Most cruise ships anchor at west indian dock/havensight mall. Located along the southern end of Charlotte Amalie harbour,
2 1/2 miles from the city centre, it has it's own restaurants, bookstores, banks, postal van and lots of duty free shops
The paradise point tramway affords visitors a dramatic view of Charlotte Amalie harbour at a peek height of 697 feet.The skyride carries 24 passengers every seven minutes along its 8 tower ascent of Flag Hill. An observation deck, complete with a restaurant, bar, tropical bird display, nature trail, and a gift shop, provide a great place to take in the view of St. Thomas and the sea beyond whilst enjoying the delicious Baileys Bushwacker drink.
Coral world underwater observatory and marine park (next to coki beach) is St Thamas's number 1 attraction. The 3 1/2 acre complex features a 3 story underwater observation tower 100 feet offshore. plunging the depths to allow views
of tropical fish, coral formations, sharks and other sea beasts.
Charlotte Amalie's Main Street is the Caribbean's busiest shopping venue. Liquor is one of the best buys , the local cruzan rum is so ridiculously cheap you'll thinks its been mismarked. Perfumes, watches, cameras, china, leather and jewellery are also excellent value with up to 40% off UK prices.
Many Main Street shops have sister shops in the Havensight Mall.
Located 3 miles north of Charlotte Amalie Magan's Bay beach is hailed as one of the worlds most beautiful beaches. Admission is $5. changing
facilities, bathrooms, a snack bar, snorkal gear and float rentals are available.
St Thomas island is the most developed and popular of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Settled by Denmark, the leaders of St. Thomas immediately went about constructing the strongest port in all of the Caribbean, in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. Nowadays, most every boat coming into harbor is a cruise ship, full of passengers just waiting to explore St. Thomas island. A enticing blend of normal American life with a jaw-dropping setting leads many to choosing a St. Thomas vacation.
And the island is certainly built for it. Despite the popularity of Jamaica and Aruba, St. Thomas island continues to attract the most vacationers, a great deal of them from the mainland. Often considered the least adventurous of all the Caribbean islands, it's not necessarily a bad thing. The rich cultures that can be found on many of the Caribbean islands is resolutely missing here (even the influence of the Danes, who ruled the islands until 1917 is virtually absent), displaced by the ever-reaching hand of the U.S. And even as resorts and St. Thomas hotels crowd the idyllic beaches, but that doesn't mean the island has nothing to offer. There's a reason that the Virgin Islands are called "America's Paradise," and it begins with the St. Thomas beaches. They are certainly some of the finest in the known world - there's not a beach activity that you can imagine that cannot be done here. Diving and sailing are key, however. Also, the St. Thomas beaches on the eastern side of the island are somewhat immune from crowds, especially at the untamed Vessup Beach or the translucent waters that touch shore around Red Hook harbor. The windsurfing here is wildly popular, as is kayaking and snorkeling. Here is one of the few spots where the locals consistently outnumber the tourists, which is always a good sign when choosing which St. Thomas beach to enjoy.
Most cruise ships anchor at the bustling West Indian Dock/Havensight Mall. Located along the southern end of Charlotte Amalie Harbor, 2˝ miles from the town center. The dock can accommodate three to four large ships, or one to two megaships. If Havensight is clogged with cruise ships, you'll dock at the Crown Bay Cruise Ship Terminal, to the west of Charlotte Amalie. The two piers can accommodate three ships of varying size, although unlike Havensight, it cannot dock the megaships. If both options are at capacity, ships anchor in Charlote Amalie Harbor.
Cruise ships cannot dock at either of the piers in St John, instead they moor off the coast at cruz bay sending in tenders
to the national park service dock.You will find shops bars and restaurants at the dock
stop off at the national park visitor centre at the dock to find out what you can see and do at the park. Peddle along more than 20 miles of biking trails, rent your own car, jeep or mini moke or take a hike.
Don't miss the great white sweep of trunk bay beach. The beach has life guards and snorkeling gear is rented for exploring the underwater trail near the shore.
Many vacationers find the crowds of St. Thomas to be uninviting. Too much like home - not much difference between the island and, say, Key West. Some find even St. Croix to be a bit too popular. But visitors continue to flock to the neighboring island of St. John - here you can find the seclusion key to any good Caribbean vacation, plus the large protected parks make it simple to slip away into thick forests and scenic beach coves. On St John Island Caribbean and American lifestyles coalesce into a symbiotic relationship - the tourism industry and local communities both realize they need the other to survive, and graciously acquiesce to the other when necessary.
