Jan 14, 2019

Checking out St. Thomas

Many people don’t realize that other than the 50 United States there are territories that enjoy many of the same benefits as residents of the states. The Caribbean Island of St. Thomas is one of the three U.S. Virgin Islands. Locals often refer to St. Thomas as “Rock City”, St. Croix as “Twin City,” and St. John as “Love City.”

The U.S. Virgin Islands make a great winter destination for those who might not feel comfortable in a foreign country. Visitors will find the major language is English and the U.S. dollar is the currency but there is still the tropical atmosphere and the feeling of being in a foreign country.  On St. Thomas they drive on the left side of the road even though many of the cars are American style which has be a bit unnerving if one rents a car; however, there is not a lot of traffic. There are only about 52,000 people on the island. Also, if one’s health is an issue keep in mind that health insurance is valid in U.S. territories. 

Getting to St. Thomas is easy as there are frequent flights offered by several airlines with some flights under $400, if you shop around.  Check out Google Flights.  Right now my airline of choice is Jet Blue. Another way to arrive in St. Thomas was by boat. If you don’t have your own dozens of cruise ships arrive every week including Celebrity, The Queen Mary, and Royal Caribbean. The island suffered significant damage after Hurricane Maria.  There is still evidence of the damage but the cruise ports are ready and so are many hotels.

We stayed at Emerald Beach Resort. The hotel has a relaxed atmosphere, a nice beach and, literally, right next to the airport. There are several options to fit all pocketbooks. 

St. Thomas is the gateway isle of the in the Caribbean and is known for its beaches and snorkeling spots. The capital Charlotte Amalie, founded by the Danish in the 1600s, is a busy cruise-ship port. Historic buildings
include a 1679 watchtower called Blackbeard’s Castle, in reference to the area’s pirate history. I could see it high on the hill and wanted to visit Blackbeard’s Castle but it is not open. It was not badly damaged by the hurricane but like mainly because, like some other places, they are using this time to upgrade. 

Located on the harbor, 17th-century Fort Christian is now a local-history museum and a National Historic Site named for the named after Danish King Christian V.