The US Virgin Islands are a popular vacation spot for families. US citizens don’t need a passport to travel there, yet it feels a world apart from mainland USA. St. Thomas makes an excellent base for families looking to explore the idyllic USVI, so here is our guide to planning the best vacation ever.
Booking Family-Friendly Accommodation
There are plenty of accommodation options on St. Thomas, ranging from budget hotels to high-end villas and 5* hotels chains. If you are traveling with kids, your best bet is to book a self-catering St. Thomas property where you can relax and follow your own eating and sleeping schedule.
Families love beachfront villas where the kids can play in the sand all day long, while mom and dad relax with a book or beer. Booking a villa, condo, or apartment gives you a lot more freedom and space, but remember, the best properties book up fast!
Getting Around The Island
If you have kids, you might find it easier to hire a car rather than trying out the local transport options. There are numerous car rental companies operating on the island, so price check some rates before you travel. Be warned, however, that driving in Charlotte Amelie is not always easy thanks to the confusing network of one-way streets. Parking is also difficult. The best way to explore the capital is always on foot.
If car hire isn’t for you, make use of the local taxis. You can pick up taxis all over the island and many of the taxi drivers double as tour guides. Travel between islands on a water taxi if you don’t want to catch a public ferry.
Chill On The Beaches
St. Thomas is blessed with some wonderful beaches. Younger kids will be happy playing on the beach all week long. The public beaches can sometimes get a bit crowded, especially at the weekend, but there is always enough space to go around.
Secret Harbor is popular with families. It has a floating platform off-shore, so older kids can swim out on their own. You can also rent snorkeling equipment from a hire shop on the beach.
Magens Beach has miles of soft sand and is great for younger children. The water is very calm and perfect for paddling. You can rent beach chairs and floats, and there are picnic tables for hire too. There are restrooms at the beach, plus a restaurant that sells delicious pizza.
Sapphire Beach is a nice beach for children. The water is clear and there is always plenty of room, even when the cruise ships are in town.
Fun Things To Do With The Kids
St. Thomas is full of fun things to do if you have kids. Here is a quick rundown of the top activities for kids of all ages.
Visit Blackbeard’s Castle in Charlotte Amelie. St. Thomas’ most famous resident – Blackbeard the pirate – lends his name to a famous landmark overlooking the island’s capital city. There are three manor houses on the site, but the main attraction is Skysborg Tower. The tower was constructed in the 1600s, as a lookout point. There are great views of the harbor and surrounding ocean from the top of the tower. You won’t spot any pirates these days, but the kids can take some great photos for their Instagram account!
Ziplining will appear to adrenaline junkies. Older kids and teenagers can test their nerve on Tree Limmin’ Extreme ziplines running through the rainforest on St. Peter Mountain. The ziplines are interspersed with sky bridges and aerial views. When you stop to catch your breath, enjoy the epic views of the surrounding islands. The final zipline takes you all the way back to the start of the attraction. Are you ready to hurtle through the rainforest at speeds of up to 35 mph?
Take the Skyride to Paradise Point for some of the best views on St. Thomas. This activity is suitable for kids of all ages. Catch the Skyride tramway from near the cruise dock in Charlotte Amelie and in seven minutes, you will zoom up to the highest point on the island. The views are fantastic from this high up. There are also shops and places to grab some food and drinks at Paradise Point.
Visit Coral World Ocean Park and learn more about the unique marine eco-system around the island. The marine park is located at Coki Point. It covers five acres and includes aquariums, an undersea observatory, nature trails, touch pools, and a magnificent 80,000-gallon aquarium containing hundreds of different species of fish and coral reef. The kids will love this attraction, but when they have had enough, you can head over to Coki Beach for a few hours.
Watersports are plentiful in St. Thomas. Kids of all ages will enjoy snorkeling off-shore in St. Thomas. The two best snorkeling spots are off Coki Beach, Sapphire Beach, and Secret Harbour. If you are lucky, you might even spot some turtles! Take some snacks for the fish if you want to snap some great underwater pictures. They love dog bones, apparently.
Food And Drink
Eating out with the kids won’t be a problem on St. Thomas. You can easily pick up fast-food such as pizza and burgers but do try to encourage the kids to try some of the local specialties.
Pates are warm, puff-pastry parcels filled with spicy chicken and sold from street stalls. Johnnycakes are sweet fried bread circles – the best johnnycakes are crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. Rotis are a delicious flatbread wrap filled with curried meat or chickpeas. Be careful not to ask for a spicy roti, as it might blow the top of your head off.
If your teens are embracing vegetarianism or veganism, check out a local Rasta restaurant, as they predominantly serve meat and dairy-free dishes. You can chow down on roasted cauliflower and curried tofu stew.
Kids with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed either. Warm cookies, pink sugar cake, raisin rolls, and guava tarts are delicious treats available from the island’s bakeries. Have you visited St. Thomas with your family? Tell us more.
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