st thomas mistkes

Heading to St. Thomas for a vacation? Learn from the mistakes of others and make the most out of your trip! Check out our guide on the common mistakes to avoid when visiting St. Thomas, and ensure a smooth and memorable vacation. From overpacking to not planning ahead, we’ve got you covered.

To ensure that you have a memorable and enjoyable trip to St. Thomas, it is important to be aware of these potential pitfalls and take steps to avoid them. In this article, we will discuss some of the common mistakes that travelers make when visiting St. Thomas and provide tips on how to avoid them.

Where is St.Thomas?

St. Thomas is a beautiful island in the Caribbean that offers a tropical climate with consistent temperatures in the mid to high 80s°F (29-31°C) year-round. What’s neat about this island is that you don’t need a passport to visit this spot in the Caribbean is it is part of the US. 

Here are the top mistakes visitors to St. Thomas make

1. Not knowing the best time of year  to visit St. Thomas

The high season in St. Thomas runs from December to April, with peak tourism occurring during the Christmas and New Year holidays. During this time, the island can become crowded, and prices for accommodations, transportation, and activities can be higher. If you’re looking for a bustling atmosphere and don’t mind the crowds, this may be the best time for you to visit.

On the other hand, the low season in St. Thomas runs from May to November, with the months of September and October considered the quietest. During this time, there are fewer crowds, and you can enjoy the island’s lush vegetation at its peak due to the rainy season. Plus, prices for accommodations, transportation, and activities are generally lower.

If you’re interested in water sports and outdoor activities, the best time to visit St. Thomas is between May and August, when the water is calm and visibility for snorkeling and diving is at its best. The hurricane season officially runs from June to November, but the risk is higher from August to October. Keep this in mind if you plan to visit during this time and stay updated on any potential storms.

If you’re interested in whale watching, the best time to visit is between January and March, when humpback whales migrate through the area. You can take a boat tour or even spot them from the shore.

Overall, the best time to visit St. Thomas is a matter of personal preference and what activities and experiences you’re looking for. Whether you choose to visit during the high or low season, there’s always something to see and do on this beautiful island.

2. Avoiding the Tourist Trap: Insider Tips for Affordable Taxis and Alternatives

Taxis are popular modes of transportation in St. Thomas, but they can be expensive, especially for tourists who are unfamiliar with the area. However, there are several affordable taxi options and alternatives to consider that can help you avoid tourist traps and save money. Here are some insider tips for affordable taxis and transportation alternatives in St. Thomas:

Safari buses (open-air vehicles) are an excellent transportation option for budget-conscious travelers visiting St. Thomas. For only $2 per person, you can ride up and down the main waterfront area (the most popular spot on the island). This is the best way to get to the marinas which is where you can take ferries to other islands. Note: they only run during the day!

Taxis – unlike the U.S., taxi fares on St. Thomas are per person instead of by mile. You can travel anywhere on the island for $10-$14 per person. Be aware that it is common for taxi drivers in St. Thomas to pick up other fares along your route. They will always get you to any appointment on time. Note: taxis only take cash.

  • Negotiate the Fare: Taxi fares in St. Thomas are negotiable, so be sure to haggle with the driver to get the best price. You can also ask locals for the going rate to avoid being overcharged.
  • Ridesharing: Sharing a taxi with other travelers or locals is an excellent way to split the fare and save money. You can also use ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft to find affordable rides.
  • Use Public Transportation: Public transportation, such as buses and safari vans, are more affordable than taxis and offers an authentic experience of the island. They may take a bit longer, but they’re a great way to save money and meet locals.
  • Rent a Car: Renting a car is a popular way to explore the island at your own pace and can be more affordable than taking taxis everywhere. It’s important to note that driving is on the left-hand side of the road, so take extra caution when driving.
  • Walk or Bike: St. Thomas is a small island, and many popular tourist destinations are within walking or biking distance. Renting a bike or taking a leisurely walk can be an enjoyable way to explore the area and save money on transportation.

