The Caribbean islands that make up the United States Virgin Islands are increasingly popular vacation spots for those who love the sun, sand, and sea. The four main islands, Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix, and Saint Thomas’s closest companion to the south, Water Island, are part of the Lesser Antilles. The main Island of St. Thomas, a large volcanic mountain with a peak elevation of 1,550- feet, is referred to by locals as “Rock City.”
The island of St. Thomas is unofficially separated into six distinct areas by terrain and the major roads of the island. For such a small island, of only 32 square miles, it is sometimes difficult to decide where to stay in St. Thomas. But, if you are planning to visit St. Thomas, knowing which areas welcome travelers is important.
Depending on your budget and preferences, these six areas are good bets for lodging. The downtown area of the capital city, Charlotte Amalie, is where cruise ships dock. The city is also the busiest area on the island, with shopping, galleries, museums, and countless restaurants with endless tastes and flavors of the Caribbean.
The East End, also known as Red Hook, has numerous resorts, and Nazareth has some of the poshest hotels and most quiet beaches. The North Coast, or North Side, is home to the popular Magens Bay. The South End, or South side, as the locals call it, has numerous all-inclusive hotels for those who hate the headache of organizing budgets and activities.
No matter where you stay, St. Thomas is all about the beaches. These powdery, golden shores are among the exquisite destinations and most beautiful places in the world for upper Antilles getaways, although, many of the sandy stretches are remote and difficult to reach – and that is sometimes part of their charm.
If you are still wondering where to stay in St. Thomas, here are a few options, spread across the island.
TL;DR Best Places to Stay in St. Thomas
- Best Budget Hotel in St.Thomas: Windward Passage Hotel
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in St.Thomas: Bunker Hill Hotel
- Best Luxury Hotel in St.Thomas: Secret Harbor Beach Resort
- Best Resort Hotel in St. Thomas: Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas
- Best Vacation Rental in St. Thomas: Condos by Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove
- Best Family-Friendly Hotel in St. Thomas: Margaritaville by Wyndham
Best Areas to Stay in St. Thomas
- Best area for first-timers/tourists: Charlotte Amalie
- Best area for budget travelers: Charlotte Amalie
- Best area for luxury resorts: Nazareth
- Best area for safety: Southside
- Best area for quiet: North Side
- Best area for families: East End
- Best area for privacy: Water Island
- Best area for beaches: East End
- Best area for business: Southside
Where to Stay in St. Thomas, United State Virgin Islands
1. East End & Red Hook: Best area for Beaches
The locals often refer to St. Thomas’ East End as Red Hook, after the village of Red Hook. This unique community harbors sailors, island locals, and visitors who can be found at laid-back bars and casual restaurants overlooking pristine waters.
Outside of Red Hook, the East End caters to tourists. There are countless resorts, beaches, and island-type things to do. Boat charters offering excursions like scuba diving and sunset cruises depart from the Red Hook marina.
The marina is also the docking point for the intra-island ferry. This hourly ferry shuttles back and for from Red Hook Marina to Cruz Bay on St. John for a day of hiking nature trails and exploring the expansive Virgin Islands National Park or a longer trip to the British Virgin Islands.
Some of the islands’ most beautiful beaches are within a few miles of Red Hook. The stunning Sapphire Bay Beach overlooking the Sapphire Beach Resort and the popular Coki Beach both have amazing snorkeling adventures and beachy rum bars.
The popular Lindquist Beach on Smith Bay is great for snorkeling and picnicking. If you are looking for a family-friendly way to spend the day indoors, the Coral World Ocean Park is a fascinating marine-themed park near Coki Point Beach. There is also lots to do in East End that doesn’t involve the ocean and sandy beaches.
- WALA Paint Ball
- Coral World Ocean Park
- De’Coal Pot
- Moe’s Fresh Market Redhook
- Parasail Virgin Islands
With everything that there is to do in Red Hook, luckily, there is a range of options for first-class accommodations throughout the area.
- Best Budget Hotel in East End: Crystal Cove Beach Resort – A reasonable option, the Crystal Cove Beach Resort offers beautiful private beach access and spacious rooms usually found at the larger beach resorts.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in East End: Sapphire Bay Beach Resort – The Sapphire Bay Beach Resort offers resort-style amenities and outdoor pools with cascading waterfalls. They are a great place to spend a night or two or three.
- Best Luxury Hotel in East End: Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham – The family-friendly Margaritaville Resort is one of the best hotels in St. Thomas. I know! A Margaritaville! The hotel is located in a protected cove and is the perfect base for a day of untold water adventures or a more laid-back, flip-flopping afternoon.
