The author with her wife and the view from Magens Bay in St. Thomas

Where to Stay in St. Thomas, USVI (Best Places & Areas)

It’s ironic. For such a small island, the task of deciding on where to stay in St. Thomas looms large. And how could it not? With so many resorts sprinkled amongst separate and distinct districts, the differences between areas are stark with many pros and cons for each.

But that’s why we’re here with this helpful guide to help narrow down your options for stay in St. Thomas!

And believe me, I work in the tourist industry here as a boat Captain. I hear it all from my passengers. The good resorts. The bad hotels. Where to go. Where to avoid. 

It’s almost as if I’ve become a sounding board of sorts. It’s exhausting. But hey, at least I’ve learned a thing or two about where to stay on St. Thomas. And I’m excited to share that knowledge with you in this article … 

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

Best Places to Stay in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

View of people enjoying their day in Secret Harbor Beach Resort
Secret Harbor Beach Resort is our pick as top hotel with a uniquely cozy bay

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay on St. Thomas? Here are my top picks: 

The hotels listed above are awesome for all sorts of reasons. But the main consideration you may want to take is deciding which St. Thomas area is best for you. Sure, this island is small, but the districts within it vary greatly. Let’s explore the 5 best areas next:

5 Best Areas to Stay on St. Thomas

St. Thomas is divided into seven distinct subdistricts – of these, five are conducive for hosting travelers: East End, Southside, Charlotte Amalie, Northside, and Water Island. Surprisingly, for such a small island, each district varies significantly in the types of accommodation and St. Thomas attractions within its boundaries.

East End & Red Hook

View of people relaxing in Sapphire Bay Beach Resort
View from Sapphire Bay Beach Resort

👉 Best Area for Beachgoers & Activity | ✨ Best East End & Red Hook Hotels: Ritz-Carlton – St. ThomasSecret Harbour Beach ResortPoint Pleasant Resort

Serious beachgoers looking for a little rest & relaxation while having the option for other activities will want to book a place to stay on the East End of St. Thomas. Compared to other districts on the island, the East End heavily caters to tourists with the majority of the resorts, beaches, and things to do on the island sprinkled along its shores.

The East End district’s epicenter is the village of Red Hook – a unique community where salty sailors, island locals, and mainlanders intermingle at the bars and restaurants overlooking the waters. Most boat charters offering excursions like scuba diving, snorkeling, and booze cruises depart from the associated marina. Additionally, ferry service to St. John departs every hour bringing eager explorers to the pristine island.

Within a few miles of Red Hook are some of the most fantastic beaches in the USVI. Coki Beach, in particular, is a favorite St. Thomas beach amongst visitors with its epic snorkeling opportunities, local beachside vendors, and lively rum bars. Overlooking Coki Beach is Coral World Ocean Park, a family-friendly institution harboring dolphins, sea lions, and unique views into the underwater world.

As for places to stay, you have your usual suspects: Margaritaville and the Ritz-Carlton. But other options like Crystal Cove Beach Resort, Point Pleasant Resort, Secret Harbor, and private condos within Sapphire Bay Resort offer a wide array of accommodation. The best part? No matter which you choose, you’re guaranteed to have incredible views while sinking your toes into the soft, white sand.

Pros of Staying on the East End of St. Thomas:

  • Wide selection of the best resorts in the Virgin Islands including all-inclusive resorts with all the amenities including beach access, swimming pools, hot tub, and tennis courts.
  • Easy access to marinas with popular boat charters, ferry service to Cruz Bay on St. John, and bars & restaurants in Red Hook
  • Some of the best beaches in the Caribbean are steps outside your door

Cons of Staying on the East End of St. Thomas:

  • Home to the most popular beaches in St. Thomas (& thus the busiest)
  • Rental cars or taxis are a necessity to get anywhere outside of your resort

📚 East End & Red Hook Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Beachgoers
Google Map

Southside

A woman walking by the beach in Limetree Beach
Limetree Beach on the Southside

👉 Best Area for Relaxation | ✨ Best Southside Hotels: Bolongo Bay Beach ResortLimetree Beach ResortMarriott’s Frenchman’s Cove

While many of the beaches on the East End of St. Thomas see most of the traffic, the beaches on the Southside are almost exclusively used by hotel guests – making the Southside of St. Thomas the best spot for a little rest and relaxation away from the crowds.

