* '''Coki Beach''' - The best snorkeling beach on St. Thomas. Normal underwater visibility of 100+ feet! Great beach for kids to learn to snorkel. It's very calm and you can feed the fish in about 3-4 feet of water if you want to. They sell dog treats to feed to the fish and it's really cool to see them swarm you for one. Beware of the locals though, you will be asked if you want to buy something 20 times before you make it to the beach, once there you are pretty much left alone though. If you take a tourist taxi to Coki Beach (they have awnings) you must be sure to take the same driver on return trip. If you try to take a different driver, nasty arguments can happen. Get the name of the driver who took you and make a time for pickup and return. There are no food facilities at Coki Beach, so be sure to plan for this. There is food available on the beach. People walk around with small menues asking if you want anything to eat. There is also a smoothie stand that only makes all natural smoothies for $7.
* '''Secret Harbour''' - This is a private resort, but they allow visitors to use the beach. Not so for the chairs, which must be rented from a very diligent attendant. There are a number of rather large iguanas that wander around the property. They are not pet material, and usually run off if approached.
If you are on a cruise ship, it will not matter much what day of the week you visit. However, if you have more control over your schedule, try to arrange to be there on a "''no ship day''", when the island is
===By Cruise Ship===
Saint Thomas is a very popular stop for cruise ships on both Eastern Caribbean and Southern Caribbean itineraries. When they're in port (often, usually during daylight hours), you may see many large ships...1-2 off-season, frequently four or more (occasionally eight or so) in high-season. Each can put 2-3,000 passengers on the island...mega-ships 5-6,000 each. You can find fairly dependable data on scheduled ship arrivals and passenger loads at [http://cruisett.com/content.php] by using the "ports" feature.
* Most dock at the '''West Indian Company Dock''', next to '''Havensight''' shopping mall, and a near two mile walk to downtown Charlotte Amalie. Comfort & safety for the walk is improving as construction of the shoreline road finishes. Passengers can also easily get a $4 per person open air "Safari" cab ride each way to/from downtown.
* Some ships dock at '''Crown Bay''', a slightly longer walk to downtown than Havensight. It too is served by taxis and $4 Safari Cabs, and several small stores open when ships are docked there.
* When many ships stop here on any day, some may have to anchor off-shore and tender passengers ashore...sometimes to the waterfront at downtown Charlotte Amalie.
There are plenty of rental car offices in the airport and around Charlotte Amalie. Traffic drives on the '''left''' side of the road,
Major routes are marked with two-digit route numbers (beginning with 3 and 4 on this island), and minor connectors get three-digit numbers. The sign of choice is black numbers on a white circle, the same as several states on the mainland. You generally should not stray off the numbered routes (except in Charlotte Amalie) unless you need to do so to go to your hotel or resort. Unlike St. John or St. Croix, all of St. Thomas' numbered routes are paved. However, the routes are not well signed on most of the southern half of the island, especially around Charlotte Amalie, and they are prone to suddenly turning off onto another road or changing numbers without notice.
[[Image:Charlotte_Amalie.jpg|thumb|View from Paradise Point]]
*'''Paradise Point''' offers an excellent view of the harbor and Charlotte Amalie. The Skyride takes about 5 minutes each way, and costs
*'''St. Thomas Synagogue''' the oldest synagogue under the flag of the United States of America.
[[Image:Charlotte Amalie Harbor.jpg|thumb|Charlotte Amalie Harbor]]
*'''Charlotte Amalie Harbor''' is one of the most beautiful harbors to be found anywhere. There are almost always lots of sailboats and yachts moored in the harbor, many with windmills spinning away. It's ringed by hills, and when there are several cruise ships docked, it can be quite a sight.
*'''99 steps''' Built by the Danes in the mid 18th century, to climb up and down the steep hills of Charlotte Amalie. The bricks used to build the steps were brought from Denmark as ballast in the hulls of sailing ships.
