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St Thomas: Blackbeard, Bluebeard & Bounty

  • August 7, 2015
  • By 50 Shades
  • 22 Comments
St Thomas: Blackbeard, Bluebeard & Bounty

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.

View of Port at St Thomas

View of Port at St Thomas

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.

Warehouses in Charlotte Amalie

Warehouses in Charlotte Amalie

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.

Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

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.

Historical Attractions in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

Historical Attractions in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

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.

Sapphire Beach, St Thomas

Sapphire Beach, St Thomas

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.

Shopping Charlotte Amalie

Shopping Charlotte Amalie

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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By 50 Shades, August 7, 2015 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.
  • 22

50 Shades

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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22 Comments
  • Jo
    August 7, 2015

    The US Virgin Islands have always appealed to me and what a wonderful end to your Caribbean cruise. The beaches and that sea colour at St Thomas look amazing and Coral World sounds fascinating and accessible – especially for a West Coaster who is a little afraid of sharks ;)

    • Kathy
      August 7, 2015

      It was a wonderful finale to our cruise. The water at Sapphire Beach was amazing – I could have wallowed in it all day! We disembarked in Boston so that is my next post. Boston was incredible. :)

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    August 8, 2015

    That water does look divine and the beach very aptly named. The duty free sounds appealing too!

    • Kathy
      August 8, 2015

      What I liked most about St Thomas was the pirate stories and castles. I’m very infatuated with pirates at present. It must because of the filming of the ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’ movie on the Gold Coast recently! But the water was divine too! :)

  • Paula McInerney
    August 8, 2015

    You keep bringing me places that I don’t know a lot about and that is a good thing. Sapphire Beach, St Thomas has all of the beauty that you want off a beach and a pirate story is always a good story.

    • Kathy
      August 9, 2015

      Sapphire Beach was paradise found. Beautiful place. I found Charlotte Amalie, the capital to be an intriguing place with it’s pirate stories and castles. :)

  • Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
    August 8, 2015

    Love this post! We’re hoping to get to St Thomas on our boat this year. Can’t wait to see the places in your photos in person :-)

    • Kathy
      August 9, 2015

      You won’t be disappointed Ellen. The Caribbean is definitely comparable to my own Great Barrier Reef here in Northern Australia. I could easily go back there to explore more of the islands.

  • Ruth - Tanama Tales
    August 9, 2015

    I didn’t know about St. Thomas Danish history. The day I visited (thru a cruise too) was spent in Magens Bay (really pretty by the way). I do remember all the pirate’s stories, names and souvenirs.

    • Kathy
      August 9, 2015

      Yes it is so interesting that such a far away place like Denmark would own an island in the Caribbean. However the Dutch and French also own a few of these islands. I remember Magens Bay – I think that is in one of my photos. :)

  • Eileen
    August 9, 2015

    Wonderful views of St. Thomas. On our cruise we decided to spend the day snorkeling at St Johns so we missed most of the city itself. Thanks for sharing your trip. Have a happy week!

    • Kathy
      August 9, 2015

      I would have loved to visit St Johns but unfortunately time did not permit. The snorkelling was very impressive at Sapphire Beach however and the city of Charlotte Amalie very interesting. Thank you for visiting my blog. :)

  • malaysianmeanders
    August 10, 2015

    Those photos from Sapphire Beach are making me want to book a Caribbean cruise right away. It’s so beautiful and clear. Your trip sounds fantastic.

    • Kathy
      August 10, 2015

      This was the last stop on our Caribbean Cruise. It was then on to Boston in The States. I will be blogging about Boston very soon. You would not regret taking a cruise – it was very enjoyable. :)

  • beatravelling
    August 11, 2015

    Memories! Was there a few years back. On Veterans Day. So I got to enjoy the parade :) Great surprise!

    • Kathy
      August 11, 2015

      Memories are the best thing about travelling – you are constantly gathering them to cherish when you get older. St Thomas was a beautiful island and I wish I was back there. Thanks for dropping by my blog. :)

  • Jill
    August 11, 2015

    We went to St.Thomas on a cruise years ago and it was one of our favorite islands. We are planning a trip there next winter with friends but instead of a cruise this time we will be staying there. The appeal for me is definitely the beaches but the history is quite interesting also.

    • Kathy
      August 12, 2015

      I think a stay at St Thomas would definitely be worthwhile. I would also like to visit nearby St John and St Croix Islands. There were so many stunning beaches and where we went was fairly uninhabited. Thanks for dropping by my blog Jill. :)

  • Mary {The World Is A Book}
    August 12, 2015

    St . Thomas is one of our favorite cruise ship stops. We’ve never done the walking tour but it does look interesting. We’ve done the lookout and spent some time at Magen’s Bay. The island does have some of the best beaches and shopping in the Caribbean. Glad you enjoyed this port. We’d love to go back for an extended land visit and go to St. John’s too.

    • Kathy
      August 12, 2015

      I agree totally with you. St Thomas was one of my favourite stops on our cruise. I would also love to go to St John and St Croix. Maybe next time! :)

  • Cindy
    August 13, 2015

    I never had any interest in St Thomas because of it’s reputation as a cruise port with lots of shopping, but, like you, I discovered there is a whole lot more . . . and shopping in those old warehouse buildings is really fun and not at all like being in a mall! I hope you had lunch at the food truck on the hill above Sapphire – it’s the best! I’d love to hear more about your experience at Coki – how did it compare to Sapphire?

    • Kathy
      August 14, 2015

      You know what someone told us about the food truck near Sapphire Beach but time did not allow us to stop and eat. We stopped at Coki Beach for a short time but it looked beautiful, however a lot busier than Sapphire Beach. St Thomas really was one of the highlights of our cruise. :)

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