US Virgin Islands: The American Paradise!

Hello Girls! After the Bahamas, we follow our Journey to the beautiful US Virgin Islands, docking near its Capital: Charlotte Amalie.

Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin IslandsMelanie Martins, Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin IslandsCharlotte Amalie, US Virgin IslandsMelanie Martins

Welcome to the American Paradise: The US Virgin Islands!

Hello Girls! After the Bahamas, we follow our Journey to the beautiful US Virgin Islands, docking near its Capital: Charlotte Amalie.

 Located in the main Island, St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie is known for its incredible sunsets and breathtaking views seen from the top of the Blackbeard’s Castle. Land of many Pirates, hidden stories or stories to be told, what do we know about this unclaimed Paradise?

US Virgin Islands: A Dutch Territory

While the prehistoric Ciboney people from South America lived here as early as 1500 B.C., St. Thomas was discovered by Columbus on his second voyage naming the islands of “Virgin” after the epic and tragic legend of St. Ursula, a Christian Saint, and the 11,000 martyred virgins.

It may be hard to believe but St. Thomas’s powdery white beaches, crystalline waters and lush vegetation made so little an impression upon Columbus when he landed in 1493 that he didn’t even stake a claim. Spain’s loss was pirate’s gain and the island soon became a haven for notorious buccaneers.

Seizing the opportunity to establish a trade route in the Americas, agents of the Dutch West India Company founded the first settlement in 1672.  St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Water Island and minor islands became officially a part of the Dutch Territory until to be sold to the USA for US$ 25 millions in 1917.

Reminders of Dutch colonization are peppered across the island such as the lovely manor houses listed in the National Register of Historic Places and Blackbeard’s Castle (see below).

BlackBeard's Castle, Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands
BlackBeard's Castle, Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands
99 Steps and Haagensen House, Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands

Blackbeard’s Castle

Built in 1679 for use as a military watchtower, it’s believed that the fearsome pirates also used the Blackbeard’s Castle to spy on ships sitting in Charlotte Amalie Harbor. Nowadays this Pirate’s Tower is a very popular Must-See in Charlotte Amalie that can be reached by either walking up the “99 steps” (you can see the stairs of the 99 steps on the photo above) or via a tour. Oh! Btw! Adjacent to Blackbeard’s Castle is a two-story high cascading waterfall crafted of over 12,000 pieces of amber! Don’t miss it!

99 Steps or Store Taarna Gade

Charlotte Amalie’s famed 99 Steps (original name Store Taarne Gade which means Greater Tower Street), which connect the upper and lower parts of the town, actually contains 103 steps. Charlotte Amalie is unique for step streets, or frigangs as the Danes called them. These steps were built in the mid 1700s and even if there is a lot of step streets in Charlotte Amalie those are the most famous and the most photographed too.

The Haagensen House

 During our visit to the Blackbeard’s Castle, we had some historic townhouses located in the old slave quarters of the estate included in our admission ticket.

The historic homes included are: Villa Notman, Britannia House and Haagensen House. Each furnished with beautiful antiques which allow you to imagine life of the prosperous merchant class that owned these homes.

The Haagensen House is the most beautifully decorated. The Bankhus house (the fourth one) is home to the Camille Pisarro Fine Antique Gallery.

Sunset at Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands

Where To. What To. How To.

Where To Do Shopping: St. Thomas is the Caribbean’s most famous duty-free shopping port. Excellent buys on jewelry, name brand watches, liquor and linens. There is no sales tax and U.S. Customs allowances are generous for shoppers. Most stores are open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday thought Saturday. Sunday hours are 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Havenshight stores are usually open later. Head over to Main Street in Charlotte Amalie and you’ll find plenty of upscale boutiques and restaurants.

What To Eat: After centuries of European and African influences, St. Thomas is a melting pot culinary delights. Pumpkin fritters, kallaloo (similar to gumbo), johnycakes, and beans and rice are just a few tasty examples. Typical island fare such as snapper, grouper, yellowtail and tuna are fresh and delicious. Also, you can’t go wrong with exotic fruits that mimic the colors of the rainbow: mangoes, papaya, passion fruit, guava and pineapple.

How To Get to St. Thomas: If you are living in the USA, you have direct flights starting from $150 round-trip (from MIA). If you are American, you won’t need any VISA or passport, you just need to bring your State ID.

Did you know the US Virgin Islands? Did you go there? Don’t forget to let me know!

See you very soon for my next Post in the world finest beach: Magens Bay.

Xoxo, Melanie

Photography: Diogo Novo
Source: Princess Cruise Port Guide

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