Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Published 2022/08/01

St. Thomas is one of the three US Virgin Islands.

It’s an island that perfectly combines natural beauty with a chic and sophisticated vibe.

The 32-square-mile island has two cruise ports, Havensight and Crown Bay, located in the south near Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the US Virgin Islands.

Visit St. Thomas for the glistening bays, white beaches, breathtaking peaks, rolling hills, great dining spots, and lively nightlife.

You’ll also enjoy duty-free shopping, and an ideal year-round climate year-round.

Here are the best things to do in St. Thomas to get you started on your well-deserved vacation.

Take a Splash at Magens Bay Beach

Aerial view of Magens Bay Beach

SCStock /

Magens (pronounced “May-gens”) Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the US Virgin Islands.

Located on the north side of St. Thomas, Magens Bay Beach lies between lush green peninsulas that protect the shores from big waves and erosion.

This mile-long white beach is ideal for swimming.

The waters of Magens Bay Beach

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The calm waters of Magens Bay Beach are also perfect for paddle boarding or kayaking.

Mountains roll right down to the beach, adding to a picture-perfect scenery.

After enjoying the sun, refuel at the concession area offering various food options, or grab a cold beer at the full-service bar.

Sunny day at Magens Bay Beach

Jennifer Stanford /

Explore Marine Habitats at Coral World Ocean Park

A sea turtle at Coral World Ocean Park

Malachi Jacobs /

Experience the beauty of St. Thomas marine life at the Coral World Ocean Park.

The five-acre Coral World Ocean Park features fun and exciting activities, including exotic marine exhibits and nature trails.

You’ll even encounter sea lions, dolphins, and sharks.

Get up close and personal with the vibrant coral reef creatures when you go on a guided trek of the ocean floor.

Moreover, you don’t even need specialized training.

View of Coral World Ocean Park's tower

Gruepig, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you prefer not to get wet but still want that unique underwater experience, explore the Undersea Observatory.

You’ll go down 15 feet into the water to see a thriving natural coral reef and its marine life.

Since 1977, the Coral World Ocean Park has promoted reef conservation, research, and education.

Explore Restaurants and Bars in Frenchtown

Just outside of Charlotte Amalie is Frenchtown, another thriving center to explore for dining.

In the late 1800s, a French group of immigrants from St. Barthelemy, a French Caribbean island, settled this area in St. Thomas.

Their settlement evolved into a fishing village supplying fresh seafood to the local community.

For a lovely dinner, choose from the restaurants offering an elegant yet relaxing atmosphere for incredible local food and exceptional wine.

Also known as Carénage, Frenchtown is lively at night, with bars and other nightspots within walking distance.

Take the Skyride to Paradise Point

Daytime view of Skyride to Paradise Point

SCStock /

The Skyride to Paradise Point is one St. Thomas attraction you shouldn’t miss.

This seven-minute tram ride will take you from the bustling Havensight to the sky above Charlotte Amalie.

You’ll reach 700 feet in the air, showing you a scenic view of the boats in the harbor and the neighboring islands.

After taking photos of the gorgeous harbor scene, grab a frozen treat or have a light meal at the restaurant.

Scenic view of Skyride to Paradise Point

Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view from Los Angeles, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is also a shopping deck, so check out the shops for locally made items such as clothing and art pieces.

Skyride to Paradise Point is an ideal St. Thomas experience, whether you only have a few hours or a day for sightseeing.

Stroll around the Charlotte Amalie Historic District

Fort Christian at Charlotte Amalia Historic District

Martin Lie, Trondheim, Norge/Norway, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

St. Thomas is not only a tropical paradise but also a historical center.

Walk around the Charlotte Amalie Historic Districtand learn about its rich past through sites and structures that represent its history.

Visit notable features of the district such as the Emancipation Garden and Fort Christian, a National Historic Landmark with an art gallery.

The place contains exhibits on the history of the Virgin Islands since the Stone Age, natural history, and the Danish period furniture collection.

A street at Charlotte Amalia Historic District

MARELBU, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in 1672 and named after the queen of Denmark, Charlotte Amalie is the first permanent European settlement on St. Thomas Island.

