Beauty Is Far From Skin Deep In The Virgin Islands.

It would be a mistake to judge St. Thomas by its pretty face or more accurately its gorgeous beaches, luscious vegetation and stunning blue waters.

St. Thomas is far more than skin deep.  It is an island steeped in history.  After you’re finished snorkeling, scuba diving, and taking in the natural wonders of this island paradise dig a little deeper.  It may require extending your trip, though we can assure you that an additional few days will be more than worthwhile.

Failing to delve into this other side of St. Thomas would be a shame.  The team at VacationDiggs has put together the following mini-cultural tour of the Island of St. Thomas, for your pleasure.

  • First stop is Slave Market. Well it never went by that name, though this spot is a must.  The market goes by the more politically acceptable name of Market Square.  Doesn’t every good city need a Market Square? This is a market square with a difference.  Today it’s a bustling produce marketplace though during the 18th-century this square served as the center of one of the West Indies’ busiest slave markets.
  • Second stop, the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie.  Well it isn’t quite a stop and more of a climb. Walk the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie.  These step streets, or frigangs  as the Danes call them, were built in the mid 1700s, and are particularly colorful and picturesque. The reward of climbing these steps is a spectacular view plus time to think. Yes a very good thing.  You will have just climbed the 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie each one constructed out of bricks once used as ballast on Danish and British ships.  If curious you may ponder, if you didn’t count them, whether there are really 99 steps.  Please let us know.99
  • If you’re still thirsting for cultural history, and can delay getting a Bailey’s Bushwacker then a visit to Fort Christian is in order.  Fort Christian is the oldest standing structure (standing is key because if it weren’t standing would it qualify as a structure?)  in the Virgin Islands. The Fort is home to the Virgin Islands Museum,  where you’ll discover plenty of early island memorabilia and maps the retell the “sordid” stories   of the islands’ past.
     Fort Christian on the NRHP since May 5, 1977. At Saint Thomas Harbor, Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands. The Danish fort is the oldest structure in the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Next stop is one for the kids.  Blackbeard’s Castle towers over Charlotte Amalie and while the name references the infamous pirate,  the Castle actually is the remains of  Skytsborg, a 17th-century fortified watch tower, that served as a place to guard Charlotte Amalie.  Though don’t break this to the kids until after the visit.
    Black Beard Castle
  • Did you know there were Synagogues on the Virgin Islands?   You did?  Well, there were and in fact are Synagogues here. Perhaps more interesting  is that the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the United States, Synagogue of Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim is on St. Thomas.  It also happens to be the second-oldest Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Could it be possible that the founders believed they had discovered “Garden of Eden’?Sand floor at St. Thomas Synagogue-Beracha Veshalom Vegemiluth Hasadim on the NRHP since August 15, 1997. At 16AB Krystal Gade, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
  • For the women travelers its always important to remind the male members of the family, who is  in charge of this island paradise.   Do this by taking a trip to Three Queens Fountain.  The fountains commemorate Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Josiah,  the three women that led a successful 19th Century insurrection against the Danish Government demanding better working and living conditions and higher wages.
  • Next stop….  now it’s time for that Bailey’s Bushwacker!

Who said that beauty has to be skin deep?

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Eight Reasons Why Anguilla Will Steal Your Heart And Never Give It Back.

Bermuda,  Martinique,  the Exumas, and Barbados may “grab” the spotlight,  when it comes to Caribbean travel, though there is one island, that tends to be less in the spotlight,  that when you visit, will discover is more like that person you didn’t realize you’ve fallen for until it was too late.

There’s nothing flashy or brash about this little island paradise.   An understated, discreet and  charming feel pervades the culture.   Anguilla has managed to keep a relatively low profile while offering some big time attractions.

Here are just 8 of the many that will silently seduce you.

1. A cool vibe without trying.

When you arrive,  your first drive unveils a flat landscape of palms and scrub.  It’s quite unassuming and leaves you no clues that this may well be the best island in the Caribbean.  You’ll soon discover the beauty of no crowds, no cruise ships or hordes of spring breakers and the reason you escaped life to visit paradise.

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 2.   No shopping to speak of. This place is real and the food is to die for.

The people are genuine and so is what you find.   There are no lines of duty free stores.  Actually,  you won’t find any big time shopping at all.   What you will find are some of the most exquisite restaurants in the Caribbean – with not a single restaurant chain.

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3.  From $25,000 a night villas to $99 B&Bs.  

Anguilla is eclectic in many ways and this is just one.

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4.  The beaches are exquisite.

Thirty-three beaches are here, and each is sugar-white, with many stretching for miles or more.  Shoal Bay, in the northeast of the island, is a two-mile stretch that’s consistently been voted one of the best beaches in the world. Condé Nast Traveller describes Shoal Bay as ‘truly amazing… it manages to feel alive and animated without being in the least crowded or overbuilt.’

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5.  An island perceived as uber-high-end and perhaps the reason many stay away, is the reason you should visit.

There are more billionaires per square foot who moor their yachts here and a number of them have their homes too. So while you’re likely to find yourself next to a celeb,  you’re also not likely who it is, and that’s the reason they come here.

6.  Idyllic  weather.

Many islands are mountainous, which means clouds and rain. Being flat, Anguilla has a much more level climate with less rain and plenty of sunshine.

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7.   World class snorkeling and diving.

The clear, azure waters offer up a large varieties of sea life to explore.  There are six marine parks and nine wrecks to dive, including that of a Spanish galleon.

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8.  Friendliest people on earth are said to live here – and why not?  

When you leave Anguilla you’ll very likely depart taking along new friends for life.

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There’s little question that  you’ll come up with many more reasons that make Anguilla one of the most beautiful, appetizing, relaxing, and friendly Islands in all the Caribbean.    So, if you’re interested is piqued  and you’re looking for a Caribbean getaway,  check out some of the villas and homes available in Blowing Point,  Shoal Bay, Meads Bay or Rendezvouz Bay located on Anguilla’s southern coast  home to the countries’ largest and most visited national park, spawning over 5,000 acres, it is an internationally renowned spot and one of the sailing world’s premier ports of call.  At the centre lies Rendezvous Bay, an untouched paradise that is visible only to those who sail by and perhaps by you.

.Photos Copyright the Anguilla Tourist Board