Take a Taxi
For just $4 a person you can have a taxi from the Main Street of Charlotte Amalie shopping to the pier. Most taxi's carry multiple people and look like a mini van or bus. It's an easy and cheap way to get around if you decide not to walk.
I always find that when exploring walking is the best way to see everything. As long as the weather isn't sweltering hot it is quite enjoyable to walk around Charlotte Amelie. We enjoyed walking along the water and in and out of side street shops. With the construction issues on the roads its actually quicker to walk than take a taxi.
West Indian Ship Dock(Havensight)
Many cruise ships dock at the West Indian Ship Dock such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, etc. When we were docked here (Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas)here there were three cruise ships at this dock and three others at Crown Bay. It's a bust port of call. This dock is right by shopping and food and is a short 15 minute walk to the heart of town.
**They have free shuttle buses that take you to the mall if you don't feel like walking. It's a short 5 minute ride.**
Road traffic on St. Thomas (and indeed all the Virgin Islands) drives on the left instead of the right, but with lefthand drive cars.
Many visitors, especially those coming by ship, use the local taxis. Taxis in the USVI are not like the taxis most American or European cities. The most popular are vans, open air safaris vehicles (converted trucks; truck beds are customized with bench seating in an open-air covered area) and SUVs/cars such as you see lined up beside the ship.
Taxis on St. Thomas are not metered; rates are per person and per destination. As an example of how the fares work: From Havensight crossroads (near the cruise ship docks) to Charlotte Amalie would be $6 for one person and $5 EACH for two or more people. Because of this, many cabs will wait until they are full before they will leave. This makes sense for them. Why take two people for $5 each if you can take 10 people for $5 each? If you want to go before they get filled up, you will pay more.
Rules are set by the VI Taxicab Division. According to their rules: Licensed taxi vehicles are labeled with: a taxi placard or dome light on the roof, license plates that indicate Taxi status, On Duty/Off Duty sign in the window of the vehicle and a sign, usually on the fender, indicating passenger capacity. The drivers personal identification/taxi license should be on the vehicles dash board.
If you take a gypsy cab (without identification), you do so at your own risk.
The taxi that we took to Coki Beach had a rate card (third picture), but you should still ask about the rate for your party and your amount of luggage ( flat rate of $2 per bag - for items greater than 30"x20" up to $4 per item), plus waiting time (Waiting charges: $1.00 per minute. First five minutes free.) before you get into the cab.
You can also book a cab by the hour or for Sightseeing Tours: 2 hours - One passenger $50; two or more passengers $25 per person. 3 hours - One passenger $60; two or more passengers $30 per person.Related to:
- Luxury Travel
- Road Trip
Cruise on in with the Carnival
During our cruise of the Caribbean, we were lucky enough to go to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
We were on the Carnival Victory, which was a really nice cruise ship. We enjoyed the company of several other cruisers from CruiseCritic.com and enjoyed St. Thomas, although most of our time on the islands was actually spent in St. John.Related to:
Rent a Car
Driving in St. Thomas is an adventure. You drive on the left side with a left-hand steering wheel. It honestly doesn't take long to adjust. The biggest adjustment for us was getting used to the steep hills, sharp curves, and narrow roads. When you hear a horn blow (which you will quite often), be alert! It usually means someone is coming up/down the hill, and they are using part of your lane.Related to:
- Road Trip
There is so much taxis on the Island that you will never wait more than 5 seconds... The rates are fixed and it is cheaper that renting a car. But careful, some taxi driver charges more than the fixed fees. Take the insland tourist magazine; they include the rates for most of the points you would go to.
Two if By Sea
Many people come to St. Thomas by boat. Most of them come by cruise ship . Boats are Big in the VI.
If you are NOT there on a cruise ship, you might want to make a note of how many cruise ships will be in (using the website below) on each day you are there so that you can go into town on a day with less ships in port. Some days there are more than 6 ships in port (in which case some of them will be anchored).Related to:
- Luxury Travel
Beyond a doubt the best transport for a cruiseship passssenger is a taxi. Every place we went we found cabs readily available to custom-made tours of the islands, usually for less than the single-passenger charge for shore excursions. Avoid the crowded busses of shipmates - grab your own cab!
