Traveling to Saint Thomas: The Must-Have Tips
Thinking of visiting the Virgin Islands this year? With our centennial Transfer Day anniversary, this is the perfect year to travel to our gorgeous islands. Here are some helpful tips and islander advice to make your trip a breeze.
Leave the Passport at Home
St. Thomas is a United States territory which means you don’t need a passport! It is the same as traveling between any states within the country. This makes St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands in general a fantastic destination for anyone without a passport and who doesn’t have time to apply.
US Territory Means US Standards
The fact that the islands are a US territory means that everything is to US standards: hospitals, restaurants, roads, hotels, and so on. You can enjoy the same comforts you’d have if you were to visit any other state.
If you don’t speak another language, never fear; English is the main language of the Virgin Islands. That said, those of us who were ‘bahn heh’ also have our own creole of English mixed with other languages, a result of our rich and diverse heritage. If you’re not used to it, there might be a slight learning curve of a day or so to adjust. Here are a few examples: we pronounce the number three as “tree” and thing as “ting,” but we promise you’ll get the hang of it.
Well-Worth the Cost
One thing you may notice once you arrive is that the islands are a little bit more expensive than much of mainland America. Food, transportation, and lodging cost more but as you will instantly see once you arrive, it is a small price to pay given the natural beauty and one-of-a-kind experience that the Virgin Islands offers its visitors. Many never want to leave! Price-wise it’s on par with visiting New York City or San Francisco.
For those of us who live here year round, we collect water in tanks under our homes and make sure to turn off any appliances (like A/C) when not in use. Our electrical costs are one of the highest in the nation and we kindly ask you to keep this in mind when you’re in town. Do like the locals do and turn off the A/C when you don’t need it.
Live Like a Local, Save Like a Local
It may be a little more expensive but here’s a great money saving tip if you’re trying to keep an eye on your wallet: stay in an Airbnb and live like a local. Stock up on provisions from local supermarkets and farmer’s markets, rent a car, and allow yourself to become fully immersed in the culture of St. Thomas.
Drive On the Other Side
Speaking of cars, here’s an important thing to note: we drive on the left side of the road and are the only territory within US jurisdiction that does so. There are plenty of signs along roads and highways, but be sure to remind yourself from time to time. A note or an arrow on the dashboard can be a simple way to achieve this.
Be a Beach Bum
While you’re here, be sure to take advantage of our stunning beaches which are easily some of the most beautiful in the world. Local favorites include Brewers Bay and Lindbergh Bay, both of which have shallow, crystal clear blue-green waters and gorgeous white sand.
Meet & Greet
Don’t forget to say good morning, good afternoon and good evening to everyone you meet. On St. Thomas, we greet everyone who crosses our path. It’s island custom and expected of both locals and visitors alike.
Make sure to take a day trip to St. John. While it shares an equally fascinating history as St. Thomas, St. John is particularly known as one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the world. Its massive national park covers 75% of the island and includes the beautiful coral reefs which lie just offshore.
Play it Safe
St. Thomas is a safe place and everyone who visits enjoys their time here without any kind of incident. However, it is always good to use the same safety precautions that you would when visiting anywhere in the world. Use good judgment and if something doesn’t feel safe, trust your gut. Don’t walk into dark areas you’re not familiar with or hang around people you don’t know. Keep aware of your surroundings.
Fun in the Sun? Where SPF
Make sure to wear sunscreen if you’re out and about, regardless if you’re on the beach for the day or are just enjoying a walk down our historic Main Street for a bit of shopping.
Food Unlike Any Other
Be sure to immerse yourself in the local cuisine. It is unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else in the world. Although we’re a small island, we’re also one of the greatest cultural melting pots in the world. With West African, European, Asian, and Hispanic influences, you will have the culinary experience of a lifetime. Our local cuisine is infused with phenomenal flavor and trust us, there’s something to suit every taste.