St. Thomas has long been known as an incredible destination for shopping and dining. However, when traveling outside of the island’s primary cruise port and capital – Charlotte Amalie – visitors are often surprised to wide variety of activities and cultural sites. Located on the east end of St. Thomas, the quiet town of Red Hook features an array of red-tiled homes and small businesses overlooking Pillsbury Sound and the neighboring island of St. John. In the streets of this tightly-knit village, visitors will find the popular Havensight Mall and a surprisingly vibrant nightlife. On the shores of St. Thomas’ east end, tourists can enjoy uncrowded beaches, spectacular dive sites and attractions such as the Coral World Ocean Park. If you want to experience the best of both worlds in St. Thomas, Red Hook and the shores of the East End should be definitely be part of your itinerary.
While St. Thomas features plenty of great beaches, Pillsbury Sound is one of the island’s best destinations for all types of activities. The area is known for its active water sports community and offers visitors an opportunity to try everything from snorkeling and scuba diving to windsurfing and deep sea fishing. If you want to spend your day relaxing in the sun or swimming in calm, crystal-clear waters, there are a number of beaches below Red Hook that are sure to impress. Bluebeard’s Beach and Sapphire Beach are both family-friendly destinations that feature long stretches of powdery sand and phenomenal views of the Caribbean. Also near Red Hook, the area known as Vessup Bay has long been a popular destination of hikers seeking rocky trails and picturesque waves, while Secret Harbor Beach is one of St. Thomas’ best locations for a romantic stroll.
Located within walking distance of Red Hook, the Coral World Ocean Park is a must see for anyone interested in the diverse aquatic life of the Caribbean Sea. In all, Coral World Ocean Park features more than 150,000 gallons of aquariums and exhibits, while the Underwater Observatory allows visitors to travel 15 feet below the Caribbean to photograph tropical fish and the coral reefs. If you are willing to get wet, the park also offers special swims and encounters with everything from sea turtles and sea lions to young nurse sharks.
If you want to spend the day on land loading up on duty-free goodies, the Havensight Mall in Red Hook is a good place to start. Located just a stone’s throw from the American Yacht Harbor, the Havensight Mall is known for its diverse collection of shops featuring everything a conscientious traveler might need. As tourists are allowed to leave St. Thomas with up to $1,200 of tax-free merchandise, the Havensight Mall is a great place to shop for luxury items such as jewelry, fine china and perfume, as well as more locally-inspired fare such as artwork and handmade souvenirs.
The Havensight Mall is also home to one of the island’s favorite meeting places, the ever-lively Duffy’s Love Shack. Though the rowdy atmosphere is not for everyone, this open-air bar and grill has long been known as one of the best places to mingle with locals and fellow travelers. There are plenty of such bustling bars and eateries in Red Hook, each catering to a different taste. While Red Hook lacks the high-class dining options of the resorts, the vibrant scene of the East End can be a great place to find a cold drink, an afternoon snack or a late-night party.
If you are traveling from Charlotte Amalie or the South End of the island, you can reach Red Hook very affordably by taxi – fare is typically only $2 from Charlotte Amalie. If you are unsure what time you will return to your resort or have trouble securing transportation, ask your concierge for suggestions.
Though Red Hook and the East End of St. Thomas might lack the luxurious surroundings of other parts of the island, the area is able to compensate with its unique charm and vibrant spirit. If you want to experience a more intimate side of Caribbean life while in St. Thomas, Red Hook will not disappoint.