The St. Thomas Skyride to Paradise Point Gives the Best Views of Charlotte Amalie (4.5 stars)
If you only have a few hours in St. Thomas, you’ll want to visit Paradise Point. It’s a shopping mall near where cruise ships dock that’s high atop a mountain. From there you’ll get the best views around, letting you see everything that you could explore when you have more time to visit the US Virgin Islands. To get there, you take the Skyride, a short gondola ride that gets you there and back in just a few minutes.
Although they have plans to expand, right now Paradise Point is open every day but only one night a week. That’s Wednesday evening, which is locals’ night, making it the least crowded and best time to visit if you are not bound to a cruise ship schedule. You’ll find a local band at Taste, a restaurant, and be able to interact with locals beyond the tourist industry. It faces directly west, so you’ll see a stunning sunset. Discounted pricing begins at 5pm, the last tram up is at 9pm, and the last one down comes at 10pm.
The gondolas are modern and classy. They’re not air conditioned, but they also haven’t been defaced with graffiti. You can stand or you can sit along the railing, and see excellent views the whole way up the slope, not just views of the city but of the bay with the cruise ships at dock. You can see a 180-degree view of the surrounding hillsides with all the houses stacked on the hills, then far-off mountains, the entire ocean, and beyond. You can even see all the way to part of Puerto Rico. The trip takes only 5 minutes to go up 770 feet above sea level to Paradise Point.
The mall at the top is decorative, with bright colors and a surfboard theme. You’ll find restrooms, many gifts shops, and a restaurant. Still rebuilding from the 2017 hurricane, they soon plan to add a steakhouse, called Prime, and a skywalk, a 35-foot walkway that juts out from the patio at Taste so that you are surrounded by views. They also plan to add additional skyway cables for parallel service. The gift shops sell a range of commercial to handmade t-shirts, jewelry, knickknacks, handbags, sundresses, locally made art, ornaments, sun hats, decorative plates, and mugs. Thankfully, the shops are interesting, not crass in a touristy way, but they are also not must-see destinations compared to the extensive shopping at sea level in the city.
The US Virgin Islands have so much more to offer than the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. But if you are limited on time, take the Skyride and get the views that will inspire you to come back for a week or more. The mall is not otherwise notable, but their plans to expand Paradise Point indicate a bigger future. For now, I’ll give the Skyride at Paradise Point 4.5 stars.