The island still has numerous beautiful beaches where you can go hours without seeing another tourist. Those that work the more popular beaches, such as restaurant owners and rental shop workers speak of their oceanside locations in conspiratorial tones - even they are wary of large crowds, despite the intrinsic effect it would have on their business. Sailing is quite popular along the southern coast, and is an inexpensive and endearing way to take in the beauty you'll find on a St. John island vacation.
Virgin Islands National Park
Virgin Islands National Park, which covers more than half of the island of St John in the Caribbean Sea, offers a tropical paradise where adventurers can engage in a variety of activities and learn about the area’s fascinating history as well. A civilization known as the Taino were the earliest known people to inhabit the island, and since that time, the islands have seen colonization, development, and finally a good portion set aside to create a national park in St John—about 15,000 acres are devoted to preserving the beautiful landscapes. A visit to this special national park in the Virgin Islands is sure to be a refreshing outdoors experience.
Activities and attractions at the park include hiking, camping, guided tours, visiting monuments and museums, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing. The crystal clear waters of the national park in St John are some of the best for snorkeling and scuba diving, and there is an ample supply of underwater wildlife to dazzle every visitor. Strolling along the pristine beaches or hiking through the vegetation on one of the twenty trails traversing the park provides a quiet moment, and cruising on the surface of those unblemished waters around the islands, whether you are sailing or windsurfing, is a memorable way to spend the days in Virgin Islands National Park.
Philipsburg - St. Martin / St. Maarten
Cruise ships usually dock at wathey pier about a mile southeast of Philipsburg and are tendered to the smaller captain hodge pier
, where a terminal has shops, food outlets, atms and an internet cafe. Great bay beach is your best bet if you want to stay in Philipsburg,This mile long stretch is convenient and has calm waters.
St martin is a true freeport, no duties are paid on any item going in or coming out. Most of the shops on the dutch side are concentrated on Front st in Philipsburg.You will find all the usual jewellery/gift/luxury item shops as well as a few quirky local boutiques.
Guavaberry emporium sells guavaberry island folk liquor, an aged rum with a distinctive, fruity,woody, bittersweet taste, found only in st martin. Gambling is also big here with several casino's along front st open early enough to snag cruisers.
On the french side Marigot has a much calmer, more charming and sophisticated ambience, with waterfront cafes, french crystal, perfume, liquer, jewellery and fashion can be up to 50% cheaper than
St Martin is a unique country in the Caribbean, and no discussion of St Martin island can start without first acknowledging the strange fact that the entire island is split in two – one part belongs to France, the other to Netherlands. They have different names for each side of the island, St. Martin and St. Maarten. The French side has more land, the Dutch side more people. The Dutch side has more beaches and shops – but the French side has the two greatest selling points of the island – Orient Beach and Grand Case. The former draws visitors from all over the world for it's shining natural beauty, and the latter is equally famous for its remarkable food. You may come for the beaches, but some of the most treasured memories of a St. Maarten/St. Martin vacation can be of nothing more than the endless string of famous restaurants that dot the resort town of Grand Case.
Shoppers are also drawn to vibrant St. Martin island – the best of French apparel and accessories can be found in the Northern capital of Marigot. The Dutch capital of Philipsburg, counters with quantity – the unrivaled number and quality of shops featuring everything from high fashion to glittering jewelry run along Front Street, the main thoroughfare of the city. Specialty stores and art galleries are interspersed amongst the boutiques and shops of the entire island, both sides offering a vibrant display of paintings and exhibits of the finest Caribbean artists. Wandering the teeming streets of either capital city is the highlight of many a St. Maarten/St. Martin vacation.
The nightlife of any St. Maarten/St. Martin vacation revolves around the bars and casinos along the southern coast. This is one of the main attractions of the Dutch side of the island – they have to do something to compete with the food of Grand Case and Orient Beach St. Martin, and gambling is forbidden on French land.
Cruise ships usually dock on the Dutch side, at Dr. A. C. Wathey Pier, about 1 mile southeast of Philipsburg. The majority of passengers are then tendered to the smaller Captain Hodge Pier at the center of town, but others choose to walk or take taxis. The pier can accommodate up to four vessels; any more than that may anchor in Great Bay, a quick tender from the Captain Hodge Pier. Smaller vessels sometimes dock on the French side of the island, at Marina Port la Royale, adjacent to the heart of Marigot.
Many ships dock right in road town harbour, you can walk around road town, besides the handful of shops on main st and upper main st, theres also the botanic gardens right in the middle of town opposite the police station.
The finest beach is at cane garden bay, across the mountains from road town but well worth the trip. Rymers seves a good lunch of the conch, whelk and barbecue spare-ribs variety.
