 the primary settlement on the island was renamed after King Christian V’s wife, Charlotte Amalie. The island was later declared a free post by Fredrick V, son of Christian VI of Denmark. The term, ‘free post’ was used to determine light taxation, and often no taxes at all were placed on companies and their goods to stimulate economic activity.
In March of 1801, the British invaded the Danish West Indies and took over the island, until returning the islands back to Denmark-Norway in 1802. A second invasion by the British again in 1807, lasting till 1815 when once again, the island was returned to Denmark-Norway.
Sugar trading had made the island prosperous until the 19th century when too much damage from hurricanes past and drought had brought lots of competition from American sugar traders. By the time the Danish revolution began in 1848, slavery was abolished which left the island with escalating labor costs, diminishing sugar production. By 1917 the islands were poorly managed, and the U.S. eventually purchased St. Thomas and it’s two sister islands for a cool 25 million dollars in gold in efforts to keep control of the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during World War I. By 1927, the U.S. had begun granting citizenship to the island’s residents.
Courtesy of Paradise-Islands.org
As with most islands, the beautiful Caribbean climate in St. Thomas runs steady throughout the year with average highs anywhere from the mid-eighties to low nineties. Average lows typically hover around the mid-seventies. Lowest precipitation levels run February through June. And of course, as all islands’ danger, hurricane season. Where Irma devasted this island in 2017.
St. Thomas has many natural bays and harbors and is known for some of its beautiful beaches. Magens Bay, a heart-shaped protected bay, is one of the most popular white sandy beach beaches with a mile long of gorgeous public parkland offering an array of water sport rental equipment, food stands and beach chairs. Other beaches are located on Great Bay, Jersey Bay, Long Bay, Fortuna Bay, and Hendrik Bay. All beaches are gorgeous with their turquoise, calm waters where one can scuba dive, snorkel, sea trek at Coral World or swim with the sea turtles, sea lions and sharks!
A look at beautiful St.Thomas where the cruise ships dock. As you can see, once off the ship pier and through the gates you will see the shopping terminals at Havensight Mall – the rows of buildings with red rooves.
Plenty of land activities are available on the island too. From fly fishing, to tropical botanical gardens, helicopter rides, skydiving, distilleries, hiking, biking, golfing and museums – not to mention shopping, there is plenty to see and do on the island.
Cruise ships dock in Long Bay at Havensight Pier, a short cab ride away from Charlotte Amalie.
There are plenty of taxis and covered safari-like trucks that offer rides around the island.
Ferry services are available to transport people from the island to neighboring islands as well. There is also a ferry which will transport people with their cars.
Inherited from Danish practice, the U.S. Virgin Islands kept the driving laws of driving on the left side of the road, the only American places where driving on the left is practiced. This may seem a bit awkward to some, but many of the cars driven on the island are imported from America where the steering wheels are also on the left side.
Virgin Island Carnival is celebrated from mid-April through beginning of May. This became an annual event since 1952. With music and dancing and savory cuisine, V.I. Carnival is the second most popularly celebrated carnival in the Caribbean.
You will find a plethora of restaurants and exotic cuisine available on the island. There is something for everyone from American food to West Indian food, Chinese, Italian. Vegetarian, Caribbean, Asian. Cajun, Latin, Mexican, and more!
St. Thomas is a duty-free island, and barely a person escapes leaving the island without purchasing something to take home with them. Particular items of interest with 30 – 60% off retail prices, plus, no tax are: liquor, perfume, jewelry, tobacco, cameras, crystal, china and electronics – oh, did I mention jewelry?
The best places to shop for these deals are right in the Havensight Mall terminals, a massive outdoor mall lined with rows of store after store – many of them selling jewelry! Havensight Mall is conveniently located as you step off your cruise ship! You will also find fun shopping in downtown Charlotte Amalie, Crown Bay, and Yacht Haven Grande on main street.
*St. Martin and St. Thomas are two of the best islands to shop on – in my opinion!
There are plenty of beautiful hotels, beach resorts, all inclusives and time-share rentals where one can stay when visiting St. Thomas. For more information and recommendations for accommodations and more, please visit THIS LINK to explore what this beautiful island has to offer.
I found this fabulous short video which captures the beauty of St. Thomas and her sister islands and all they have to offer. And yes, the color of the water looks exactly like pictured – sort of a tri-colored turquoise. Spectacular!
I’ve been to St. Thomas several times by cruise ship. And I’m not afraid to say I look forward to visiting there every time, if only just for the shopping.
The beauty of shopping there for anything your heart desires is that if you don’t feel like going into town after exiting the cruise ship, the Havensight Mall is right where the ships dock.
We usually travel on cruises with another couple, Lynn and Gary. Lynn is an even more compulsive shopper than I am. On our last visit to St. Thomas just over a year ago now, Lynn and I were excited to exit the ship and get our shopping on. We knew we could get our shopping done by lunchtime if we got off as soon as the ship docked around 8:00 am. We never even bothered wearing real clothes, we had our bathing suits on and threw on a coverup and flip flops and planned to power shop for about 4 hours and return to ship for lunch and sunbathing.
There is a huge wrought iron gate that passengers must walk through once off ship to enter the outdoor mall, and basically, the country. In order to pass through the gate, we have to walk past customs agents who man the gates, but only have to present our passports to them upon returning back to ship.
When Lynn and I were done shopping and walked up to the gate, Lynn discovered she’d left her passport in her cabin. Of course I had mine, I never exited the ship without it. We tried to joke around and cajole the customs officer manning the gate to allow Lynn to come back to ship with me, but he wasn’t having any of it! So Lynn had to wait on the other side of the gate while I boarded the ship and went up to the pool to find my husband and Gary sucking back beers in the sizzling sun, and informed Gary he had to go bail out his wife with her passport. He was not impressed, but I’d done my job and I wasn’t wasting another 20 minutes of glorious pool time by getting off the ship again and rescuing Lynn.
When she came back we laughed our heads off at what had transpired, ate some lunch, went for a swim, and since the ship wasn’t leaving port till early evening, decided we should go back to the mall in case there was something else we could find to spend money on. Husband’s were not impressed, and Lynn didn’t forget her passport again.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of my Travel Column. Have any of you ever been to St. Thomas?
Sally here: I have been to the island for one of the segments of the Anthony Robbins Mastery University course that David and I completed from 1996 to 1998. I had managed to lose 80lbs of my 150lb target and to celebrate climbed a telegraph pole, perched on the top and then jumped off to catch a trapeze. In reality most of us missed and plummeted to earth (or so it seemed). I insisted that there were two men on the end of the safety line.. thank goodness, I still managed to lift them off their feet. A beautiful island with crystal blue seas.. as you will discover from our travel correspondent.
©D.G. Kaye 2018
About D.G. Kaye
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.
Books by D.G. Kaye
One of the recent reviews for Words We Carry.
Once in a while you come across a book that really speaks to you. Reading ‘Words We Carry’ by D. G. Kaye was like having friends over for coffee and revealing our innermost secrets or speaking to your mentor about life and how to make it better. The author, who has natural psychology opened my eyes and made me ponder why I react the way I do to certain things or certain people. I enjoyed author, D.G. Kaye’s writing style––so friendly and warm. This book is well written and is easily one that can change someone’s life. I recommend this book to anyone who ever felt insecure, self-conscious or inadequate. An easy 5 star read.
Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
Connect to Debby Gies
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news of Debby’s travel column and we look forward to your questions and comments. Thanks Sally and Debby