After the Americans acquired the island, the town’s name went from Charlotte Amalia to Charlotte Amalie due to a misspelling.

Post office at Charlotte Amalia Historic District

Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tour Hop Alley with Frenchtown Brewing Company

If you love craft beer, you should visit the local brewery in St. Thomas, located in Frenchtown’s Hop Alley.

Since 2015, the Frenchtown Brewing Company has offered a Brewery Tour & Tasting, scheduled and personal.

The company brews in small batches and offers it on tap only.

But if you want to have some brew, you can get their growler that they’ll fill with fresh beer.

You can even bring it back for refills if you visit again.

However, if your schedule is too tight for a visit, don’t worry.

You can still try some Frenchtown Brewing Company beers on tap at various establishments across St. Thomas.

Swim with the Wildlife at Coki Beach

Scenic view of Coki Beach

Jennifer Stanford /

Right next to Coral World Ocean Park is Coki Beach.

Check out this excellent spot for snorkeling if you’re in the area.

While this beach is relatively small, the clear waters of Coki Beach make it the perfect site to see the rich ocean lifein St. Thomas.

A cafe at Coki Beach

byvalet /

Snorkeling here lets you swim among sea turtles and tropical fish or marvel at the colorful corals without diving into the ocean’s deep end.

Apply an eco-friendly sunscreen before hitting the waters to protect yourself from the sun.

People consider Coki Beach the best in St. Thomas, so it can sometimes get crowded.

Get there early to avoid the rush of other tourists.

Flame box crab in Coki Beach

David Samuel /

Enjoy a Night Out along the Charlotte Amalie Waterfront

Buildings at Charlotte Amalie Waterfront

Gruepig, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

St. Thomas isn’t just for daytime fun.

Recharge and continue living the island life as you experience the Virginia Islands’ capital, Charlotte Amalie, at night.

The Charlotte Amalie Waterfront provides many options for great dining and entertainment.

Enjoy the marina as you pick from succulent lobsters, freshly caught fish cooked island-style, and good old classic ribs and steak.

The cuisine of St. Thomas ranges from Caribbean continental to Mexican.

There’ll be a lot of options to satisfy your dinner cravings.

Explore the Island with St. Thomas Adventure Tours

Touring the island is a memorable way to experience the natural beauty of St. Thomas.

St. Thomas offers various tours.

If you want to explore two beach areas simultaneously, join the five-hour kayak and snorkel eco-tour with St. Thomas Adventure Tours.

This guided tour is perfect for beginners as it includes lessons and doesn’t require experience.

From Lindbergh Bay Beach to Honeymoon Beach, you’ll snorkel in a sea turtle habitat and then paddle to a coral reef teeming with marine life, including octopuses and stingrays.

After hours of enjoying marine life, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous lunch.

You can even enjoy their underwater photography service to document your stay in the pristine waters of St. Thomas.

Wander the island with St. Thomas Adventure Tours!

Dive into Spectacular Underwater Sites

Scuba divers preparing at St Thomas

byvalet /

Sitting in the heart of the Caribbean, St. Thomas is a diver’s paradise.

It features plenty of dive sites with various terrain and natural underwater structures perfect for your underwater photos.

Several dive centers in St. Thomas can cater to your diving needs, whether you’re a new diver or an already experienced one.

On the north side of St. Thomas is the Carvel Rock site, where you can swim up the nearly vertical walls of an underwater canyon.

Scenic underwater view at cow rock


Congo Cay is also on the north side, which is excellent for watching large schools of silversides, stingrays in the sand, and even bottlenose dolphins.

On the south side is Cow Rock, where you can see critters residing in a series of swim-throughs.

There are also several wrecks in the waters of St. Thomas, perfect for divers and history buffs.

Sponge seascape at St Thomas

David Samuel /

Enjoy Duty-Free Shopping at Havensight

Signage of Havensight

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US residents have a duty-free allowance for goods bought in the US Virgin Islands; you might want to fill your shopping bags there.

If you’re looking for a convenient place to shop, visit the Havensight Mall on the cruise ship dock.

