I love seeing sea turtles in the wild so I decided that we would book a private excursion on the Fury with Captain Mike. The weather was pretty dreadful for St. Thomas, it was overcast when we left and en route it started to rain and stayed dreary for the rest of the trip. It made for a cold morning, no sun, all of your clothes wet. Getting into the water at the 1st stop was warmer than the air temperature! We still enjoyed the excursion even given the weather, the crew was friendly and the excursion well run.
We sailed to Buck Island where the ship's mate, Chase, led us around snorkeling showing us several sea turtles at the 1st stop and then we motored over to a second stop on the other side of the island which had a nice reef and another friendly sea turtle that popped his head out of the water several times.
Since we docked at Crown Bay we had to take a taxi to Havensight where the other boats dock. Eight people from our ship overslept/drank too much/couldn't follow instructions so we had to go back to where our ship was docked to pick them up via boat but I'm sure we still got a full tour and since the weather sucked, we didn't want to go to the beach as planned afterward anyway.
It was $75 per person payable in cash or by credit card, more than the similar Princess excursion, but our group was only 14 people and I'm guessing the Princess excursion had quite a few more. I like the smaller group size especially after taking a ship excursion in Grand Turk where we had 60 people on our boat!
The St. Thomas Skyride carries you in a gondola 700 ft above Charlotte Amalie. The ride itself is only seven minutes in duration and drops you off at Paradise Point.
Paradise Point has a nature trail and some incredible views of St. Thomas. The ride is $19 a person but very worth it.
There are bird shows at the top of Paradise Point. We arrived at the very end of the show, so we didn't get to see/hear much about the birds. We did manage to get a few pictures. I think the intent is for you to pay to get your picture taken with the birds, and we didn't do that.
Cruise gently through the bustling harbor of Charlotte Amalie with an open bar and Calypso music played by a native steel band. See Bluebeard's Castle, Blackbeard's Castle and the Governor's Mansion, and over a coral reef, you will see see a variety of coral, sponges and tropical fish through large glass-bottomed viewing windows. At a lovely beach with sparkling turquoise waters, there's time to swim and sunbathe. It's really party time on the way back-dancing, fun, games, limbo and punch.
Approximately 3 hours
Adult: US: $34
Child: US: $34
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This tour was the Tour that we had signed up for but they announced in the morning that due to the large waves at the Beach of Trunk Bay the Snorkeling part was canceled. I will feature the alternate tour we had decided on (the same tour except no snorkeling) in my St Johns pages (coming soon).
There are two places to catch a ferry to get to St. John, the closer of the two is Charlotte Amelie where the ships dock but the ferry leaves less frequently and it is more expensive ($11. We decided to go to Red Hook, I mistakenly thought it was a 20 minute taxi ride but it was closer to 40-50 minutes by the time they dropped off passengers at other places and we finally got there. The ferry ride from Red Hook takes 20 minutes, there's no cost savings for buying a round trip ticket ($6 each way) although if you are crunched for time when you get back to the dock, you don't have to stand in line. I briefly thought about taking a return ferry to Charlotte Amelie but I already had my Red Hook ticket. I suspect though that they would have exchanged it for the Charlotte Amelie boat as it appeared to be the same ferry.
The reviewers over on Cruisecritic just gush over St. John so instead of heading to a beach on St. Thomas we decided to head over to St. John for the day instead. In hindsight, I think the day would have been better spent on St. Thomas, I personally didn't find anything all that special about St. John.
In order to get to St. John we had to take a 40-50 minute taxi ride ($11 per person) to Red Hook and take the public ferry to Cruz Bay on St. John ($12 per person round trip). From there we decided we wanted to see a little of the island so we hired a taxi for the standard 2 hour tour ($25 per person) and then had him drop us off at Trunk Bay ($3 per person admission) before heading back to Cruz Bay for the journey back home.
For more details on this trip, please see my St. John page (coming soon)
NOTE: Have read some disturbing news lately about security problems at the Cokie Beach area! Frommers.com Cruise Blog of 7/13/10 reported that a tourist was killed near this area by stray gunfire in July 2010! Perhaps it would be wise to check news reports of any questionable activities before visiting this area which is also where Coral World is located. When we visited several years ago, we did not experience any problems and thoroughly enjoyed the beach, the snorkeling, the scenery, and closeness to Coral World, but things may have changed.
We first heard about Coki Beach from a friend we had met while cruising. She also told us about Sapphire Beach. Each beach has its good points. If your main aim is having a great beach day and do some very good snorkeling, you want Coki Beach. I have never seen so many different types of colorful fish literally at your fingertips! The underwater geography here is more varied than at Sapphire Beach.
