The island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands is located in the Caribbean Sea forming the territory alongside St. Croix and St. John. The island has a rich and varied history dating back to the period before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the region in 1492. One of the main reasons for the success of St. Thomas as a location is the fact it has a natural harbor that made it easy for the location to be settled by Europeans and remains a positive part of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- The Island was Originally Settled by Different People
The island of St. Thomas has had many settlers throughout its history, including the Ciboney who are thought to have been the first to colonize the island from their base in Cuba. Among the other groups who made their way to St. Thomas were the Arawaks and the Caribs before the arrival of colonists from Europe.
- Columbus Spotted St. Thomas
The colonial history of St. Thomas dates back to the second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1493 when the island was first recorded in logs as being spotted. Despite being identified in 1493, St. Thomas was not settled until the 17th-century when the Danish settlers arrived on the island in 1671.
- A Long Period of Negotiation
The territory now known as the U.S. Virgin Islands has been in existence since 1917 when the United States purchased the islands for $25 million in gold. St. Thomas was one of a series of islands owned by the Danish Royal Family that held strategic importance off the coast of North America. The U.S. feared the German nation would purchase the land and take control of the island.
- The “Taphus” Region is Impressive
The natural harbor where sailors and visitors first arrived on St. Thomas would grow into what is now called the “Taphus” region. At the heart of the harbor still lies the restaurant and bar sector that has become so popular and was given the name “Taphus” because of the many different languages used by sailors arriving at bars and restaurants. If the name, “Taphus” sounds familiar that is because it is a slang term for the Tap House or bar that is a common name in the U.K. and other parts of western Europe.
- Another Island Recently Became Part of St. Thomas
The U.S. Virgin Islands have been a collection of three islands for more than one-hundred years. However, a small island beside St. Thomas has only just been added to the territory in the form of Water Island. The island was originally owned by a private individual but was purchased by the U.S. in 1944 for $10,000. A cruise to St Thomas is one of the easier ways to visit the island and a ferry runs from the harbor a short distance from the cruise ships dock to give every visitor the chance to explore this island of just over 400-acres.
- Visit Red Hook
Most of us know the main town in St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie with the majority of visitors not exploring beyond this location. At the east end of the island, the town of Red Hook has grown up gaining its name for the stunning collection of buildings with red roofing tiles that are found throughout this unofficial town.
- Explore Historic Hassel Island
When you think of St. Thomas, you probably think of the excitement of the arrival of cruise ships, excellent seafood restaurants, and exciting bars. A kayak excursion can open up a whole new way of looking at the island of St. Thomas by giving you the chance to explore historic Hassel Island. Although the island had been reclaimed by nature, the U.S. National Parks Service is working to create a historic experience that gives a glimpse into the history of St. Thomas and the wider U.S. Virgin Islands.