This month in my Travel Column over at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord, we’re going to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands!
This month D. G. Kaye takes us to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. A beautiful island with crystal blue seas.. as you will discover from our travel correspondent.
Welcome to this month’s edition of my Travel Column at Smorgasbord Travel Magazine. This month we’re visiting the beautiful island of St. Thomas – one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
St. Thomas is one of the trio of islands that make up the U.S Virgin Islands along with St. Croix and St. John. The capital city of St. Thomas is Charlotte Amalie, boasting a population on that island of over 52,000 people and a land mass of approximately 32 square miles. St. Thomas has almost 50% more population than the other two islands.
Christopher Columbus discovered the island back in 1493, and the Ciboneypeople were the first to inhabit the island. In 1666 Denmark and Norway conquered the island and by 1672 the island was run by the Dano-Norwegian chartered company, taking over the island and dividing the land into sugar cane plantations, resulting in the importing of slaves to tend the plantations. Some of the largest slave auctions in the world were held in St. Thomas.
In 1691 the primary settlement on the island was renamed after King Christian V’s wife, Charlotte Amalie. The island was later declared a free post by Fredrick V, son of Christian VI of Denmark. The term, ‘free post’ was used to determine light taxation, and often no taxes at all were placed on companies and their goods to stimulate economic activity.
In March of 1801, the British invaded the Danish West Indies and took over the island, until returning the islands back to Denmark-Norway in 1802. A second invasion by the British again in 1807, lasting till 1815 when once again, the island was returned to Denmark-Norway.
Sugar trading had made the island prosperous until the 19th century when too much damage from hurricanes past and drought had brought lots of competition from American sugar traders. By the time the Danish revolution began in 1848, slavery was abolished which left the island with escalating labor costs, diminishing sugar production. By 1917 the islands were poorly managed, and the U.S. eventually purchased St. Thomas and it’s two sister islands for a cool 25 million dollars in gold in efforts to keep control of the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during World War I. By 1927, the U.S. had begun granting citizenship to the island’s residents.
As with most islands, the beautiful Caribbean climate in St. Thomas runs steady throughout the year with average highs anywhere from the mid-eighties to low nineties. Average lows typically hover around the mid-seventies. Lowest precipitation levels run February through June. And of course, as all islands’ danger, hurricane season. Where Irma devasted this island in 2017.
Courtesy of Paradise-Islands.org
St. Thomas has many natural bays and harbors and is known for some of its beautiful beaches. Magens Bay, a heart-shaped protected bay, is one of the most popular white sandy beach beaches with a mile long of gorgeous public parkland offering an array of water sport rental equipment, food stands and beach chairs. Other beaches are located on Great Bay, Jersey Bay, Long Bay, Fortuna Bay, and Hendrik Bay. All beaches are gorgeous with their turquoise, calm waters where one can scuba dive, snorkel, sea trek at Coral World or swim with the sea turtles, sea lions and sharks!
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