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Beachfronts alive with music & lots of shops
St. Thomas is home to more than 51,000 people and hosts more than a million tourists a year.
The island’s chief business centers around tourism with cruise ships playing a large role, both visually in the harbor and in the town of Charlotte Amalie. Between six and eight large cruise ships might visit on a given day, off-loading passengers to shop, dine and visit tourist attractions during the peak season from December to June. Some of the favorite spots away from town are Coral World Ocean Park and, of course, Magen’s Bay. In addition, there are resorts throughout the islands with a full array of activities; some, such as Sapphire Beach, have their own marinas.
For the boater, while the hustle and bustle of St. Thomas and Charlotte Amalie can be hectic, it is convenient for shopping for large items or provisioning. It is one of the only places in the Virgin Islands where you find big box stores and a broad selection of state-of-the-art electronics, gifts and jewelry. There are several chandleries on St. Thomas that supply a full range of boating equipment, charts and parts.
For many it also is a convenient transportation hub. The Cyril E. King airport is only 2.5 miles from Charlotte Amalie and the St. Thomas harbor areas. In the eighties, the runway was lengthened, increasing the number of direct flights from major cities on the U.S. mainland. Ferries are available to St. John, St. Croix and the British Virgin Islands from Charlotte Amalie and the town of Redhook, on the eastern end of the island.
In the 1960’s, the Virgin Islands’ bareboat charter industry got its start in Charlotte Amalie and still is home to several charter companies. Over the years many charter guests enjoyed the convenience of flying into St. Thomas directly from a major U.S. city, and taking a short taxi ride to the charter base. Within a couple of hours of arrival, charters were sailing out of St. Thomas Harbor, headed for St. John or the BVI. Regardless of this handy advantage, the most important reason the charter industry largely relocated to the BVI is because the most popular sailing destinations are a dead beat to weather from Charlotte Amalie.