A Travellerspoint blog

Day 13 - St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands

When & Where

sunny 80 °F

I was sure beat from walking the previous day, I was sort of looking forward to sleeping in and not doing much, however, having a window room, I was awoken by the never ending "Welcome to St. Thomas" welcome committee.

I did watch them for a while and wondered if their energy was going to be this exciting the whole morning....sadly, it was. Weather was 80 °F, and Sunny.

Since I visited St. Thomas previously (both in flights and another cruise) I chose just to hang around the port and see what was around. I thought I would check out the tram ride up the side of the mountain, however it was still down from last years hurricanes. There was also a Ship in the opposite port that was still in for workers trying to help rebuild the island.

Christopher Columbus is credited with "discovering" the Virgin Islands in 1493. It remained under the Carib Indian habitation until the Dutch West India Colony settled an outpost in 1657. Its fine natural harbor, named Charlotte Amalie, was a haven for trade and attracted famous pirates such as Blackbeard, whose castle sits at the top of the hill overlooking the harbor. Just like Blackbeard, you can follow the same 99 steps for a spectacular view. St. Thomas abounds natural beauty, and the hilly terrain offers lookout points with spectacular views of the crystal clear water and the neighboring U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

The island's sugar plantations lost profitability after the abolishment of slavery causing labor prices to skyrocket. With sugar plantations no longer able to maintain its workforce, the island's economy sank into a sharp decline. Seeing this as an opportunity, the U.S. purchased St. Thomas and two other islands in 1917 for a total of $25 million as part of a defensive strategy during the First World War.

While the island never saw battle, the innovations of war gave the island just what it needed to turn the economy around, large ships and airplanes capable of transporting lots of leisure-seeking people. Today, St. Thomas is one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean as the island is capable of, and often does, support influxes of 20 thousand visitors a day.

This may have something to do with the port being a renowned shopping mecca with some of the best jewelry and fine goods available at a steep discount. Even though the tram was closed, it does go atop the islands highest peak, or, you can visit an underwater coral reef observatory where numerous marine protected area are accessible from St. Thomas which make it an ideal place for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. There are plenty of tropical ecosystems where you can observe many kinds of coral, fish, and migratory birds.

Do be careful crossing the streets, always be sure to look both ways as locals drive on the left side of the road.

Yes, by the time I was done looking around town, the 'welcome' committee was still in their getup and at the pier....I just can't imagine them doing this every.single.day.! lol

Until Next Time,

Posted by Sluggoaafa 20:28 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged vacation america holland st rotterdam carribean thomas hal

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