While St. Thomas is a popular cruise port, we somehow have only visited the island once before despite our cruising history. During our recent return to the island on the new Norwegian Escape, we decided to get reacquainted with the US Virgin Islands by taking a St Thomas Island Tour. We contemplated many different island attractions, but decided to leave some of those choices for our return in early 2017 onboard Harmony of the Seas.
St Thomas Island Tour – Island of St Thomas
After some online research and reviewing many different sites and opinions, we contacted Sunny Liston Tours because of the rave reviews on many of the forums and cruise boards. He was quick to respond, and we were able to schedule our tour via email.
Getting Ready for Our St Thomas Island Tour
Our emailed instructions said to meet directly outside of the cruise terminal for 9:00am. Our ship was scheduled to dock at 8:00am, so this would give us some time to grab a few pictures of the surrounding port area before heading off on our tour. We were off the ship by about 8:15am and met up with Sunny upon his arrival around 8:45am.
St Thomas Island Tour – Cruise Port
The Celebrity Reflection beside us was a bit late clearing the ship, so Sunny was waiting for a few other travelers who were part of the 9am tour. The first scheduled stop on the tour was downtown Charlotte Amalie for some shopping on our own, followed by the sightseeing portion of the tour and a beach break. With the delay, Sunny had another driver bring us into town, so we would not waste a minute of our time on the island! Before we left, we had to grab a selfie in front of Sunny’s brightly colored red bus, which we would be boarding again later that morning.
St Thomas Island Tour – Getting Ready for Our Tour
The short ride to downtown brings you by some popular sites, including the Havensight Mall and the Skyride, one of the shore excursions we considered booking for this cruise. Along the drive, our tour guide provided some basic information about the island and pointed out a few of the sites as we entered the downtown area along Veteran’s Drive.
Entrance to the St Thomas Skyride
The ten minute ride was exactly what we expected from a typical tour guide; although, it would be the last time we got such bland treatment on this St Thomas Island tour.
Shopping in Downtown Charlotte Amalie
Our instructions were to meet across from Emancipation Park for 11:45am, giving us about 2.5 hours for shopping and exploring. This park is situated right next door to the open Vendor’s Plaza. Looking around a bit, we did not find anything for us, but got a great Caribbean outfit for our 3 year old nephew. You need to start these kids off young!
St Thomas Island Tour- Open Air Market
Next door to the plaza is Fort Christian, the oldest building in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The fort was constructed in the 1670s and is still undergoing renovations, so you cannot tour the inside of the fort (yet). Hopefully this magnificent building will be open to the public again for touring in the future.
To grab a few pictures of our cruise ship, we crossed the street and headed west along the water, so we could encapsulate the entire 160,000+ gross tons of this megaship. With some selfies and harbor shots secured, we made our way to the main shopping area which is a few blocks away.
St Thomas Island Tour – Norwegian Escape
Main Street and the surrounding side streets are lined with a variety of shops catering to tourists offering duty free purchases on liquor, jewelry, and arts and crafts. Being rather early still, the crowds were scarce, and most of the merchants were eager to show off their finest merchandise. We browsed some stores and secured an ornament for our vacation tree and a new t-shirt for me.
Main Street Shopping Area in Downtown Charlotte Amalie
With only a little time remaining, we decided to just relax back at the park and take a quick restroom break. Before we knew it, the red bus came zipping along to pick us up and continue our tour. It was now time get the sightseeing portion of this St. Thomas Island Tour kicked into overdrive.
Viewing the Island of St Thomas
Pulling out of the parking lot, Sunny got the party started. In his signature voice and style, he first described what we were going to see and do on this portion of the tour and then kicked the music into full blare. We were onto our first stop, a few minutes away, at the Pilgrim Terrace.
This lookout point provides great views of the Caribbean side of the island including our cruise ships, the federal government buildings, Blackbeard’s Castle, and other notable locations like the prison (one place we did not want to visit). After pointing out all of these locations, the group had about 5 minutes to take pictures.
St Thomas Island Tour – Pilgrim Terrace View
Back onboard, this party bus was off again heading to our next stop, Mountain Top. The ride takes about 20 minutes, but there is no shortage of entertainment along the way. Sunny made sure to keep us entertained with Caribbean music complete with him singing right along.
Climbing the hillside to get to the 1500 ft elevation, we arrived at Mountain Top, home of the world famous banana daiquiri. We had 20-30 minutes at this stop for some viewing, shopping, and of course, drinking. Once Sunny parked the bus, he escorted us to the viewing area. Luckily, Mountain Top was not too busy.
St Thomas Island Tour – Entrance to Mountain Top
From the viewing platform of Mountain Top, the tallest point on the island, you can see the Atlantic Ocean side including the world famous Magen’s Bay. From this vantage point, many of the neighboring islands also are visible including our next port of call, Tortola.
