St. Thomas, located about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico, is the second-largest US Virgin Island. When cruise ships slip into its dock (up to 90 a month!), the narrow streets look as though pillaging pirates have truly found where X marks the spot. (Don’t worry: When frenzied spending starts to weigh heavy on your conscience, you can cleanse yourself in the quiet and regal natural beauty of nearby St. John, just a short ferry ride away.) Also ready for exploring are a variety of excellent restaurants, champagne-hued beaches and colorful sightseeing beneath the sea.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Entry requirements: None, USVI is a US territory, but it’s still smart to carry a passport
Currency: US dollars
Flight time: 4 hours from New York City; 10 hours from Los Angeles; 7 hours from Chicago; 7 hours from Dallas
Getting around: Taxi, bus, rental car and ferry
When to Go: St. Thomas at its best
Best weather: February to August. Year-round temperatures range from 69 (winter evenings) to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy season runs from September to November.
Best prices: April to June; exact dates vary by hotel. Hurricane season swirls from June to November (September is the trickiest).
What to Do
Stroll on sugary beaches: Magens Bay, once named one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic, is the island’s most popular stretch of sand. (Be sure to stop in at nearby Famous Delight, where you can buy a rum-splashed milk shake.) Coki Beach, Sapphire Beach and Morningstar Beach are also alluring escapes.
Golf: The George and Tom Fazio-designed, 18-hole Mahogany Run Golf Course boasts a distracting view of the islands and a tricky three-hole “Devil’s Triangle” in which you must clear a slice of Caribbean Sea between the green and your tee.
Explore underwater: Divers and non-divers alike will love the aquatic sights off St. Thomas. Those who prefer to stay dry can sightsee in the Undersea Observatory Tower at Coral World Ocean Park or at one of many aquariums and pools, where you can also pet stingrays and sharks. Certified divers will revel in the island’s many wrecks — including the Cartanser Senior, a World War II cargo ship, and the Major General Rogers, an intentionally sunk Coast Guard ship with a resident barracuda — and reef-encrusted tunnels at Thatch, Grass and Congo Cays.