By following these insider tips, you can avoid tourist traps and save money on transportation in St. Thomas. With the many affordable options available, you can explore the island without breaking the bank.

3. Not packing correctly:  Essential Items to Bring on Your St. Thomas Adventure

Don’t make these packing mistakes when visiting St. Thomas

Related: Aruba first time visitor mistakes

When planning your trip to St. Thomas, it’s important to pack wisely to ensure that you have everything you need for an enjoyable and comfortable adventure. Here are some essential items to consider bringing with you:

  • Sun Protection: With the island’s tropical climate, sun protection is a must. Bring sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the strong UV rays.
  • Lightweight Clothing: St. Thomas is a hot and humid destination, so be sure to pack lightweight and breathable clothing. Cotton, linen, and other natural fabrics are ideal for staying cool and comfortable.
  • Water Shoes: Many of St. Thomas’ beaches have rocky or coral-filled areas, so water shoes can be a great investment for protecting your feet while exploring the island’s waters.
  • Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes and other insects can be a nuisance in St. Thomas, especially during the wet season. Bring insect repellent to keep the bugs at bay.
  • Travel Adapter: St. Thomas uses the same electrical outlets as the United States (Type A and Type B), so if you’re travelling from a different country, be sure to bring a travel adapter to charge your electronics.
  • Camera: St. Thomas is a picturesque destination with plenty of photo opportunities, so be sure to bring a camera or smartphone with a good camera to capture your memories.
  • Cash: While many businesses in St. Thomas accept credit cards, having some cash on hand can be helpful for smaller transactions, such as buying snacks or tipping taxi drivers.
  • Protect your electronics: Tropical storms can bring strong winds and heavy rainfall, which can damage your electronics. Bring waterproof bags or cases to protect your phone, camera, and other devices.

4. Not Learning Simple Phrases and Customs for St Thomas 

Learning a few simple phrases and customs can go a long way in making your trip to St. Thomas more enjoyable and memorable. Here are some phrases and customs to keep in mind:

  • Greetings: The most common greeting in St. Thomas is “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon.” Be sure to greet people you meet with a smile and a friendly hello.
  • Island Time: St. Thomas operates on a more relaxed schedule, so don’t be surprised if things move a bit slower than you’re used to. Embrace the island time mentality and enjoy the slower pace of life.
  • Tipping: Tipping is expected in St. Thomas, similar to other places in the United States. A standard tip for servers in restaurants is around 15-20% of the total bill.
  • Dress Code: While St. Thomas has a casual vibe, it’s important to dress appropriately for certain occasions, such as fine dining restaurants or religious sites.
  • Respect for Culture: Be respectful of the local culture and customs. This includes not wearing beach attire in public areas and being mindful of noise levels late at night.

By learning these simple phrases and customs, you can show respect for the local culture and make the most of your trip to St. Thomas.

5. Not knowing how much money to bring to St. Thomas 

When traveling to St. Thomas, it’s important to bring enough cash to cover your expenses, as many businesses on the island only accept cash. Here’s what you need to know about bringing and using cash in St. Thomas:

  • Currency: The official currency of the US Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas, is the US dollar. You can easily exchange currency at banks and ATMs on the island.
  • Amount to bring: The amount of cash you should bring depends on your travel plans and spending habits. It’s recommended to bring enough cash to cover your expenses, including accommodations, transportation, food, and activities.
  • ATM availability: ATMs are readily available in St. Thomas, but it’s a good idea to bring some cash with you in case you have trouble finding one or experience any issues with your bank or credit card.
  • Credit cards: Many businesses in St. Thomas accept major credit cards, but it’s always a good idea to carry cash as a backup in case of any issues with your card or the card processing system.
  • Exchange rates: It’s important to be aware of the exchange rates when exchanging currency or using a credit card in St. Thomas. Some credit cards may charge foreign transaction fees, so be sure to check with your bank or credit card company before travelling.

