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Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Island is one of the highest trafficked cruise ports on earth, and with good reason. It has the infrastructure, tons of duty-free shopping options and off beat tourist attractions such as the popular beach at Magens Bay and a mountain top tram ride. Almost every cruises sailing an Eastern Caribbean belt includes St. Thomas as a port. Visitors can head Water Island (a historical spot that relatively less crowded), beaches, fantastic restaurants and much more. A day trip can also be made to St. John from Red Hook. Red Hook is where the expats put up and is the more laidback version of the swanky mall infested Charlotte Amalie. Thomas encapsulates the best of a true blue Caribbean life including cerulean beaches, mall hopping, water adventure sports, and golf. There’s indeed something for everyone here. 
 
Where You're Docked
From January to March, the port is at its busiest and will most likely dock at Havensight Pier, the main dock for ships, or the more recent Crown Bay. Both are about 5-10 minutes from the heart of the town.
 
Around the Port
Havensight features over 50 shops, many of them are outlets of the towns well known boutiques. There are also convenience stores, cafes and Internet cafes. The Yacht Haven Grande Marina, an upper crust shopping and eating area, has restaurants and high end brand stores such as Coach, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
 
Getting Around
Taxi drivers here will accommodate as many people as they can in a single ride and cover the more touristy places. Its best to rent a car if you want to avoid this.
 
Things To Do and See
Charlotte Amalie is the mecca of duty free goodies. A majority of the stores are located at Veterans Drive and Main Street. Though St. Thomas is a known duty free heaven, its best to compare prices at different places, because the goods here are no longer the bargains they used to be once upon a time. You can buy everything from expensive perfumes to spices to local handicrafts to apparel and accessories. 
 
If you’re tired of the never ending shopping, head to Fort Christian, a historic attraction that goes back to the 17th century. Go up 99 steps to witness the area’s finest 19th-century plantation houses. Next, Haagensen House is townhouse converted into a museum and, features a cute garden and tiny gift shop selling souvenirs. The St. Thomas Synagogue is also a nice place to witness for its sand covered floor.
 
Magic Ice is a staggering 8,000 square foot showcase of ice statues and sculptures. Though a wee bit touristy, this a good place to go out on a hot summer day. If nothing, the shot of rum included with the admission should drive you to visit this place.
 
Other than zip lining, fly boarding and jet-packing are other popular adventure activities on the port. Jet-packing is a relatively new sport, where the water gushes through packs that are fastened to your back. If some serious golf is what you’re after, Mahogany Run Golf Course allows you to play in the most gorgeous scenic backdrop.
 
A stroll and lunch/dinner at the French town makes for a great way of experiencing this port.  This diverse neighborhood came into being in the 18thcentury, and is now a fishermen’s hub. Catch locals conversing in impeccable French here.
 
Mountain Top
At an impressive height of 1,500 feet above sea level, Mountain Top offers a spectacular panoramic view of both the US and British Virgin Islands, a total of 20 islands in all. In fact, National Geographic has rated this view of Magens Bay as one of the 10 best views in the world. It features a casual shopping area for browsing and a bar which is home of the world famous Banana Daiquiri. Just breathtaking!
 
Coral World Ocean Park & Undersea Observatory
Their slogan "Get up close and personal" couldn't be more appropriate. See tons of marine life without ever getting wet. Learn about the beauty and magic of Caribbean marine life in a stunning setting. View life on a coral reef from their unique underwater observatory. Visit the shark pool where you can pet a shark or hand feed a stingray. Visit with the Lorikeets which will flock to your arm when offered a cup of nectar. And if you don't mind getting wet bring your bathing suit so you can swim with the sea lions or try a Sea Trek Helmet Dive. When you are ready to relax, have lunch at one of the restaurants and shop for a special souvenir at one of the unique gift shops. $5.00 from the Shark & Turtle Encounters go to rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
 
St. Thomas Skyride.St. Thomas Skyride rises 700 feet. above Charlotte Amalie and has been voted one of the Caribbean's best attractions for its spectacular views. The St. Thomas Skyride departs every seven minutes and continues to Paradise Point offering views of St. Thomas Harbor all along the way. To learn more about taking the St. Thomas Skyride, visit paradisepointtramway.com.

