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“Do not expect a fine dining experience on St. Thomas”
Review of St. Thomas

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Citrus Heights, California
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
26 helpful votes
“Do not expect a fine dining experience on St. Thomas”
Reviewed March 31, 2010

There were good and bad things about St. Thomas.

My fiancee and I traveled here in March 2010. We were attracted to St. Thomas because of the beautiful beaches and the great rate we received on our villa. We do not like big crowds and major tourist attractions. Both of us do not like the idea of cruise ships. If you're like us, then I hope you find this review useful. If not, I hope there is at least something you will be able to take away from this.

One of the first things we noticed about St. Thomas is that it is crowded. You have to pay attention to the cruise ship schedules when planning your vacation. Our experience was that the days when there were more than two ships in port, the island was extremely crowded. All the major beaches, at least in March, were crowded every single day. There are a couple of beaches that are hidden gems like Secret Harbor and Hull Bay. These beaches are highly recommended for snorkeling. Nobody is ever there and the wildlife is amazing.

If you are staying on the island for more than a couple of days, I would highly recommend renting a car. The safari taxi drivers are crazy and not to mention expensive. We rented a car for our 10 day trip and it was extremely convenient. Make sure you rent from a company like Budget that lets you take the vehicle on the car barge over to St. John. You will want to do this.

Buying food and eating out at restaurants was extremely disappointing. The grocery stores are absolutely horrible. We visited several of them. The prices were a bit more expensive than the states but the selection was extremely poor and the quality was mediocre at best. As far as eating out, our experiences seem to be consistent with the majority of people who visit the Virgin Islands. If your diet consists of alcohol, than you will be a happy camper. If not, be prepared to be sorely disappointed or have a huge chunk taken out of your wallet. There are probably 5 restaurants on the island that have decent food and acceptable service. Be prepared to spend over $100 for two people at those restaurants. As for the rest of the restaurants, be prepared to spend $50-$60 for two people with average food and sub-par to downright rude service. If your are staying in a place with a kitchen, use it. Cooking with mediocre food is better and cheaper than the restaurants and you won't have to worry about bad service. If you have room in your bag, I would pack pre-prepackaged and canned food. If you have any favorite snacks or specialty foods, bring them along also. If you are coffee snobs like we are, finding decent coffee is a major issue. There are no Starbucks or Peets around and the coffee in the grocery store is not any good. Bring your favorite beans and possibly a coffee grinder. With the leftover money you saved from bringing your own food and eating at home, you can use it to go to St. John.

If you came to the Virgin Islands for the shopping, stay on St. Thomas. There are over 100 jewelry stores on St. Thomas. If you are like us and want to explore and dabble in activities, then St. Thomas will be poorly suited to your needs. We liked St. John much more than St. Thomas. While still crowded, It was less crowded than St. Thomas, the people seemed friendlier, and the beaches were much more spectacular. If you are staying on St. Thomas like we did, you can take a ferry or car barge from Red Hook. When coming back after a long day, be sure to arrive at the car barge loading dock at least a half hour early or you will be stuck on St. John for the night, oh darn......

As far as other activities in the Virgin Islands, I would highly recommend bringing your passport if you have one. If you don't have your passport, you will want to apply for one ASAP. The British Virgin Islands are spectacular. We took a day trip to "The Baths" on Virgin Gorda with stops to snorkel off of Norman Island and the 'park and swim' into White Bay to visit world-famous 'Soggy Dollar Bar' on Jost Van Dyke. If we had the time and money, we would have spent a day at each place. In the future, we will plan separate excursions for each destination.

