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Stogie Tip: Smoking and Smiling in St. Thomas

16 Jun 2008

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS — I am happy to tell you from firsthand experience that the capital and largest city in the U.S. Virgin Islands makes for an absolutely wonderful vacation. That is, of course, if you’re into gorgeous beaches, terrific seafood, unyielding sunshine, and a laid back atmosphere that almost gives Jamaica a run for its money.

I happen to enjoy all of those things, and I’m having an unforgettable time catching up with my family in this Caribbean paradise. But I thought I’d take a quick break in the shade and share a few cigar-related travel tips about St. Thomas in case you’re planning a trip. And if you’re not, this photo I snapped a few days ago might entice you to consider the journey.

First thing’s first: St. Thomas is a wonderful place to smoke cigars. Finding a nice spot under a palm tree midday is as easy as finding sand in a desert—and the view is likely to be spectacular. If you didn’t bring your own cooler, beachside bars are happy to pour your favorite libation or any of their frozen specialties.

When you need a break from the sun and decide to head indoors, cigar smoking is likely to be welcome there too, especially since most bars and restaurants are of the open air variety. Unlike the British Virgin Islands, which enacted a smoking ban in 2006, St. Thomas continues to embrace freedom of choice and property rights. As a result, “No Smoking” signs are awfully hard to come by.

This, I think, is all part of the island’s easy-going lifestyle, which includes a widespread tolerance of open bottles in automobiles, drinking in public, and marijuana. Service will be slow at restaurants but, for reasons beyond my understanding, taxi drivers are excessively speedy on the island’s narrow, winding roads.

While St. Thomas is an exceptional place to smoke cigars, it is not a great place to buy them. Cubans are hard to come by (remember: it’s still the U.S.), Cuban counterfeits are readily available, and premiums will cost quite a bit more than at your local B&M. Since nonsmokers are more willing to try cigars at such a beautiful locale, prices are high.

So what’s a stogie enthusiast to do on such a smoker friendly, buyer beware island? Bring your own from home. I packed a hefty bundle for my father and I and that proved to be the right strategy. And since you only go through customs on the way back to the mainland, feel free to bring some Cubans in your checked luggage—just be sure to smoke ’em before your return flight.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

11 Responses to “Stogie Tip: Smoking and Smiling in St. Thomas”

  1. Nichols Monday, June 16, 2008 at 3:06 am #

    I never really thought of St. Thomas–or anywhere else in the U.S. Virgin Islands, for that matter–as a cigar vacation. Thanks for the info. Sounds like you're having more fun than those of us who try to visit factories in Honduras or Nicaragua.

  2. Chris V Monday, June 16, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    Looks great Ashby! I've been holdin' up the fort here, smoking in excessively hot and dingy weather. And just my luck I found some smoking buddies while you're gone as well!

  3. TK Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 6:54 am #

    Love the write up… I have been to St Thomas once, whirlwind trip on a cruise.

    My wife and I as well as our neighbors have come to really enjoy St Martin/St Maarten. This fabulous island is divided between the Dutch and the French. As we all know both of which are serious tobacco cultures.

    The European flair on the island is what draws us to her beautiful shores. You have beautiful beaches, (most nude or at least topless because of the European culture) the wayward winds and the magnificent sunsets. It maintains its Caribbean roots and with such the dialect is a mix between the usual island “Ah Man, Don’t worry” and the French “Savoir-faire” and a nice dose of the Dutch enterprise in Phillipsburg.

    If you care to browse the villas follow the link

    Now on to the Cigars…

    One of the great things about being outside the US, Cubans are available. But of course one must be a smart shopper to avoid the fakes and the local con artist. I have found two reputable shops on the island. Which is not bad considering you can drive from one side to the other in 30 minutes. (With no cruise ship traffic)

    One is In Marigot, The house of Habana (Casa Del Habano) A very nice shop with a decent selection considering you are on an island.

    The second is located in Phillipsburg next to the harbor. Still a franchise of Casa Del Habano, it is a quite little shop on the back side of the shopping center. Well maintained and a nice selection from which to choose.

    Sitting in the harbor restaurant alongside million dollar catamarans, beautiful women, a cool breeze with a well aged scotch and a fine Cuban cigar… Well as they say ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t get any better than this!

    Joie de vivre


  4. Rob Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 6:05 am #

    Restaurant tip – great food at a place called Off the Hook, in Red Hook, near the American Yacht Harbor Marina. Highly recommend it!

  5. Patrick A Thursday, June 19, 2008 at 9:45 am #

    I enjoyed the mako shark tacos at FatBoys and the mahi mahi at Hook, Line & Sinker.

  6. L.A. Davis Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    Although CHARLOTTE AMALIE is the capital city of the USVI it is not in fact the largest city. Christiansted on the sister island of Saint Croix is the largest city in the USVI. Oh and try the Cruzan Rum Single Barrel (distilled and bottled on St Croix) with your next maduro. Cruzan Single Barrel is one of the best Rum's in the world.

  7. Rccus Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Incorrect. Charlotte Amalie's population of 19,000 far exceeds the 3,000 inhabitants of Christiansted. Check your facts before you call someone out.

  8. George R Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    Other than the golf course, I haven't found a single place on this island where I felt comfortable lighting up a cigar. The public beaches won't allow it. Today I was in a pool in the condo complex with my wife, the only people at the pool mind you, and some miserable old crow marched across the parking lot from half a block away to tell me my smoke was making the complex smell. Don't come here to enjoy carefree island life. This is not a friendly place and it has little to do with the anti smoking zealots. There is an odd segregation here. Though fairly civil, you have the feeling from the indigenous, mostly black population here that they wish the self righteous whites would go away. We've been here just 3 days and we've decided to cut our vacation short by a week just to get out.

  9. Roger B. Minkoff Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    To enhance your St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands visit and support economic development, I am lobbying for an amendment to the existing No-Smoke Act making a "Cigar Factory" an 'exception,' allowing smoking in a "Cigar Factory" and increasing the amount of income in a "Cigar Factory" that might come from other than tobacco sales, thereby permitting a "Cigar Bar & Lounge." Yes, quality, hand-rolled cigars in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands, along with the favorites you know and an 'adult beverage.'

    I believe we have enough votes to pass this amendment and the Governor said he'd sign it. However, your support can be important for passage and sending a message to legislators here and throughout jurisdictions. Whether or not you plan a visit to the Virgin Islands we'd like your support.

    If you'd like a place for visitors and locals to smoke please support this 'exception' amendment by emailing the sponsoring Virgin Islands Senator, Clarence Payne: and copy me: "I support the amendment to Title 19, Chapter 53A, Virgin Islands Code, permitting a "Cigar Factory."

    Please do it NOW!!! Thanks.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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