Yacht Haven Grande St. Thomas.Yacht Haven Grande St. Thomas is one of the world's most scenic marinas and has been voted best shopping spot by the Virgin Island Daily News Readers Poll in 2008 and 2009. Yacht Haven Grande St. Thomas is home to many mega yachts of 450 feet and offers splendid marina facilities, including 80,000 sq. ft. of dining, entertainment and retail space. To learn more information about Yacht Haven Grande St. Thomas, visit www.yachthavengrande.com.
 
Blackbeard's Castle.Blackbeard's Castle is a National Historic landmark site in St. Thomas and is located in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. Originally built in 1679 as a strategic lookout by Danish explorers, later in the 1700s the pirate Blackbeard, or Edward Teach as he was known, took the tower as his own lookout point. To learn more about Blackbeard's Castle in St. Thomas and tours, visitwww.blackbeardscastle.com.
 
St. Peter Great House and Botanical Gardens.St. Peter Great House and Botanical Gardens offers more than 20,000 square feet of events space in a classic 1800s West Indian style plantation estate set amid tropical orchid gardens, fish ponds, streaming waterfalls and nature trails spread over 11 splendid acres. From the observation deck, more than 1,000 feet above Magens Bay and Hull Bay, view the surrounding islands of Tortola, Tobago, plus more than a dozen others in the Virgin Islands. For more information on St. Peter Great House and Botanical Gardens, visit greathouse-mountaintop.com.
 
Mahogany Run Golf Course.Mahogany Run Golf Course is an 18-hole championship course in the St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands that is renowned as one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. Famed for its "Devil's Triangle" (the 13th, 14th and 15th holes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean), the par-70 Mahogany Run Golf Course in St. Thomas stretches for 6,022-yards. For more information about golf at Mahogany Run and making tee times, visit www.mahoganyrungolf.com.
 
Virgin Islands Ecotours.Virgin Islands Ecotours offer the opportunity to see St. Thomas's natural glories up close. Go kayaking, snorkeling, hiking in some of the most beautiful natural places in the Virgin Islands like Caneel Bay, Virgin Islands National Park, Mangrove Lagoon and Hassel Island. Award-winning Virgin Islands Ecotours offer a wide range of tours for individuals and groups. Advance reservations are highly recommended during high season in mid-summer and mid-winter. To learn more about Virgin Islands Ecotours, visit www.viecotours.com.
 
Tillett Gardens.Tillett Gardens offers an art-filled experience in the sun of the Caribbean Islands. Tillett Gardens features the works of both internationally known and local craftsmen who make jewelry, raku pottery, prints and maps, as well as water colors, oils and acrylics. Stay for a show in the 300-seat outdoor theater, which stages classical performances in season and theater productions throughout the year. To learn more about art and performances at Tillett Gardens, visit www.tillettgardens.com.
 
Double Header Sportfishing.The Best Fishing on St. Thomas & St. John Double Header Sportfishing offers more than 25 years experience and a well-equipped 40 foot boat for your St. Thomas fishing trip. Experience some of the top fishing around the islands of St. Thomas and St John on a choice of half-day, 3/4 day and full-day charter fishing trips. To learn more about St. Thomas fishing charter trips, visit www.doubleheadersportfishing.net.
 
Active Island Tours and Events
the Virgin Islands in a unique way while staying shape! Active Island Tours & Events offers a variety of activities combining exercise, sightseeing, and entertainment. Love to RUN as much as you RUM with their guided running tours or challenge yourself with their fitness classes in paradise before trying a "Stretch & Sip" yoga wine tasting at sunset on the beach. Periodic events like the VI 'Til I DYE color run and the Run The Night electric glow run are NOT to be missed!! www.activeislandvi.com
 
Homer's Scuba And Snorkel Tours.Homer's Scuba and Snorkel Tours on the northern shore of St. Thomas in Hull Bay Beach specializes in limited-size snorkeling trips, scuba diving classes and excursions that offer personal supervision and care. Take a snorkel tour of St. Thomas Island or a night snorkel trip. Homer's PADI Discover Scuba classes are limited to 8 students and take no 4 divers on trips. To learn more about their certified scuba instructors and tour selection, visit www.homerscubashoreadventures.net.
 
