Looking for things to do in St. Thomas during a cruise? Below we listed our top picks for the best things to do on this island of paradise.
St. Thomas is one of the most popular cruise ports in the world. Located near the British Virgin Islands, it’s usually featured on most 7 night cruise itineraries to the Eastern Caribbean. There is something for all ages in St. Thomas and here are a few options for you to choose from when you stop in port.
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Most cruises only let you visit St. Thomas for a day, so you’ll need to decide what you and your family wish to do to get the most out of your time there. With so many attractions and things to do, you may find yourself visiting again and again so you can take advantage of different attractions each time.
From sightseeing and duty-free shopping to history and gorgeous beaches, there’s something for everyone here. There are even attractions for adventure seekers and sea-life enthusiasts. No one will ever be able to say they’re bored on St. Thomas.
Below we’ve put together for you an exhaustive list of family-friendly activities and attractions to participate in while visiting St. Thomas. We suggest deciding on your choice of activity or attraction before your ship leaves port, so you can go directly to it upon arriving at St. Thomas.
St. Thomas is known for its duty free shopping and is the shopping mecca of the Caribbean. While there are many shops next to the cruise dock (especially in Havensight), the best shopping is in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
You can take a cab to downtown for $4 a person or you can choose to take an easy 20-30 minute walk (from Havensight) along the water to downtown. If your ship is docked in Crown Bay, you will want to take a cab. Main Street is lined with jewelry stores where you can have a fun time bartering to get yourself the best deal. There are a variety of restaurants and many locals will set up shop across from Fort Christian on days cruise ships are in port.
If you are looking for a nicer place to shop while in St. Thomas, head over to Yacht Haven Grande. If your ship is docked in Havensight, take a left when you disembark your ship and it will be a 5-10 minute walk from the pier. It is also a fun great place to look at the million dollar mega-yachts that are docked at the pier.
Visit St. John
St. John is also one of the U.S. Virgin Islands and is located just two miles of the coast of the east end of St. Thomas. Since 75% of the island is a national park, you will find an uncommercialized island of paradise.
The most popular beach to visit in St. John is Trunk Bay. This beautiful palm tree lined beach has an underwater snorkeling trail and an abundance of sea life. Trunk Bay can get crowded when several cruise ships are in port. If you are looking for a quieter beach, Cinnamon Bay is the largest beach in St. John and is located right down the road from Trunk Bay.
If you are looking for a amazing place to snorkel away from the mass of cruise passengers, head over to Waterlemon Cay. Since getting to Waterlemon Cay requires a 1 mile hike after you park at the ruins, it limits the number of people who visit the Cay. However, you are pretty much guaranteed to snorkel with wild sea turtles here.
You can book a St John Sail and Snorkel excursion here.
For a quiet beach, take the hike to Salomon Beach. This small 100 yard beach is a slice of pure paradise and you will usually just have to share it with just a handful of others. It is worth noting that there are no facilities at this beach.
Taking an island tour is a great way to learn the history of St. Thomas and stop for some breathtaking photo opportunities. Most island tours will stop on Mountain Top, a few scenic overlooks, take you to a beach, and a stop for shopping before returning to the ship.
Mountain Top is one of the highest points on St. Thomas and overlooks Magens Bay. There is a massive gift shop that offers excellent prices on clothes/souvenirs and is also the home of the world famous Banana Daiquiri.
Magens Bay has been named one of National Geographic’s top 10 beaches in the world. This mile long beach is the most popular beach in St. Thomas and is a $8 cab ride (each way) from the cruise port.
If you are looking for a beach day where you can just lay out and enjoy some sun, then this beach is perfect for you.
Paradise Point is located near the Havensight Pier and offers spectacular views of the island and of the cruise ships while they are in port. The Tramway to get to Paradise Point is a little pricey (around $21 a person for the 3 minute ride).
There are several shops on Paradise Point, a wedding gazebo, as well as a bird show. They are also home of the Baileys Bushwacker which are served in a tram shaped souvenir glass.
You will be hard pressed to find a wedding gazebo with better views than this in the world. Paradise Point reopens on February 15, 2018.
Coral World Ocean Park
Coral World is one of the most popular attractions in St. Thomas that offers an undersea observatory, sea lion swims, shark and sea turtle encounters, a butterfly garden, and a semi submarine so you can stay dry and enjoy the sea life of the island.
