Friday, April 8, 2011

Visiting the US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas

St. Thomas Harbor: Daily cruise ship arrivals & sailboats
We have decided the sailing is definitely better in the British Virgin Islands as there are many more favorable anchorages and more islands to explore. However, Dennis has always wanted to sail into the St. Thomas harbor, so we did! He spent many vacations on St. Thomas (BS: Before Sherry) and had always been on land looking out. This time we anchored in the harbor for three nights - and looked inward!

Of course, St. Thomas is known for its duty free shopping and hundreds of jewelry stores with shopkeepers urging you to come into their shops. We watched huge cruise ships come and go daily - several each day - as they maneuvered among the sailboats that were anchored in the harbor. Personally, we chose not to anchor too close to them. It is a matter of size: when you are the little guy, don't irritate the big guy! S/V Trillium is one of those sailboats in the photo on the far right side. Certainly no challenge to the big cruise ships!
Magen's Bay, St. Thomas, US VI
We took a tour of the island to see how it has changed over the past twenty plus years. I got to see the other famous bays and beaches: Magen's Bay, Sapphire and Coki Beaches. We have stayed at Red Hook harbor and Secret Harbor resort so I was familiar with that area.

Dennis wants to sail into Magen's Bay next year.
Many of the bays are guarded by coral reefs and make entry very challenging. Magen's Bay in not recommended for overnight anchoring due to northerly surges. But it sure is beautiful! And I am sure we will explore there soon - when the weather is favorable.

Cemetery on St. Thomas
On our land tour, we saw a variety of living areas. The roads are narrow and very steep and winding. And they drive on the other side of the road even though it is a US territory.

Also typical of countries at or below sea level, the cemeteries are above ground. There is a very large one on St. Thomas.

Like many of the resort islands, the local people do not live as well as the tourists and vacation property owners. There are beautiful homes all over the side of the mountain with fabulous views. They may belong to some of the shop owners, but I doubt that the native islanders live in them.

We saw a community where most of them live some distance from the main harbor area. The most profitable business for the local people is driving taxis. They shuttle people from the cruise ships to the downtown and back and they are highly competitive - always trying to get you to ride in their vehicle.

Abandoned house in the harbor area
We have a couple of favorite restaurants in St. Thomas. Hook, Line & Sinker in Frenchtown has always been on the list, although this time the service of not very good. We have decided maybe we like it best when we are on land and want to eat next to the water. When we are on the water everyday, that did not seem as enchanting!

Some of the others are in Palm Passage and beyond the park. We like to browse in the vendor tents near the waterfront. You can't beat the prices on tee shirts if you looking for gifts. But you do have to put up with the vendors pushing their goods at you!
Hook, Line & Sinker in Frenchtown, St. Thomas, US VI

We enjoyed the frozen drinks at The Green House overlooking the water in the downtown area. Bushwacker is my favorite. Also a Mango Pina Colada is high on my list, too. One has to be careful of those frozen island beverages as they can really sneak up on you on a hot, sunny day!

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