===Outside the city===
*'''Coral World''' [http://coralworldvi.com], Coki Point ''northeast shore'' Spend the day at Coral World Ocean Park, one of St. Thomas’s Greatest Attractions. Get up close and personal with the beauty and magic of Caribbean marine life in a stunning setting. View life on a coral reef from the unique Undersea Observatory. Pet a shark, hand feed a stingray or a rainbow lorikeet! There are several gift shops, cafes and shower facilities. Additional activities include brand new dive operations Snuba and Power Snorkel as well as the Sea Lion Splash, Sea Trek Helmet Dive, Shark and Turtle Encounters, Nautilus Semi-Sub, and Parasailing. Located next to Coki Beach. Open 9-5 daily, November - May. Summer schedule may vary.
*'''St. Thomas Skyride to Paradise Point''', 9617 Estate Thomas ''HarborSide'', tel: 340-774-9809,[http://stthomasskyride.com]. Open 9AM-5PM when cruise ships are in port. A short walk from the West Indian Company cruise ship dock to the tram which takes you up to the top for fabulous views, a drink and maybe lunch. Skyride day pass: Adults $
*'''Coral World''' (see Do above) for watersports or parasailing.
== Buy ==
The island is arguably the biggest shopping mecca in the Caribbean. Goods are imported to the island duty and excise free, and visitors do not directly pay any duty or tax on purchases (merchants do pay a Gross Receipts Tax of
U.S. currency is used/accepted universally. ATMs can be found in numerous locations. As anywhere, major purchases should be made by credit card. (Credit cards issued by U.S. banks do not induce foreign-exchange fees, others may.) Most store-front establishments, resorts and restaurants accept credit cards and traveler checks. Few places accept personal checks. Sellers in open-air bazaars may not accept credit or debit cards.
Bargaining is appropriate in open-air bazaars, and should be tried in stores but may be rebuffed in a few for some kinds of items. Here, ensure that items of interest that need any kind of (service) warranty have one in writing that is ''usable at home'', e.g., for electronics, watches, cameras. You need to ask if any warranty is "grey-market" (e.g., see [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_market#Photographic_equipment]), international or backed by the US-importer, and understand the consequences of what's offered. For valuable gems or jewelry, ensure the seller provides a written description and certified appraisal of each item's worth.
In exchange for very large fees, "port shopping advisers" on cruise ships tout certain merchants as more reliable than others, with passenger satisfaction "guaranteed, except for negligence or buyer's regret".
Per "Get In" discussion above, when many cruise ships are in port, the open-air bazaar and stores can be crowded...sometimes very crowded. That can compromise bargaining success and how well you are helped even in the best stores with fine staffs. Shopping early or late can help avoid some of the crowds. Stores downtown (Charlotte Amalie) usually open at 0930-1000 and close around 5:00 PM. Half-day, morning ship's tours (the most popular) end about noon back at the ship, and ship itineraries often call for departures at 4-6 PM (with all-aboard as much as an hour earlier). You might time your shopping accordingly.
===Customs and Duty===
'''Always consult authoritative sources''' to obtain and understand consequences of customs limits and duty costs before making major purchases, e.g., for U.S. Customs, download/print and take with you "Know Before You Go" [http://cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/]. Another useful, U.S. Customs FAQ page is at [https://help.cbp.gov/cgi-bin/customs.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php?p_sid=1X7RxcVj&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_lva=&p_sp=&p_li=&p_srch=]. The "keyword" feature helps to quickly get to your interest. Otherwise, unscrupulous sellers may try to convince you that you enjoy far higher exemptions and freedom from inspection and seizure of illegal items.
'''Don't pay duty on
'''Best-effort recap of U.S. duty exemptions''':
The following summarizes your duty exemptions/allowances as you return home ''having visited
- '''Total purchases''': Each U.S. citizen is allowed to return to the U.S. with $1600 in ''total'' purchases (up from $800 for the Caribbean generally). At least half the value of purchases must have been made in the USVI. Members of immediate families can "pool" exemptions. Even if you exceed your total/aggregate exemption, you may have to pay only 1.5-3% of the next $1000 ''per person''. Example: two parents and two children have a total/aggregate $6400 duty-free exemption, and the next $4,000 would cost $120 at most.
