St. Thomas: Travel Guide

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As I write this post, I am truly at a loss for words (friends may find this hard to believe… somehow I always have something to say :X) But I really am having a hard time finding the words to describe the remarkable beauty we encountered throughout this entire trip. To explain the feelings I had upon departure of the island, my eyes quickly filled with tears as the taxi dropped us off at the Cyril E. King airport. I was saddened to put an end to a week full of exploring, relaxing, reconnecting with the earth around me, and simply clearing my mind in order to return home refreshed and refocused. After doing some research on Pinterest, Google and the traditional asking locals around town, I can confidently share what I feel to be a solid list of things to do in St. Thomas!

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Our Itinerary:

We were gone for 7 total days. We left on Tuesday afternoon, May 24th and arrived around 10PM in St. Thomas. We stayed until Monday, May 30th. We had two days of travel, six nights and five full days of doing whatever we wanted. I definitely could have done a few more days. Some people say they don’t like disconnecting for too long, but boy does it help get the creative juices flowing and reminds you why you work so hard: so you can enjoy moments like these and remember them for life!

  • Day 1: Tuesday – Fly to Miami, connect to St. Thomas, arrive at hotel
  • Day 2: Wednesday – hang out at the hotel, go to K-mart to get floaties for the pool, relax on the beach/at the pool bar
  • Day 3: Thursday – sail boat trip to the British Virgin Islands: Jost Van Dyke. Snorkel, enjoy breakfast on the boat, lunch on Jost, lounge at White Bay beach
  • Day 4: Friday – explore St. Thomas, shop downtown Charlotte Amalie, lounge at Magen’s Bay, lounge at the beach, dinner at Japanese restaurant at resort
  • Day 5: Saturday – take a ferry to St. John,  traveled island via moped and snorkeled on secluded beach/island: Waterlemon bay (NOT to be confused with watermelon). Visit the Westin on St. John, enjoyed THE most amazing Pina coladas.
  • Day 6: Sunday – hang out by the pool all day, snorkel on the beach, end with an amazing hibachi dinner at resort. Favorite day meeting people, had fun getting to know their stories!
  • Day 7: Monday – fly home @ 7AM very very sad

Our Hotel: My Thoughts On Sugar Bay Resort & Spa

Our hotel had GORGEOUS views of the ocean. The water is a light crystal blue that you don’t see anywhere else but the Caribbean (or perhaps somewhere in Asia or Europe where I have yet to venture). Our room was modern and recently remodeled. The balcony in our room had a breathtaking view as you can see in the clip above. Walking through the hallways of this hotel, we were constantly surrounded by unbelievable views. The beach was wonderful because you could snorkel directly from the beach. We were able to rent a snorkel and mask from the hotel pool area, so we literally just jumped in the water and immediately were surrounded by sea life. The pool had a swim up bar and plenty of room for people to cool off in the shade from the beach. It also had a really neat grotto/cave area. The food was pretty good, especially for an all inclusive and the drinks were about average. The only thing I would change would be the level of service. Some staff members were amazing, others not so much. I’m not sure if the all inclusive was a factor, but I do like being pampered while away from the day to day stresses. We both agreed we would be open to trying a new hotel on our next visit to the island.

Food Review @ Sugar Bay St. Thomas

The food at Sugar Bay was about what we expected for an all inclusive resort. I noticed over the past 20 years that all inclusives seem to be getting better at providing quality food. My favorite meals were breakfast – a fresh made omelet and for dinner, they had a hibachi restaurant that had delicious, fresh made Japanese-inspired dishes.

Take A Day Sail

Now that it’s been seven+ months since our trip, I’ve come to the conclusion that my absolute favorite thing we did in St. Thomas was the day sail to the Jost Van Dyke. Departing directly from our resort beach, we took full day sail aboard the very popular Dreamliner sail boat. We stopped to snorkel, eat lunch at Foxy’s and explore the beach & bars at White Beach in the British Virgin Islands.

The sail started with a light breakfast and your choice of drink. I remember my favorite drink was the rum punch. Our first stop was about half way between our lunch destination and our hotel. We snorkeled and had fun going off the slide. John’s favorite thing to do was swim around with the GoPro. After snorkeling for about an hour, we all got back on the boat and headed to lunch.

Surprisingly enough, the quesadilla I ate at Foxy’s was literally probably the best quesadilla I’ve ever had. The spices and pico that came with it were o n  p o i n t. After staying here a little over an hour, we got back on the boat to visit our final destination: White Beach at the British Virgin Islands. I can’t remember which specific island it was, but it had crystal clear blue water, like a resort style pool, with pure white sandy beaches. We swam from our sail boat to the beach and walked to the bars.

At the end, everyone of course started to get chatty. My favorite part of traveling is learning about people’s stories. One of the girls on the crew was from the United States. She was probably just a couple years older than me and she explained how upon graduation, she found a full time job doing something she wasn’t crazy about. So she decided to move to St. Thomas and work on a sail boat. I’m so blown away by people who have the guts to just get up and leave. She wasn’t happy, so she said screw it, I’m going to live the life I want. Inspiration at it’s finest. We also met a couple on their honeymoon from Georgia. They were super sweet and were staying at the Ritz Carlton. We decided if we go back to St. Thomas, we’d go try he Ritz next time. Overall, the day sail was extraordinary, breathtaking and so dang fun! Here are a few clips we got with the GoPro:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore The Downtown Area – Charlotte Amalie

When we went downtown, my main priority was to get photos of the jewelry I brought with me. I was helping out a line get started on social media and thought the island had so many gorgeous views, it’d be perfect. On this adventure, we explored several jewelry and watch stores. The cruise ships stop here and this area can get really crowded, but luckily we went on a day when there were no cruises scheduled to land. John found a watch he liked, and everything is tax free. But he passed, maybe next time 🙂 I didn’t find  anything spectacular, but I figured it was because I was more focused on getting photos 😛

We also stopped by Drake’s Seat, but didn’t get any good pics. This was another spot I found through internet research, but it really wasn’t worth the stop. The thing about St. Thomas is, no matter where you are, there are spectacular views. Going to a different point on the island didn’t really change that for us. At least where we were staying, there was so much scenery to take in. We could’ve spent that day at the resort relaxing. Next time, we will probably spend more time at the resort.

