Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a popular entry point to the Caribbean, especially since the English-speaking islands use the American dollar. With its easy navigability and extensive shopping, St. Thomas is on pretty much every itinerary of the region, including Panama Canal cruises. Ships dock right at the center of the hubbub in Charlotte Amalie, packed with shops and restaurants. First-timers will find much to do in town, and the variety of activities around the island will entertain repeat visitors.
What We Love
Paradise Point: Hop on a gondola right at the port and whiz up to the aptly named mountaintop for panoramic town and water views. Kick back with a frothy piña colada and take in the endless vista.
St. John: Catch a 30-minute ferry ride to this laid-back sister island. Cruz Bay, the main town, is a barefoot version of bustling Charlotte Amalie, and Trunk Bay is a spectacular snorkeling spot. Hiking is another top activity — the majority of the island is a protected national park.
Best Known For
Shopping: The U.S. Virgin Islands' largest city, Charlotte Amalie is a duty-free shopping bonanza. Stroll the enchanting streets in search of big-name deals. For more authentic offerings, check out the handicraft stalls at Market Square.
Magens Bay: Considered one of the world’s most beautiful strands, the mile-long beach is in a park area with wetlands, mangroves, and coconut groves. Amenities include lifeguards, changing centers, hiking trails, and kayak rentals.
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Who It's Best For
Everyone: There's a good reason why this is the first stop (and embarkation point) on nearly every itinerary in the region. You'll find beautiful beaches, restaurants for every taste, shopping, wildlife viewing, and active adventures for every fitness level.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Expect Company: More than 1.5 million passengers stop in port every year. Translation: Expect long lines, crowded restaurants, and a difficult time ferreting deals for shopping or excursions.
Jenna Mahoney is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Allure.