- '''Liquor''': Under a separate duty exemption, but within the above $1600, each ''adult'' U.S. citizen is allowed to return to the U.S. with ''four liters'' or ''five fifths'' of liquor duty-free (up from one liter), provided at least half of the value was purchased in the USVI. If you purchase at least one liter of product made or bottled in the USVI (e.g., Cruzan rum), you can return with ''five liters/six fifths'' duty-free. (Otherwise, if you buy ''only'' outside the USVI, your exemption is one liter.) With different bottle sizes noted above, take care about numbers of bottles versus total liters purchased for your Customs declaration. Exemptions for wine and beer are different; again, consult "Know Before You Go". ''Adult'' members of immediate families can "pool" liquor exemptions as well. Beyond your exemption, costs are moderate, reportedly 3% duty plus $2.14 tax per liter for 80 proof.
All purchases (including USGR/AGR) and gifts you've received (except what you've consumed or given away) must be itemized on your customs declaration; USGR/AGR and other exempted item costs should not be included in the dutiable sum of your purchases. Have receipts, certificates and merchandise for all listed purchases readily at hand as you pass through Customs. Be sure to list any food products by type.
As you return home (
* While on your ship or as you reach the airline counter at the Saint Thomas airport, you'll be instructed to fill out a Customs form. Use the above notes (or better, what's in "Know Before You Go") to accurately indicate how much you've purchased, in what categories, so Customs can quickly look at it as you are processed.
* And go through Customs (e.g., at Saint Thomas airport), have purchases, receipts, Forms 4457 and the Customs declaration form handy to show officials. They may opt not to charge duty for purchases in slight excess of any limit. They will often charge for each limit exceeded if you are paying duty for other purchases anyway.
- Other customs enforcement (e.g., for Canada or EC countries) depends on country limits and customs diligence.
For a general discussion of "duty free", go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty-free_shop .
Eat a fresh coconut, there is an old man who comes to the tent market in Charlotte Amalie every day with a pickup truck full of coconuts and a machete and sells them for 2 or 3 dollars, you drink the milk and give it back and he gives it another crack so you can eat the "meat".
In addition to offerings in resort complexes, a few independent restaurants include:
* <sleep name="1829" alt="" address="" directions="Downtown, Government Hill" phone="+1 340 776-1829 " url="http://hotel1829.com/" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="" fax=""></sleep>
* <sleep name="Holiday Inn" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url=""
checkin="" checkout="" price=""></sleep>
* <sleep name="Pineapple Rooms and Villas" alt="" address="" directions="East End of St. Thomas " phone="" tollfree="+1 800-479-1539" url="http://stayusvi.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax="" website="http://stayusvi.com/">Ten one-story buildings in a gated residential village, with a pool at the center. Near Coki Beach.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort" alt="" address="5 Estate Bakkeroe" directions="" phone="+1 340 776-8500" email="" fax="+1 340 715-6193 url="http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/STTFR" checkin="" checkout="" price="From $350">Largest resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands with 11 restaurants and bars and three pools. AAA 3 diamond.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Ritz Carlton" alt="" address="" directions="" phone=""
* <sleep name="Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina" alt="" address="6720 Estate Smith Bay" directions="" phone="+1 340 775-6100" tollfree="+1 800-524-2090" email="" fax="+1 340 775-2403" url="http://antillesresorts.com/2sapphirebeach.htm" checkin="" checkout="" price="$225-700">Nice self-contained beach resort away from downtown.</sleep>
There are several small internet cafes located around the island as well as connections offered by the larger resort hotels. Havensight has two and Crown Bay one that cater to ships' crews; they are open to the public.
Cell phones can be used in most places, with some spotty coverage in the shadows of mountains and hills. All cells support technology used in the U.S. Calls to the U.S. are treated as long-distance, not international, for most carriers. Generally, calls are standard rate for those on nationwide plans with AT&T and