Your first impressions of St. Thomas are probably of its beautiful white sand beaches – some of the most gorgeous on earth, and sunny days spent splashing in the azure waters of the Caribbean or working on your tan. But there’s much to experience beyond the beach! St. Thomas (as well as St. John and St. Croix) is full of phenomenal cultural experiences that will not only delight you but enrich your stay on the islands. And trust us when we say, there’s something for everyone! Whether you like to hit the trail and get some one on one time with nature, check out local artists, or pick up some new dance moves, you’ll find everything you need once you step off the beach!
St. Thomas has a lush, green profusion of tropical forests and hilly peaks. Once you’ve had your fill of being a beach bum, head off the beaten path with some of our favorite hiking routes.
If you’re in the mood for a hike immediately after enjoying some fun in the sun, hit the Magen’s Bay trail, just off of Magen’s Bay Beach. The trail leading up from the beach takes a little work to find, but it’s well worth it. Starting down in the bushes by the beach, take a left and make your way over the bridge. Across from the second shed and there it is! You can make your way up to the phenomenal lookout or head up to the main road. Regardless of what direction you head in on this trail, you’ll be surrounded by St. Thomas’ natural beauty.
The Neltejberg hike is not to be missed if you love a bit of the great outdoors. The route will take you along Neltejberg Bay, on the north side of St. Thomas. Explore the ruins of the old Neltejeberg sugar cane plantation and see some of the local wildlife. Just make sure not to forget your camera.
Get off the main island and hop on a boat over to the Hans Lollik Islands. The islands are a stone’s throw away from St. Thomas and great for a day trip or perfect for camping! The campgrounds on Great Hans Lollik (the bigger of the two islands) are stunning and perfect for a getaway within a getaway if you’ll be in the Virgin Islands for a week or so.
If you love the food you’ve tried while on St. Thomas, you should be sure to check out We Grow Food. Established in 1993, they work to “promote, develop, preserve, and defend agriculture in the Virgin Islands.” Part of the great work they do involves replanted native Caribbean fruits, vegetables, and herbs, education, especially for children, donating the fruits of their labors and doing it all sustainably.
If you’re the theater-going type, you’ll love the arts offerings available to you on St. Thomas. The Pistarckle and the Reichhold Center are two St. Thomas arts hubs that you should absolutely visit when you’re in town. The Pistarckle is a theater that puts on well-known plays, hosts camps for arts-inclined youth, and even hosts a new playwright festival to help up and coming writers break into the world of theater. Over at the Reichhold, you can catch some amazing once in a lifetime shows. This year, the Royal Danish Choir, the Wailers, Tony! Toni! Toné!, and many more have played the Reichhold.
Art Uncorked is a fantastic weekly event you can drop by on Wednesdays at the Art Explorium in Tillett Gardens. Part art, part wine tasting, this is a wonderful spot to flex your creative muscle, unwind and do a little socializing. Painting, drawing, mixed media…there’s something new to try each week!
Just as arts are at the heart of culture, so is dance and quadrille is the dance of the Virgin Islands. A traditional dance that has its origins in 18th century France, quadrille is still alive and well in St. Thomas. You can even take free dance lessons with the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers on Fridays from 8-10 pm. The sessions are hosted in Charlotte Amalie’s Emancipation Garden.
Finally, for those of you with a philanthropic streak, there are also opportunities to volunteer while you’re visiting the Virgin Islands. There are many deserving non-profit organizations in St. Thomas, but here are a few to get you started:
Family Resource Center Inc. – an organization dedicated to stopping domestic violence.
Humane Society of St. Thomas – an animal shelter helping to re-home abandoned animals and helping to fight animal abuse.
You can find a full listing of organizations at: https://greatnonprofits.org/city/st-thomas/VI
There’s so much to do while visiting the Virgin Islands. Make sure you give yourself enough time to do it all!