- Best Vacation Rental in East End: TreeTops – This charming, private residence sleeps up to four. It is located within a gated community with a pool overlooking the marina in Red Hook. Enjoy the complimentary drinks!
See Related: Best Caribbean Islands to Visit
2. Nazareth: Best area for Resorts
On the far eastern tip of St. Thomas is Nazareth Bay is Nazareth, an excellent area of St. Thomas to relax and unwind. Filled with high-end accommodations, visitors wondering where to stay in St. Thomas will find some of the best luxury master-planned resorts on the island on this outstretched fingerling peninsula.
And there is plenty to see and do in the Nazareth area, especially if you are looking for a boat charter or scuba diving adventure. Patagon Dive Center, a short walk from the Ritz-Carlton and Skinny Beach, is a five-star rated PADI dive school that has taught families to safely dive into the waters of St. Thomas and St. John over 25 years. And for your first dive, the pristine beaches of Southside are a short distance away.
After a day at the beach, head over to one of the local restaurants and catch an amazing Caribbean sunset. From high-end trendy dishes at the Caribbean Fish Market to the casual Sangria’s Beachside Bistro, Nazareth has you covered.
- Jester Sailing Adventures
- Sangria’s Beachside Bistro
- Bluebeard Beach on Turquoise Bay
- Patagon Dive Center
If you are still wondering where to stay in St. Thomas or just exploring your options, here are a few great places.
- Best Budget Hotel in Nazareth: Two Sandals – A Boutique Hotel – This hotel provides a more economical stay, such as Two Sandals – A Boutique Hotel, which is a bit inland but offers each guest a private patio.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in Nazareth: Secret Harbor Beach Resort – One of the more popular resorts in Nazareth, The Secret Harbour Beach Resort provides guests with resort-styled hotel rooms and all the amenities, including free private parking for hotel guests and your private balcony.
- Best Luxury Hotel in Nazareth: Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas – Another top resort is the ultra-luxurious Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, arguably one of the best resorts on the island. It boasts posh resort amenities, its own private beach, tennis courts, a fitness center, and free wi-fi.
- Best Vacation Rental in Nazareth: This Beachfront Condo – Imagine staying in a beachfront condo or villa in the USVI! This one is perfect for families.
3. Charlotte Amalie: Best Area for Budget-Conscious Travelers
If you are looking for city life, Charlotte Amalie, the island’s capital city, is a perfect choice. You may not be beachside in the city, but you will have the opportunity to experience a more urban St. Thomas with all the best the Caribbean has to offer, like snorkeling and boating tours. This area of the island is also good for budget-conscious or solo travelers who want to experience a less-touristy and Caribbean hidden gem vacation.
Most of the hotels and bungalows in the city are within walking distance of historic sites, Frenchtown’s gourmet restaurants, museums, and duty-free shopping. A favorite historical landmark in the capital is Blackbeard’s Castle (not to be confused with nearby Bluebeard’s Castle), still standing after years of weathering. Built in the late 17th Century by the Danish, it actually has nothing to do with Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. Funny that.
If logistics is a chief concern, the city borders Cyril E. King Airport (sometimes referred to as St. Thomas Airport) to the west and the Havensight Cruise Port to the east. It is also surprisingly easy to get around the city and most of the island via hop-on-and-off, open-air public transit. Transit stops are found along the major roads, including Veteran’s Drive and Frenchman’s Bay Road.
Downtown Charlotte Amalie boasts many affordable places to stay in St. Thomas, the perfect area for the budget-conscious traveler. And, spending less on lodging leaves more for shopping, dining, and exploring this historic city. For a fun evening, the Leatherneck Brewing Company is nearby. The first brewery on the Island, Leatherback, offers tours and tastings.
On an island rapped by beaches, visitors are never far from the glistening, white sands. St. Thomas’ main city, Charolette Amalie, has some beautiful beaches at Lindbergh Bay. Emerald Beach and Lindbergh Beach are both popular areas with visitors and locals. Brewers Bay’s calm waters make it a favorite area to swim and snorkel with sea turtles.
- Pirates Treasure Museum
- Blackbeard’s Castle
- Bluebeard’s Castle
- Sea la Vie
- Leatherback Brewing Company – St. Thomas
- Fort Christian
With a little bit of effort, visitors can find some amazing and affordable hotels in Charlotte Amalie.
- Best Budget Hotel in Charlotte Amalie: Windward Passage Hotel – The Windward Passage Hotel is considered – the best place to stay in St. Thomas on a budget. It is close to popular nightclubs, food, and beachy activities the island offers. A pool and a view of Cay Bay and Hassel Island complement the basic amenities. An excellent onsite restaurant and a beautiful long marble bar make this an option for all travelers.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in Charlotte Amalie: Bunker Hill Hotel – The modest Bunker Hill Hotel is in the city’s heart but offers spacious rooms, a swimming pool and a hot tub, and a pleasing view of the bay from the onsite restaurant.