By bringing enough cash and being aware of the local currency and exchange rates, you can have a more seamless and stress-free experience when spending money in St. Thomas.

6. Budgeting for the things I really want to do when I visit St. Thomas (Hint: it isn’t cheap there) 

St. Thomas is a beautiful island destination, but it can also be expensive. To make the most of your trip without breaking the bank, it’s important to budget accordingly. Here are some tips for budgeting for St. Thomas’ high cost of living:

  • Plan ahead: Before your trip, research the cost of accommodations, transportation, food, and activities in St. Thomas. This will give you a better idea of how much you’ll need to budget for your trip.
  • Choose budget-friendly accommodations: Look for budget-friendly accommodations such as hostels, guesthouses, or vacation rentals that offer kitchen facilities so you can prepare your own meals.
  • Dine like a local: Eating out can quickly add up, so try dining like a local and eating at small local restaurants or food trucks. You can also save money by purchasing groceries and cooking your own meals.
  • Take advantage of free activities: There are many free activities on the island, such as hiking, visiting public beaches, and exploring historical sites.
  • Set a daily budget: Determine how much money you can afford to spend each day and stick to it. This will help you avoid overspending and ensure that you stay within your budget.

By planning ahead, choosing budget-friendly accommodations and dining options, taking advantage of free activities, and setting a daily budget, you can enjoy all that St. Thomas has to offer without spending a fortune.

7. Not putting my safety first when traveling to St. Thomas

St. Thomas is generally a safe destination, but as with any travel destination, it’s important to take precautions to ensure a safe and secure vacation. Here are some tips for staying safe in St. Thomas:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar or deserted areas.
  • Secure your belongings: Keep your valuables, such as passports, wallets, and electronic devices, in a safe place, and never leave them unattended.
  • Use trusted transportation: Use only trusted transportation options, such as taxis or reputable car rental companies.
  • Stay informed: Stay informed about local news and any safety concerns in the area.
  • Respect the culture: Respect the local culture and customs, and dress appropriately for the environment.
  • Know emergency numbers: Keep a list of emergency phone numbers, such as the local police, hospital, and embassy, with you at all times.

By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and secure vacation in St. Thomas.

8. St. Thomas mistake 8 – Just sticking to the tourist guide or staying at the resort in St. Thomas 

Seek out some of the secluded spots in St. Thomas

While St. Thomas has many popular tourist attractions, there are also some hidden gems that many visitors miss out on. Here are some of the best-hidden gems of St. Thomas that you won’t find in tourist guides:

  • Magens Bay Arboretum: Located within the popular Magens Bay Beach, the arboretum is a beautiful and tranquil escape from the crowds, featuring a variety of exotic plants and trees.
  • Drake’s Seat: This scenic overlook provides breathtaking views of Magens Bay and the surrounding islands.
  • Hull Bay: A quieter alternative to the popular beaches on the island, Hull Bay offers excellent snorkelling, surfing, and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Coral World Ocean Park: While not exactly a hidden gem, Coral World is often overshadowed by the more popular attractions on the island. Here, you can get up close and personal with a variety of marine life, including sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays.
  • Paradise Point: Take a scenic Skyride to the top of this hill for stunning views of the Charlotte Amalie harbour and the surrounding islands.
  • Hassel Island: Accessible only by boat, Hassel Island offers hiking trails, secluded beaches, and a glimpse into the island’s history as a military base.

By venturing off the beaten path and exploring these hidden gems, you can experience a side of St. Thomas that many tourists miss out on.