Beaches
Magens Bay, St. most tranquil and strikingly beautiful beach is a 15-20 minute taxi ride. The beaches includes a casual bar, a cafeteria-type eatery and a bathing suits shop.
 
Coki Beach located Coral World is another very popular family tourist attraction. It is a 4.5-acre water park with an underwater observatory offering brilliant 360-degree views spectacular marine creatures. For panoramic island vistas, take the Paradise Point Tramway. It is a breathtakingly beautiful sky ride that leads to Paradise Point.
 
Trunk Bay (St. John)
To some, Trunk Bay is the Mecca of beaches. You'll be hard-pressed to find another Caribbean beach with sand quite so pearly or water so aquamarine. And as it's cocooned by the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay still maintains its otherworldly serenity despite its constant barrage of tourists. "it is recommend going early in the morning.  If your cruise ship stay overnight try to arrive around 7 am in the morning and you maybe able to get some photos of empty beaches and had the snorkeling all to yourselves."
 
Be sure to try your hand at the Underwater Trail — a snorkeling path of coral and fish with underwater plaques along the way. Trunk Bay's water is calm enough that even young snorkelers can enjoy the experience.
 
There's a $4 admission fee to enjoy access to Trunk Bay, which closes every day at 4 p.m.
 
Magens Bay (St. Thomas)
There's no beach on St. Thomas (or maybe even the entire Virgin Islands archipelago) that's as celebrated as Magens Bay. So let us add our own poetic schpeel: This north coast beach could potentially be the most photogenic and swimmable shore of the Virgin Islands. But years of positive reinforcement has led to an intense popularity with tourists who are all too willing to pay the entry fee to enjoy Magens' charms.
 
Magens Bay Beach
Best Things To Do If you're visiting for a few days be sure to leave yourself at least a half day for relaxing and sunbathing on Magens Bay Beach. Noted as one of the world's most beautiful beaches by both Conde Nast and National Geographic it is a must see. Lots of things to do besides swimming and sunbathing like hiking the nature trail, kayaking, paddle boat and sailboat rentals. A nice bar and restaurant with a shop for chair rentals, suntan lotion, bathing suits and much more. And on your way back from the beach be sure to stop at Famous Delight (see arrow on photo above) for an intoxicating, tropical twist on the American milkshake.
 
Cruise Passengers gushes that the beach looks great from every angle: "If you drove to the top of a mountain to view this beautiful heart shaped beach. You can get some amazing pictures from the top. Beautiful white sand and clear water." And the praise goes on and on …
 
You can experience Magens for yourself any day of the week, but be prepared to pay approximately $4 per adult and $2 per child ages 13 to 18 to enter. For the most privacy, visit in the early morning or later afternoon, but before the evening's gnats come out to bite.

Coki Beach, located next to Coral World, is another popular scuba snorkeling hub. For fewer Secret Harbor features a nice beach bar.
 
Honeymoon Beach on Water Island is another good option for those looking for a more varied beach itinerary. Do not leave without sampling the burgers at Heidi's Honeymoon Grill. Brewers Beach is best for those who love secluded beaches, and want to just lie lazily throughout the day, while eating from food trucks.
 
Tree Limin' Extreme
This Ultimate Caribbean experience begins with a wild ride in the Pinzgauer, a six wheel drive Swiss military transport, to the top of St. Peter Mountain and ends with the world famous "Yo-Yo' zip. See the incredible island views from eight aerial platforms, fly high on six exhilarating ziplines and maneuver two breathtaking skywalks as your professionally trained guides lead you through the experience of a lifetime. Tree Limin' Extreme is the only way to fly on the island. www.ziplinestthomas.com
 
Virgin Islands Ecotours
Explore America's Paradise with kayak,hike & snorkel multi-eco adventures in three unique locations. Watch for wildlife while paddling through St. Thomas' Mangrove lagoon, enjoy a hermit crab race, a rare geologic blow hole and snokel in a shallow coral-fringed mangrove nursery. Caneel Bay's tour offers you the best that St. John has to offer with three fun activities: paddle in turquoise waters, hike tropical trails and snorkel over coral reefs with turtles, all in one afternoon! History buffs will enjoy exploring above and below the water at Hassel Island boasting centuries old Forts and ruins in the middle of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor.
 
