st thomas: beach, please

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St. Thomas is a large island, and while part one of this three part series explored the capital of Charlotte Amalie, this installment is all about the natural wonders of the island.

There’s a reason why the Caribbean is touted as home to the best beaches in the world.  The crystal clear waters, the island life, it’s the perfect vacation.  Maybe less accessible because of the whole cruise ship issue now, but I highly recommend spending a week in the USVI to max and relax.

life’s a beach

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On the opposite east side to Charlotte Amalie is Coki Point Beach, a small stretch of white sand and the bluest of blue sea you could imagine.  It’s much less crowded than some of its more famous counterparts (we’ll get to those), free, and more local friendly so keep your nose peeled for the weed.  The food shack on the beach has some of the best caribbean fare around, too, but don’t get in the water too quickly after gorging yourself.

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dum dum…dum dum

Right next to this area is one of the more popular tourist attractions on the island, a small marine eco park called Coral World.  Now, I don’t know much about the practices here, so don’t roast me, but it’s got some nice aquariums and an Underwater Observatory Tower where you are close to the seafloor — like a glass bottom boat ride but stationary.

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There’s also dolphin sanctuary and some encounters and shows with sea lions, macaws and turtles.  The staff give frequent talks throughout the day, and visitors are encouraged to come to the feedings to catch a glimpse of the fish and animals.  Of course there is a shark tank (as seen above).

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St. Thomas is also known for having a large population of iguanas, so keep your eyes peeled for these scaly monsters, they’re everywhere and they will scare the bejesus out of you when they turn up.

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A short drive away is quite possibly one of the most famous bays in the world, Magen’s Bay.  This inlet is at the north part of the island, and the bay is gigantic as far as bays go, with a beach that stretches almost 3/4 of a mile.

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It costs $3 to park and enter, which is worth it.  Because it is so well known, it can get very crowded which is the only drawback.  Remember, St. Thomas is a hugely popular port of call, and the bus taxis will drive tourists here in droves.  But, people aren’t stupid, they know a good thing when they see it.

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And oh will you see it, the cerulean ocean fades into the cleanest, clearest water you’ve ever seen.  It’s so clear you can see the tiniest of fish swimming all around you.  The caribbean is so popular for snorkeling for its abundance of beautiful reefs and marine life, but to be able to see it that close to the shore without putting your head under? Amazing.

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The sand isn’t has soft as Coki Beach, nor is the experience as peaceful as other parts of USVI, but it is definitely you should see if you’re going to be spending some time on St. Thomas.  The pizza is pretty good, too.

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As you leave the area, you need (repeat NEED) to drive up to Drake’s Seat, where you’ll have a panoramic view of Magen’s Bay, which is more incredible from above.  You will appreciate the long stretch of beach and the vastness of the bay.  This is apparently where Sir Francis Drake had his lookout for enemy ships, and I think you can see why.

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Hold on to the edge of YOUR seat, part 3 of St. Thomas is coming soon…

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