By Laura Holcomb from Memories and Moments Travel
If you have a week to spend and cities aren’t your idea of the perfect vacation then do I have a spot for you! St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands… a great way to see the Caribbean without a passport!
We arrived to St. Thomas, picked up our car (the only way to really get around to see all of the hidden gems) and headed straight to the Green Iguana Hotel. This hotel is currently listed as number two on the acclaimed Trip Advisor site in the small hotel/B&B category for Charlotte Amalie. They have earned this status for sure! The managers Gwen and John truly made us feel like family.
This independently owned establishment is located in a port city, but is tucked away from the hustle and bustle even if you are there while the cruise ships are in port. The garden, located in the center of the hotel’s property, is beautiful, and the views from the balconies are breathtaking! So why is it called the Green Iguana? Because that is what you will find throughout the island….a variety of iguanas. For this nature lover, we found it to be a great experience!
This hotel is the perfect combination of having someone available for assistance without having the stuffiness that other places have. They had plenty of things to borrow…games, swim noodles, and so on, which was great. I felt at ease and comfortable the entire time. We left there with a hug and new friends!
Our second location was Bolongo Bay. They are ranked number one for their area and the type of resort that they are. They have a unique offering of all inclusive or a standard package. The Doumeng family has done a great job with their resort.
At Bolongo Bay, besides spacious beautiful rooms, they offer a variety of water fun activities with no additional charge – even if you do not have the all-inclusive plan. You can enjoy snorkeling, paddle boats, float mats and so on at their private beach.
While we did not participate in the all-inclusive package, we did dine at both of their restaurants, Iggies and The Lobster Grill. Both were wonderful. The drinks were great and the service terrific…you can’t miss on this one!
Both are great locations to spend a special vacation. We were here for our 25th wedding anniversary and it was the perfect combination of city and beach.
Most people visit St. Thomas on a one day stop from a cruise ship. While this is great, there is so much more to see. Here is a peek into what we did during the week.
For some chilling fun that is totally unexpected, try Magic Ice! It is a top ranked attraction and is the biggest ice gallery in the world. Why travel from cold Northeast Ohio to warm St. Thomas and visit some place that is colder than home? Because it is amazing! Artists from all over are brought in to carve sculptures based on Caribbean history. You are provided with a warm parka and gloves and, to warm you up at the end of your tour, a shot of rum! My particular favorite is Cruzan’s coconut rum to which James, our very knowledgeable guide, introduced me and I will be forever grateful! Don’t forget to try the ice slide for a very chilling experience.
As we are adventurous eaters, we were thrilled when we stumbled upon Karen’s Place, a very small stand close to the waterfront that served very traditional local fare. We normally prefer the home cooking locations to the fancy restaurants and Karen’s Place did not let us down!
Talking about unusual places to dine, we stopped by Off the Grid, a food truck of sorts that specializes in authentic Caribbean smoked meats and barbecue. Amazing is not a strong enough word for this place. It is also listed on Trip Adviser as the #1 restaurant in St. Thomas above all of the fancy ones! They have earned their placing. Being new to St. Thomas last year, their fans requested their return this season, and they returned to plenty of happy customers. After our visit there, we heard many people talk about their experiences and they were just as happy. This is a do not miss for sure!
If you are looking for a fancier location for a special event such as we did, then check out the Caribbean Fish Market. Ask for “Mr. Big Life.” Yes, that was our server’s name…and you will not be disappointed! The Lobster and Mushroom Ravioli was perfect. Our entrees of Wahoo and Tuna…well, let’s just say I can’t wait for you to try them and for us to return! Our setting was perfect as we watched the water glisten while we ate our dinner. A perfect night!
By now you’re asking if we did anything else besides eat on this trip. We sure did and here were the highlights.
We were beach junkies. The water was a beautiful blue, clear, warm, and inviting and the sand very white. The snorkeling was terrific!
Magen’s Beach is a beautiful location, but if you can, visit when the cruise ships are not there. We almost had the beach to ourselves. When a ship is there it can be packed.
Then, on to Lindquist Beach; a small beach that not many tourists travel to, but well worth the $2 admission. For this novice snorkeler it was perfect!
The private beach at Bolongo Bay houses 340 Watersports. 340 Watersports offers 3 packages of Jet Ski fun. We did the 45 minute tour and it was great as this was a new activity for us. Our guide Lex was fun, caring (I was a bit nervous) and an all-around great guide. I felt safe the whole time and it was a lot of fun. He gave us a detailed tour of portions of the island and we learned many new things.
Virgin Islands Eco Tours is the company to work with when you are looking for a great outdoors experience. We tried out two of their packages and can’t wait to go back again. Their snorkel, hiking and kayaking tour with Tyler was amazing and the perfect way to spend our anniversary! We had met Tyler earlier in the week at another activity and was so glad to see him again. He knew my very new snorkeling skills and made me feel at ease. We saw so many neat animals and things along the way. The kayaking was just up my alley as well as the hike to the tidal pool and blow hole. I could have stayed there all day! I was not able to do the full snorkel experience due to a back issue, but I stayed in the shallow area and snorkeled and enjoyed every minute of it! My husband did the full experience and saw so many interesting fish. He was thrilled!
We took our car and a ferry over to St. John’s one day to spend in the National Park and at the Honeymoon Beach Hut, another VI Ecotour option. While the beach is stunning, it is a hike to get there. It is well worth it. The beach is free to access, but VI Ecotours offers a day pass to visitors to use their kayaks, including peek a boo kayaks, so you can see the fish below, along stand ups, float mats, snorkel gear and so on. I wouldn’t do it again without the day pass. Plus, you get a staff member like Tyler who gets to know you and really takes care of you. Again, we left with another friend. This day was as close to being perfect as you could ask for! Tyler suggested a little BBQ place in town and yes, again we found ourselves dining on authentic fare that was wonderful!
There was so much more that I could go on and on about! Coki beach, Sapphire beach, Top of the Mountain with their World Famous Banana Daiquiris and much, much more. St. Thomas is the perfect vacation for those who want to try the Caribbean without the fear of leaving the States, dealing with another language or other currency.
To make your own weekend or beach getaway a reality, call us today for more details. We will be happy to work with you and these companies to create your own winter escape!
If you are in need of a week away, contact Laura at Memories and Moments Travel. She’ll set you up with a most memorable vacation that you won’t soon forget!