St. Thomas: Escape to the Caribbean without Ever Leaving the US

st. thomas

Most American travelers are surprised to learn that some of the best Caribbean islands are actually in the United States. So what are you waiting for? Leave your passport at home and hop one of the dozens of direct daily flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here’s a brief primer on where to eat, play, and sleep on the island of St. Thomas. And yes, men, it’s All-American.

Play

St. Thomas Flyboarding

The twin islands of St. John and St. Thomas arguably boast more “Best Beaches in the Caribbean” than any other islands in the region. There’s a reason why Magens Bay is routinely ranked among the best beaches in the western hemisphere. A mile of pillowy soft white sand wraps around the most electric blue ocean water you’ve ever seen. It’s no surprise it’s often crowded with throngs of cruise ship passengers most days of the week. But, check the port itineraries and plan to go before 9 a.m., and you may well have it all to yourself.

If you’re looking for something more adrenalin-fueled, St. Thomas Flyboarding offers one-hour lessons in this truly unique “sport.” For around $250 (USD), the STF crew will strap you into a state-of-the-art flyboard. Once connected to the jetwash of a high-powered Jet Ski, you’ll be propelled into the air (and water) on a ride that’s akin to flying like Iron Man.

Eat & Drink

Havana restaurant food

Chain hotel restaurants don’t often top the destination dining list for most travelers. But Havana Blue at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef is unique. The chic, modern, South Beach-esque dining room is awash in electric blues and vibrant oranges reminiscent of a cool beachfront bonfire. We’re loathe to call it “fusion cuisine,” but the menu neatly walks the line between Latin American and Asian influences. It’s the sort of place where a Peruvian pisco sour served alongside spicy crab rolls makes perfect sense.

For a funky, no-frills dining experience, Duffy’s Love Shack in Red Hook caters to tourists and locals in little more than a glorified parking lot. Their cheap signature cocktails are served in kitschy, pirate- and island-themed glasses with names like Lime in Dee Coconut and The Cry Baby. While they pride themselves on being a bar first and a restaurant second, the bar food — in particular, the conch fritters — is among the best on the island. If you want to put your finger directly on the pulse of St. Thomas, this is the place to do it.

Stay

Marriott Frenchman's Reef, St. Thomas

Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, St. Thomas

Even by over-the-top tropical resort standards, Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort offers a dramatic, jaw-dropping location. Situated on a bluff with panoramic views of Charlotte Amalie (capital of the USVI) and St. Thomas’ southern coastline, it’s a surprisingly stunning hotel (particularly for a Marriott). The dual infinity pools provide the highest and best sunset views of any property on the island. It’s an ideal destination for couples who are just married and those who are looking to.