The crescent-shaped, fine white sand beach edging those fabulous, clear, aquamarine waters is something you will never forget. Treat yourself to a chaise lounge chair for about $5 for the whole day. The elderly man renting them will inquire if you want one. Don't make the mistake of taking someone else's or thinking they are free!
But not to worry, soon a young man will come around with samples of frozen daiquiries of different flavors--I chose pistachio. If you order a full size, it will come in a large plastic cup for about $4 (2004 price) and believe me they didn't skimp on the liquor!
The bathroom and changing facilities are not the best thing about Coki Beach but usable. The beach has shady areas if you want them. If you want to sit down to a snack or light meal, take the boardwalk over to Coral World to the Hungry Iquana or the Beach Bar & Cafe.
If you pay for a taxi or shuttle to bring you to Coki, arrange for them to pick you up at a specified time. Be ready and at the point where you were dropped off to wait for your driver. Don't be inconsiderate and rude by not being there at the appointed time.
I simply love this place!
Originally built as a hotel in 1839, it was the town's most elegant accommodation. It has recently been restored and refurbished to be a shopping complex with shops, cafes, an ATM machine, etc. A nice place to shop and enjoy the architecture at the same time!
J. Antonio Jarvis was a Educator, Historian, Poet, Author, Journalist from St. Thomas. He was the first Virgin Islander to record the history of the territory from both historical and sociological perspectives. He wrote a book called; Brief History of the Virgin Islands (1938), was written to provide high school students with crucially needed information on their own history.
In 1930 he co-founded The Daily News, a newspaper established to keep the public informed on St. Thomas. It became the most influential independent newspaper of the Virgin Islands. Today it is the most widely distributed in the islands. He served as editor of the paper until 1940.
He wrote several books and plays such as :Education in the Virgin lslands, The Virgin Islands, Caribbean Notebook, Virgin, Islands Picture Book,Folkdancing in the Virgin Islands, Freedom Centennial, Bluebeard'.s Last Wife, The King's Mandate, Superstitions, Witchcraft and Necromancy Undermine Health and Morals. Mr. Jarvis was also an advocate of the arts and enjoyed painting watercolors.
He was also presented with the United States Selective Service Medal by President Harry S. Truman in recognition of his contributions to the Selective Service Board. He also received a citation from the Library of Congress on his contribution to the celebration of the Virgin Islands Centenary of the Emancipation, 1848-1948. In 1962, the Virgin Islands Legislature in Act 906 awarded Mr. Jarvis a grant of $2,000 for research in Europe and the United States to update a history of the Virgin Islands for the local school system.
His last poem; "Youth" was written on his deathbed:
When he was young and tall
And arrow slim
He thought no sick
Was for him
But flash through sunshine
At a moment's thought
Time changed it all.
There are several tourist information centers/booths in ST. Thomas. At each Port there are Information Centers with free guide books and maps. Throughout the island you'll find little booths with maps and guides; there is one right by the Royal Dane Mall. The guide books have information on attractions, shopping, restaurants , accommodations, transportation and coupons for the local businesses.
Walk around the Capital, Charlotte Amalie. It can be very crowded since this is a major area for tourists shopping and dining. The shops are lovely and the buildings are rather quaint. The lovely water views as you walk the waterfront are definitely worth the trip as well as all the great shopping.
The Royal Dane Mall is a series of streets, alleys and walkways filed with shops and restaurants. Jewelery, liquor, clothing, perfume and much more can be found in their shops. The walkways and alleys reminded me of an old European town.
The Havensheight Mall is comprised of over 100 stores in a strip mall setting. There are numerous building with shops that are bunched together for an easy shopping experience. The stores have low prices and are duty free. They even have some restaurants and bars in case you get hungry or need a tropical drink.
The mall has jewelry stores, liquor stores, clothing, makeup, sunglasses, crystal, watches, beachwear, perfume, books, toys and much more. You can find just about anything you desire here.
**The Havensheight Merchants & Professionals Association guarantee all purchases from the mall for 30 days after purchase.**
To get to Paradise Point you must hop on a Gondola and take a seven minute ride up the hill (cost $19 a person but well worth it). The views of St. Thomas and Charlotte Amalie are incredible. The sky was bright blue and clear; perfect visibility. We were happy to have taken the ride and see such breath taking views.
They have a bar area and some shops on the Point but we were here strictly for the views.
Magens Bay Road, , 00802, Caribbean
Good for: Couples
7338 Estate Bakkeroe, Charlotte Amalie, Caribbean
Good for: Business
The hotel rooms were old and the bathroom's were rusty, dirty, and downright disgusting. The food...more