Our first stop on our Carnival Cruise was on the island of St Thomas on the US Virgin Islands. We were excited to spend some more time on this island.
What you will learn: In this quick guide, you will learn about things you can do in a day on St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. This is perfect if you are on a cruise ship stop or if you are staying for longer. You will also find information about the best family resorts in the US Virgin Islands if you are staying longer.
St Thomas is a very popular stop on Caribbean cruises, and there are many “shore tours” to choose from. Mostly, they are about beaches and shopping which are not our things. They are all quite pricey. If this is your thing, you can do one of these tours or there are many taxis waiting at the cruise ships to take you wherever you want. There are also many boat tours with activities like snorkeling. You can read our experiences of doing this in our post Virgins and Catamarans .
This is our recommendation of things to do in the US Virgin Islands in a day. We had a $50 budget. You can do all this easily in a day. We had lunch back on the ship in the middle of the day and waited for Z to have a nap before venturing out again and still fit it all in.
This conveniently starts from opposite the cruise ship terminal in Havensight. It is a 700 foot gondola ride up Flag Hill to a scenic viewing point. This brief ride and time at the top was a nice way to spend an hour. At the top, there is obviously the views as well as many shops, a bar and restaurant. There is also an amusing parrot show with parrots playing basketball and riding bikes among other tricks. The show charmed S.
I could have easily spent longer at the top, but S was unfortunately ready to go down again as soon as we arrived, so it was only a brief look around, some photos and the parrot show before we were back down.
I had read that there were lots of stairs at this attraction, but there was just a flight to walk up at the beginning and a couple of flights at the top if you want to walk around everything.
It costs $20 each on the ship with our kids free. It costs slightly more to buy tickets yourself at the skyride. I thought this was overpriced as it was short and there wasn’t really anything to do at the top except spend more money. It was a pleasant thing to do in the US Virgin Islands and we did enjoy the views.
The capital of St Thomas, Charlotte Amalie, is about a mile from the cruise ship terminal in Havenport. It looked like a pretty place from the cruise ship and we were excited to have a look around. We tried to go on our last visit, but it was so hot and took us longer to walk there than expected so by the time we got there, we had to walk back again for our tour. This time it was definitely on our list of things to do in the US Virgin Islands.
To get to Charlotte Amalie, you can catch what they call a taxi, but they are closer to mini buses. These are a ridiculous price. For the US$6 a person we were quoted, we were happy to walk the mile. It was a beautiful day and a decent walk is nice after being in the ship for a couple of days, especially a pleasant one by the water. However, it would have been too far for S to walk. She had decided to go to the kids club rather than come with us.
We were soon in downtown Charlotte Amalie. It is surprisingly charming and has some beautiful alley ways. I liked it far more than I expected. However, there isn’t much there other than shops and nothing I would call a “must see” attraction. We had some print outs from our Caribbean guide book and walked past places recommended such as Fort Christian, Federik Lutheran Church, Government House and Emancipation Garden. They were underwhelming, but we are definitely glad we made the effort to check out this pretty town.
You can walk for a mile into Charlotte Amalie or catch a taxi from US$4 (this price seemed to vary and I think you might have been lucky to get this official rate.
These shopping areas are at the cruise ship terminal, so they are an easy thing to do in the US Virgin Islands if you do not wish to go far. We are not shoppers, so I can’t comment on the shopping aspect. However, the Yacht Haven Grande complex definitely seemed like a nice place to get off the ship and have a little walk and maybe a drink.
There were a lot of people at Havensight Mall hassling cruise ship passengers to go different places or buy certain things, and it turned me off spending much time here. You can read more about this area here.
For a longer stay, there are some beautiful options. We recommend that you use HotelsCombined to find the best accommodation deal – it combines all the hotel booking sites in one place so you can easily find the cheapest price. Here are our top choices!
This Marriott resort is perfect for families and located not far from Charlotte Amalie. It has a breathtaking position on top of cliffs surrounded by the Caribbean. There are multiple pools, including a large infinity pool, and lots of other facilities to keep your kids happy including kids splash zone, water sports and baby sitting.
Also located on St Thomas is one of the best family resorts in the US Virgin Islands – Dreams Sugar Bay. This place is amazing for kids with great pools, great supervised kids’ activities and snorkeling right off the beach. There is also an all inclusive option.
Our budget for each shore day is $50. We spent $43 for our day in St Thomas, the $3 was courtesy of a beer in Charlotte Amalie.
All in all, we enjoyed our stop in St Thomas. It is definitely a low key destination, but it is nice and easy to get out there with your kids and enjoy what it has to offer in a day.
You can also read about our Caribbean cruise stops in the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Antigua, as well as our experiences taking a Caribbean cruise with young kids and our overall thoughts about our Carnival Freedom Caribbean cruise.
What would you add to this list of things to do in the US Virgin Islands?
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