St. Thomas Cruise Port: Tips, Beaches, and Shore Excursions

Updated on July 5, 2019
promisem profile image

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean.

St. Thomas cruise visitors will see one of the most beautiful ports in the Caribbean.
St. Thomas cruise visitors will see one of the most beautiful ports in the Caribbean. | Source

The St. Thomas cruise port in the U.S. Virgin Islands has become even more of a shopper’s mecca than ever before.

The U.S. Virgin Islands attract more than 2 million cruise visitors and another 700,000 overnight vacationers each year, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. St. Thomas, the most prominent island, is a convenient stop on eastern Caribbean cruises because it lies only about 77 miles from San Juan, Puerto Rico. San Juan is a major destination and embarkation point for many cruises.

Three trips to St. Thomas have given us tips on what to see and do for anyone who visits the island during a Caribbean cruise.

Five quick tips:

  1. Massive shopping fills Havensight Mall and Charlotte Amalie.
  2. The duty-free shopping limit for U.S. visitors is double other Caribbean islands.
  3. Magens Bay Beach is the most popular beach on the island.
  4. Weather is warm to hot year-round. Rain hits hard in the fall.
  5. Spring through late summer is the best time to go.

Havensight Mall is a sprawling shopping area that includes restaurants and attractions. The lovely lady in red is married to this writer.
Havensight Mall is a sprawling shopping area that includes restaurants and attractions. The lovely lady in red is married to this writer. | Source

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Havensight Mall

Our last visit nearly 10 years ago started with a small shopping area by the Havensight Cruise Pier known as Havensight Mall. Most of the people disembarking the ship spent a brief time walking around the shops. Then we all went two miles away to the famous duty-free shopping at Charlotte Amalie, the capital city of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This time we discovered a sprawling Havensight Mall by the cruise docks plus many more shops, restaurants and things to do nearby. The docks even had a Senor Frogs restaurant right by the ships.

The Skyride to Paradise Point is the most prominent attraction around the docks. Visitors ride trams 700 feet to the top for views of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Harbor and most of the island. The cost is $21 for adults and $10.50 for children at the time of this writing. Shore excursion prices including very brief transporation are about the same.

If the Havensight Mall area isn’t enough, visitors who want to go to Charlotte Amalie can walk to the front parking lot of mall and take $5-a-person shuttles to the city.

Energetic visitors can walk and shop their way to Charlotte Amalie via Edward Wilmot / Long Bay Road. But it’s a long two-mile walk if the day is hot.

Have you been to St. Thomas? How do you rate it?

See results

Charlotte Amalie

Shuttles drop off passengers at Emancipation Gardens, a small park at the start of the main shopping district. A flea market next to the park is filled with local booths of arts, crafts and souvenirs.

On the day of our visit, the shops in the tourism district were largely empty. More passengers toured the Havensight Mall area than the Charlotte Amalie shopping district, even though Charlotte Amalie has several hundred shops.

The district is mainly known for bargains with jewelry and electronics. The bulk of the shops line Dronningens Gade, also known as Main Street. Other shops lie along Back Street and Waterfront, which run parallel to Main, as well as alleys that connect the streets.

Duty-free shops line Main Street in Charlotte Amalie.
Duty-free shops line Main Street in Charlotte Amalie. | Source

Other Things to Do

Fort Christian is the oldest structure in the Virgin Islands. The original Dutch colony built it in 1762. Today, the fort is a museum with exhibits on the human and natural history of the Virgin Islands. Visitors will find it in Charlotte Amalie between Emancipation Garden and Veterans Drive.

Blackbeard’s Castle in Charlotte Amalie is a 17th century Danish military tower amid five acres that the park calls "The Williamsburg of the Caribbean”. It has several historical manor houses and National Landmark properties that date back as far as the late 1600s.

Coral World Marine Park and Observatory is on the northeast coast at Coki Point. The park has an underwater observatory, coral reef tank, tropical nature trail and marine gardens aquarium. Activities include snuba dives, helmut dives and swimming with sea lions. Shore excursion prices vary according to the activity, but usually range between $80 and about $140 per person.

Shops and restaurants line quiet alleys in Charlotte Amalie.
Shops and restaurants line quiet alleys in Charlotte Amalie. | Source

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Visitors to the St. Thomas cruise port often want to know where to find the closest beach to the port as well as the best nearby beach.

