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The last stop on our Caribbean cruise and once a colony of Denmark, St Thomas is a part of the US Virgin Islands along with St John and St Croix. With its green hilly terrain and white sanded beaches, St Thomas has picture-postcard views.
Geographically the US Virgin Islands separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. The capital city, Charlotte Amalie named after the Danish queen in 1692, was a duty-free port. It has a deep-water harbour that was once a haven for pirates and is now one of the busiest ports of call for cruise ships in the Caribbean.
The city these days abounds with stores, many in old Danish warehouses that once held molasses, rum, lumber and gold. The town has a long history of pirates, especially the legendary stories of Bluebeard and Blackbeard that is evidenced in the Danish built 17th century Blackbeard’s Castle and Bluebeard’s Castle attributed to the pirates.
The Danish conquered the island in 1666, and by 1672 had established control over the entire island through the Danish West India and Guinea Company. The land was divided into plantations and sugar cane production became the primary economic activity. In 1917, St Thomas was purchased from Denmark, (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million in gold.
Interesting Fact: Saint Thomas was known for its fine natural harbour, known as “Taphus” for the drinking establishments located nearby. “Tap Hus” translates as “rum shop” or “tap house” referring to the drinking establishments.
Amongst the many historical tourist attractions in Charlotte Amalie is the 17th-century Fort Christian, the 99 steps stairway, Emancipation Garden, Market Square, Seven Arches Museum, St. Thomas Synagogue, the Frederick Lutheran Church and the Weibel Museum. It is worthwhile taking the historical walking tour to explore all of these attractions.
The other big attraction of St Thomas are the beaches which are considered some of the best in the world because of their calm, clear waters, powdery white sand and coral reefs. Scuba diving and snorkelling are extremely popular due to the incredible vibrant reefs just minutes away from fascinating sunken ships.
We caught a cab across the island to West End and the gorgeous Sapphire Beach and spent a leisurely morning wallowing and snorkelling in the aqua blue pristine waters. En route we also stopped at Coki Beach, another popular spot for a swim or snorkel.
St. Thomas is one of the world’s premier sports fishing destinations and features Coral World, a 4.5-acre marine park whose highlight is an underwater observatory with 360-degree views of fish and other sea creatures, located at Coki Beach.
Because of its duty-free policies, the city is sometimes referred to as “the duty-free capital of the world”. Charlotte Amalie has more jewellery shops and perfume vendors than anywhere else in the Caribbean and is known for its outdoor shopping bazaars.
As I wandered through the streets and laneways of Charlotte Amalie I spied what I thought was a pirate ship in the harbour, and it took me back to those pirate days of swashbuckling, swordfighting and hornswaggling. I found this small island, which has embraced its pirate’s past a fitting finale to our Caribbean cruise. To all you rapscallions out there, put St Thomas and the US Virgin Islands on your buccaneer’s list!
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Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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