USVI | BEACHES GALORE ST. JOHN/ST THOMAS
The beaches on St. John and St. Thomas are mostly delightful crescents of white sand fronting on crystal-clear turquoise bays. Some are busy with cruise ship passengers and hotel guests. Others are off the beaten path and perfect for getting away from it all. Dedicated beachgoers appreciate the fact that they can sun and swim on St. Thomas in the morning before hopping the ferry for a 20-minute ride to St. John for even more fun and relaxation on our shores.
The busier beaches offer watersports and beach chair rentals, and in some cases, even lifeguards and restaurants or snack bars. Most have restrooms and a few even offer showers, though they might be on the cool side.
ST. JOHN BEACHES
If you’re traveling with family, Trunk Bay in St. John beckons. In addition to a long stretch of white sand, it has a snack bar that dishes up burgers and more; watersports equipment rentals (in case you don’t have your own snorkel gear); and lifeguards to make sure your family stays safe. Admission runs $4 per adult. Children under 16 are free of charge.
Cinnamon Bay Beach sets the pace for St. John beaches in terms of watersports. Snorkelers with a bit of experience often head out to Cinnamon Cay, while those with less experience under their fins might check out the rocks at the eastern end of the beach. The watersports shop rents snorkel gear, and windsurfing and kayak rentals are just steps away.Easy hiking suitable for all but the youngest children is just across the main road. A convenience store caters to campground guests, but if you prefer a sit-down meal, visit the campground’s Tree Lizards Restaurant.
To hobnob with the locals, head for Hawksnest Bay in St. John. Especially on the weekend, you’re apt to find groups enjoying a barbecue at the picnic pavilions located right behind the beach. This is another one of St. John’s luscious beaches, with good snorkeling near the rocks and over the reefs that sit just offshore. Outhouses and changing rooms provide conveniences not found at most beaches.
Recently renovated Honeymoon Beach in Caneel Bay now offers restrooms; watersports rentals, including snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding gear; and a gift shop.Snorkelers love the colorful reef that lies off the west end.
If it’s peace and quiet you’re seeking, Jumbie Bay fits the bill. This beach is tucked downhill off North Shore Road, where there is limited parking. It’s an uphill walk back, but excellent snorkeling makes it worthwhile.
ST. THOMAS BEACHES
Those looking for an adventurous beach should head to Magens Bay, which includes the option to rent snorkeling equipment, kayaks and beach chairs. A restaurant, lifeguards and shopping are also available — and at one mile long, it’s the biggest beach in St. Thomas. Also the most popular beach in the territory, families enjoy the shallow water, which is perfect for splashing and snorkeling. When you start to grow weary of the water, a 1.5-mile easy hiking path lies right behind the beach. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.
Coki Beach on the East End is known for great snorkeling, its proximity to Coral World Ocean Park’s underwater observatory and its busy but lovely beach. Cruise ship passengers flock to this beach, where it’s easy to rent snorkeling and scuba gear if you don’t have your own. It has changing facilities and restrooms, as well as snack shops that serve lunch and drinks.
Brewers Bay, near the University of the Virgin Islands, is popular with St. Thomas’ locals on weekends. The water is shallow quite a ways out, and the beach is wide and sandy.You’ll see plenty of sea turtles here, as well as an occasional turtle nesting spot in the sand.Lunch trucks pull up at the curb to provide easy meals.
If you like tranquility, head to Lindquist Beach in St. Thomas; the government of the Virgin Islands protects 21 acres of it as Smith Bay Park. Lined by trees, the undeveloped beach provides suntanners with shade. Lindquist is accessed by a dirt road, but you’ll also find some beach amenities like a lifeguard, restrooms and a few picnic tables. Admission runs $4 per person.
MILES OF BEACHES ST. CROIX
St. Croix’s beaches stretch intermittently around the entire island. Some front on hotels and boast a wealth of amenities, while others have hillsides as backdrops. Beachgoers can park nearby at most beaches, but a few very special strands can only be reached by hiking. Snorkeling is usually excellent at most beaches.
Whether you’re sunning or swimming, St. Croix’s beaches are perfect. Some attract countless visitors looking for restaurants and equipment rentals. Others lure the do-it yourself crowd that’s content with little more than a cooler with cold drinks and a beach towel.
Getting here requires a hike that’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the effort for those who want to bask in one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the Caribbean. Besides plenty of privacy and breathtaking views, this beach has great snorkeling and tiny tide pools.
It’s not too difficult to understand why so many divers, snorkelers, swimmers and sun-and-sea lovers flock to Cane Bay. This lively north shore stretch of sand is popular not only for its spectacular diving and snorkeling but also for its funky, fun beach bars and party atmosphere.
This shallow beach is the ideal spot for visitors with small children. Located at the Chenay Bay Beach Resort, about a mile from Green Cay National Wildlife Refuge, it has plenty of shade and a grassy bottom chock-full of sea life, including starfish and colorful tropical fish.
CRAMER PARK BEACH
Less than a mile from the easternmost point in the United States lies one of the world’s prettiest public beaches. With its abundant shade and amenities, it often gets packed with local beachgoers on weekends, but is quiet and serene during the week. It has an expansive, great-for snorkeling reef just off the coast.
A gorgeous beach with few visitors other than those staying at the adjacent Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa, this beach provides lots of places to hide away in the shade of the swaying palm trees. Snorkeling is right off shore. Rent watersports equipment at the hotel’s center, and when it’s time for lunch, head for the hotel’s restaurant.
Take a two-minute ferry ride across the Christiansted Harbor and soak up some rays on a tiny island beach that’s big on watersports.This is a good place for those who want to spice up their vacation with a little parasailing or windsurfing.
SANDY POINT NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
This gorgeous, long stretch of powder-white sand and aquamarine water is enough to make you feel as if you’ve finally found paradise. The island’s longest beach is also a national wildlife refuge where leatherback turtles nest from March through August. The beach is closed during nesting season and open only on weekends for limited hours the remainder of the year.
There’s a good chance you’ll have this long and wide neighborhood beach all to yourself during the week. It’s perfect for lovers, families and just about anyone who appreciates gentle surf surrounded by nature at its finest. Though there aren’t any amenities available, the natural shade and tranquil waters make for a picture perfect beach day.
TURTLE BEACH AT BUCK ISLAND REEF NATIONAL MONUMENT
This national park, just a short boat ride from the shore, is home to one of the most amazing snorkeling spots in the Caribbean. There’s a unique marked underwater trail at Turtle Beach that is a must-see for snorkeling enthusiasts, and the talcum-sand beach is simply irresistible.
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