We did not have an exact idea of what to bring, but now that we have been here, this is the list of recommended items for both sexes. For women, tevas and flip flops are the footwear of choice. Flip flops for around town and the beach. Tevas for the excursions that you will want to take part in, (ex: the 'Baths' on Virgin Gorda). Longer "bermuda" shorts for when you get out of the water and to wear around town. Leave the blow dryers, flat/curling irons and hair spray at home. I have long thick curly hair and my hair was a fuzzy nightmare. The only thing that helped was anti-frizz creme (Moroccan Oil and Curly Sexy Hair creme). The use of anti-chafe creme is highly recommended (in the ladies' feminine products isle). Bug spray is a must. Buy an underwater camera in the states because it is impossible to find one here. I am a makeup goddess and believe me, only minimal makeup is needed - mostly because it melts right off and you'd look ridiculous wearing it to the beach anyways. Bring several levels of SPF sunscreen and lots of it. We went through 5 bottles in 10 days. We went tanning at a salon for 2 months before we left and it was the best thing we did. We still used SPF 50 and 30 and applied it at regular intervals, especially after swimming and snorkeling. Lots of cotton tank tops, bermuda shorts (so you don't chafe if your wet swimsuit is still on) and cute sun dresses. Nothing more than a light sweater is needed because it is always very, very warm. A minimum of two swimsuits are needed.

For the men, all you need are tevas, 2 pairs of swim shorts, a couple of shirts, a hat, a pair of sunglasses and a beer in you hand at all times :)

In addition to beer, you will want to double-fist with water. Do not get dehydrated. It will lessen your ability to participate in activities and makes your hangover from the night before even worse.

It is very easy to get around if you have an iphone because GPS is a MUST here. AT&T is the only carrier that gets reception on the island, so if you have Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile, etc... you might as well shut your phone off when you land.

20 Thank Marcchunter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level 5 Contributor
55 reviews
46 helpful votes
“Picturesque Destination but more of a family place”
Reviewed March 25, 2010

My boyfriend and I recently traveled to St Thomas for a 5 day vacation. The view of the ocean is absolutely beautiful and we were fortunate enough to stay right on the beach- soaking up the sun and enjoying the view for our stay.

We visited the different areas of St Thomas including Red Hook, Downtown, and Frenchtown and while we generally enjoyed the cuisine (although it's pricey), we were hard pressed to find any after-dinner hot spots. Most of the people we ran into had families and were generally not out on the town. In fact, nothing is open in the downtown in the evening. Frenchtown is only a few restaurants and small bar areas, and Red Hook seemed to be all very young (college-aged) kids. We couldn't find a scene made for the late twenties to early thirties crowd. The majority of the folks staying at our hotel had 2+ children.

St Thomas is one of the more populated islands, so most of the landscape is filled in with houses.

Don't forget your passport- you have to come back through customs to fly home even though you don't go through customs on the way there!

4 Thank coupleoftravelers2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
5 helpful votes
“Not the best service”
Reviewed March 9, 2010

My wife and I stayed on St Thomas, USVI for 14 days. The locals are not the friendliest people in the world. However, some of them are nice if you great them with good morning, good afternoon etc. I have never seen so many jewelry shops in one place. I would say about 90% of all stores downtown are jewelry stores. This city definitely caters to the cruise ship crowd. The shops all close at five o'clock when the boats leave. Be prepared to spend lots of cash in this town. On average it cost 40-50 dollars per meal for two people. Other than the beach there is not that much to do here. I would not recommend this place unless you just want to relax only. I will take my money to Mexico in the future. The service is much better and your dollar will go further.

3 Thank Monkey83California
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sebring, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
79 reviews
192 helpful votes
Reviewed March 9, 2010

NORWEGIAN PEARL only had to 4pm, March 3 at ST THOMAS. It wasn't what I expected. "a tropical paradise" IT IS A BUSY, BUSTLING CITY."
We took the $4.00ea. taxi, 2 miles to downtown.Next we walked to top of the 99 STEPS, 103 really, TO BLACKBEARDS CASTLE. the admission is $12.00 if you want to go in,OK. then we started our own walking tour, BRITANNA HOUSE, GOVERNORS OFFICE, MEMORIAL PARK ,all downhill,and along the shoreline to YATCH HAVEN GRANDE. I'm glad we walked back and got to see more. We stopped at the ST THOMAS SKY RIDE , THAT HAD A LONG LINE. they charged $21.00 ea./or $15.00 on the ship. Our last stop was for a cool one at HOOTER'S next to the SKYRIDE. $4.00 beer or wine. It was great. I GOT MY T-SHIRT TOO. Jessica and Angelica were great. We sat on the deck and watched the crazy traffic and a fender bender. CAUGHT IT ALL ON CAMERA.
We walked accross the street, thru the port shops and boarded our ship. Have a great trip!