- Best Luxury Hotel in Charlotte Amalie: Emerald Beach Resort – A superb beachfront resort hotel, the Emerald Beach Resort has both an outdoor pool and a beach bar. This quiet hotel is a beloved treasure in Charlotte Amalie.
- Best Vacation Rental in Charlotte Amalie: Breathless Vista – Located near downtown Charlotte Amalie this executive apartment offers panoramic views of Long Bay. It is perfect for budget-savvy couples or solo travelers.
See Related: Best Honeymoon Destinations in the World
4. Southside: Best Area for Safety & Relaxation
The Southside runs from east to west along a bottom slice of the island. Because it is mostly large resorts, it is quieter, with most beaches used exclusively by resort guests. It is also a great place for luxury-minded travelers.
And even business travelers find the Southside a great place to meet, work and relax a bit in between. So if you are looking at which part of the island locals would call the best area to stay in St. Thomas for peace and safety, the South End fits the bill.
While most of the beaches on the south end are designed for resort guests, Morning Star Beach has public parking for easy access. It is located off Morning Star Bay, near the Marriott Frenchman’s Cove Reef Resort in the western end of Southside.
Several popular all-inclusive resorts on the Southside are designed to indulge your desire for peace and pampering. But relaxation comes at a cost. The hotels in Southside are some of the most expensive, and transportation is required if you want to get out and explore. But these resorts offer white glove treatment and easy access to off-shore charters and adventure rentals.
To truly experience St. Thomas, you must get in the water. Compass Point Marina is the launch point for dozens of full-day and half-day excursion tours to Buck Island Underwater National Reef Park, where you can swim or snorkel with sea turtles.
Did you know there was a Little Mermaid Statue in St. Thomas? How about taking a tram-style Skyride up the mountain to Paradise Point, which gives a spectacular view of the island? And there are countless more things to do in Southside.
- The Little Mermaid Statue
- French Heritage Museum
- The Smoking Rooster
- Brewers Bay Beach
- Skyride up to Paradise Point
Here are our recommendations for Southside Lodgings.
- Best Budget Hotel in Southside:- Limetree Beach Resort – This tranquil resort sits on a 24-acre pristine private beach. Both hotel and Caribbean vacation rental, the upscale amenities of this hybrid resort encourage you to enjoy tropical views from your own private balcony.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in Southside: Bolongo Bay Beach Resort – Overlooking Bolongo Bay, this informal beachfront resort is less than 10 minutes from the Mangrove Lagoon nature reserve. Bolongo Bay Beach Resort offers guests a private beach and onsite restaurant, the Oasis, perfect for breakfast or a late-night snack.
- Best Luxury Hotel in Southside: The Westin Beach Resort and Spa – The Westin Beach Resort and Spa on St. Thomas’ western South End features full-service Heavenly Spa infinity pools and several onsite gourmet restaurants. Best of all are the private balconies and the Caribbean Sea views.
- Best Vacation Rental in Southside: These condos, courtesy of Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove – These condos provide guests with two outdoor pools and an onsite restaurant. It is one of St. Thomas’s best beachfront condo resorts for families with kids.
See Related: Where to Stay in The Bahamas: Best Areas & Neighborhoods
5. North Side: Best Area for Villas
Unlike the rest of the island, the Northside is mostly private residences and villa rentals. In fact, this is where a significant portion of St. Thomas residents reside.
There is not much in the way of resorts here and fewer crowds on this side of the island. But there are spectacular views, especially at sunset, which makes the area appealing.
Most villas for rent in Northside are posh, featuring swimming pools, large kitchens, and private patios. Almost all of the properties in the area have incredible Atlantic Ocean views. Northside is perfect if you want to stay in St. Thomas with kids or a family if you are looking for an extended stay to fit your budget, or if you’re looking to avoid large hordes of tourists.
The beaches here predominately feature golden sand with crystal blue waters, which draws the beach bum crowd. One of North Side’s few busy spots is Magens Bay Beach. It is more active than most North Side beaches because it is a cruise passenger hub. It is also a trailhead for walking and hiking trails that crisscross Magens Bay and Santa Maria Bay.
North End also has a local surfer playground, Hull Bay Beach. If you’re thinking of relaxing day trip ideas, the Phantasia Tropical Botanical Gardens are excellent activities for a day of fresh air.
Because the North Side is the least developed, it has very few restaurants. Grabbing groceries is highly recommended. You will also need transportation to venture out into the island, as no public transportation stops exist.
While more laid back with fewer crowds, there are still things to get out and do.
