Beautiful white-sand beaches are as common to the Caribbean as air and sunshine. To be one of the region’s best, a beach should offer a singular attractiveness or distinguishing character that is often indescribable, but yet unmistakable and compelling.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is fortunate to have many such beaches. In fact the amazing diversity that characterizes the territory’s three main islands — St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas — extends to the beaches.
From awe-inspiring blue-water spots set deep within lush mountain valleys to miles-long stretches of white sand located in pristine national parks, the U.S. Virgin Islands offers some of the finest beaches found anywhere in the world, not to mention the Caribbean.
While all share the region’s brilliant blue waters and soft white sands, 10 stand out among the crowd, offering an almost dream-like natural beauty and charm, as well as a distinct flavor and orientation. Here’s our list of the 10 best U.S. Virgin Islands beaches:
Cinnamon Bay Beach, St. John
Active vacationers will find much to like here, as Cinnamon Bay Beach, one of St. John’s longest beaches, features snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking and other watersports. The beautiful white-sand beach is located within the Virgin Islands National Park, and visitors can explore the old beachfront Danish building, which houses a temporary museum displaying some of the National Park Service’s archaeological findings from excavations in the area. Travelers can also trek the self-guided, half-mile Cinnamon Bay Trail, where coconut palms and sea grape trees offer shade for long stretches.
Trunk Bay Beach, St. John
This beach is the most popular in St. John, not the least because of its breathtaking beauty. Over a quarter-mile of soft white powdery sand combines with towering coconut palms and aqua blue water to create a natural paradise. Also part of the Virgin Islands National Park, the beach maintains a self-guided, underwater snorkeling trail at Trunk Bay with underwater signs providing information on coral formations and sea life. Facilities include a snack bar/grill, souvenir shop, showers, restrooms, public telephones and lifeguards.
Salt Pond Beach, St. John
The shallow water beach on this crescent-shaped bay features excellent exposure to bright sun and cooling breezes. The protected cove is accessible via a moderate hike from the main road, but the walk is well worth it as the beautiful white-sand beach offers excellent swimming.
Trunk Bay also features some of the territory’s snorkeling, with sites including a rock hump off the center of the bay, and sea grass beds frequented by sea turtles, rays and giant hermit crabs. Salt Pond also offers convenient access to several hiking and sightseeing trails.
Honeymoon Bay Beach, St. John
Also located within the Virgin Islands National Park, Honeymoon Bay is accessible by boat and hiking trail and features soft white sands, easy shallow waters perfect for snorkeling and tall coconut palm trees that provide shade. The beach is considered one of the island’s true gems, but does get crowded when cruise ships are in port and during the busy winter season, so plan accordingly. A watersports shack for kayak and stand-up paddleboard rental was recently added, and beachgoers can also rent masks, fins and beach chairs.
Hull Bay Beach, St. Thomas
Hull Bay Beach is a favorite among local fishermen and surfers. In fact this beach is said to offer St. Thomas’ very best surfing when there is a north swell. Located on the island’s north side, it is not as large as more popular nearby beaches, but because sun worshippers are drawn to those other stretches of sand, visitors will have no problem finding a spot to spread out.
The beach is a popular option for families due to its clear and typically calm (in the absence of the north swell) waters. Sea grape trees line the beach and provide shade in the daytime, and the beach is also one of the rare locations that is considered good for night snorkeling.
There is a diving and watersports shop off the beach, plus a full bar and restaurant that hosts frequent music and entertainment events.
Magen’s Bay Beach, St. Thomas
This is the most popular beach on the most-visited of the U.S. Virgin Islands, facts that cue savvy travelers to avoid the beach and its supposed crowds. But the location — in a heart-shaped protected bay surrounded by lush hills — makes this a must-visit location even when cruise ships are in port.
The one-mile beach is actually a public park donated to the Virgin Islands by Arthur Fairchild. The water is usually very calm and the sand is as soft as any you’ll find across the Caribbean.
Beach chairs, floats, paddleboards and kayaks are available for rent at a shack just off the beach and a snack bar serves burgers, pizzas and other quick fare. Lifeguards are on duty every day and there are two nature trails off the beach.
Jack's Bay Beach, St. Croix
This is an ideal option for vacationers seeking an off-the-beaten-track beach. Jack’s Bay Beach is accessible only by foot or boat and is home to Hawksbill and Green Turtle nests and is protected by a nature conservancy.
The surrounding coral reefs are home to as many as 400 species of fish, including parrot fish, blue tangs, four-eyed butterfly fish and sergeant majors. Beach access may be limited during some periods of turtle nesting season, and the conservancy invites visitors to study turtle behavior and the landscape around Jack's Bay on guided hikes designed to educate visitors and collect funds to support turtle monitoring and protection programs.
Judith's Fancy Beach, St. Croix
OK, we’ll admit it - part of the appeal of this beach is the name. ANY beach called “Judith’s Fancy Beach” strikes our, well, fancy, and in this case, the name happens to be attached to a truly fine location. The white sand beach at Judith's Fancy is great for surfing, and when the tide is out, snorkelers can explore the nearby reef. This beach is especially good for swimming but it is a good place to find coral and shells washed up on shore.
Sandy Point Beach, St. Croix
This three-mile beach, part of the 380-acre Sandy Point Wildlife Preserve, is the U.S. Virgin Islands’ longest. Located at the southwest end of St. Croix, just south of Frederiksted, the beach is a key nesting area for the endangered leatherback turtle and may be closed during the March-through-August turtle-nesting season.
The beach’s tree line starts much further back from the water than at most other beaches on St. Croix, so while shade is not available, the long, wide stretch of bright white sand provides a memorable sight. The dirt access road leading to the beach is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Turtle Beach, St. Croix
Stunning Turtle Beach is located on Buck Island. Here, travelers can relax on the white sand beach or partake in the beach’s excellent snorkeling sites. The snorkel trail features underwater signs guiding snorkelers along the reef. Turtle Beach is a quiet, ideal spot to pack a lunch and spend the day.
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