Five Scenic Overlooks That Showcase the Island
The best way to see St. Thomas is from the top. The mountain ridge that forms the island’s spine offers a number of scenic spots that beg for a photo op, and entice observers to linger and take in the big picture. At several, you can even sit and enjoy a cool libation while drinking in the views. Here are five overlooks that shouldn’t be missed.
The Drake’s Seat overlook is named for the famous English privateer Sir Francis Drake, who once used this hilltop vantage point to keep watch over his fleet, and scan the horizon for passing Spanish galleons. This panoramic view faces north and takes in Hans Lollik Island, Thatch Cay and the British Virgin Islands of Jost van Dyke and Tortola. There is no shop or bar here, just a parking area off Hull Bay Road, and a couple of benches. But the views are definitely worth a stop.
The highest point on the island is also one of the most popular. Mountain Top was St. Thomas’ first major tourist attraction since back in the day, and lays claim to being the birthplace of the Banana Daiquiri. This hilltop observatory perches 1,500 feet above the Caribbean, and provides sweeping views of Magens Bay, St. Thomas and 20 surrounding islands. In addition to t-shirts, hats and all manner of souvenirs, the on-site gift shop sells nautical antiques and ship models.
An often-overlooked vantage point on the way to the top of the island is the Mafolie Hotel, which has one of the best decks for taking in views of the downtown waterfront some 800 feet below. This hotel, along with the restaurant and bar, has been an island favorite since 1952, and continues to be one of the best spots to dine with a view of the harbor lights at night. It’s also a great place to take in a sunset with a Mafolie Painkiller or Mafolie Passion, two of their signature drinks.
The quickest and easiest way to get from the waterfront to a hilltop view is by boarding the aerial tram at Havensight to Paradise Point. The Skyride gondolas carry passengers up 700 feet to the top of Flag Hill, where there’s a bar, restaurant, gift shop and nature trail. This is another good spot to watch the boat traffic below, or take in a sunset. There are good views of Charlotte Amalie, and on clear days you can see all the way to St. Croix, Vieques and Culebra.
This elevated oasis is easy to find, as it is perched at the eastern end of the scenic route known as Skyline Drive. The observation platform looks down on Charlotte Amalie and across the water to neighboring Water Island and Hassel Island. Fruit daiquiris are the house specialty, and the deck is a great place to linger with one of these signature concoctions while watching the comings and goings of boats in the harbor below.