With the Chicago weather dipping well into the 30s this week, I am dreaming of my stay this summer in the US Virgin Islands. I spent a short-but-fun three days on St. Thomas touring Charlotte Amalie, going ziplining, and—of course—grabbing some much-needed time by the pool! The USVI is a short flight from Miami, and an easy trip, as on arrival US citizens don’t have to visit customs. In fact, US citizens don’t even need a passport to visit!
The island of St. John is a quick 20 minute boat ride away, and we ventured across to visit the gorgeous Caneel Bay resort (where there are donkeys!). St. John has such a different feel from St. Thomas. It is more tranquil, and while the downtown area is much smaller, the resorts are enormous! Although we didn’t visit Trunk Bay on this trip (we snorkeled there in 2007), it is a must-see while on St. John.
Downtown Charlotte Amalie may be known as a shopper’s mecca, but what captured my attention wasn’t shiny baubles or pretty swimsuits. The shops are actually nestled in the historic district of the capital, many in the alleys between the water and Main Street, now known by names like Royal Dane Mall and Drake’s Passage. Also tucked away in the beautifully-preserved footpaths are several cafes (we had a wonderful meal at Gladys’ Cafe—the hot sauce is HOT!) and restaurants. A few blocks away, past Vendors Plaza and Emancipation Gardens, stands Fort Christian. The oldest structure in the USVI, Fort Christian has been a school, jail, government building, and a museum.
It’s worth meandering a few blocks from town center to visit the St. Thomas Synagogue. It was the first synagogue I had visited that boasted a sand floor. It was explained to us that the sand floor represents Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism, who met in secret in their basements to observe their religion and used sand to muffle their prayers.
Thank you to the USVI Department of Tourism for hosting me while I toured the islands!