The three most popular resorts – Limetree Beach Resort, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, and the Marriott Frenchman’s Cove – are all situated along separate stretches of sand. Each one has its own tiki bar, fine-dining restaurant, and outdoor pool. Essentially, you could spend your entire vacation within the resort if you wanted.

But why would you? Compass Point Marina is nearby offering daily boat charters to popular snorkel spots like Buck Island, Christmas Cove, and the north shore of St. John. Charlotte Amalie and all of its history is a short car ride away. And Red Hook with all of its souvenir shops, marine outfitters, dive bars, and dining options is within reach for an evening out.

But let’s be honest. Nothing beats the serenity that comes with a rum drink in hand, the sound of waves crashing ashore, and you, toes in the sand, soaking up the Caribbean sun on what is (seemingly) your own private beach. 

Pros of Staying on the Southside of St. Thomas:

  • Every hotel has an on-site restaurant and other resort amenities including private beach access, swimming pool, a fitness center, and tennis courts
  • Best resorts for business travelers
  • Quiet beaches with minimal foot traffic

Con of Staying on the Southside of St. Thomas:

  • Everything worthy of visiting outside of your resort is a car ride away
  • Hotels are some of the priciest on St. Thomas

📚 Southside, St. Thomas Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Relaxation
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsBolongo Bay ResortMarriott’s Frenchman’s CoveLimetree Beach Resort
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals on the Southside
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – Iggies Beach Bar & Grill ($$), Lanai Restaurant ($$), Mim’s Seaside Bistro ($$$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Taco Chelles East End, The Dive Bar (Compass Point), Sunset Cove Poolside & Grill
  • 🌴 Top Beaches – Morningstar Beach, Limetree Beach, Bolongo Bay Beach
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Compass Point Marina for Boat Charters, Charlotte Amalie, Private Beaches overlooking the Caribbean Sea

Charlotte Amalie

The author in Market Square in Charlotte Amalie
Exploring the produce for sale at Market Square in Charlotte Amalie

👉 Best Area for Culture & Convenience | ✨ Best Downtown Charlotte Amalie Hotels: Emerald Beach ResortWindward Passage HotelOlga’s Fancy Hotel

Culture, convenience, things to do, places to see, and plenty of Caribbean-style cuisines to eat. 

Although lacking the serenity some of the beach resorts out east may boast, staying in Charlotte Amalie has its benefits. 

First and foremost, Charlotte Amalie is a cheaper area to stay in St. Thomas. Plain and simple. You’re not paying for resort-style conveniences. Rather, you’ll be treated with intimate experiences in local guesthouses tucked away in private corners of the town. And within these corners is where the true beauty of the Caribbean lies.

Centuries-old buildings, like Blackbeard’s Castle and Fort Christian, stand tall despite countless hurricanes battering their walls. Local cafes serve authentic Caribbean cuisine for a fair price. And every Saturday, local farmers and fishermen gather at the Market Square to sell their week’s crop and catch. It’s a beautiful, vibrant, and interesting place to be.

And once you’re done exploring the city, it’s incredibly easy to hop on a Safari (open-air public transit) to move around the island. Each ride is no more than $3 and will bring you all over St. Thomas to hotspots like Red Hook, Magens Bay, Sapphire Bay, and Coki Point Beach. Nearby beaches include Lindbergh Bay at Emerald Beach Resort and Brewers Bay – the best place to snorkel with sea turtles on St. Thomas.

Pros of Staying in Downtown Charlotte Amalie:

  • Walking distance to historic sites, gourmet restaurants in Frenchtown, cultural institutions, museums, and duty-free shopping
  • Access to public transit around St. Thomas (Safari Taxis) and ferry service to other Virgin Islands – St. Croix, St. John, and Water Island
  • Most affordable hotels on the island
  • Conveniently located near St. Thomas Airport and the Cruise Port in Havensight

Con of Staying in Downtown Charlotte Amalie:

📚 Charlotte Amalie Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Culture & Convenience
Google Map