9. Not trying the local food and drink in St. Thomas

Don’t miss out on the fantastic local cuisine in St. Thomas

St. Thomas is a haven for foodies and cocktail enthusiasts alike, offering a diverse range of dining and drinking options. Here are some of the best ways to savor the island’s food and beverage scene:

  • Local Cuisine: St. Thomas’ local cuisine is a must-try, featuring Caribbean flavors with a unique island twist. Some popular dishes include conch fritters, johnnycakes, and the local favorite dish, “pate.”
  • Beach Bars: With their laid-back vibe and stunning views, St. Thomas’ beach bars are a popular spot for both locals and tourists. Many offer happy hour specials and live music, making for a fun and festive atmosphere.
  • Rum: As the birthplace of rum, St. Thomas is home to many rum distilleries and bars. Try the island’s signature drink, the Painkiller made with rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, and nutmeg.
  • Fine Dining: For those looking for a more upscale dining experience, St. Thomas has plenty of options. From seafood to Italian to Caribbean fusion, the island’s fine dining scene offers something for everyone.
  • Food Trucks: If you’re on the go, St. Thomas’ food truck scene is a great option for quick and delicious meals. From tacos to BBQ to vegan cuisine, there’s a food truck for every taste.

Whether you’re looking to indulge in local cuisine or sip on a tropical cocktail, St. Thomas has plenty of options to satisfy your cravings. Don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone and try something new – you may just discover your new favorite dish or drink.

10. Not taking advantage of the all the outdoor activities in St. Thomas 

Don’t miss out on all the fun activities in St. Thomas

It’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of exciting activities to get your adrenaline pumping. Here are some of the best active island adventures to try in St. Thomas:

  • Snorkelling and Scuba Diving: With crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, St. Thomas is a top destination for snorkelling and scuba diving. The island’s many reefs, wrecks, and coral gardens offer a variety of underwater landscapes to explore.
  • Hiking and Trail Running: St. Thomas is home to a network of scenic hiking and running trails, offering breathtaking views of the island’s lush tropical landscape. Some popular trails include the Hassel Island Trail, the Magens Bay Trail, and the St. Thomas Skyline Trail.
  • Zip Lining: For a thrilling adventure high above the treetops, try zip lining in St. Thomas. Several tour companies offer zip-line courses through the island’s rainforest, providing a unique perspective on the island’s natural beauty.
  • Kayaking and Paddle Boarding: Explore St. Thomas’ many bays and coves by kayak or stand-up paddle board. Several rental companies offer equipment and guided tours to help you make the most of your adventure.
  • Parasailing: Take to the skies and experience the beauty of St. Thomas from above with a parasailing excursion. Enjoy panoramic views of the island’s coastline and crystal-clear waters as you soar high above the ocean.

From exploring underwater worlds to soaring above the treetops, St. Thomas offers a wealth of outdoor activities for adventure seekers of all levels. Don’t be afraid to try something new and push your limits – you may just discover your new favourite island adventure.

11. Not respecting St. Thomas’ Beautiful Marine Ecosystem

St. Thomas is blessed with a beautiful marine ecosystem that is home to an abundance of marine life, coral reefs, and other delicate ecosystems. As a responsible traveller, it is important to do your part in preserving the natural beauty of the island. Here are some tips on how to help preserve St. Thomas’ marine ecosystem:

  • Don’t touch or take anything from the reef: It can be tempting to touch or take a piece of the reef as a souvenir, but it is important to resist the urge. Touching the reef can damage the fragile ecosystem, and taking anything from it can disrupt the balance of the underwater environment.
  • Don’t litter: Always dispose of your trash properly, and avoid leaving any litter behind on the beach or in the water. Litter can harm marine life and contribute to pollution, which can have long-term effects on the ecosystem.
  • Respect marine life: When snorkelling or diving, give marine life plenty of space and avoid touching or disturbing them. It is important to remember that you are a visitor in their environment and should treat them with respect.
  • Support eco-friendly businesses: Choose to support businesses that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendliness. These businesses often have practices in place to minimize their impact on the environment.

By taking these simple steps, you can help preserve St. Thomas’ beautiful marine ecosystem for generations to come. Remember, every small action counts towards protecting the environment, and it is up to all of us to do our part in creating a sustainable future.

No matter how you choose to relax and recharge on your St. Thomas getaway, make sure to take the time to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the island.

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!