Six great things to do with kids on St. Thomas
By Tristan Ralston on 25th February, 2019
Planning a family vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands? St. Thomas has plenty of fun activities to keep kids entertained and parents happy while on a family getaway! Play like a pioneer at historic sites. Build sandcastles on the beach. Look for creepy critters such as iguanas along the jungle-lined roads. St. Thomas is definitely a family-friendly island and has lots of great activities to suit children of all age. Here are six of our favorites:
Get up close & personal with a shark on St. Thomas
Sharks, sea lions and starfish oh my! Coral World Ocean Park, located at Coki Point, “is the place to get up close and personal with the beauty and magic of Caribbean marine life in a variety of ways,” invites marketing director, Valerie Peters. In fact, ‘please touch’ applies to many of the exhibits at this five-acre aquarium-filled playground where kids and adults can pet gentle-natured juvenile lemon, nurse and reef sharks during the guided Shark Encounter. Play water games with friendly South American sea lions during the Sea Lion Swim. Pick up a starfish, sea cucumber and conch at the Touch Pool exhibit. Several daily feedings by park staff plus the chance to walk through the fish-filled Marine Gardens, live coral reef in the Caribbean Reef Encounter and beneath the waves of the Undersea Observatory Towers mean there’s never a dull moment.
For more information visit coralworldvi.com
Children at Coral World Ocean Park | Photo credit: Erik Miles Photography
Rent a paddleboard or kayak at Magens Bay
Explore atop the often-glassy calm waters off Magens Bay Beach, at the end of Route 35. The watersports shop here rents paddle boats, pastel-color one- and two-person kayaks and Sunfish sailboats. The tandem kayaks are especially perfect for families with young children. These crafts are set up and ready-to-go under the shade of the palms and seagrape trees on the beach immediately to the right of the bay’s shore-side entrance road. The true fun of paddling or sailing on this beautiful bay, named one of the ‘best (beaches) on earth’ and the fifth most family-friendly by readers of Travel + Leisure, is the chance to gaze down into the crystal-clear waters and see rainbows of fish species.
Play like you’re a pirate
Say ‘ahoy’ to Captain John, a dead ringer for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean’s famous buccaneer, complete with sword and pistol props, who is always happy to pose for a picture with kids. Then step inside the Pirates Treasure Museum, an amazing two-story interactive exhibit, located across from the Havensight cruise ship dock. The first floor features artifacts that depict everything from 19th century to modern-day shipwrecks and the precious booty sunken inside them. The museum’s owners are modern-day high-tech treasure hunters who can tell incredible and true stories of the pieces on display as well as those for sale in the museum’s gift shop. The hurricane wind simulator is a kid-favorite and the second floor with its pirate theme is the real treat. There’s also a 2-minute virtual reality undersea tour as well as a robotic arm that kids can maneuver to retrieve coins from the display’s base.
For more information visit piratestreasuremuseum.com
Take a 7-minute ferry ride from the Crown Bay Marina to Water Island in Charlotte Amalie harbor. You’ll feel like you’re a world away from St. Thomas, and the quaint canvas-trimmed ferry looks like it’s on loan from the Jungle Cruise ride at Disney World. The mode of transportation on this 500-acre, sparsely populated, residential island is by golf cart, which you can rent at the island’s dock. The real gem is Honeymoon Beach. A five-minute walk from the dock, this idyllic arc of white sand is bordered by palm trees on one side and a lake-like calm bay on the other, where there’s a swim platform several yards offshore. A mobile food van arrives at lunchtime and the menu, written on a surfboard propped in the sand, offers everything from burgers to fish tacos. Catch the ferry next to Tickles Dockside Pub.
The Water Island Ferry on St. Thomas is the perfect island transportation
Learn about flight, light and more at the Children’s Museum
“Hands on” is the rule at the Virgin Islands Children’s Museum, located in Buccaneer Mall across from the Havensight cruise ship dock, where a variety of interactive displays teach STEM skills through tactile play. Explore flight, air currents and gravity at the Flight Lab, where kids can design and create their own flying objects. Everyone from toddlers to teens can create stunning works of art in light with the Giant Light Bright exhibit. “The museum is a great space where children and adults can play together,” explains Sarah Erickson, director of development and curator, who, along with executive director, Sarah Hughes, founded the museum.
For more information visit vichildrensmuseum.org
Pretend you’re Robinson Crusoe on a Deserted Island
Paddle through a maze-like alleyway of mangroves in a protected lagoon to the uninhabited island of Cas Cay. “Here, we have an exciting hermit crab race and then hike to a rare geological blowhole,” explains Sybille Sorrentino, owner of VI Ecotours. The company, located along St. Thomas’ southeast shore on Route 30, offers 3-hour guided tours on easy-to-paddle, sit-on-top kayaks. Sunset Kayak and Night Kayak tours in the Mangrove Lagoon are also unforgettable family adventures. Or play like a famous castaway, rent kayaks and explore the lagoon on your own.
For more information visit viecotours.com
Family vacation fun on St. Thomas
This article was written by Carol M. Bareuther, RD
Read more: Island hopping around the Virgin Islands