This is a great place to take a family as kids will love the attractions that are offered such as the touch pools, stingray lagoon, and the turtle pool.
Get up close and personal with Caribbean marine life at Coral World Ocean Park. General admission is $20 for adults and $11 for kids. Included in the cost of general admission is five acres of exotic aquariums, outdoor pools, and nature trails that allow you to experience the beauty and magic of life under the sea.
Exhibits Included in General Admission
This may be one of the park’s smallest exhibits, but it’s still a hit with visitors, especially kids. The Touch Pool provides guests with hands-on observation of sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea anemone, conchs, and other shallow-water creatures.
Caribbean Reef Encounter
This sea-life exhibit features hundreds of species of fish, all native to St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands. The concrete aquarium holds 80,000 gallons of sea water, all pumped in from the waters surrounding the island. As a result, many of the fishy residents have come to live here by way of the “front door”.
The aquarium is open to the elements so that the wildlife within get the benefit of natural sunlight, moonlight, and rainwater, just like a natural reef would. This helps the fish to thrive, and for the many corals and sponges to grow naturally.
The Stingray Lagoon allows guests to be up close with the gentle and graceful Southern Stingrays as they glide effortlessly through the water. Visitors are encouraged to reach out and carefully stroke the rays’ silky skin.
The turtles who live in Turtle Pool were once brought in as baby rescues in 1997 and have lived there ever since. You can watch as they swim and play, or pay extra for the Turtle Encounter, which gives you the chance to enter the pool and have a one-on-one encounter, supervised by a staff member.
Visit with iguanas in Iguana Alley, and Bahama ducks, red footed tortoises, and some lovely lorikeets along the Nature Trail.
Undersea Observatory Tower
The last, but certainly not least, exhibit at Coral World is the Undersea Observatory Tower. Standing about 100 feet off-shore, this three-story tower will take you as low as 15 feet below sea level. There you can view sea-life in its natural habitat, free from captivity and pollution.
Want to walk among the coral reef? Sign up for Sea Trek Helmet Dive (additional cost).
For more information about Coral World’s other experiences and prices beyond general admission, visit their website: https://coralworldvi.com.
You can also book an excursion at Coral World here.
Paradise Point Skyride
If you prefer an over-head tour of the island, boo, a trip via the Paradise Point Skyride. This air gondola takes you 700 ft. above the town of Charlotte Amalie, offering you the best view of the boats in the harbor.
Paradise Point also offers multiple retail and dining options, making it fun for anyone in the family. Come in for someone’s birthday, and the birthday boy or girl gets in free.
Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline
In the mood for something more adventurous? Sign up for the Tree Limin’ Extreme, the only zipline canopy tour in the US Virgin Islands. Experience the beauty and nature of St. Thomas while you zip high above the canopies, guided by well-trained guides all along the way.
If adventure is your game, this will be an experience you won’t want to miss.
Sapphire Beach is true to its name, offering crystal clear, sapphire-hued waters. Offering plenty of shade and less crowds, this is a great place to just relax and enjoy your vacation.
This is also a great beach for those who like to snorkel, as the waters are so clear you’ll be able to see everything underneath the waves.
Located on the eastern side of St. Thomas, this beach is completely secluded, offering a more private beach for those who don’t like crowds. Offering few but simple amenities, this is a great place to take a break from everything and just be a beach bum for the day.
Charlotte Amalie is the capital city of St. Thomas and located just ten minutes from the Havensight cruise terminal.
Strap on your walking shoes and take a stroll through the city streets, taking in the gorgeous colonial Danish architecture. Visit the historical district where you’ll find most of the island’s ancient 17th-century buildings. A great tourist spot for history buffs.
For those who like to shop, Charlotte Amalie is home to some of St. Thomas’ duty-free shops and is a great place to begin your retail therapy.
National Heritage Sites
The historic district mentioned before that sits in the heart of Charlotte Amalie has a lot to offer for history enthusiasts visiting the island. It houses well over 500 ancient buildings.
Anyone who loves history will easily be able to spend a day visiting the buildings and attractions here.
Black Beard’s Castle
Rumored to have once been home to Black Beard, a famous pirate in the 1600s, this castle serves as a watchtower looking out over Charlotte Amalie. Sign up for a tour that starts at the tower and takes you through downtown. Visit the Haagensen House along the way where you’ll find gardens, exhibit rooms, and a Pirate’s Gallery of sculptures.