Relax On Magen’s Bay

Magen’s Bay was nice and relaxing. The waves are almost non-existent and the water is crystal clear. I will say this wasn’t the most exciting thing we did, but if you’re looking for a serene, peaceful place to plop in the sand with a dos equis in your hand, this is the place to do it. Still so many breathtaking views at this spot.

Explore An Island On Moped – St. John

View from our moped on St. John!

Where the ferry dropped us off – views of the beach and shops.

While it’s hard to pick just one, one of my favorite adventures during this trip was exploring St. John, the smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands. I heard rumors that the beaches on this island are the most beautiful of the three islands, and after going to see for myself, I have to agree.  John and I took a taxi from our hotel to the port where you catch a ferry out of St. Thomas: Red Hook. For only $7 per person and a short 20-minute trip across the ocean, we arrived at Cruz Bay, St. John. We had no itinerary and only knew of the top things to do from a magazine I grabbed less than an hour prior at Red Hook (which is not like myself, I’m a planner…especially when going somewhere I’ve never been!). Once our ferry arrived at Cruz Bay, we stepped off the dock and our adventure began.

Just off the dock, there are several shops, restaurants and bars on the beach, a casino and rentals. We found ourselves wandering through a back alley way that lead to more shops when we came across a moped/scooter rental hut. There were probably 8-10 mopeds ready for rental, but only a small dog sitting on the top of the stand waiting to greet us. After splitting up and taking separate paths to find the owner of the stand, (I wish I could remember his name-we’ll call him Don) he arrived at the same time we made our way back to the stand. Our moped excursion was about to begin.

Don was very friendly and showed us a map of St. John, pointing out the top beaches (Trunk Beach, Cinnamon Beach) and encouraged us to go to Waterlemon Cay. That’s water + lemon, as in the sour yellow fruit you put in your water. Not the pink and green sweet addictive fruit we call watermelon. It took me several attempts at articulating this word before it came out right. :X Don explained Waterlemon was very exclusive and in order to get to it, you had to hike about one mile. Once you got there, you would swim to Waterlemon island and swim around it counter-clockwise for a very scenic and indigenous snorkel. Before we left, Don warned us of the winding roads, also called switch backs. I’m thankful my boyfriend A) knows how to drive and B) can drive very well. Don suggested a water sports rental place just down the road from the moped rental hut that rented snorkels for $9 per set for 24 hours. We could snorkel anywhere on the island by renting here versus at individual beaches. We got our gear, packed up and were off!

I think the best way to explore St. John is to either rent a moped or Jeep. It gives you the freedom to stop and go at any beach. There are several beaches to stop at along the main highway 20 or North Shore Road. The GoPro was awesome for a moped adventure, we took dozens of spectacular pictures and videos of the island. Waterlemon was the farthest beach out, but it only took us about 45 minutes to drive there. The speed limit is 20, so considering how slow we were going, we got there pretty quick. We parked in a main parking lot as advised and hiked a rocky trail called Leinster Bay Trail down to the water. To get to Waterlemon, we had to hike about one mile. We passed several people on our hike and noticed 3-4 sail boats anchored in the area we were headed to. Seeing people and boats was comforting since we were about to swim across a large body of water in a non-populated area.

We stopped at the edge of a rocky bay that lead straight into coral and fish. We hopped in and swam along the edge of the bay, eventually making our way across a deep blue part of the ocean to get to the island. We saw several sting rays floating along the bottom of the ocean floor and dozens of species of fish. This snorkel took around two hours and is recommended for people who have been snorkeling at least a few other times before taking this one on. Once we reached the North end of the island, the current was really strong, pushing us back towards to ocean/away from the beach. We were swimming as hard as we could but moving maybe 2-3 inches every 10 seconds.

This definitely set off some anxiety…first of all, we were at a small island and no one knew we were there. Second of all, it was getting cloudy and was about to rain. Third of all, we’re out in the wild with all these sea animals..who’s to  say a shark wasn’t wandering somewhere nearby waiting for some tourists to fall off the beaten path?!? Luckily, we eventually got around the North side and swam up to a beach where we rested for a few minutes. We were officially over being “adventurous” and just wanted to get back. We still had to cross back over the deep part of the bay to get back to the beach we started from. All I remember is swimming as fast as I could back and not looking down. It was about a 15 minute swim. Once we got back to our bag, we went straight to the moped and headed to the Westin for a nice drink and appetizer. The best piña colada I’ve ever had was at the Westin St. John pool bar. I could probably drink one every single day in the summer!! Seriously.. TO DIE for. Here’s a pic:

The US Virgin Islands is so gorgeous and I definitely recommend visiting to anyone who wants to explore an island, relax on the beach and simply take a few days to clear your mind. The best part is, for Americans, you don’t need your passport. Although if you plan to do a day sail to the British Virgin Islands, you will need a passport. I hope to go back one day and explore even more of this breathtaking island! Cheers!

Our last day, sunrise from our room. <3

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