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St Thomas, USVI

By John Sage

St Thomas USVI Disabled Access Review One of my favorite Caribbean islands, St. Thomas offers numerous accessible activities for disabled visitors.  Because of the good St. Thomas disabled access features, it is one of my top recommendations for disabled and senior vacationers.

I gave St. Thomas a 4 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because it has accessible van transportation to get around the island and it has good accessibility features like sidewalk ramps, flat town centers, and accessible beach and water activities. 

St. Thomas disabled access did not get a higher accessibility rating because it is a hilly island and it has a shortage of low four-door taxis.




View St. Thomas accessible shore excursions


Best Aspects of St. Thomas Disabled Access

Accessible Cruise PortAccessible Cruise Port – Cruise passengers will enjoy the fact that there is a wheelchair accessible exit to the St. Thomas cruise port at the West Indian Company Dock which is where most cruise ships arrive (it can hold up to 6 ships depending on their size).  I did not have a chance to visit the other cruise dock at Crown Bay, but based on the accessibility I saw on the island I am confident that it also has an accessible exit. 

On crowded days, some ships use tenders to bring passengers ashore.  Your travel agent should be able to determine how many cruise ships arrive in port each day and tell you if you might have to use a tender. 

Somewhat flat Charlotte Amalie – The main city on the island is Charlotte Amalie, and most of the tourist areas of the town are flat (shown in the photo on the left).  Some areas away from the tourist areas have hills (shown in the photo on the right).

Charlotte Amalie Charlotte Amalie


Some accessible shops in Charlotte Amalie – St. Thomas offers great prices on jewelry, alcohol, and other luxury items.  There are numerous accessible shops in Charlotte Amalie (example shown on the left), although most shops have steps to enter (shown in the photo on the right). St. Maarten accessible shopping is a little better so if your cruise ship is visiting both places you may want to do your shopping there and visit a St. Thomas accessible beach while here.

Accessible shops in Charlotte Amalie Accessible shops in Charlotte Amalie


Small island – St. Thomas is a small island like St. Maarten, Freeport (Bahamas), Grand Turk, and Key West.  Consequently, it is quicker to travel between destinations than when visiting larger islands likePuerto Rico and Jamaica.

Accessible beach, snorkeling, and scuba options – I search for accessible water activities in every Caribbean port that I visit, and St. Thomas has some of the best options! Because of limited staff to assist disabled visitors (photo of me and my scuba dive instructor on the left) and only one beach wheelchair (shown on the right), you should be sure to book your accessible St. Thomas shore excursion far in advance!

Accessible beach, snorkeling, and scuba options Accessible beach, snorkeling, and scuba option


Worst Aspects of St. Thomas Disabled Access

Poor taxi accessibility – St. Thomas has some of the worst taxis for disabled visitors.  The vast majority of taxis are large trucks (mainly F-350 and F-450) with large boxes containing rows of open-air seats welded onto the back. The back seats are very high off the ground and extremely difficult for wheelchair users to transfer into.  The one seat next to the driver is a little lower, but still high above the ground.

Poor taxi accessibility Poor taxi accessibility

If you are fortunate enough to find a closed vehicle, odds are that it will be a full-size van that is also high off the ground.  Examples are shown below.

full-size van Poor taxi services


Poor taxi services – In addition to the poor accessibilty of the taxis, the services themselves aren’t very good.  Taxis charge on a per person basis, so if you’re not in a big group the driver may make you wait while he tries to round up other passengers.  You also may waste some time while the driver detours to drop off the other passengers. 

Even though St. Thomas has set taxi rates, one driver tried to charge me $20 to go a mile and half back to the cruise ship!  Due to all these frustrations, I will be booking my transportation in advance next time I visit St. Thomas!

No beaches within walking/rolling distance of cruise terminal – Unlike St. Maarten, Grand Turk, and other ports, there are no beaches close to the cruise terminal.

Hilly Island – St. Thomas is not a flat island like Grand Cayman, Grand Turk, and Key West.  It has steep hills like Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

Hilly Island Hilly Island


Long distance to Charlotte Amalie – Getting from the West Indian Company Dock to the main town of Charlotte Amalie involves traveling 1.5  miles (shown on the map below).  For most disabled cruise passengers, this may be too far to go on foot, by wheelchair, or by mobility scooter.  If you do decide to walk/roll, be sure to stay on the ocean-side of the street.

West Indian Company Dock to the main town of Charlotte Amalie involves traveling

 If you try to use the sidewalk on the side of the street away from the water, you will run into the curb (shown on the left), then the sidewalk runs out (shown on the right).

Curb Sidewalk runs out


Some bad sidewalks in Charlotte Amalie – These sidewalk steps (shown on the left) are one of the areas where St. Thomas wheelchair access is poor in Charlotte Amalie.  Some other places have good accessibility features like this ramp near Emancipation Park (shown on the right).

bad sidewalks in Charlotte Amalie bad sidewalks in Charlotte Amalie


View St. Thomas accessible shore excursions