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.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Coral World Ocean Park
Coral World has been a favorite of families with children for many years. Adults may enjoy a day here as well, particularly in combination with Coki Beach. Coral World covers 5 acres, a very manageable size, in which you can enjoy the aquariums, outdoor pools and nature trails. Predator fish are always a big draw and you can see sharks, moray eels, and others in the special predator tanks. Feeding times and talks about these fascinating sea creatures by their caretakers can be very informative for children and adults alike.
In addition, the trademark dome building lets you observe many colorful types of sea creatures at a depth of 15 feet. Adults would really enjoy the helmet dives, snorkeling, SNUBA and parasailing here at Coral World. From Coki Beach, which is literally right next door, you can see lots of people give parasailing a try---you can always see them floating in the air--they really have a bird's eyeview of the islands and fantastic crystal blue water.
There is a little cafe called the "Hungry Iquana" nicely positioned under tall palms and shade trees which really is a nice amenity here and the park has provided lots of picnic tables too. Another snack bar just outside the gates is aptly called "Beach Bar & Cafe." The tables have a water view--can't beat that! The two gift shops here should make the kids very happy too (even adults such as myself--nice postcards!).
The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Great to combine Coral World with Coki Beach for a really nice day in St. Thomas!! Discount coupons for Coral World can be found at most tourist info. booths.
As mentioned above, Coki Beach is virtually only steps away from Coral World. I used the nice, little walkway to visit Coral World after taking a break from snorkeling time. Also, great to get a bite to eat at Coral World, because there really isn't a place for food at Coki.Related to:
- Family Travel
Royal Dane Mall
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.
Senational Snorkeling at Coki Beach
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!Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
St. Thomas Skyride
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.
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.**
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.
Mountain Top, Home of the Original Banana Daiquiri
A new place that we had never been to before our "private" island tour was Mountain Top." Perched at a little more than 1,500 ft above the Caribbean, the observation terrace at Mountain Top offers just a fantastic view of Magen's Bay and some of the other Virgin Islands such as St. John, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke. Some of the most beautiful features of any of the Caribbean islands are seen from a high vantage point like Mountain Top.
Mountain Top is situated on one of the highest points of the island because it was previously the site for a communications outpost. Today Mountain Top is a very large building which houses shops, boutiques, a restaurant and bar and that great viewing terrace. Remember shopping is duty-free. Mountain Top also claims to be the home of the Original Banana Daiquiri (with Cruzan Rum)! So of course, it would be very appropriate to sip one of these daiquiries while enjoying the fantastic view from the terrace.
Admission to Mountain Top is free and it is open daily. Best views to be had on a sunny day but can be enjoyed at any time.
Touring St. Thomas for Less
During previous visits to St. Thomas we had never taken a tour of any kind. We usually walked around on our own and shopped. This visit in April, 2004, was different in that we decided to take a tour on our own. The ship's excursion price for a tour of the island was $40 - $45 per person. Whether you have arrived on the island independently or have arrived by ship, it will be easy to find a driver who will show you the island for a better price than a tour company or ship shore excursion.
Disembarking our ship at Havensight, there were any number of drivers lined up and waiting to drive you anywhere. We hired Mr. Roy Davis to give us a tour. We could have bargained for a lower fare but my husband just settled at his asking price which was $20 per person for a 2 hour private tour of the island in a van. Mr. Davis did a good job of giving us information on the sights and gave us several opportunities to stop and take pictures. Some of the places we saw as we circled about two-thirds of the island were", Mountain Top, and Magen's Bay. The views of Charlotte Amalie from the higher elevations were great. If you have a specific place you would like to see, you need only ask the driver, who in most cases I would think would be happy to take you there.
Like alot of other islands in the Caribbean, when you leave the tourist areas, you will find very poor areas with limited infrastructure--- bad roads, abandoned cars and trash, unkempt areas, etc. Keep in mind, this is an island with limited space for trash removal. "Low - income" housing built by the state or government is virtually non-existent. Still even very modest housing on St. Thomas is very expensive.
The tour was a great eye-opener. St. Thomas is still my favorite place to snorkel at this point.