On the way back to the airport after our charter, we passed these boats sailing in the harbor. We were told it was the America's Cup boats practicing. At the time I thought this was kind of wishful thinking as it was 2004 and at that moment the America's Cup was in New Zealand (see the second URL)
But apparently I was wrong about that, because in the last Louis Vitton Cup, there was a Virgin Islands challenger.
In addition to chartering a sailboat, though, you can also charter or rent a power boat to go explore the islands or go fishing.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
Taxies, taxies, taxies and ferryboats
Cabs abound on St. Thomas and on St. John. They are not your usual-looking taxies but are usually either vans or open-air covered trucks. The open-air covered cabs are an adventure, especially the ones with no seatbelts; you just hold on and enjoy the ride uphill and down. The views are great out of these and if you have a nice enough driver he or she will stop for you to take pictures at scenic points. Look for the Virgin Islands Taxi Association's licensed taxi vans with the labeled license plates and the numbers on the roof. They charge a standard rate dependant on which part of the island you are going so you cannot get ripped off. I do not suggest renting a car on St. Thomas because the streets are congested and narrow plus people from the mainland just can't seem to get the whole driving on the left thing. Driving on St. John is a different story and it's worth renting a jeep for a day trip because the island is significantly less populated and you really only have to watch out for other tourists on the road and wild donkeys crossing. If you don't feel like driving, though, there are plenty of cabs there too.
Inter-island transport consists primarily of ferryboats, but you can charter private boats and seaplanes at a much greater expense. The passenger ferry from Red Hook, St. Thomas to Cruz Bay, St. John is only $6 round trip so there's not much to complain about there. You can take cars on the one ferry but most car rental places won't let you take the cars off island. You can also catch a ferry from Red Hook to the British Virgin Islands Tortola, Jost Van Dyke or Virgin Gorda. We didn't get a chance to do this but will when we go back this summer.Related to:
- Road Trip
Country Buses travel between town and Red Hook every hour. They start running at 5.30am from town and end at 8.30pm from Red Hook. There are buses that travel past the airport toward Bordeaux. City buses travel between the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital bus stop to town starting at 6.15am until 10.15pm. The first bus from the Airport to town is at 6am and the last is 9.30pm. Country Bus Fare $1 and City Bus $.75. The public bus system is not very reliable so is not recommended for persons on a tight or limited time schedule.
We had scheduled a snorkeling excursion independent of the cruise line with VI Ecotours, they told us to get a taxi to "the snorkeling place". Once we got off the ship, they pointed us to where the taxi are queued up, there's a man who organizes multiple passengers into a taxi as the taxi prices here are per person and not a set price for a destination so they try to get as many people as possible into one taxi which are mostly vans.
The price per person to the snorkeling place was $10, from the snorkeling place we hitched a ride with a couple on our tour to Sapphire Beach. When we were ready to go back, there was a taxi waiting at the beach and it was $11 per person to get back to the ship. To get to Red Hook for the ferry to St. John it was $11 per person. Ask before you get underway, the prices seem to be set for each destination.
Unlike other islands, St. Thomas taxi drivers don't seem to do island tours so book your excursions on the ship or before you leave home unless you just want to go shopping or to the beach.
St. Thomas is one of the major cruise ports in the Caribbean as it's part of both Eastern and Southern Caribbean routes so there can be 6 or more ships docked at one time. The Caribbean Princess was one of 4 ships docked on the day we visited , we used a different dock than the other 3 ships who were closer to the shopping area. Princess docks at Crown Bay and most other ships dock in Havensight. If you are docked in Crown Bay, I suppose you could walk between the two but it's a far enough distance where you'd probably want to take a taxi.
Renting a car
We didn't rent a car but if you do, be aware that even though it's a US territory, they drive on the left. Even more confusing is that most of their cars are imported from the US so the steering wheel is on the left unlike cars in the UK or Australia where the steering wheel is on the right which probably takes a bit of getting used to.
There is a lot of traffic in and around the cruise ports and traffic jams seem to be fairly common, even the taxi drivers don't seem to be able to get around the jam between the two cruise ship docks.
St. Thomas Hotels
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7338 Estate Bakkeroe, Charlotte Amalie, Caribbean
Good for: Business
We stayed in a superior suite (king bed, full bath, dinette area, living room and full kitchen. All...more
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