Morning Star Beach at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel is the closest beach to the cruise docks. It is about 1.4 miles or 2.2 kilometers from the docks, which makes it accessible for energetic visitors and a taxi ride for everyone else.

Yes, the beach is nearby and convenient. But it isn’t much of a beach compared to others in the Caribbean.

Magens Bay Beach is the most popular on the island and ranked among the best in the Caribbean. It is a 15-minute drive from the pier. Plenty of taxis are available at Havensight and Charlotte Amalie to reach Magens Bay. The beach is a public park and is the only one on St. Thomas with an entrance fee. The calm waters are attractive for families. Shore excursion prices including the entrance fee and transporation start at about $35 per person.

Other options include a 20-minute drive to either Coki Point Beach, Lindquist Beach or Sapphire Beach for the sake of snorkeling and fewer crowds. Some say that Lindquist is better than Magens Bay. Some of these options are available as cruise line shore excursions for about $40 to $70 per person including transportation and amenities.

Morning Star Beach at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel is the closest beach to the cruise docks.

Magens Bay beach is the most popular beach on St. Thomas.
Magens Bay beach is the most popular beach on St. Thomas. | Source

Transportation / Getting Around

St. Thomas is not nearly as big as some other islands in the Caribbean. It is 13 miles long and four miles wide.

Taxi rates are cheap in part because most cruise port visitors don’t have far to go -- usually to Charlotte Amalie or one of the nearest beaches by taxi.

The U.S. Virgin Islands have a taxi commission that sets rates between two points on each island. They usually run between $4 and $15 per person plus discounts for extra fares depending on the destination. The rates are subject to change.

The cruise dock area has car rentals from Budget Car Rental for anyone who wants to visit multiple locations on the island.

Otherwise, most visitors get to where they want to go by excursion bus. Anyone who wants to visit Magens Bay or one of the other beaches may save money by using a taxi instead of an excursion bus.

Free trams carry passengers around the Havensight Mall. Taxis to Charlotte Amalie are cheap.
Free trams carry passengers around the Havensight Mall. Taxis to Charlotte Amalie are cheap. | Source

Weather / Best Time to Visit

The best time to go to St. Thomas is April through July for a combination of warm temperatures, low risk of rain and most comfortable seawater.

The average high temperature for St. Thomas ranges from 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 29 Celsius between December and March to 90 Fahrenheit or 32 Celsius between July and September, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

Seawater is usually comfortable enough for swimming during most months except for some mornings in the winter.

Hot summer weather appeals to beach lovers, but St. Thomas has heavier rains starting in the late summer and continuing through the fall months. It rains on average between five and six inches each month from September through November but only about two inches from January through March and slightly more in April and May.

The best time to go to St. Thomas is April through July for a combination of warm temperatures, low risk of rain and most comfortable seawater. December through March are popular months for northerners who want to escape cold winters.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • promisem profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott S Bateman 

      3 months ago

      Jo, I'm not big on shopping either. I prefer beaches, history and adventurous shore excursions. Still, people go nuts over duty-free shopping at islands such as St. Thomas.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      3 months ago from Tennessee

      We're not big on shopping on our travels so we completely missed these shopping malls when we were there. I'm always interested in the history and the scenery.

    • promisem profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott S Bateman 

      3 months ago

      Tiffany, the Caribbean is a beautiful place to visit. I highly recommend starting with a cruise to see more than one island in a single week. Thanks for your comment.

    • promisem profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott S Bateman 

      3 months ago

      Thanks, Dora. We have been there several times and enjoyed each visit quite a bit.

    • tiffany delite profile image

      Tiffany Delite 

      3 months ago from Wichita, KS

      I really want to travel outside of the US someday, and this place looks AMAZING! Thanks for sharing!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Been to St. Thomas. You did a great job covering the main features on this beautiful island.

    • promisem profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott S Bateman 

      3 months ago

      Thanks, Liz. I agree that nearby beaches aren't always the best. Some are so bad that they aren't worth visiting at all. Sometimes it's a tradeoff between quality and convenience.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

      This is a very useful guide for anyone planning a visit here. I often find that the beaches nearest the ports are not necessarily the best.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)