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Cigar Tip: Redefining the Cigar Vacation

27 Jun 2011

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS — When you think of the phrase “cigar vacation,” images of factory tours in Honduras, Nicaragua, or the Dominican Republic often come to mind. As well they should. If you want to learn as much as possible about the artisan craft of handmade cigars, there’s no substitute for observing and talking to the fine people who make them, in their native environment no less.

To me, though, a cigar vacation can mean many things. My recent trip to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands certainly qualifies in my book. Here’s a pic from the hotel balcony:

No, St. Thomas doesn’t produce any premium cigars (none that I know of, at least). Heck, it’s not even a good place to buy cigars. Remember that St. Thomas is within the jurisdiction of the U.S., so Cubans are illegal. Counterfeit Cubans are much easier to come by. And as for non-Cubans, prices at St. Thomas resorts and shops are almost certainly more than what you’d pay at your local tobacconist.

But any destination is exactly what you make of it, and St. Thomas can still be an outstanding locale for a cigar vacation. Traveling with fellow cigar enthusiasts (including my father, my future brother-in-law, and my wife), I brought a whole bunch of smokes down to the island from my own stash. Dad shared a box of My Father No. 3s. And since you only have to go through customs on your way back to the mainland, it’s easy to bring Cubans along.

Once you’re in St. Thomas with ample provisions of cigars and rum (I prefer the Cruzan Single Barrel), you’ll find the island more than accommodating to smokers, especially if you plan to hang out at the beaches. As I wrote in 2008 when I took my first trip to the island, “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, open-air bars are happy to pour your favorite libation or any of their frozen specialties.”

Cigars are often best enjoyed after a great meal, and St. Thomas also has no shortage of restaurants serving tasty dishes. From upscale establishments like Craig and Sally’s to more casual spots like Twisted Taco and Fish Tails, the island can satisfy the hunger you’ll build after a long day of sun and snorkeling.

So, aside from trips to cigar-producing countries like Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, or Honduras, what has been your favorite cigar vacation? What cigars did you bring along? Where would you like to go next?

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

5 Responses to “Cigar Tip: Redefining the Cigar Vacation”

  1. phil Monday, June 27, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Ah Patrick I must tell you that a cigar at sunset on St. Peterburg Beach started my grand passion. The young women playing volleyball added to the moment. I've been trying to recapture that moment fot 20 years but as of now it still a dream.

  2. Patrick Ashby Monday, June 27, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I should add that it's certainly possible to have a great cigar vacation at a non-tropical locale, too. Ive really enjoyed my trips to Minnesota in the summer, hanging out along a lake in the evening with company, cigars, and a bonfire.

  3. EdMac Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I just got back yesterday (July 2) from a Caribbean cruise and visited St. Thomas. I bought cigars on the island (nothing special-$5 per cigar) and in San Juan (local guy rolling cigars in Old San Juan).

    This was my second cruise to the Caribbean and I enjoy frozen drinks and smoking Rocky Patel Edge Lites, Monte Cristo White or a Diamond Crown Robusto 5.

    I love smoking while on the ship sitting on the deck or my balcony and looking at the deep blue sea.

  4. bohol travel Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    i would really love to spend my summer vacation in a place where no one can find us. in a calm and great lush environment is a perfect choice for me. I am really loving that way then.

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