Gallery St. Thomas
Gallery St. Thomas, located in Palm Passage, is voted Best in the Virgin Islands for fine art and pottery. Take home beautiful artwork to remind you of your fabulous vacation. The gallery boasts the artworks of over 30 artists: from paintings in oil, watercolor and acrylic to pottery, turned wood, metal sculpture and jewelry. Our friendly knowledgeable staff can answer your questions and are happy to ship your purchases home. We have prices to meet every budget and a wide variety of small gifts including ornaments, maps, art prints, photographs and more. On the second Friday of each month the gallery opens until 8pm and neighboring Amalie Cafe offers a "Starving Artist" 3 course Prix fixe menu. It's an evening of Fine Art & Fine Food. (877) 979-6363 (340) 777-6363 web: www.gallerystthomas.com
Caribbean Cowgirl
When shopping in Vendor's Plaza, make your first stop Caribbean Cowgirl. Located in space #6, we have been selling the finest, BEST quality STERLING SILVER jewelry since 1979. In business 36 years! Family owned and operated, we stand behind our products. Our unique pieces are designed by our very own Olympian Alayna Snell Kidd (Los Angeles, 1984 Games) and her cowboy husband. We specialize in the island ocean blue stone Larimar, hook bracelets, as well as different stones and shells. We have awesome lace and tie-dye clothing, great for the beach and as comfort wear. Credit cards accepted. Online shopping available, visit our website  www.spurranchjewelry.com/
 
Eating Out
St. Thomas has garnered a reputation as one of the Caribbean’s foodie capitals based on a palette of restaurants that range from small cafes and food stands that serve native fare to fine dining bastions where the local seafood shines and kitchens turn out cutting edge cuisine that stirs the imagination. This list culls from that colorful palette the cream of the crop restaurants that excel at their philosophy de cuisine, whether that be hearty West Indian fare such as what Gladys’ Café serves or inventive fusion like you will find at Havana Blue.
 
Downtown Charlotte Amalie is the scene of a lively casual dining scene. You will find West Indian specialties such as pate (the Virgin Islands’ version of Caribbean meat or seafood patties) and the islands’ signature kallaloo soup of spinach like greens with okra and meat or seafood. American food also feeds downtown’s hungry shoppers at al fresco restaurants. You will find some of the island’s finest restaurants at its resorts. For the freshest seafood, try the restaurants in Frenchtown and Red Hook, where commercial fishermen bring their day’s catches. The Yacht Haven Grand shopping and marina complex is another place to find good eats.
 
Buddha Sushi
Although "sushi" commands half of its name, this simply decorated Asian themed restaurant stretches beyond its sushi bar to a kitchen that creates a number of Asian entrees, even some that use local Caribbean fish. Try, for instance, the pan-seared wahoo with fried rice or grilled lobster tail with teriyaki sweet potatoes and ginger garlic butter. Favorite sushi rolls include the baked Smooth Kriminal roll, Volcano roll and Taj Mahal roll. Or go purist with the sushi and sashimi menu. To complement your meal, Buddha Sushi offers a range of wines, cordials, Japanese beer and sake, plus some decadent desserts such as triple threat chocolate cake. (340-714-3474)
 
Fish Tails -- Red Hook, at St. Thomas' east end, has a salty feel and taste. Open air Fish Tails overlooks the harbor where boat traffic includes commercial fishermen, yachties and ferries to St. John and the British Virgin Islands. Like the BVI's iconic yachtie bars, this place is colorful and ultra casual, where the drinks flow freely and seafood dominates the menu. Share some raw oysters or sushi. Seafood po' boys, simply prepared fish, burgers, grilled steak and lobster and fried seafood platters make up the menu's offerings. It is a locals' hangout, but visitors favor too its view, vibe and variety. (340-714-3188)
 
