US Virgin Islands 10 must-visit beaches
By Carol Bareuther on 5th March, 2020
The U.S. Virgin Islands is fringed with more than 40 beautiful beaches. These range from intimate strips of white sand bookended by picnic-perfect rocks to broad smiles of family-friendly shoreline set between picturesque palms and cerulean seas. Every beach has its own character. Here’s a sample of 10 and what makes each one special.
St Thomas beaches
Magens Bay – Best Family Beach
Touted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this mile-long, heart-shaped, sugar-colored coastline offers just the right proportion of natural and manmade amenities for the whole family. On one hand, there are calm waters, sand enough to build castles, plenty of shade via palms and sea grape trees, and even places to explore like the adjoining six-acre arboretum. On the other, there’s lifeguards on duty, picnic tables, restrooms, and saltwater showers, watersports rentals, beach bar and café, and swimwear boutique. Entrance is $5 per person and children 12 and younger are free. There’s also
a $2 parking charge.
Lindquist Beach – Most Romantic
It’s easy to imagine that you and that special someone are alone on a deserted tropical island from many vantage points on this bucolic beach. On the western side, sit by a shallow shelf and watch small tidal pools empty and fill with the ebb and flow of the sea. From here, there’s nothing to see but uninhabited Thatch Cay offshore and St. John and the British Virgin Islands beyond. Swim off the center and eastern shores where the ocean floor is soft sand. There’s a lifeguard, restrooms, and wood tables. Pack a romantic picnic to share under the palms. Find fixings in nearby Red Hook. Entrance is $5 per person and children 12 and younger are free. There’s also a $2 parking charge.
Brewers Bay – Best Local Flavor
Come to the west side of St. Thomas to sample a true slice of Caribbean beach life. In the early morning, join seniors who partake in the age-old tradition of a rejuvenating dip in the sea. By day, stake a place on the sand among a handful of family groups, where near waveless water is ideal for toddlers to play. Later, sample local favorites like meat-filled pates, Johnny cakes, and chicken legs sold from the food truck parked on the road. Finally, back down on the beach, past the picnic tables where men play dominos after work, watch a spectacular sunset. Restrooms and showers are available.
Coki Beach – Best Place to See Sea Life
School’s always in session on the reefs off this north coast beach. Close to shore are blue tang, angel fish, parrot fish, and sergeant majors, the latter two of which are teeming and tame due to frequent hand feeding by visitors. Further offshore are yellowtail snapper, stingrays, and tarpon. Dive outfits, which number among the handful of beachside restaurants, bars, and boutiques, offer snorkel and scuba gear for rent as well as instruction. Next door is Coral World Ocean Park, where there is even more sea life like sharks, sea lions, dolphins, and more.
Hull Bay – Best Surfing Beach
Surf’s up in the winter and early spring when East Coast U.S. storms pump swells up to 8 to 10 feet high down south to the Caribbean. St. Thomas’ Atlantic Coast takes the brunt of this northern wave action and Hull Bay specifically, with its offshore reefs, creates never- ending wave breaks. The surfing here is best for experienced riders, while others can enjoy good body surfing into the beach this same time of year. Across the street, a shop rents surf, stand up paddle boards, and snorkel gear year- round and Hull Bay Hideaway serves casual food and drink.
St Croix beaches
Rainbow Beach – Best Sunsets
This small sandy beach north of Frederiksted is situated in just the right way on this beautiful west end bay to see spectacular sunsets. By day, sun, swim, snorkel, or play volleyball over the net set up onshore. There’s a restaurant and bar that sells food and drink, and paddleboards and Jet Skis are available for rent. Live music on weekends and cruise ship days usually draws a crowd. However, peace and quiet usually descends at the end of the day making nature’s technicolor sunset show something almost spiritual.
Honeymoon Beach – Best Beach Escape
The residential enclave of Water Island is located less than a mile as the laughing gull flies from downtown Charlotte Amalie and alone 10-minute ferry ride from the Crown Bay Marina on St. Thomas. Yet the gorgeous sun-kissed sands on this 500-acre island’s Honeymoon Beach feel a world away. Plan a half-day or full-day escape. The beach is a five-minute walk from the ferry dock. A food truck and beach bar sell refreshments, and there’s a swim platform to sun on in the middle of the bay. Honeymoon is such a get-away-from-it-all location that it was the site Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett filmed their secluded sunset scene in the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
St John beaches
Trunk Bay – Best Snorkeling
Submerged stone markers tell the tale of the sea life that swims over the 225- yard snorkel trail located off this Virgin Islands National Park-operated beach. The marine menagerie includes grouper, goatfish, trumpetfish, and wrasse as well as anemone, feather duster worms, and sponges. This world-famous underwater trek, of which its entire 3- to 18-feet in depths are visible in the crystal-clear waters, is the bucket list adventure that attracts people to this nearly half-mile-long strip of white sand. Food and drink, snorkeling equipment and beach chair rentals, and restrooms with showers are available. Entrance fee is $5 per person; 16 and under are free.
Maho Bay – Best Drive-In Beach
Less than a dozen feet separate the road from the water at Maho Bay. This makes setting up camp, complete with beach chairs and a cooler, super quick and easy. The real treat here is the abundant submerged seagrass that often attracts turtles. Swimming with these creatures is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What also adds to the drive-in simplicity of Maho is the tiki bar, VW bus food truck, and mini golf course on the opposite side of the road. These facilities add even more fun to
a beach day.
Salt Pond Bay – Best Secluded Beach
Nature rules at this southeast side spot where the Caribbean Sea barely ripples into this often-uninhabited crescent-shaped beach. It’s the 8-plus mile drive from Cruz Bay, nearly half-mile hike from the parking lot, and lack of facilities except for picnic tables and pit toilets that keep the crowds at bay. The rewards are an off-the-beaten-track beach day, complete with the chance to see the salt pond behind the beach, explore the wildly windswept rocky Drunk Bay, or get a Titanic view of St. John’s south shore from the trail that leads to Ram Head peak.
Read more: A complete guide to St John