  • ✨ Best HotelsEmerald Beach ResortWindward Passage HotelOlga’s Fancy Hotel
  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Charlotte Amalie
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – French Quarter Bistro ($$), Blue Eleven ($$$), Side Street Pub ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – The Box Bar, Dog House Pub, Tickles Dockside Pub
  • 🌴 Top Beaches – Lindbergh Bay Beach, Brewers Bay Beach, Honeymoon Beach (Water Island)
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Water Island, Charlotte Amalie Walking Tour (Historic buildings, museums, etc.), Boat Tours departing Charlotte Amalie Harbor, Market Square on Saturday mornings

Northside

The author with her wife and the clear blue sky above Magens Bay
Magens Bay is the highlight of the Northside of St. Thomas

👉 Best Area for Private Accommodation | ✨ Search for Northside Villas & Apartments

Unlike other sections of St. Thomas, the Northside is entirely private residences and villa rentals. In fact, this is where a large chunk of the island’s permanent residents live. There are no major resorts or hotels to choose from. And honestly, that’s what makes the Northside such a nice place to stay. No crowds. No traffic. Just scenic views.

Beaches include the world-famous Magens Bay (a tourist and cruise passenger hotspot) and Hull Bay Beach (a local and surfer’s favorite). Aside from a few nature trails at Magens Bay and Santa Maria Bay, a handful of gourmet restaurants, and two tropical botanical gardens, there are a few other things to do on the Northside. But that’s not a reason to not stay there. 

Most villas for rent, featuring an outdoor pool and private patio, overlook incredible scenes of the Atlantic Ocean, lush green hills, and glittering turquoise waters of the bays down below. You’ll need a rental car to explore other parts of the island. But let’s be honest, for some, that’s a small trade-off for the quietness you’ll enjoy while gazing at stunning ocean views from your own private balcony.

Pros of Staying on the Northside of St. Thomas:

  • Quiet with scenic views of Magens Bay and the Atlantic Ocean
  • Private apartments, villas, and homes available for weekends, full weeks, or extended stays

Cons of Staying on the Northside of St. Thomas:

  • No public transit is available. You’ll need to rent a car.
  • Marinas, shopping, and other things to do are all in other regions of the island

📚 Northside, St. Thomas Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Private Villas
Google Map

  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals on the Northside
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat – 13 Restaurant ($$), Root 42 Bar & Grill ($$), Brooks Bar & Restaurant ($$)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Sib’s On the Mountain, The Shack, Magens Point Bar & Grill
  • 🌴 Top Beaches – Magens Bay Beach, Hull Bay Beach, Neltjeberg Bay
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Magens Bay, Mountain Top, Phantasea Tropical Botanical Gardens, Drake’s Seat

Water Island

A man and a woman driving around Water Island with their golf cart
Driving a golf cart around Water Island is worth the stay alone

👉 Best Area to Stay to Get Away | ✨ Search for Water Island Villas & Apartments

Ever wonder what it’d be like to stay on your own private island? Don’t have the budget to rent your own private island? Well, you’re in luck! Booking a stay on Water Island is about as close as you may ever get without spending your child’s education fund!

Technically the 4th US Virgin Island, Water Island is a short ferry ride from Charlotte Amalie and one of the top places to visit in the Virgin Islands. With just a few hundred residents, the island remains relatively quiet with golf carts serving as the main mode of transportation. Most villa rentals include one so you can wind your way around the island’s narrow roads to visit the WW2-era fort and Honeymoon Beach.

The beautiful beach is amongst the best in the Caribbean with water sports rentals, a beach bar, and volleyball courts. Many boat charters drop off day trippers for some fun in the sun so the beach tends to get lively during the day. Regardless, Water Island is still the best place to truly get away from it all. Ferry service ends at 6:15 PM, cutting off the rest of St. Thomas and leaving you to recharge as you watch the sunset over nearby Puerto Rico.

