The capital island of the U.S. Virgin Islands is often the first stop for travelers as they begin to explore the Caribbean. Its easy access, use of American currency and cultural cues, as well as its reputation for safety, make St. Thomas the easy first choice. But just because it appeals to the comfortable side of travel doesn't mean that St. Thomas is basic. Just the opposite—the 80-square-kilometer (31-square-mile) island is full of superlatives. It's home to some of the Caribbean's highest viewpoints, spectacularly positioned among verdant tropical foliage. It offers some of the best snorkeling around. And the island has got the hands-down coolest attraction in the region—an ice museum.
St. Thomas is encircled by pristine beaches, and the island's towns offer excellent shopping and dining. Charlotte Amalie, the main town, buzzes with activity: It's one of the busiest cruise ports in the Caribbean. Founded in 1666 and renamed in 1691 to honor the Danish queen, Charlotte Amalie contains excellent examples of Danish-colonial architecture. In fact, a number of sites in Charlotte Amalie are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.