This mall contains all the major retailers, well-stocked with goods like downtown shops.

Walk a few minutes from Havensight Mall, and you’ll find shops at the Yacht Haven Grande.

This place is a leading shopping site in St. Thomas known for its upscale and charming local shops.

Check the duty-free allowance and keep the receipts for your purchases to ensure a hassle-free customs experience when returning to the US.

Explore the Downtown Shopping District

If you’re in downtown Charlotte Amalie and up for some retail therapy, explore the shops in the Downtown Shopping District.

The Downtown Shopping District in Charlotte Amalie is a famous shopping site in the Caribbean.

Both sides of Main Street feature shops offering duty-free bargains, starting at Post Office Square.

From jewelry, watches, and perfume to liquor and tobacco, these streets are a haven for those looking to maximize duty-free shopping.

Shopping in the district is also a sightseeing tour, as the shops are inside quaint buildings.

Go Up the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie

Daytime view of 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie

Steve Heap /

Vacations don’t just involve lounging around on the beach; you need to stretch your legs from time to time.

Get your exercise in St. Thomas by climbing the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie.

The Danes built these famous steps in the mid-1700s from ballast bricks of Danish ships to help them navigate the hilly parts of the harbor area.

You can find many of these step streets around Charlotte Amalie.

If you have the energy to climb all 99 steps, your reward is a scenic view of the Caribbean at the top.

View of 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie

Nenad Basic /

Don’t worry.

The way up is also great for photos with the lush greens and colorful flowers adorning the steps’ sides.

If you enjoy this, you can walk other step-streets in the area to see some more Danish colonial architecture.

Join the Virgin Islands Carnival at St. Thomas

If you dock at St. Thomas in April, you can join several weeks of awesome carnival fun.

Celebrated from mid-April to the beginning of May, the annual Virgin Islands Carnival is one of the most popular festivals in the Caribbean.

Join the festivities and immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant history and culture.

Enjoy savory food, captivating music and dance, and spectacular masquerade parades.

The Carnival at St. Thomas started in 1912, but it only became an annual event in 1952.

If your idea of island fun is partying in a tropical paradise, the Carnival in St. Thomas is the perfect experience.

Take Breathtaking Photos at Drake’s Seat

Scenic view from Drake’s Seat

Konstantin L /

Prepare your camera for some magnificent photos of the beautiful Magens Bay at Drake’s Seat.

Drake’s Seat offers an excellent spot for stunning views of the bay and neighboring islands.

It’s also one of the most famous lookouts in St. Thomas.

Local stories say the famous English explorer Sir Francis Drake used this spot as his lookout, inspiring the name.

This quick stop will have you admiring the calm turquoise waters of Magens Bay and marveling at the natural beauty of St. Thomas.

Strike a romantic pose with your partner, or get a family photo with Magens Bay in the background.

Grab the perfect St. Thomas photo souvenir at Drake’s Seat!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit Historical Structures at Hassle Island

Ruins of a refinery at Hassle Island

quiggyt4 /

Visit the historic Hassle Island and explore the history and culture of St. Thomas.

This island is also 14 minutes away from St. Thomas.

Once known as “Orkenhullet,” Hassle Island is at the western edge of Charlotte Amalie.

From the harbor, you’ll take a short boat ride to transport you to the 135-acre island.

In the south of the island, you can visit the Cowell’s Battery and Signal Station, built in 1801 to fortify Hassle Island.

Aerial view of Hassle Island's water

Smallbones, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cowell’s Battery and Signal Station sits at the highest point on Hassle Island, so wear good shoes and sunscreen and bring water to explore this landmark comfortably.

You can also visit Prince Frederick’s Battery at the southeast end.

Built in 1778, this structure guards the entrance to the harbor, another example of the military importance of Hassle Island.

Final Thoughts

Even though it’s mainly an island destination, St. Thomas also has the perfect cosmopolitan atmosphere.

What are the best things to do in St. Thomas?

You can try lounging at the beach, taking in the richness of underwater life, and savoring Caribbean cuisine.

Likewise, try learning about the island’s history and culture.

Book your St. Thomas trip today!

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