The 11 Best Things to Do on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
You might think a trip to St. Thomas is all about drinking cocktails at the beach (and it can be if you want!), but there is so much to enjoy on this paradisiacal island. Known as the gateway to the Caribbean, St. Thomas is the ideal starting point for your dream island getaway. Whether you’re on a family vacation with kids, a romantic honeymoon, or an adventure trip with friends, you can find the perfect tours and activities to make your visit unforgettable.
Discover the most fun things to do on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands!
1. Swim with Sea Turtles
Wildlife abounds in the waters of the Virgin Islands, from colorful tropical fish to healthy coral reefs. Turtles are a favorite of travelers of all ages, and on a snorkeling tour, you can see hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtles swimming peacefully among the sea grass.
There are many top-notch snorkeling sites on St. Thomas, but your best chance to see these charming turtles is on a snorkeling tour in Turtle Cove at the Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge. Take a catamaran tour and enjoy a memorable, family-friendly snorkeling adventure led by an experienced crew.
2. Get a Bird’s-Eye View from a Parasail
The moment you arrive on St. Thomas, you’ll be enchanted by the stunning views of the Caribbean and its islands. And what better way to enjoy those views than from the sky? An exciting adventure for all ages, a parasailing tour allows you to take in the boundless beauty of the Virgin Islands, from the sparkling blue waters to the scenic islands straight out of a story book.
See St. Thomas, St. John, and beyond as you float through the air pulled by a boat. It’s a truly unforgettable experience!
3. Play with Dolphins at Coral World Ocean Park
The open ocean sanctuary at Coral World Ocean Park is impressive for travelers of any age, but you especially can’t miss it if you’re traveling with kids. Their dolphin encounters are a special experience that the little ones are sure to love.
Don’t expect a scripted show — this is a genuine encounter where a marine mammal specialist introduces these intelligent creatures and teaches you about their habitat. You’ll become fast friends with these charming dolphins! Interact with them from an in-water platform, and if you feel comfortable, wade into the water and swim with the dolphins.
4. Spend the Day at the Beach
When you’re visiting a destination full of stunning beaches like St. Thomas, you’ll want to spend at least one day lounging on the sand, splashing in the water, and enjoying the peaceful island vibes.
You have many beaches to choose from, depending on how you want to spend your day. Check out Sapphire Beach for exciting water sports, Coki Beach for a party on the sand, Magens Bay Beach for spectacular views at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, or Lindquist Beach for a laid-back day.
5. Take a Rugged Jeep Tour
Not every St. Thomas adventure has to take place on the water. There is much more to discover on land! If you’re looking for an action-packed day and unparalleled sightseeing, a Jeep tour along the dirt roads and hidden trails of the island is a great option.
Discover abandoned sugar plantation ruins, take in sweeping vistas from scenic viewpoints, and visit secluded beaches. Hit one of the local trails for a hike surrounded by vibrant flora and fauna, or ride to a neighborhood bar to toast with the locals.
Check out a variety of Jeep tours and plan an exciting outing with your group.
6. Create Your Perfect Day with a Boat Charter
Already have the perfect St. Thomas tour planned out in your mind? Make your adventure a reality with a custom boat charter! Enjoy all the best of the island at your own pace, focusing on what your group wants to see and experience. With a private charter, you choose whether you want to snorkel, swim, take in the beautiful sights, soak up the sun on a quiet beach, or have a party on a boat.
7. Learn About the Island’s Pirate History
Pirates of the Caribbean may be a fictional tale, but the idea comes from the very real history of pirates in the Virgin Islands in the 1600s – 1700s. During the Golden Age of Piracy, St. Thomas served as a major base for English privateer ships. It’s even rumoured that Edward Teach, the infamous Blackbeard, frequented the island.
A unique way to learn about the pirate history of the island is on a nighttime kayak tour full of fearsome tales (including a few ghost stories!). Explore the Mangrove Lagoon in the evening, witness a picturesque sunset, then watch as the stars fill the tranquil night sky. This is a fun experience for adventurous families and kids who love pirate stories.
8. Climb the 99 Steps
One of the most popular landmarks in Charlotte Amalie, the 99 Steps are a staple of St. Thomas vacation photos. This staircase was built in the 1700s by the Danish colony, using bricks brought over from Denmark on sailing ships. The port city is known for its hills, and the Danes built steep streets and staircases to make getting around easier.
Lined by lush plants and colorful flowers, the 99 Steps are the perfect spot for a scenic stroll and photoshoot if you don’t mind the climb. Once you reach the top, you’ll find other points of interest, like Blackbeard’s Castle (a National Historic Landmark), as well as breathtaking views.
Fun fact: The staircase actually has 103 steps!
9. Take a Day Trip to a Nearby Island
One of the best parts of a Virgin Islands vacation is the opportunity to explore multiple islands. From St. Thomas, it’s only a quick ferry ride or catamaran sail to the nearby islands, like St. Croix and St. John.
St. Croix is the largest of the USVI, and it features beautiful beaches, historic buildings, and scenic trails where you can go horseback riding. This island is also a top scuba diving destination, with stunning dive sites, abundant wildlife, and excellent visibility. There is a ferry between the islands, which makes it easy to enjoy a day trip to St. Croix.
If you’re looking for one of the best snorkel sites in the Virgin Islands, you can’t miss a day trip to St. John. This island is part of Virgin Islands National Park, and its waters are teeming with exciting wildlife and colorful reefs to discover. Swim with fish, octopuses, and even nurse sharks!
10. Do a Little (Duty Free) Shopping
Did you know St. Thomas is one of the top shopping destinations in the world? Walking down the bustling shopping streets of downtown Charlotte Amalie, you can find fine jewelry, clothes, island art and decor, and of course, gift shops with plenty of souvenirs to take back home.
One of the most popular shopping areas is Main Street, where you can find unique shops set in historical buildings and shaded courtyards. Other great spots for a little retail therapy include Haven Sight Mall, Crown Bay Center, and A.H. Riise Mall.
And the best part? Shopping on the island is duty free, meaning you don’t have to pay the sales taxes you’d normally pay stateside.
A few tips for shoppers:
- Each traveler can purchase up to $1600 worth of duty free items.
- You need to fill out separate customs forms for these items when you return to your country. (Keep all your receipts handy just in case.)
- There is a limit on certain items, like cigarettes and liquor, so be sure to review current limits before your trip.
11. Enjoy Scenic Views from Drake’s Seat or Mountain Tip
There are many spots to enjoy panoramic vistas on the island, but two of the most popular are Drake’s Seat and Mountain Top. They both offer amazing views of Magens Bay and the United States and British Virgin Islands dotting the blue landscape in the distance.
Drake’s Seat is easy to reach by taxi or car, and many island tours make a stop here. There’s no admission fee, and the landscape is priceless.
Standing at 2,100 feet above sea level, Mountain Top is the highest point on the island and was one of the first major attractions on St. Thomas. In addition to the expansive observation deck, Mountain Top is known for being the birthplace of the banana daiquiri!
There won’t be a single dull moment during your visit to St. Thomas. Whether you’re here for the beaches, the history, the wildlife, or all of the above, check out the best things to do on St. Thomas and start planning your visit.