I’m guilty. I’m guilty of flying to a beautiful Caribbean island, and as soon as the boat is ready and my belly is brimming, I leave for other parts. I am guided perhaps by Thomas Aquinas’ admonition about never leaving the harbor. But not so fast; he said nothing about ignoring the port’s amenities before departure, and you shouldn’t.
Of the islands that make up the USVI, St Thomas is the city, and like other cities, there is the hustle and bustle, traffic jams, and on cruise ship days, crowds. But it is much more than the location of the airport and the Home Depot. The pace is slower; the merchants are friendly, there is lots of history, and the place has much local charm. A walking food tour is a great way to see some sights, learn island history, and sample local favors. You might even mix a painkiller.
Take a taxi to explore beyond Charlotte Amalie, and you will likely be amazed by the steepness of the roads. Snow is not allowed on the island because no winter tires on the planet could maintain traction on those grades. That steepness, a reminder of a volcanic origin, leads to the top of the island, where there is a giant gift shop complete with an enormous bottle of Cruzan rum in the parking lot. As cheezy as this may sound to the seasoned, read-jaded traveler, the saving grace is a balcony with a view that is stunning. Bring your camera.