Pusser's (main st) was the official royal supplier of rum to the British Royal Navy for over 300 years, and the food and historic memorabilia make their Roadtown pub worth a visit.
Tortola is the largest island in the British Virgin Islands, though that doesn't exactly mean that it is big. In fact, this mountainous Caribbean island is only about fourteen miles long and three miles wide. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with beaches, great weather, and lots of fun things to do. Like all of the British Virgin Islands, Tortola is an ideal place to get away from it all. While visitors can expect to enjoy plenty in the way of peace and quiet on a Tortola vacation, they can also get into some exciting active pursuits if they please. Boating is one of the top things to do here, and you can also arrange a scuba diving trip if you want to explore the underwater side of things.
When you're not sailing and scuba diving on your Tortola vacation, you can always go shopping. Once the sun comes up, the shops start opening for business. On display at the Tortola shops are West Indian wares, which range from soaps and rums to jewelry and spices. A day of shopping is bound to work up your appetite, in which case you'll be glad to know that this hub of the British Virgin Islands has quite a selection of restaurants. While some of the restaurants on the island of Tortola offer an upscale air, others are more casual and cost effective. The Tortola hotels boast some of the best restaurants on the island, so you might not have to go far to find something good to eat.
There is no shortage of stunning beaches on the island of Tortola, which is why Tortola travel is only increasing in popularity. While some of the beaches here are secluded, others are more crowded and feature beach bars or restaurants. Sipping on a cocktail and dining on some good food while hanging out by the beach is one of the most popular ways to spend some time in Tortola. When you're not hanging out at world-class Tortola beaches such as Cane Garden Bay, Smuggler's Cove, or Long Bay Beach during your trip, you can always enjoy a tour. The Tortola tours include boat tours, snorkeling tours, and sailing tours, among others. As for anglers, a deep-sea fishing excursion can fill hour after happy hour.
There are many interesting possibilities when it comes to things that you can add to your Tortola travel itinerary. According to many, no trip to the island would complete without a visit to Sage Mountain National Park. Sage Mountain tops out at 1,752 feet, making it the tallest mountain on Tortola. The park that surrounds this mountain features primeval rainforests. When you're not trekking through the forest at Sage Mountain National Park, you can savor the views of the nearby cays. As for other Tortola travel attractions that deserve a look, they include the J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens and Shadow's Ranch. The former is an Eden for plant and flower lovers, while the latter is the place to go if horseback riding at Sage Mountain National Park or on the beach at Cane Garden Bay sounds good.
Virgin Gorda, BVI
The major reason cruise ships come to virgin gorda is to visit the baths, where geologists believe ice age eruptions caused house sized boulders to topple onto one another to form the salt water grottos we see today.
The pools around the baths are excellent for swimming and snorkelling (equipment can be hired on the beach). A cafe sits just above the beach for a quick snack or a cool drink.
Located on the south side of grand turk, the cruise center may seem like one of the cruise companies private islands. Passengers could easily spend the whole day just hanging out at the cruise center
whose biggest structure by far is the 2 story margaritaville cafe the largest stand alone jimmy buffett franchise in the caribbean.
The cruise terminals powder white sand beach is just steps from the pier, and you will find lounge chairs and hammocks, as well as bartending staff that
comes by to take your drink orders. For $19 a day you can rent a clamshell shade with room for two louhge chairs. You can also sample the underwater view that makes grand turk famous
by going snorkelling with equipment to rent or buy.
If you think Providenciales is laid-back, you'd better prepare yourself for the really relaxed worlds of Grand Turk and Salt Cay. Grand Turk and Salt Cay are low-key charmers that hold quaint architectural remnants of the islands' colonial past. If you love to scuba dive or snorkel, have a thing for sun-drenched beaches and ridiculously beautiful seas, and crave a relaxed, back-to-basics departure from the chichi boutique-resort scene, a visit to both islands during your vacation is highly recommended.
Grand Turk is the capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands, although it is no longer the financial and business hub of the island nation, having lost that position to Provo. It is no longer the transportation hub either, as Provo receives 95% of the international airplane landings. The island is rather barren and wind-swept, and even though lovely green bluffs top its northwest and eastern shores, don't come here looking for lush tropical foliage. Do consider Grand Turk, however, if you want a destination that's excellent for snorkeling and diving, with beautiful white-sand beaches and a friendly, small-town vibe. You might say it's Mayberry by the Sea.
