Despite the unseasonably warm weather in New York City recently (70-degree weather when it’s usually 40-50 degree weather), I find myself missing beach season during the nippy mornings or evenings when I’m commuting to and from work. I could blame it on that, or I could blame it on the fact that I really do love beaches. Luckily for me, this past spring and summer has been full of amazing beach outings. One of them was to St. Thomas, our first stop after a lovely sea day on board the Carnival Splendor cruise. This shore excursion was different from the rest of the ones we went on because we booked it through Viator.com instead of directly through Carnival. We wanted to see if there was any difference because most Viator.com excursions have cheaper rates than those booked through any cruise ship. I think the difference lay mostly with the clientele going on the tour. Half of us were belligerent and weird, while half of us were quietly trying to experience the island. The hilarious thing is, the quiet half was also the younger half.
Here’s who was on that tour:
1. The tour guide who was playing some lively music, singing along, and trying to entice everyone to join in on the singing. The tour was described as having a “Fun-loving tour guide with live music and singing on board the safari taxi”, so this was no surprise. We did not sing along because we were being boring. Neither did the other young couple in our group.
2. The group of Hispanic women (I only describe them in this manner because of #3) and their boyfriends who DID join in on the singing because a lot of the songs were in Spanish, and because they were having a great time. (The roof may have been raised a few times.)
3. The weird old dude who was with his wife and yet clearly trying to show-off to the aforementioned women by shouting out random Spanish words like “corazon”, “arriba”, and “ahora mismo”, many of which made no sense in the context of what anyone was talking about.
4. A few middle-aged couples who were clearly seasoned cruisers and travelers. They were quite interesting to listen to because they talked about their travels in Asia and Europe, and I thought to myself I’d like to have had all those experiences by the time I’m their age.
Our tour was a shopping, sightseeing, and beach excursion. So it started with a short ride to Charlotte Amalie, the main shopping area of St. Thomas, which is full of duty-free shops. On the way there there were some lovely views of our cruise ship, which happened to be the only one docked there.
The shopping area was adorable. Some of the alleyways had brick paths, one of which had a bar smack dab in the middle of it (perfect for husbands waiting for their wives to finish shopping). We also noticed some really good prices on liquor and beauty products, and walked out of one store with a cheap bottle of Disaronno, chocolate-flavored rum, and the fedora hat you’ll see me sporting in all my photos from St. Thomas.
Mike and I were looking for somewhere to have brunch, but unfortunately most of the nicely reviewed places were still closed. We ended up having a quick meal at Bumpa’s, which was really near where we were being picked up again by the ‘safari taxi’, and had a nice view of the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. The food was decent enough given I ordered a simple ahi tuna wrap. It came with a nice side of macaroni salad. I also got a frozen cappuccino from them, which I proceeded to drink the entire ride up to the lookout point for Magens Bay.
There are a few more good views of the port on the way up.
Halfway up the mountain is a nice spot for taking photos of Magens Bay without the railings behind you, which you’ll see in our photos from the more touristy lookout point.
|On the “safari taxi”|
Our last stop was Coki beach. They give you a choice between several beaches, one of which has an entrance fee, but we decided to go with this one. It was fairly crowded, and I can imagine it being intolerable if there are several cruise ships docked on the island, but on the day we were there, it was pretty nice.
Part of the area is rocky with a lot of seagulls hanging out, which makes for some lovely scenery. But the sand is mostly smooth if you’re right in front of the beach. There are some snack stands nearby and places to rent snorkeling gear, but we just hung out, waded in for a bit, and had some piña coladas. Overall, a great end to a nice day in St. Thomas.
Lastly, here are a few good things to know about St. Thomas:
1. St. Thomas USVI is a U.S. territory, so you can use you cell and data without incurring roaming charges.
2. Since St. Thomas is a U.S. territory, some things are just as expensive here, especially food and drinks.
3. Despite the above-mentioned, the beaches are still VERY much of the Caribbean.