It would be a mistake to judge St. Thomas by its pretty face or more accurately its gorgeous beaches, luscious vegetation and stunning blue waters.
St. Thomas is far more than skin deep. It is an island steeped in history. After you’re finished snorkeling, scuba diving, and taking in the natural wonders of this island paradise dig a little deeper. It may require extending your trip, though we can assure you that an additional few days will be more than worthwhile.
Failing to delve into this other side of St. Thomas would be a shame. The team at VacationDiggs has put together the following mini-cultural tour of the Island of St. Thomas, for your pleasure.
- First stop is Slave Market. Well it never went by that name, though this spot is a must. The market goes by the more politically acceptable name of Market Square. Doesn’t every good city need a Market Square? This is a market square with a difference. Today it’s a bustling produce marketplace though during the 18th-century this square served as the center of one of the West Indies’ busiest slave markets.
- Second stop, the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie. Well it isn’t quite a stop and more of a climb. Walk the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie. These step streets, or frigangs as the Danes call them, were built in the mid 1700s, and are particularly colorful and picturesque. The reward of climbing these steps is a spectacular view plus time to think. Yes a very good thing. You will have just climbed the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie each one constructed out of bricks once used as ballast on Danish and British ships. If curious you may ponder, if you didn’t count them, whether there are really 99 steps. Please let us know.
- If you’re still thirsting for cultural history, and can delay getting a Bailey’s Bushwacker then a visit to Fort Christian is in order. Fort Christian is the oldest standing structure (standing is key because if it weren’t standing would it qualify as a structure?) in the Virgin Islands. The Fort is home to the Virgin Islands Museum, where you’ll discover plenty of early island memorabilia and maps the retell the “sordid” stories of the islands’ past.
- Next stop is one for the kids. Blackbeard’s Castle towers over Charlotte Amalie and while the name references the infamous pirate, the Castle actually is the remains of Skytsborg, a 17th-century fortified watch tower, that served as a place to guard Charlotte Amalie. Though don’t break this to the kids until after the visit.
- Did you know there were Synagogues on the Virgin Islands? You did? Well, there were and in fact are Synagogues here. Perhaps more interesting is that the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the United States, Synagogue of Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim is on St. Thomas. It also happens to be the second-oldest Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Could it be possible that the founders believed they had discovered “Garden of Eden’?
- For the women travelers its always important to remind the male members of the family, who is in charge of this island paradise. Do this by taking a trip to Three Queens Fountain. The fountains commemorate Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Josiah, the three women that led a successful 19th Century insurrection against the Danish Government demanding better working and living conditions and higher wages.
- Next stop…. now it’s time for that Bailey’s Bushwacker!
Who said that beauty has to be skin deep?