Gladys' Café -- Stewed oxtail, curry goat, kallaloo, fungi and pan fried Ole Wife: Do not be frightened by Miss Gladys' menu. Try her West Indian specialties for a taste of true island tradition. Ole Wife is just the local name for trigger fish and is delicious done creole style with tomato sauce. Fungi is a polenta type dish. Gladys makes her kalloloo with smoked turkey and the requisite greens and okra. The undaring need not fret as the intimate café encased by historic coral stone walls also serves more conventional fare such as burgers, deli sandwiches, yellowtail snapper and conch in lemon sauce. (340-774-6604)
 
Hook, Line & Sinker -- In the morning, fishermen sell their day's catch out of the back of their pickup trucks right across the street from this nautically decorated harbor front restaurant. It does not get any fresher than that! Watch the boats bobbing in the harbor from inside or outside the open air restaurant with its brass accents and flung open French windows. Naturally seafood stars on the lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menus. At lunch, try the snapper creole or grouper in lemon butter cream. Burgers and sandwiches satisfy landlubber appetites. Almond crusted yellowtail snapper showcases local fish at dinner, or try the conch in lemon sauce or local lobster stuffed with shrimp. Pasta and sandwiches are also available at dinner, just make sure to budget your appetite for "Auntie's rum cake." (340-776-9708)
 
Mafolie Restaurant -- Something of a hidden gem at hilltop Mafolie Hotel, it goes the continental route cuisine wise, while adding authentic Caribbean accents to the whole concept. Start with a cocktail at the bar with its straight on view of St. Thomas' mountainside and sea scapes. It is a great place to watch sunset, but the view remains dazzling once the island's lights begin to twinkle on. The "famous" pot fish is a specialty, baking or frying whole the local fish of the day with a lime onion and pepper sauce. Mafolie's kallaloo greens soup gets elevated with shrimp and crab. The crab cakes appetizer derives its West Indian flair from sweet potatoes.The filet mignon gets treated to a demi glaze made from the local guava berry (no relation to guavas). With the Danish barbecue ribs come polenta-like fungi and a breadfruit mash. Order a side of sweet potato and coconut dumpling. (340-774-2790)
 
Oceana Restaurant & Wine Bar -- A stylish and elegant surprise in St. Thomas' Frenchtown community, it is a shooting star on the island's culinary horizon on the waterfront. Owner and Patricia LaCorte has put together a succinct but inspired menu that uses local seafood and produce to their best advantage. Here's a sample of her genius: artisanal beet salad with gingered Greek yogurt and truffle honey; seared diver scallops with candied bacon, torched grapefruit, basil foam and fennel vinaigrette; toasted coriander dusted mahi-mahi with lime butter and creamy polenta; homemade ravioli with confit grape tomatoes, roasted garlic and chevre gratin. Oceana manages to treat seafood and steak with equal aplomb and verve. (340-774-4262)
 
Fresh Bistro -- By the same inspired chef who brought Oceana to St. Thomas, Fresh Bistro is the latest yachtie food stop at Yacht Haven Grande. Its indoor and outdoor setting overlooking the yachts in harbor makes it appealing to locals and visitors alike. Its small, succinct, all day menu revolves around salads, baguettes, tartines and gourmet burgers made with grass fed beef and sun dried tomato ketchup or house ground lamb with melted feta. From the quiche du jour to the salad of grilled shrimp with spinach and watermelon, all is local and exceedingly fresh. The roasted red pepper tartine with pulled free-range chicken and melted smoked gouda is a favorite. (340-777-2747)
 
Banana Tree Grille -- One of the island's poshest restaurants, it inhabits a charming Caribbean house-like structure with twinkly hilltop views of Charlotte Amalie harbor below. Its pasture fed Angus beef wins high praise, but the kitchen also has a flair with seafood. The Banana Tree filet combines both: shrimp and filet mignon with asparagus and béarnaise sauce. Artistic touches embellish fresh product such as the tangerine seared salmon and zinfandel braised pork shank with horseradish risotto. Side dishes such as parmesan dusted zucchini misto and goat cheese glazed mashed potatoes threaten to upstage the entrees. Definitely order a basket of the house bread, a crispy homemade ciabatta loaf baked with garlic and served with creamy gorgonzola dip. (340-776-4050)
 