Pros of Staying on Water Island:

  • Secluded and quiet with beautiful views of the Caribbean and Charlotte Amalie
  • Private villas, minimal people, and golf cart-only transit make for a unique Caribbean-style vacation
  • Daily access to Honeymoon Beach, one of the top beaches in the USVI’s

Con of Staying on Water Island:

  • No stores or amenities on the island so you’ll need to ferry into town for groceries, drinks, and restaurants

📚 Water Island, St. Thomas Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay to Get Away
Google Map

  • 🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals on Water Island
  • 🍽️ Where to Eat & Drink – Dinghy’s Beach Bar & Grill ($$), Heidi’s Honeymoon Grill ($$),  The Crossing ($)
  • 🍸 Where to Drink – Dinghy’s Beach Bar, Tickles Dockside Pub (at ferry departure in St. Thomas)
  • 🎟️ Top Attractions – Honeymoon Beach, Fort Segarra, Limestone Beach

Tips for Staying in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

All St. Thomas Beaches are Accessible to the Public

The public cannot be denied access to any beach on St. Thomas even if it seems to be a ‘private beach’. Simply, there are no private beaches in the Virgin Islands. Period. That’s good news as you’ll have your fair share of beautiful beaches to choose from on St. Thomas!

St. Thomas Offers Epic Secluded Beaches

Resort-style beaches are convenient with associated beach bars, bathroom facilities, and chair rentals. But what about something quieter and off the beaten path? We have those too! In fact, St. Thomas has some of the most secluded beaches in the Virgin Islands. Consider hiking to Santa Maria Bay or Mermaid’s Chair on the West End. Other options include Stumpy Bay Beach, Neltjeberg Bay, and Dorothea Bay on the Northside (4-wheel drive required).

Save Money While Staying in St. Thomas by Cooking

By no means is St. Thomas considered cheap. In all likelihood, food costs will be one of your greatest expenses. So consider booking a place to stay with an attached kitchen and dining area. Purchasing your own groceries at Cost-U-Less (our version of Costco) and cooking throughout your stay can save you hundreds.

👉 Visiting St. John too? Check out my guide to where to stay in St. John.

FAQs About Where to Stay on St. Thomas

What area should you stay in St. Thomas?

The best area to stay in St. Thomas is on the East End of St. Thomas near Red Hook. This is the epicenter of activity for travelers including easy access to St. John to visit the Virgin Islands National Park.

Is St. Thomas a safe place to vacation?

St. Thomas is a safe destination for vacationers. Most resorts have security 24/7 and private residences are either gated or nestled in safe neighborhoods. As with anywhere, take caution against petty crime and avoid certain downtown streets outside of the main tourist sections of the island.

How many days do you need in St. Thomas?

When planning your trip to the US Virgin Islands, we recommend allotting at least 7 days to visit all of St. Thomas and sections of nearby St. John. This allows enough time for hiking the best trails in Virgin Islands National Park, relaxing on beautiful beaches on St. Thomas, island hopping aboard a boat charter, and immersing yourself in the Caribbean culture.

What is the best month to visit St. Thomas?

The best months to visit St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands April through June. Temperatures are mild, rainfall is minimal, and the winds are relatively calm. See our full guide to the best time to visit the US Virgin Islands for more information.

Is it expensive in St. Thomas?

St. Thomas is expensive to visit. The US Virgin Islands are by no means considered budget-friendly destinations, they are expensive compared to other tropical hotspots. Most expenses cost more than average in St. Thomas, from going out to eat, finding a place to stay, renting a car, or booking a boat tour. See our US Virgin Islands budget guide for more information.

***

Have you decided where you want to stay while visiting St. Thomas yet? 

If you have, let us know in a comment below which area sounds best! Or if you’ve stayed before, let us know where and how it was!

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4 Comments

  1. Stayed at Pineapple Village by margaritaville. Very nice. Great for families. Visited Megan Bay, Hull Bay, and several other beaches. Visit St. John for a day also. 4th trip there. BEAUTIFUL.

    1. I will have to look into Pineapple Village for a future update! Anything near the beautiful beaches of Magens Bay, Hull Bay, and the ferry to St. John is a great location. Thanks for the insight!

      Andrew

  2. Great article and very helpful. Margaritaville of Sapphire Resort? SR seems little older but has nice pool and right on the water. Margarittaville seems more modern but not sure the location for view and the beach. Margaritaville apparently has hot tub broken too 😂. Of course you always find reviews from both with complaints. Me, my wife and 1 year old.

    1. Steven,

      I think that’s a fair assessment of Margaritaville and Sapphire Resort! Sapphire has the better beach and is a tad bit closer to the shops, restaurants, and ferry to St. John in Red Hook. In comparison, Margaritaville has the modern luxuries of a large resort. Have a great trip to St. Thomas!

      Andrew

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