St. Thomas

For a clean, quiet sandscape with outstanding snorkeling right offshore, hit up Sapphire Beach. Or, nestled in a sheltered cove on the other side of the island, Magens Bay is great for tanning, swimming and picnicking.

Really though — I can’t say it enough: Every inch of the shoreline is tropical perfection, ripe for sailing, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing or just relaxing on the shore, taking swigs of the spectacular view.

And what would the Caribbean be without rum? Whether served complimentary as you step off the plane or in a mixed drink as you lounge poolside, don’t miss the warm ‘n’ fuzziest side of Caribbean culture, free to be enjoyed by everyone 18 and over. Cruzan Rum, distilled on the island, is known to be one of the best brands in the world, and comes in flavors ranging from coconut to raspberry.

After a full day at the beach, a popular St. Thomas hangout is Duffy’s Love Shack, located right across the street from the St. John Ferry Dock. If you’re with a group, order the Shark Tank: A 64 oz. fishbowl filled with rum and liquers. For a taste of traditional Caribbean cuisine — like fried plantains, jerk chicken or an oatmeal dish called fungi — dine out at Fungi’s on the Beach. On Saturday night, be sure to visit Iggie’s for all-you-can-eat crab legs and (post-rum) karaoke.

The city of Charlotte Amalie must be visited at least once. For a true taste of Caribbean flair, stop at the open-air bazaar on the corner of the city and barter for everything from shells to printed sarongs to haircuts. The Pirate Museum on top of the hill pays tribute to the Caribbean’s swashbuckling past, while offering spectacular views of the cruise-ship harbor and the city.

A few remnants of Danish colonization in the 1600s linger on the island, including huge stone sugar mills hidden in lush undergrowth and the historic main city’s cobblestone streets, on which you must stick to the left side of the road.

St. Thomas is only a 30-minute flight from Florida, and since it’s technically part of the United States, no passport is needed.

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