St Thomas Island Tour – View of Magen’s Bay
After admiring the picturesque views and taking plenty of photos, we headed into the rather large gift shop. Having already secured our souvenirs for the day, I had only one thing on my mind- one of those famous daiquiris. I ordered a drink, while the Princess used the restroom. I purchased one large drink with a souvenir cup, for us both to share of course.
St Thomas Island Tour – Handcrafted Banana Daiquiri
Before leaving, we made sure to pose with some of the pirate statues scattered throughout this tourist attraction. As the crowds continued to grow, it became more difficult to get a clear shot, but we managed a few decent pictures before hopping back on the bus with banana daiquiri in hand. The Princess was concerned that I wasted money on the drink as we weren’t going to have time to finish it, but Sunny didn’t mind, stating “You can do anything you want on my bus.”
The last stop before the beach break was Drake’s Seat. Here, there are more great views of Magen’s Bay, as well as the opportunity to take a picture with a donkey. Considering the Princess already travels with one jackass, we passed on those photos. Being a popular St Thomas Island Tour stop, there were lots of buses and cars parked here. Getting a picture of Drake’s Seat was more difficult than I expected, as some fellow travelers were actually sitting on it!
St Thomas Island Tour – Drake’s Seat
Most of our fellow bus mates were back onboard in only a few minutes. Now officially done the sightseeing portion of the tour, those continuing on to a beach break were given a choice between Magen’s Bay, Coki Beach, or Sapphire Beach.
St Thomas Island Tour Beach Break
We should have known better, but we decided to get off at Magen’s Bay. Even though we had visited on our previous trip to St. Thomas, we figured we could use more pictures of the location, and plus, many of our fellow passengers were getting off here too. The entrance fee to this beach is $5.00 per person which is not included in the price of the tour. Given the time of day, there were no more lounge chairs available to rent, and beach space was pretty much maxed out.
A Crowded Magen’s Bay
Combing the area, we tried to grab some pictures of this world famous beach. After realizing there were no more chairs to be rented, I squeezed into a small sliver of sand next to a tree and some roots. Not about to sprawl out in these conditions, the Princess relaxed under one of the picnic gazebos. At least the Princess was able to use the internet and text features on her cell phone in St. Thomas, so that is how she occupied the remaining hour and a half of our time here. I spent my time tanning, and would have gone into the water, except I forgot my bathing suit.
Water Sport Equipment for Rent at Magen’s Bay
Our time at the beach did go by quickly, and before we knew it, Sunny Liston was back to pick us up. With a much smaller group on the return trip, we headed back towards the port with music blaring.
Along the way, we made a slight detour to pick up fellow cruisers at Coki Beach before heading back to the terminal. Coki Beach is adjacent to Coral World marine park. Both the beach and aquarium are on our list for our next visit to St. Thomas.
As we approached the cruise port, Sunny gave us the option to be dropped off at the Havensight Mall or continue directly back to the ship. We decided to depart here along with a few other cruisers to do a little browsing. Saying good bye to our jovial guide on this St Thomas Island Tour, Sunny and his red bus were off again. With the Caribbean music jamming, turning the heads of other travelers as he past, I think everyone was wondering, who is driving that bus?
Inside Havensight Mall
Overview of St Thomas Island Tour with Sunny Liston
We arranged this St Thomas Island Tour directly with Sunny Liston prior to sailing via email. Sunny was gracious enough to host us on this island tour, but all opinions in this review are our own. Sunny Liston Tours offers several different packages. Depending on when your ship docks and how long you are in port, you can customize what you get to see and do while docked in St Thomas. We opted for package 1 which included it all- shopping, sightseeing, and choice of beach break.
Sunny’s energetic personality and style definitely made this tour unique. He is anything but your average tour guide. “Uh Huh”! With a mix of Caribbean and pop music, you will zoom around the island singing along to “Who Let the Dogs Out” while taking in the sights. His website states “Come and enjoy, lots of fun and excitement, with music and singing”, and this St Thomas Island Tour definitely delivered on all accounts.
St Thomas Island Tour – Sunny Liston Giving Us Info on the Island
It is nice to have all of the different tour options, but it can be a little confusing at times as to who is doing what. It seemed as though many passengers on our bus did not purchase the complete package tour, either eliminating the shopping portion, beach break, or both. So, just make sure you pay attention to meeting times and locations and look for the big red bus with Sunny’s logo to make sure you make your return to the cruise port.
Don’t Miss the Bus
Overall, we give our St Thomas Island Tour with Sunny Liston two big thumbs up. If you are looking for something a bit more upbeat than a typical island tour, then Sunny Liston is probably for you. While you do get to see many of the island’s attractions, you do not get to walk around or tour them. If you are looking to explore places like Fort Christian, St. Peter’s Great House, or Blackbeard’s Castle, you may want to opt for a private tour. During the St Thomas Island Tour with Sunny Liston, you can also grab some drinks from the cooler at any time. If you have any questions, just ask as the guides want to ensure you have a great time.
Did you enjoy our complete St Thomas Island Tour Review? Have you taken a similar jaunt around the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas? Drop us an anchor below to let us know what you love to do at this popular cruise destination.