Havana Blue --A little bit Asian and a lot Latin, this fusion hot spot lives above the beach at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef resort. A vision in blue light, its décor is as hip as the tapas and ambitious dishes it serves. It tweaks the same old standards with sparkle and innovation on its ever changing menu -- fresh coconut, wasabi guacamole and yucca chips with the ceviche, for instance. Tempura calamari comes with a tamarind and lime zest emulsion. A miso lemongrass sauce glazes the sea bass. The Tuna Trinity features chili blackened ahi with citrus jicama slaw, Thai lime "rain" and cilantro effervescence. Cocktails such as the Dirty Chica and $225 Sapphire Blingtini mingle well with the menu's spicy entrees. If this all sounds expensive, it is; but well worth the splurge. (340-715-2583)
 
Old Stone Farmhouse -- Menu descriptions read like poetry at this award-winning restaurant overlooking Mahogany Run golf course on St. Thomas' north shore: pickled peach and fresh burrata salad, truffle honey stung chicken with lavender waffles and guavaberry syrup, Berkshire pork jowl with apple butter and grilled yams and grilled bluefin tuna with tomato bacon jam. One of St. Thomas' finest dining experiences, it inhabits a historic sugar plantation stable with two-foot thick stone walls and warm, soft lights. It caters to steak, seafood and vegetable lovers with artistically conceived menus that re-envision local ingredients. Guests can select their own fish or steak in the kitchen. The desserts are divine, and the wine list is equally impressive. (340-777-6277)
 
Shopping
No visitor to the U. S. Virgin Islands returns home without indulging in a little shopping. Who can resist the best duty-free shopping in the Caribbean? With an allowance of $1,600—double that of other Caribbean islands—U.S. residents, including children, can enjoy the shopping experience without thought of duty or taxes.
 
You may send gifts to friends and relatives (excluding tobacco and alcohol), but no more than one package per day to the same address—up to $100 in value. These items need not be declared.
 
You will need to complete a customs form for these items and may be asked to produce receipts, so it’s important to keep a good record of what you bought. Perfume, jewelry, tobacco, cameras, crystal, china and electronics are available for 30-60% off U.S. prices. If you’d like to take advantage of our great prices on liquor, take back up to six bottles, as long as one is made in the Virgin Islands (such as Cruzan Rum). On St. Thomas, popular shopping areas include: Havensight Mall, Red Hook, Crown Bay Center, Yacht Haven Grande and Main Street.
 
Shopping in Charlotte Amalie
The greatest density of stores is in Charlotte Amalie. The principal street there is Dronningens Gade, better known as Main Street. Parallel to Main Street is Back Street and Waterfront. Stores line each of these main roads, and in between the three roads are side streets and alleys where even more shops are located.  In the alleys, like Royal Dane Mall, Palm Passage and Riise Alley, you will find many unique shops and boutiques. The stores in Charlotte Amalie are housed in and among historical buildings; so shopping and sightseeing in one trip is easy. Small cozy restaurants and a couple fun bars are located among the stores, perfect for lunch or a refreshing drink.
 
Charlotte Amalie Store Hours -- Monday through Saturday, including Holidays: 9am-5pm
Sunday Hours: While Sunday hours are usually half day, closing time 1pm; there are exceptions created by the number of ships in port. When there are no cruise ships in port, some stores won't open at all. If there are several ships in port some stores might stay open until 3pm.
 
The best buys on St. Thomas include china, crystal, perfumes, jewelry (especially emeralds), Haitian art, clothing, watches, and items made of wood. St. Thomas is also the best place in the Caribbean for discounts in porcelain, but remember that U.S. brands may often be purchased for 25% off the retail price on the mainland. Look for imported patterns for the biggest savings. Cameras and electronic items, based on our experience, are not the good buys they're reputed to be.
 
Nearly all the major shopping in St. Thomas is along the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. Cruise-ship passengers mainly shop at the Havensight Mall, at the eastern edge of Charlotte Amalie, where they disembark. The principal shopping street is Main Street or Dronningens Gade (the old Danish name). Some of the shops occupy former pirate warehouses. To the north is another merchandise-loaded street called Back Street or Vimmelskaft. Many shops are also spread along the Waterfront Highway (also called Kyst Vejen). Between these major streets is a series of side streets, walkways, and alleys -- each one filled with shops. Other shopping streets are Tolbod Gade, Raadets Gade, Royal Dane Mall, Palm Passage, Storetvaer Gade, and Strand Gade.
 
