Ferreting out the off-the-beaten path activities in St. Thomas and St. John is not easy, because the islands are a mecca for mainstream pursuits such as shopping, dining, and watersports. However, there are a few out-of-the way attractions, eateries and activities that are almost hiding in plain view; if you find them, it’ll only enhance your island experience.
Udder Delite Dairy Bar: Visitors to Magens Bay beach usually drive right past the Udder Delite Dairy Bar (next to the St. Thomas Dairy) because of its nondescript appearance and blink-and-you’ll miss it location on route 35. But do make a point to stop by — you’ll be tickled by their liquor-spiked ice cream shakes in creative flavors such as Eskimo Sip and Jamocho. It’s a great treat to cap off a day by the sea.
Camille Pissarro Gallery: Shoppers on Main Street in Charlotte Amalie often wander right past the Camille Pissarro Gallery – the museum highlighting one of St. Thomas’s most famous sons. The Impressionist master may have gained fame in Paris, but he was born right in the building housing the gallery.
French Heritage Museum: Frenchtown is a popular neighborhood for nightlife, but few realize that the name of this neighborhood alludes to its unique French heritage. A visit to the tiny but impressive Frenchtown Heritage Museum will open your eyes to the history all around you.
SNUBA and BOSS: There are also a few novel watersports activities for those who are tired of the usual snorkeling and SCUBA diving. You could try “snuba” diving (an alternative to SCUBA involving a mask hooked up to a hose that supplies continuous oxygen from the surface) at Coral World or Coki Beach, or jet off on an underwater scooter called B.O.S.S. near Crown Bay Marina.
Ivan Jadan Museum: Right at the edge of Cruz Bay is a museum that’s almost completely unknown to tourists. The Ivan Jadan Museum is a monument to a once-famous Russian opera singer who fled the Soviet Union in 1941 and eventually made St. John his home (mainly to avoid Stalin’s agents in North America). Though Ivan died in 1995, his wife of 40 years, Doris, lovingly maintains a tiny museum that is packed with unique artifacts that Jadan collected during his life and travels, photos detailing his life, and a collection of books about Russian music.
The Elaine Lone Sprauve Library and Museum: This is another oft-overlooked little treasure on St. John. A former plantation great house that was restored in 1982, the building now houses a library and a dusty but quaint museum on the lower floor with a few exhibits on the island’s past.
Jumbie Beach: If you’d prefer an off-the-beaten-path outdoor destination, Jumbie Beach fits the bill. It is tiny but nonetheless has lots to offer. Tucked down a steep path off the North Shore road, more locals than tourists frequent it for its privacy and excellent snorkeling.