Charlotte Amalie is the capital of Virgin Islands (US). Located on the island of St. Thomas, is the largest city of the United States Virgin Islands, founded in 1666 as Taphus (meaning “beer house” or “beer hall”). The city is known for its Danish colonial architecture, building structure and history, and a dozen streets and places throughout the city have Danish names.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands is April to June, when you can expect mild weather and very little rainfall. In the USVI’s peak season, from December to March, the temperature ranges from the mid-70s to high 80s with breezy evenings.
Top Places to Visit in Charlotte Amalie
1. Blackbeard’s Castle
One of the most visited attractions in the town and one of five National Historic Landmarks in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is located in the city of Charlotte Amalie, on the island of St. Thomas. Built in 1679 by the Danes as a watchtower to protect the harbor as well as Fort Christian. Blackbeard’s Castle was originally called Skytsborg (meaning protection castle). It is located at the highest point on Government Hill. Skytsborg served as a very effective vantage point for Danish soldiers to spot enemy ships. Fort Christian is at sea level, thus making it ideal for thwarting attackers with cannon fire; however, the fort itself did not provide an ideal view of incoming ships entering the harbor.
2. St. Thomas Synagogue
St. Thomas Synagogue is a historic synagogue at 2116 Crystal Gade, Queens Quarters, in Charlotte Amalie on the island of Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The formal name of the synagogue is Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasadim. Built in 1833 for a congregation founded in 1792, it is the synagogue with the longest history of continuous use on what is now United States soil. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997. The St. Thomas Synagogue stands north of Charlotte Amalie’s central business district, on the north side of Crystal Gade near its junction with Raadets Gade. It is a single-story structure, built out of rubblestone joined by a mortar mix of lime, sand, and molasses, and covered by a shallow pitch hip roof. Its front, separated from the street by an entry courtyard, has a Greek Revival temple front, but with Gothic arched window openings. The facade is recessed, with the temple pediment supported by brick pillars with Tuscan styling. On the interior, the Torah ark is located on the east wall, with the bimah, or pulpit, on a dais against the west wall. The center of the chamber is demarcated by a square of four Ionic columns mounted on pedestals, and there are rows of bench pews on the north and south walls. The seating areas of men and women are separated by movable wooden partitions.
3. Magens Bay
Fringed by green hills and coconut palms, Magens Bay has been named one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by many travel publications. The sea is calm along the horseshoe-shaped bay and excellent for snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and other water sports. Also in the Magens Bay watershed, the Tropical Discovery Hike, leads participants through a 75-acre preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. This unique area includes diverse habitats, ranging from dry forest hilltops to mangrove wetlands with numerous native and migratory bird species. The two miles of well-maintained trail wind downhill under tree canopies to beautiful Magens Bay beach where hikers can cool off with a swim.
4. Coral World Ocean Park
Coral World Ocean Park offers an interactive marine experience on the island of St. Thomas. The park features an underwater observatory, a tropical nature trail, the Marine Gardens Aquarium, and a huge glass-enclosed coral reef tank. Animal lovers can commune with turtles, sea lions, stingrays, and sharks, or hand feed colorful rainbow lorikeets. SNUBA is popular, and the park also offers a Nautilus semi-sub, parasailing, and a Sea Trek helmet dive, where guests walk along the floor of the Caribbean Sea. Wild iguanas also roam the park.
5. Frederik Lutheran Church
Centuries of history lie within the walls of Frederick Lutheran Church in Charlotte Amalie. This architectural gem was built between 1789 and 1793 in the Georgian style. Restored twice in the 19th century, the church now features Gothic Revival elements such as a gable tower. The entrance to the church features a “welcoming arms” stairway (flaring at the base) typical of West Indian architecture. During the 19th century, the congregations of the church were segregated into West Indian and Danish groups.
6. 99 Steps
A relic from the mid-1700s, the 99 steps (actually 103 steps) were built during Danish colonial times out of ship-ballast brick. The 99 steps are one example of many staircases built on the steep hills of Charlotte Amalie. They lead up to Blackbeard’s Castle, where you can enjoy wonderful views of the city.