Charlotte Amalie: Big City Amenities In The Heart Of The Caribbean

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 29th, 2010

As capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie has long been one of the Caribbean?s most vibrant cities. Charlotte Amalie boasts all the gourmet dining, world-class resorts, lively entertainment and other luxurious amenities that much larger cities have to offer. However, Charlotte Amalie maintains a relaxed, uniquely Caribbean atmosphere amongst the hustle and bustle. Despite the fact that there is so much to explore in Charlotte Amalie, the capital city can easily be explored on foot. Providing urban excitement with an exotic backdrop, Charlotte Amalie combines everything tourists love about the Caribbean. Whether you?re looking for shopping, world-class dining or live entertainment when traveling in the Caribbean, Charlotte Amalie is the heart of the action.

Despite Charlotte Amalie?s many activities, the city remains well known as the shopping hub of the Caribbean. In fact, over one million visitors come to the city each year to explore the many stores and markets. Considering that American tourists are allowed to shop duty-free in St. Thomas with greater allowances than anywhere else in the Caribbean, the interest comes as no surprise. Discounts generally range from 40-60% off American mainland prices on everything from clothing, jewelry and perfume to electronics, crystal and fine china.

The downtown and waterfront areas are the best places to begin a shopping tour of Charlotte Amalie. The historic colonial warehouses lining Main, Back and Waterfront Streets contain hundreds of unique shops with all the discounted luxury goods St. Thomas is known for. The side streets surrounding the downtown area ? such as Royal Dane Mall, Palm Passage and Riise Alley ? are home to smaller boutiques offering distinctive local products and Caribbean specialties. Throughout this entire area, you will also find plenty of restaurants and bars catering to every palate.

If you couldn?t find what you were looking for in downtown Charlotte Amalie, the Havensight District is another great area to do some shopping. Located close to the main cruise ship pier, these shops are especially popular with visitors on shore excursions. In the Havensight District, you will find luxury items similar to those downtown at the same great prices. However, Havensight features a number of charming cafes ? perfect for a peaceful Caribbean lunch ? that you won?t find anywhere else.

If you are in search of some distinctive local products, try Vendor?s Plaza and the Native Arts and Crafts Cooperative. Located near Emancipation Park in central Charlotte Amalie, these two markets offer everything from handmade souvenirs and locally-grown produce to Caribbean artwork not available in any other store.

Another thing that sets Charlotte Amalie apart is the presence of impeccably preserved colonial architecture. No other city in the Caribbean has such a wealth of history or such and interesting story to tell. For instance, Fort Christian ? the oldest remaining structure in the Virgin Islands sits in Charlotte Amalie. The fort has gone through many phases since its construction in 1666. Originally designed to protect the Danish settlement from other Europeans, the bright red fortress went on to be used as a jail, government hall and police station. Since 1982, Fort Christian has served as the city?s finest history museum, while the roof continues to offer the best panoramic views of the city and its harbor.

A walk around Charlotte Amalie will also reveal such buildings as the Grand Hotel ? a beautiful 19th century resort that now houses shops in the downtown area ? and the Legislature Building ? a 19th century structure housing the government of the Virgin Islands, painted a vibrant Caribbean green.

Most importantly, in addition to the stores, resorts, restaurants and historic sites, Charlotte Amalie offers the ideal beaches that have made the Caribbean famous. Charlotte Amalie is probably the perfect destination for those who love the city, but want a taste of the Caribbean?s renowned beauty.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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