This guide walks you through the best locations for staying at a villa, condo or AirBnb on St. Thomas.
I’m going to divide the island into 4 sections to help you decide where you’d like to spend your St. Thomas vacation.
There are some amazing villas in St. Thomas. And while St. Thomas is a “small” island, it can take over an hour to go from one end to the other. So choosing a villa that fits the type of vacation you’d like is important.
For example, if you plan on going to bars and restaurants every night you’ll probably want to avoid The West End. From many of the west end villas it is 20+ minutes to the nearest restaurant.
MASSIVE CAVEAT: I have no geographical basis for making the divisions I did on the map below. I literally decided on my own without regard to input from anyone. I am nominating myself as the sole authority on this matter.
1. The East End
2. The North Side
3. The South Side
4. West End
Check this masterpiece I put together:
1. The East End (Red Hook, Cabrita Point)
If you like action, excitement and lots of activities, The East End is where it’s at.
Red Hook is the social center of The East End. In Red Hook you’ll find restaurants, bars, the ferry to St. John, ferries to the British Virgin Islands, shops, fishing, and just about everything else.
Here are just a few of the bar/restaurant offerings in Red Hook:
-Duffy’s Love Shack
-Island Time Pizza
Also on the East End are Caribbean Fish Market and Sunset Grille. 2 bar/restaurants right on the beach just a couple minutes outside of Red Hook.
St. John Ferry (and BVI ferries)
Getting to St. John takes all of 15 minutes on the people ferry. The schedule runs approximately every hour. It’s around $8/person each way.
Or, you can take your car over to St. John on the car barge. The trip is about 30 minutes. The barge runs every hour or so.
There are also several ferries that run to The British Virgin Islands from the same terminal if you want to take a day trip to Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda or Anegada.
Some of the best beaches on the island are on The East End.
If you stay on The East End and plan on being active on your trip (versus staying in your villa or sitting on the beach all day) you are within 5 minutes to just about everything you’ll want or need.
2. The South Side
The South Side of St. Thomas is a little more spread out, but it too offers lots of activities, night life and stuff to do to fill your time on island.
Havensight, Yacht Haven Grande and downtown Charlotte Amalie are all on the South Side. These are little pockets of bars, shops and restaurants.
Here’s where I’m talking about:
There are more sites and activities on The South Side, such as:
-The Pirates Museum
-The Rum Ball Factory
-The Children’s Museum
-Fort Christian, 99 Steps, and a few other historic spots
-tons of shopping
And restaurants are plentiful (we love Bumpas for easy breakfast, Virgilio’s for dinner).
The best beaches on The South Side are going to be:
-Morningstar Beach (aka Noni Beach)
-Emerald Beach (Lindbergh Bay)
It bears mentioning that there is a pretty cool option for your accommodations on the Southside of the island. Up on the mountain is a campground with glamping tents and cabins. As the writing of this post in 2022, it is the only campgrounds on St. Thomas. Check it out: Tamarind Tree Collective.
3. The North Side
A massive coastline with views that never quit, the Northside is a bit quieter than the East End or South Side.
So if you want to go for a more relaxed area but still be close to the action, the North Side is where it’s at.
Magens Bay is probably the crown jewel of The North Side. You are anywhere between 10-15 minutes to downtown Charlotte Amalie.
The North Side does have a few restaurants:
-Old Stone Farmhouse
And a couple other lovely beaches worth mentioning:
The West End
If you want seclusion, remote and isolated then The West End is the answer to your villa dreams.
Botany Bay is a gated community that occupies much of The West End. Some of the villas are ridiculous. They face mostly west toward Vieques and Puerto Rico and the sunset.
You will be blown away by the beauty.
There are some lovely beaches out here:
You’ll need to either hire a private taxi service or rent cars. None of the regular taxi drivers will come out this far.
There are no restaurants within 15 minutes of most of The West End.
Staying at a Villa is Cheaper
On a per night basis, in most cases, you can stay more affordably at a villa. Too often, at first blush the room rate for a hotel or villa looks good, but then they tack on the room tax and resort fee (which can be as much as an extra $60-75 per night).
One of your biggest expenses when visiting St. Thomas is food. Food is expensive here on the island. Add to the island’s already high prices the premium charged by resorts (how does $18 sunblock sound?) and you’ll see why you want to pack as much stuff from home as possible. And no telling if the resort will have food options you’ll like.
When you stay at a villa you will have a full kitchen, stove, counters, frig, microwave, coffeemaker, etc. So you don’t have to eat out for every stinking meal if you don’t want to.
Heck, with the money you’ll save you can even have a private chef cook a few meals for you at the villa.
The Couple in the Next Room is on Their Honeymoon
You and the kids shouldn’t have to listen to the newlyweds “celebrate” their union.
Or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to share the floor with the 15 teams from the Mid-Atlantic, Junior High, Cheerleading Championship.
A villa tucked away on a private beach or a majestic mountaintop provides all the privacy and solitude you could want.
The last time a hurricane headed towards St. Thomas, my husband, 2 daughters and I spent 3 nights holed up in a hotel (thankfully the hurricane changed course).
Sure the girls loved jumping on the bed and running down the halls but it didn’t take long for all of us to feel cramped. And as the dirty laundry piled up, our little excursion away from home grew tedious.
By contrast, when my husband’s parents visit, they stay at a beachfront condo. We always spend the week with them and have our own room. There’s room to spread out, a porch, living room and a washer and dryer!!!
Avoid a Cookie Cutter, Touristy St. Thomas Trip
I’ve spent many a night in hotels. Anytime you can stay somewhere away from home for a few nights in a beautiful location is welcomed!
A hotel has it all, the pools, bars, restaurants, gift shops all within a short walk or elevator ride. The hotel offers this partly for your convenience, but also because they want you to stay on property and spend every penny possible within their walls. And that convenience of having everything so close can quickly suck you in and never let you out.
It can be pretty easy to not ever leave the resort property. Many people have come to St. Thomas and haven’t seen anything other than the airport and the resort. And for those who don’t want to leave the poolside, I salute you!
But if you want to get out and explore, find a villa or condo in a less crowded and touristy location. Get to really experience the “island life”.
When you’re ready to plan your trip, and in particular, plan your wedding, look Amber up at Blue Sky Ceremony!