Cockburn Town (Coe-burn) is the financial and business center of this tiny (11x3.2km/7x2 miles) island, where horses and donkeys still roam the streets. The best place for swimming is Governor's Beach near the governor's residence, Waterloo, on the west coast of the island. Take time to tour Cockburn Town's historic section, particularly Duke and Front streets, where 200-year-old structures built of wood and limestone face the waterfront. Stroll the area and soak in the rhythms of Cockburn Town, the vintage architecture behind picket fences entwined with crimson bougainvillea, the fragrant neem trees, the funky beachfront bars, the wet suits hanging out to dry. Stay for a couple of days, and you'll be waving to familiar faces on the street, calling the local dogs by name, and settling into your new favorite spot to watch the sun set over beers on Duke Street.
Nassau is the largest city in the Bahamas and the capital city.In addition to all of the great scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and other outdoor activities, Nassau is also the shopping capital of New Providence. The Straw Market and Bay Street are the two main centers for shopping and offer everything from Gucci to handmade straw baskets. Dining out in Nassau is also a rare treat, and many of the restaurants found on Bay Street feature authentic local cuisine.
San Juan - Puerto Rico
Almost all cruise ships dock at historic old san juan,the number one port of embarkation in the caribbean, with more than 1.2 million
visitors embarking on 700 cruises from here. Most cruise lines sell pre and post cruise packages that include hotel stays.
Most large hotels have casino's which are one of san juans biggest draws. The casino at the ritz carlton is the largest in puerto rico, combining elegant 1940s decor
with tropical fabrics and decor.. It's one of the plushest entertainment complexes in the caribbean. The Intercontinental is another elegant place to rendezvous. One of its murano glass chandaliers is, they say, longer than a bowling alley.
The sheraton is directly across from pier 3 (see above) and often bustling.
The El Yunque National Forest is managed by the US Forest Service who maintain an extensive network of hiking trails. Picnic facilities, paved trails and tour bus parking.
The streets are narrow and teeming with traffic but strolling through old san juan is like walking through five centuries of history. More than 400 spanish colonial buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries,
many featuring intricate wrought iron balconies with lush hanging plants, have been lovingly restored here.
Luquillo Beach is one of Puerto Rico's most famous and most visited tourist attractions. The view from the beach is spectacular. It features a long gold crescent of sand lined by innumerable coconut palms with the hazy mountains of the rainforest soaring in the distance
Puerto Rico is alive with vestiges of the past - even though the island is a commonwealth of the U.S., it"s hard not to think you"ve stepped into a Spanish colony. In fact, if it weren"t for the American flag waving in the harbor, you might as well be in Spain. Music is everywhere - reggae is impossible to avoid, but salsa and various other Latin-flavored beats pulsate through the night, emanating from homes and clubs with equal feverish abandon.
Puerto Rico tourism has also adopted a Cancun-like atmosphere, hoping to attract carefree teens on spring break; but the country, especially San Juan, is alive with the country"s history. Few other places in the Caribbean have preserved the past as well - Puerto Rico history thrives in the carefully restored harbors and colonial architecture that remains from its days as a Spanish colony.
San Juan is nothing if not a polarizing city. One of the largest in the Caribbean, San Juan is an urban jungle. This is, of course, a problem for many travelers. Many visitors choose the Caribbean to get away. To disappear. And that is unlikely to happen in such a place as San Juan. Instead, the city has welcomed the crowds and aggrandized them as one of the main selling points of the Puerto Rico tourism industry - thousands and thousands of people certainly cannot be wrong. But those that ignore the capital city, and Old San Juan in particular, are missing out on one of the most fascinating locales in the sea. Though it has taken its rich Puerto Rico history and diluted it with Americana and the carefully insinuated designs of the Puerto Rico tourism industry, San Juan is still a wonder to behold.
It also has easy access to some of the best Puerto Rico beaches. Who needs anything else when you"ve got sun and sand and fruity rum drunks at hand? The city beaches of San Juan are an anomaly - the ones closest to the urban areas are often the best Puerto Rico beaches imaginable. City highrises almost melt into the warm summer sea. Executives on break, interns just off work and mid-level managers mix seamlessly with locals and tourists and there is always a beach side bar within walking distance.
There are plenty of fine Puerto Rico beaches all across the island. The eastern side is growing in popularity. In fact, many Puerto Rico vacations are based solely on island"s the Atlantic side, where the sand is more powdery, the crowds thinner and the surfing at its peak. Many of the most luxurious Puerto Rico hotels are also located on this end, growing exponentially the further southward you travel.
Just about all cruise ships dock at historic Old San Juan, but during periods of heavy volume, you may get stuck at one of the much less convenient cargo piers across the water from the Old Town, requiring a taxi ride.