1 Thank BILL L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Quad Cities, IL/IA
1 review
5 helpful votes
“Great Trip-Sun, Sand, Snorkeling and RELAXATION!”
Reviewed March 6, 2010

What a GREAT trip!

This island is gorgeous and has the ultimate beaches! It certainly isn't a cheap trip so don't go on a strict budget; 'just relax mon!'

I would never do an all inclusive package-get out and explore the beaches around the island! I would recommend staying in a big hotel that has a contract with the cab companies so it is easy to get a cab wherever you want to go (the Wyndham was great).

Pack light, everything is very casual and beach gear is the most important!

Renting a car is only a good idea if you plan to go many places a day and have several people to pay for because cabs are a per person rate. If there are just two of you and you think most days you will take one beach trip and maybe a dinner trip most days it is definitely cheapest to just cab it. Driving is somewhat scary! You drive on the left and itis pretty much controlled chaos. Islanders do not honk when they are mad at you but honk to say hello to one another and most frequently to tell you to go ahead and pull in front of them! Don't get into a non-marked taxi (called a gypsy cab). remember, this is a poor island and there is crime-it is not recommended to walk alone in most places at night; even by locals. But, you are safe walking downtown near the couple of bars and in Red Hook from bar to bar. You are safe in the tourist areas downtown and on the East End as well.

Downtown there are lots of places to shops and tons and tons of jewelry shops. We didnt' waste time spending a day shopping down there so I can't say how great it is but the hours are limited. They open for the purpose of tourists and those coming in on cruise ships so their hours are 9-4 most days. I would not go downtown on a day there are a lot of cruise ships in-way too packed! The local paper will tell you how many ships come in each day.

I would make a trip to K-Mart when you get there; you can drink the water without a problem at most places but it definitely tastes different. If you buy a couple of big water bottles and gallons of water for your hotel you can refill your bottle every day which saves time and money. We also bought liquor there-rum is about $8 a bottle and that is the cost of most drinks elsewhere.

Beaches to visit:
Megeans Bay
Sapphire Bay
Lindquist (This is a locals beach and very small but we found it was our favorite as the water was crystal clear, quiet and just beautiful-the best of the trip!)
Trunk Bay (on st. Johns-just a ferry ride away!)

There are lots of other beaches as well such as Bolongo Bay; I don't think there is a bad beach on any island!!!

Remember, there is no open container law so all drinks are "to go" Most places have a pretty small menu so don't expect the pages and pages of selections many places here have.
Also, everything it outside so dress cool wherever you go!

In Havensite we only ate at Fat Turtle: great food and drinks! The High Tide was delicious!

Most any place in Red Hook was great!
Island Time Pub: Great pizza! Great view over the ocean and yachts.

Caribean Saloon: Good food (Burgers, Sandwiches for lunch may have more extensive dinner menu) margaritas and night life!

Molly Malones: Good Irish food and American Grill. Some live music and good location!

Big Bambooz: Great burgers-mine had brie and caramelized onions; definitely nothing I have ever had before but delicious! Good bartenders as well.

The Love Shack: we didn't actually eat here but we went out here after dinner and it was FUN!! Great drinks and dance music! Order the Shark Attack-Served in a fish bowl with sharks full of rum! Delish and definitely someting to share with 3-4 people!

Downtown we ate at the Green House where their motto is "if it smells like fish; eat it" Nice open place with great food-the best selection of any place we went to. Happy Hour is 4-7 with 2 for 1 drinks, $3 off appetizers--a great deal!

I would recommend a day trip while you are there. Horizon Charters was awesome-A full day on a sail boat. Included open bar, breakfast, a hot delicious lunch and two snorkel trips (gear provided but if you have room I would pack your own; you can snorkel at most places and better than using rented gear). We got lucky and only 14 people were on a boat for 32; when booking I would ask how full it is-it would have been really crowded with more people and probably not as fun. Our captain with Horizon was Marcus and his first mate John-they were awesome!!!

Nothing on the island moves quickly so take it easy, take your time. The best time was when we were chillin on the beach!

5 Thank AAKen052007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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