It is illegal for most street vendors (food vendors are about the only exception) to ply their trades outside of the designated area called Vendors Plaza, at the corner of Veterans Drive and Tolbod Gade. Hundreds of vendors converge here Monday through Saturday at 7:30am; they usually pack up around 5:30pm. (Very few hawk their wares on Sun, unless a cruise ship is scheduled to arrive.)
 
When you tire of French perfumes and Swiss watches, head for Market Square, as it's called locally, or more formally, Rothschild Francis Square. Here, on the site of a former slave market and under a Victorian tin roof, locals with machetes slice open fresh coconuts so you can drink the milk, and women sell ackee, cassava, and breadfruit.
 
Other noteworthy shopping districts include Tillett Gardens, a virtual oasis of arts and crafts -- pottery, silk-screened fabrics, candles, watercolors, jewelry, and more -- located on the highway across from Four Winds Shopping Center. The Jim Tillett Gallery here is a major island attraction in itself.
 
All the major stores in St. Thomas are located by number on an excellent map in the center of the publication St. Thomas This Week, distributed free to all arriving plane and boat passengers, and available at the visitor center. A lot of the stores on the island don't have street numbers or don't display them, so look for their signs instead.
 
Shopping Tip -- Friday is the biggest cruise-ship visiting day at Charlotte Amalie (one time we counted eight ships at once), so try to avoid shopping if you stay overnight.
 
Don't Be Shy About Bargaining -- Theoretically, bargaining is not the rule on the islands, but over the years we have found merchant after merchant willing to do so, particularly on expensive items such as jewelry and perfume. The slow late spring, summer, and fall seasons are the best times to try to make deals with local vendors.
 
Diamonds Are Forever -- Jewelry is the most common item for sale in St. Thomas. Look carefully over the selections of gold and gemstones (emeralds are traditionally considered the finest savings). Gold that is marked 24-karat in the United States and Canada is marked 999 (or 99.9% pure gold) on European items. Gold marked 18-karat in the United States and Canada has a European marking of 750 (or 75% pure), and 14-karat gold is marked 585 (or 58.5% pure).
 
Vendor's Plaza
In Charlotte Amalie there is an area called Vendors Plaza where vendors set up small booths, tables and tents from which they sell an assortment of souvenirs. Vendors Plaza is located across from the Emancipation Park and Fort Christian. There you will find silver jewelry, t-shirts, tropical print wrap skirts, shirts and dresses, imitation bags and watches, trinkets and more. There is also hair braiding, a photo op with a donkey, a coconut-for-sale stand, local food vendors and ice-cream stand.
 
Vendors Plaza is generally open Monday through Saturday from about 7:30am, when the vendors start setting up, until 5:00pm when they start packing up for the day. On Sundays, only a few vendors set up but this generally depends on the number of ships in port; more ships usually means more vendors. Across the street from Vendors Plaza is a Co-op store that sells locally made crafts and goodies.
 
St. Thomas is widely known as the best shopping spot in the Caribbean and one of the ten top shopping areas in the world! Many duty-free bargains can be found at prices that are below stateside with no sales tax making it worth your while to spend one of your vacation days perusing the shops in downtown Charlotte Amalie, Havensight Mall, Red Hook, Crown Bay Center or Yacht Haven Grande. The duty-free allowance is $1,600 per person including children. So a family of four can take back $6,400 worth of duty-free purchases.
 
Havensight is the location of the second large agglomeration of stores that cater to visitors. It is right next to the primary cruise ship dock and the shopping area is made up of Havensight Shopping Center, Buccaneer Mall and Port of Sale. Long buildings house some 60+ stores. Shop for jewelry, clothes, perfumes, liquor, electronics, music, sunglasses, hot sauces and souvenirs. You can have lunch in Havensight also, there are several good restaurants to choose from.
 
Havensight Store Hours from Monday through Sunday, including Holidays: Hours of operation are 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week when there are cruise ships in port. When no ships are in port hours are 10am to 3pm. On days when ships stay in port into the late evening; some shops remain open until 6:30pm.



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