This post was written pre-Hurricane Irma. Some of these establishments may no longer be running. But I know there are still A LOT of family-friendly things to do on this island.
It may be a small-ish island but St Thomas has a surprising amount of things to do as a family. We never thought we would end up staying almost a year here, but making new friends, waiting out hurricane season, and returning to many boat projects, has made it that St Thomas has become almost like our latest “temporary home base”. We have really enjoyed the many facets of this place, the accessibility to some US commodities, and the proximity to many beautiful beaches and islands. It is pretty fun how this island runs the full gamut from beaches to mangroves, and from isolation to tourist attractions. There is a little bit of something for everyone. Here are some (15) places and activities worth highlighting, that you should check out if ever you swing by this way.
Visit botanical gardens
-Spend an afternoon walking around this huge lot filled with so many different varieties of plants. Even if you are not a plant fanatic, like us, the views, the cool air, and the pretty flowers, make this place definitely worth seeing. They also have turtles, peacocks (which we never found) and fish to keep the little ones occupied.
Go to Butterfly Garden
-This is down by the cruise ship dock in Havensight. I never thought we would have so much fun looking at butterflies, but when our “guide” brought out 2 bins of new butterflies and placed them all over the girls, she set the tone for one happy visit. She was extremely informative but didn’t encroach on our visit. The girls had a great time running the garden pretending that they themselves were little butterflies. Edited Feb 2017: Unfortunately the butterfly garden has since closed down.
Monday night tacos at Hull Bay Hideaway
-A local hangout spot turns into a kid haven on Monday nights when all the island families bring their kids here to run around, eat tacos, and listen to live music. If you are planning on staying on the island for a while this is a great place to meet new people that are also sticking around.
-Get your tourist hat on and go window shopping (or real shopping) the many places downtown. This area of town caters to the huge amount of cruise ship tourists and island visitors that come through on a daily basis. Here you will find countless jewellery stores, clothing, perfume, and duty free shops, as well as lots of fun little bars and cafes.
-Oddly enough we have not been here yet, but we have heard that it is a lot of fun. This little splash park is located next to the airport, where you will also find a playground. They are open on weekends only, or for private parties, but your best bet is to call in advance and see if they are actually open, because for numerous reasons (like lack of water, or a holiday) they may close for the day.
-This is a fun place to let your little ones explore the underwater world (plus a few types of birds). Our girls loved walking from one exhibit to the next, watching the feedings and listening to the educational info from the staff. This facility is about helping the animals, giving them an upper hand, letting them grow to adult size, and releasing the viable ones back into the wild. It was an amazing experience being so up close and hands on. We also had the added bonus of having an encounter with Omar, a sea lion that was rescued and brought over from a facility in Thailand. It was our first time being right next to one, and man are they ever fun! The trainer did a wonderful job in making sure all were safe, both animal and people.
-Always a treat when you have been on a boat and away from civilization for a while is to head up to the movie theatre (in the same parking lot as Cost U Less, near the Home Depot). Make sure you bring a sweater because they have the AC cranked to the max. Which is a super nice break during the hot hurricane seasons!
-The library above the Kmart/Tutu mall opened recently and it is a really fun place to hang out if you like books that is! It has a great kids area with floor pillows, tons of teddy bears, and enough books to keep your little ones content. They also have movie rentals, wifi, and a good adult section here too. Their hours are still a bit strange, they are open Mon-Fri 9-5:30pm.
Ride a safari taxi
-It may sound funny just to go ride a safari taxi, but these open air trucks do a loop of the island, bringing you to many of the hot spots. For only $1-$2 (depending where you are going) you can get a little tour of a lot that the island has to offer. We ride these taxis a lot and our girls love watching all of the island wiz past us.
The Humane Society
-Go love some animals in need of some love. It’s one of the girls’ favorite things to do. We get to walk around petting cats and dogs to their little hearts content. And if they get bored with that the HS has a book store and flea market where you can buy used items and the profit goes back to the shelter.
Eat in a pub in Red Hook
-Red Hook is one of the more “party” areas of St Thomas. Here you’ll find many restaurants, pubs, and bars, as well as a couple cute little shops, a grocery store, a marina, and the ferry dock. We always enjoy hanging out in this area of the island because it does have a distinctly fun and different feel to it.
Friday evening happy hour/Kids’ play in Havensight
-Every Friday (unless it gets rained out) if you wander down to common space in Havensight you will find a bunch of toys out for children to play with. We’re talking about oversized lego blocks, a teeter-totter, hopscotch, a jumbo connect 4, and more. Your kids can hang out and play with other mini people while you enjoy a happy hour drink from any of the surrounding bars.
-We love eating. Ellia is a little foodie. And what better way to spend some time than heading over to Scoops & Brew, treating yourself to some of their homemade goodies (ice creams, gelatos, cakes, coffees, etc) and let the kids have fun playing with the jumbo jenga and lego.
Day charter boats
-If you are looking to get off the island but stay close by, there are a ton of Day Charter boats that can take you out to see some of the hotspots of the area. Enjoy snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing, and exploring it all. We haven’t rented any of these boats (given that we have our own boat) but have worked closely with a few different ones, such as Charter Caribe and One Love.
Christmas cove Sea life and Pizza Pi
-If you are exploring off of St Thomas I would recommend you stop in Christmas Cove for a snorkel excursion and some Pizza. While moored in this cove we have seen sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, eels, lobster, and a bunch of fish. Once you have tired yourself out swing by our friends’ boat, Pizza Pi, for a yummy bite. These guys went viral because they offer such a unique experience, a “floating pizza restaurant”.
We will be in St Thomas for another month or more, so if I missed anything worth checking out please let me know because it’s always fun for our family to go and experience something new and exciting, and it helps me look like an awesome mom to the two little ones that I have to entertain!
Looking for accommodations on St John, check for pricing and availability here.