- Magens Bay Trailhead
- Old Stone Farmhouse
- Little Magens Beach
- Ziplining Extreme
Here are some recommendations for North Side’s Best Places to stay.
- Best Budget Vacation Rental in North Side: The Breeze – The Breeze is a highly affordable hillside home with an outdoor pool and air conditioning – an essential thing in this tropical paradise and vacation spot. This easily accessible home is set inland and is great for solo travelers or adventurous couples.
- Best Mid-Range Vacation Rental in North Side: Dancing Orchid Villa – For something with a bit more space, the Dancing Orchid Villa is a highly-rated Bed and Breakfast-style Villa with stunning panoramic views of upper Magens Bay.
- Best Luxury Vacation Rental in North Side – Crosswinds Villa – The Crosswinds Villa takes first prize for the quintessential Caribbean Villa. This stunning cliffside property affords spectacular views of the ocean and boasts a private balcony for warm sea breezes. Once you see the views, you will never want to leave this beautiful villa.
See Related: Best All-Inclusive Resorts Without a Passport
6. Water Island: Best Deserted Island
While separated by the West and East Gregerie Channels Water Island is technically part of Saint Thomas. This gorgeous nugget of land has been consistently voted a top place to visit in the USVI by many publications. The small island is home to very few permanent residents. And there are no emergency services based there, so keep that in mind!
While most visitors head to Water Island by boat charter or sailboat, a regular ferry launches directly across Long Bay from the capital city, Charlotte Amalie.
The island is relatively quiet, and golf carts are the main source of transportation. Unsurprisingly, the carts are a perfect way to tour the island for sightseeing. While unconfirmed, it’s frequently said that there may be more golf carts than people on the island!
Beaches are king on Water Island. Honeymoon Beach, on Water Island, is one of the Caribbean’s best stretches of sand. A sandy playground on Druif Bay, it is known for easy kayaking and snorkeling. There are a few casual beach bars on the western shore, but all this untamed beauty and privacy comes at a cost.
Water Island’s laid-back vibe shouldn’t keep you from exploring the island – as if you need a reason to drive a golf cart all day. It’s truly beautiful.
- Tree of Lost Souls
- Fort Segarra
- Dinghy’s Beach Bar and Grill
- Honeymoon Beach
- Rachael’s Rentals-Golf Cart Rentals
Since the lodgings on this mostly deserted Caribbean island are private, you may wonder – what is the best place to stay? While any spot in paradise is highly recommended, here are some of the other best places to stay on Water Island.
- Best Budget Hotel in Water Island: St. Thomas All-inclusive B&B is an intimate Bayfront Bed and Breakfast immediately adjacent to Honeymoon Beach on Water Island, St. Thomas. Meals from the grill are included, and shore snorkeling is a favorite pastime.
- Best Mid-Range Hotel Water Island: Water Island Villas – Set on Water Island’s peninsula, the Water Island Villas are surrounded by Coconut and Mango trees and fragrant Hibiscus flowers. These private villas boast stunning panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and are just a short walk to stunning Honeymoon Beach and the Water Island Ferry Dock.
- Best Luxury Hotel in Water Island: 4 Elements Culinary and Wellness Center -This self-styled, bohemian culinary retreat on Water Island is the ultimate hideaway, Caribbean style. Cozy cottages with a central dining area serve to restore and rejuvenate the mind and body.
What is the island of St. Thomas known for?
St. Thomas is a Caribbean island full of natural beauty, culture, and history. This beautiful island is known for spectacular scuba diving and snorkeling and has one or two premier golf courses. But it is also home to the mid-17th Century structure, Fort Christian, whose ruins are still visible.
The Danish-French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro lived on the island, and several galleries celebrate his work. St. Thomas is home to the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, located near an active Hindu temple.
Is St. Thomas a safe place to travel?
St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, is a very safe place to visit. Most of the major resorts in St. Thomas have full security with onsite stay. Private residences are frequently gated or located in secure neighborhoods.
But wherever you go, it is good to take precautions. When traveling, avoid being alone, and don’t be flashy with your money, credit cards, or jewelry. Protecting your belongings and being aware of your surroundings is also good.
What is the best area to stay in St. Thomas?
St. Thomas’ East End is the best area to stay. Sometimes referred to as Red Hook for the nearby marina, numerous resorts, fantastic beaches, and family-friendly hotels occupy this part of the island.
The Eastside is also the center of tourist activities, with easy access to tours and charters. The St. John’s ferry also docks on the East Side for a day trip to St. John to visit the Virgin Islands National Park.
- Best Beaches in St. Thomas for Snorkeling
- Best Overwater Bungalows in the Caribbean
- Best Dutch Caribbean Islands to Visit
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