Cruise ship docked in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Charlotte Amalie, (pronounced a-MALL-ya) the capital of the United States Virgin Islands, is one of the most visited ports in the Caribbean and boasts one of the most beautiful harbors in the world.

The city’s reputation as the shopping mecca of the Caribbean attracts visitors from around the world who are drawn to its elegant dining, exciting nightlife and international, duty-free shopping. Trade is a St. Thomas specialty dating back to 18th-century pirate days. Tempting treasures practically spill out of Danish-era waterfront warehouses – imported perfumes, cameras, watches, fine porcelain and crystal.

Go for it: U.S. Customs laws allow individuals to bring up to $1,600 worth of merchandise from the U.S. Virgin Islands back to the United States without having to pay duty, and there’s no sales tax.

St. Thomas provides some of the most scenic and picturesque views of the Caribbean. Visitors can enjoy beautiful overlooks, including Drake’s Seat and Valdemar Hill. Paradise Point Tramway lifts visitors 700 feet above sea level on a cable car, for one of the most spectacular views of Charlotte Amalie harbor.

Situated at the top of the lift on Flag Hill is a complex that includes a café restaurant, a nature trail and several retail shops. Paradise Peak — a winding quarter-mile nature trail — gives visitors the opportunity to explore additional overlooks of the island.

While touring St. Thomas’ higher elevations, visitors can treat themselves to a taste of contemporary island culture with a stop at Mountain Top for a refreshing banana daiquiri. Since the 1960’s, this site has offered the legendary cocktail made with local rum, cane sugar and bananas. For a peek at the beauty of the underwater world, a visit to Coral World Ocean Park puts visitors up close and personal with sea life, from swimming with sea lions and turtles to petting juvenile sharks and stingrays.

For the sports-minded, St. Thomas is well known for its world-class yachting and sport fishing, and welcomes golf enthusiasts to the George and Tom Fazio-designed Mahogany Run Course, known for its challenging trio of cliff-side holes called the Devil’s Triangle.