Making calls to friends and family from the ship is very expensive but St. Thomas is a good place to make calls home by direct dialing to the mainland, using US long-distance cards or major credit cards. The service is excellent and the prices are more reasonable than on other islands. For information on using your cell phone in St. Thomas area, dial 6611. AT&T built a new state-of-the-art communication center across the street from Havensight, next to the Paradise Point Tramway. It offers 15 desk booths for calls, fax and copy services, videophone and TDD (hearing impaired) equipment. Look for the white building with the blue logo.
Self- Guided Tours
Coral World Underwater Observatory and Marine Park, just 15 minutes from Charlotte Amalie, is a five-acre park next to Coki Beach (an excellent place to snorkel or scuba dive). One of the highlights of the park is the Caribbean Reef Encounter, an 80,000-gallon donut-shaped tank that allows 365 degree viewing from inside the circular room.
Beaches on St. Thomas:
Magens Bay, has been called one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by National Geographic magazine.
The heart shaped mile-long beach is perfect for sailing, swimming and sunbathing. There’s plenty of room for large families,as well at picnic tables for lunches. Facilities include lockers ($3/), bathrooms, a snack bar, boutiques and a beachside bar. A taxi ride takes approximately 20 minutes from downtown and will cost about $16.00 per couple. Entry to the beach park is 50 cents per adult, 25 cents for children and $1 for vehicles.
Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina is the place to come for water sports, diving and sailing excursions. If you’re a sports enthusiast, jump in a cab for the 15-minute ride ($15 per couple) to the beach of your dreams. Located at the east end of the island the beach has views of St. John and the British Virgin Islands. The resort offers restroom facilities, a volleyball court and a restaurant serving lunch, beachside. Visitors are limited in their use of the hotel and the pool is reserved for hotel guests only.
Coki beach, at the northeast end of the island, has some of the best reef snorkeling on St. Thomas. Coki Beach Dive Club offers dives for beginners with no experience, but who want to enjoy the pleasures of the open water. There are no changing areas (no showers) and a concession stand for snacks and refreshments. Coki Beach is only a 15minute taxi ride ($15 per couple) from downtown.
Secret Harbour Beach Resort and Villas is the island’s newest water resort. It’s near Red Hook; a 15minute ride from the dock($15 per couple). Situated on a calm lagoon, the resort offers beach activities, four tennis courts, a freshwater pool with Jacuzzi, a café for breakfast, lunch and dinner at seaside, a beach bar, a gift shop and Aqua Action PADI Dive Center.
If you choose to leave St. Thomas you can take a Day-Trip to St. John
The island of St. John is worth exploring for its beaches, private coves and US national park. St. John is a short ferry ride from St. Thomas, this unspoiled wonderland has excellent snorkeling reefs and white sandy beaches. Cruz Bay, the ferry-docking town, has a seaside shopping area specializing in island crafts and unique Caribbean items. Mongoose Junction and Wharfside Village are two areas offering unusual shops.
On St. John, stop at the Visitor’s Center, open from 8am -4:30pm, for information about Virgin Islands National Park(www.virgin.islands.national-park.com). The Park encompasses more than two-thirds of the island and provides a variety of walks and tours for everyone. Inquire about the daily tour, which we’ve listed below.
If you prefer to spend the whole day at one of St. John’s beaches and snorkeling reefs, consider the following suggestions.The Friends of the US Virgin Islands National Park offers seminars and snorkeling tours on a regular schedule. Visit their website at www.friendsvinp.org and contact them directly (by e-mail only) to schedule an event during your visit.
Trunk Bay (entrance fee, $4 per person) is the island’s most popular beach with good reason. Green-blue waters surround the wide sandy shore, with an underwater snorkeling trail designed by the National Park Service. There’s food, bathrooms and showers. You can rent equipment on the beach for $15 per set. A 15-minute taxi ride out here will cost approximately $8 for two people or 3.50 each for three or more people traveling together in a group. At 9:30 am every Monday a park ranger leads a 1 ½-hour tour of the snorkeling trail at Trunk Bay. This is a vigorous swim, and is not recommended for beginners or people with medical problems. Bring your own snorkeling gear, a towel and a T-Shirt. The tour is free although you will still pay the entrance fee pf $4.
Snorkeling tours via motorboat leave from the Cruz Bay Visitor’s Center at 9:30 am, Tuesday through Saturday, aboard m/v Sadie Sea. Be sure to bring your own snorkel gear, towel, food and drinks. The Wednesday tour ($50 per person) is a six-hour jaunt that circumnavigates St.John, with three snorkeling stops. Shorter tours on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday last 2 ½ hours and cost $35 per person. Call (340)776-6922 to make reservations, and be sure to catch the 9am ferry from Charlotte Amalie to St. John ($14 roundtrip).
Island Activities On Land
Golfers of any skill level will fall in love with the Mahogany Run Golf and Tennis Resort on St. Thomas. Situated the northern coastline, this beautiful course rises and drops like a rollercoaster. The ultimate challenge holes -#13, #14 and #15 – are called the Devils Triangle and if you manage to play them without a penalty stroke you’ll be rewarded a Devils Triangle certificate. Rates vary through the seasons, but are about $100 for 18 holes (including cart rental); Ask for the nine-hole price. Clubs can be rented for $30 (18 holes) or $15 (nine holes). Call to reserve your tee time, (800) 253-7103, (340) 777-6006, or fax your requests to (340) 777-6280. Take a look before you leave home at www.Mahoganyrungolf.com, and be sure to ask about special packages for cruise ship passengers at a price that includes transportation.
Mahogany Run Golf and Tennis Resort (800) 253-7103 has two courts that cost $10 an hour. Play a round of gold and a set of tennis a one of the most naturally beautiful setting on the island. In addition, Sapphire Beach Resorthas four courts available through the guest Service Desk for $10 per hour. Call ahead to arrange times and court space. (340) 775-6100
Marriott Frenchman’s Reef on St. Thomas has two courts at $10 per hour. (340) 776-8500, ext. 6818, for reservations. Renaissance Grand Beach Resort has six courts at $8 per hour. (340) 775-1510, ext. 7800.
On St. John, Caneel Bay Plantation (340) 776-6111,ext.234, has 11 courts and charges $10 per person per day for use of all out door facilities. The Westin Hotel, (340) 693-8000, has six courts and charges $15 per hour.
Prices, phone numbers and web sites are subject to change. Information gathered from Laura and Diana Rapp’s book, Cruising the Caribbean.