Known as the oldest standing structure in all the Virgin Islands, Fort Christian sits at the center of Charlotte Amalie. Once serving as military grounds, it is now the home of the St. Thomas museum. Look at artifacts from all around St. Thomas and learn of the island’s history.
St. Thomas Synagogue
Originally built in 1796 by Sephardic Jews, then later rebuilt in 1833, the St. Thomas Synagogue is the second oldest synagogue in the United States. It can be found just north of the central business district in Charlotte Amalie and is a great place for lovers of history to explore the island’s culture.
On your way to visit Black Beard’s Castle, you’ll find yourself climbing the steep hillside of St. Thomas. To make it easier to travel by foot, the Danes built staircase streets all around the island.
The most popular of those is 99 Steps (actually 103 steps, if you count each one), which takes you up Government Hill towards the castle. At the top you’ll enjoy many great views of the island, so be sure to have your camera ready.
The island of St. Thomas is surrounded by lush green rolling hills. Dotting those hills are brightly painted homes and buildings. All you need to do is find one of many high points that the island has to offer, and you can snap some of the most breathtaking panoramic photos you’ve ever seen.
The most popular spot to do just that is Drake’s Seat. With the perfect overview of Magen’s Bay, it used to be where Sir Drake would sit to spy on enemy ships.
Virgin Island Ecotours is another great way to enjoy the natural wonders St. Thomas has to offer. Choose from a variety of available adventures, and you’ll find yourself hiking, kayaking, or snorkeling around Mangrove Lagoon.
You can also rent a kayak, paddleboard, or snorkeling gear and explore the waters off the lagoon at your own leisure. This is a great option for those who either feel more comfortable in the water, or don’t want to spend a lot of money on their trip.
St. Thomas Parasail Adventure
Take to the air and soar 400 feet over the Caribbean Sea with the St. Thomas Parasail Adventure. You may be tethered to a custom parasail boat operated by certified crew, but you’ll truly feel like you’re flying above the waves.
If conditions are favorable, enjoy a dip into the sea to cool off before returning to the flight deck.
Prices start at $99 and the whole trip only lasts about an hour and a half, giving you plenty of time to participate in other fun activities on the island.
Flyboarding & Beach Adventure
The newest and most exciting water sport ever invented, the Flyboarding Adventure will have you soaring above the Caribbean Sea like you never have before. With this activity you’ll swim like a dolphin and fly like Iron man using a water powered jetpack strapped to your feet.
This excursion includes detailed one-on-one training with a certified instructor, as well as a visit to the pristine waters and sands of Emerald Beach where you can relax after your exhilarating ride.
Magic Ice Gallery
The Magic Ice Gallery is one of St. Thomas’ newest attractions. It opened in January 2012 and is in downtown Charlotte Amalie, just a couple of miles from both Havensight and Crown Bay.
It features spectacular Scandinavia-inspired “Magic Ice”, where you can explore varied and intricate forms created from snow and ice. It’s a sub-zero experience in the middle of a tropical world. You won’t want to miss it!
The sculptures featured within change a few times a year, so you could visit two or three times over the years and see a different exhibit each time.
The Butterfly Garden
For visitors with small children, the Butterfly Garden is a great attraction to stop at in St. Thomas. Located right on the Havensight dock, it’s home to hundreds of different species of butterflies from every continent.
Enjoy the thousands of brightly-colored winged beauties as tour guides talk about the breeding boxes, teaching guests about the beautiful process that turns caterpillar to butterfly.
Water Island Bike Adventure
Take a short ferry ride from the St. Thomas cruise port to Water Island for a bike tour. With fewer than 200 residents and virtually no automobile traffic, this island tour can be relaxing and entertaining as it takes you to various attractions.
Enjoy an easy 5-mile bike ride over paved paths and dirt roads. Ride past old hotels, a historic plantation, and lovely scenery and wildlife including iguanas, lizards, hermit crabs, and a huge variety of birds.
The experience comes with helmets, water, and experienced guides.
Have you been to St. Thomas before? What is your favorite thing to do at this popular cruise port? Let us know in the comments below so everyone can benefit from your cruise wisdom.
Whatever you decide to do while in St. Thomas on your next cruise, we hope you enjoy the beauty of the Virgin Islands as much as we do every time we visit.