Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
Your guide to Caribbean family vacations from a husband-wife team of professional travel writers and guidebook authors.
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Family Activities in St. Thomas
Our favorite family stop on St. Thomas (and the top tourist attraction on the island) is Coral World (Tel. 888/695-2073). The park is well worth several hours thanks to its numerous exhibits.
The most noticable feature is its Undersea
Observatory, located 100 feet offshore and accessible by walkway. Youll
descend stairs and have the chance to peek at life 15 feet beneath the
surface (including a look at SeaTrek participants wearing helmets and
walking on the sea floor.) Twice a day, the obervatory has fish feedings
which draw diners in from the surrounding sea.
Fish feeding is also a draw at the Caribbean
Reef Encounter exhibit, an 80,000-gallon tank filled with tropical fish
and corals. This exhibit is wheelchair accessible and easy for families
with strollers. Also easily accessible is the Marine Gardens, a series
of smaller aquariums featuring sea inhabitants (including our favorite,
the tiny seahorses.) Theres also a Deep Reef tank, filled with the
predators of the deep including shark and barracuda.
But only a portion of Coral World is behind
glass; many of the exhibits are outdoors in the open air (so dont
save this for a rainy day option; the outdoor activities are equally as
fun as the indoor ones here.) Kids enjoy the Shark Shallows Pool, located
next door to the snack bar; you can view the toothy inhabitants both from
above and from an underwater window.
Coral World also has plenty of hands-on fun
for kids. The Stingray Pool showcases the graceful sea inhabitants;you
can feed them at feeding time. The Touch Pool invites young visitors to
touch conch, sea cucumbers, and starfish. Other exhibits at the park include
a Turtle Pool, nature trail, and Iguana Alley, filled with wild iguanas.
Another top family adventure on St. Thomas (albeit an expensive one) is a ride aboard the Atlantis submarine, located at Havensight Mall.
The 30-passenger vessel gives travelers an
unbeatable view of the coral reefs and marine life. The entire experience
takes two hours including a narrated boat ride out to the dive site and
a one-hour dive.
Island tours are an excellent way to get an overview of St. Thomas. Most are conducted in open-air, safari-type buses and include pickup from your hotel and scenic stops at Drakes Seat and Mountain Top, a panoramic stop where youll have a great view of the British Virgin Islands. Mountain Top claims to be the inventor of the banana daiquiri a complimentary drink is included in most tour prices. Check with your hotel for pick-up times.
A note for parents of youngor wigglychildren:
slide all the way to the right (passenger) side of the trams. The left
side is completely open to the street below and a little bit scary with
Paradise Point Tramway
Another way to enjoy a panoramic view is with a ride up the Paradise Point Tramway, just across the street from Havensight Mall and the cruise dock. At the top, youll find a great view and a small cafe (which does offer a kids menu with PB&J, grilled cheese sandwiches, and more favorites.) The small trams are enclosed.
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