Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
Caribbean Family Tripper travel guide

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

Coral World

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. You’ll 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.) There’s 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 don’t 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.
Coral World is located on Coki Beach; your admission ticket means you can visit a while, hit the beach, then return to check out more exhibits or to catch a feeding time. Coki Beach is shallow and calm and good for young children. Also at the park, you can choose to take part in sea kayaking, snorkeling, Sea Trek or Snuba (see the introductory chapter for more on both those activities) or hop a ride on the Nautilus, a semi-submersible. You’ll sit beneath the water’s surface in front of an underwater window.

Atlantis Submarine

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

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 Drake’s Seat and Mountain Top, a panoramic stop where you’ll 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 young—or wiggly—children: 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 young travelers.

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, you’ll 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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