Skyride to Paradise Point
Want another great spot for viewing Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the nearby islands? Try a tram ride up to Paradise Point. The ride lifts you up to 700 feet in a matter of minutes. Paradise Point also offers an observation deck, a place to get a cool drink at the Paradise Point Bar or even lunch. Like Mountain Top which is famous for Banana Daiquiries, Paradise Point is famous for a Baileys Bushwacker!
A lot of people will enjoy the tropical bird shows given at 10:30am & 1:30pm. If you miss these you can always browse around the shops and maybe pick up that souvenir you can't live without.
Unfortunately, Paradise Point is only open on days with cruise ship arrivals, but if you are in the area of Havensight Mall, I'd check it out anyway for the possibility. The ride is open from 9am to 5pm. Too bad it closes at 5pm because it would be spectacular to see it at night, but a spectacular sunset can be just as amazing.
Coupons for discounts off drinks or ride tickets can often be found at Tourist Offices, in Tourist Brochures, etc., all around town.
Located at the East end of St. Thomas, Sapphire Beach is another great place to spend all or just a part of your day. Beautiful white sand, and clear blue waters beckon me always! The beach is really part of the Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina, but they welcome a small amount of people to the beach daily. There you will find a great little beach with fine, white sand and crystal blue water. There is a dive shop renting snorkel equipment, sunfish boats, floats and more. Chaise lounge chairs can also be rented for the day. Though not as good for snorkeling as Coki Beach, you will like this beach anyway.
This place also has a nice little restaurant with a beach/water view, under cover too if you want a break from the sun! We had a nice meal here after spending several hours on the beach and in the water. It was not expensive and service was effecient and friendly.
If you need beach towels, sandals, sun block, swimwear, sunglasses, etc., there is also a nice little gift shop with friendly people to wait on you. There is restroom and changing facilties.
Don't miss the many iquanas that roam the property around the beach and resort.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Magen's Bay ~ One of the World's Top Beaches
One of the most famous and beautiful beaches in the world is thought to be Magen's Bay on St. Thomas' north shore. It's signature horseshoe shape (I think it's more rectangular) is easily recognizable once you see it. It draws people from famous to not so famous--Bill Clinton often uses the home of a friend which faces Magen's Bay when he comes to St. Thomas.
Some people think because it has a gently sloping beach and little if any wave action that Magen's Bay is a perfect place for families with children. It does have bathrooms, salt-water showers, changing facitlies, picnic tables and a rental shop for all that fun beach stuff: floats, snorkel gear, lounge chairs, etc. (Some reviews on the bathrooms, etc., have not been favorable.) It also has a boutique, a bar for those delightful tall, cool drinks and snack bar for when the munchies creep up on you after all that swimming, sun and fresh air.
For snorkel nuts like me, try the more secluded western end. But this is not really the best snorkeling beach on the island.
Since Magen's Bay is considered a park, admission fees apply. About $1 for car parking; $3 dollars for adults and 25 cents for children under 12.Related to:
- Water Sports
- Family Travel
Feel Like Excercise? Try the 99 Steps
Ascending Government Hill between Kongens Gade and Store Tarne Gade is the historically known attraction, the "99 Steps". This steep stairway between the two streets built in the 1700's was constructed of multi-colored bricks by Danish engineers. The brick was previously used as ship's ballast by the Danes and now has a new life creating a picturesque climb with greenery on each side. Not for the faint of heart, but for the aerobically fit, the persistant visitor will be rewarded with great views of the city and the Charlotte Amalie harbor. HINT: count the number of steps--is it 99 or even more!?! Watch your step and take your camera!
Descend the hill and head east to find the "Frederick Church Parsonage." One of the oldest houses on St. Thomas, the parsonage was built in 1725 and to this day retains its 18th century architecture, the only structure on the hill to do so.
Magen's Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been on. I would rank it right up there with Orient Beach in St. Martin & Poip'u Beach in Kaua'i. The water is crystal clear and the beach is like walking on flour. Whenever we visit St. Thomas, we make it a point to stop here for some water and beach fun.Related to:
Here I am with downtown Charlotte Amalie in the far background. This is a great place to go if you want to cash in on some excellent liquor, electronics, perfumes/colognes, or jewelry deals....especially diamonds and tanzanite.Related to:
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