Beaches of the USVI

Enjoy the beautiful beaches of the U.S. Virgin Islands

General Information about USVI Beaches

One of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean -- and perhaps the entire world-- is the U.S. Virgin Islands. The pristine sandy beaches and tall palm trees under the bright cobalt sky make this an amazing place to bring your family or travel alone. Some of the best beaches in the world can be found here.

The beaches are obviously one of the reasons you choose to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands as your vacation getaway - and you won't be disappointed. From soft white sands to glorious blue-and-white contrasts, you will find picture-perfect stretches. If you prefer more secluded spots, you will find them also. Without a doubt, the U.S. Virgin Islands has a beach to suite every taste.

beautiful view of St. John beachThe beaches of St. John are world-renowned for their natural beauty.

Helpful Tips for Enjoying the Beaches of the Virgin Islands

  • All the beaches in the Virgin Islands are open to the public. Along the many miles of shoreline, you will find a wide variety of beaches for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Severe storms can play havoc with beaches, usually on a temporary basis. When beaches in one part of the island are eroded, others in a different area may actually gain in size.
  • Sea conditions vary with the weather conditions. South shore winds bring in big rolling waves while the north shore remains calm, and vice versa. On stormy days, stay close to shore and watch for a slight rip current that occurs when you see waves breaking over the reefs. For prolonged exploration, bring a flotation device and stay near a buddy.
  • Deserted beaches exist all around the islands, but access is usually difficult and not a good idea unless you are with someone who knows the area.
  • Shelling in the Virgin Islands yields only a few specimens, but you can find interesting bits of coral washed up on the shore. Taking shells form the sea is frowned upon. Removing sea fans and living coral is against the law.
  • In the less trafficked areas watch out for sea urchins. They are round, black (more rarely white) spiny enchinoderms lying on the ocean floor. If touched, the barbed sting, while not dangerous, can be very painful. A quick dose of vinegar applied to the skin surface will dispel and dissolve the barbs.
  • And it's a good idea not to leave valuables unattended. A plastic wrist case or zip lock bag tucked into your suit easily holds money, watch and car keys.
  • Sun worshippers should be aware of our tropical sun especially during the mid-day hours. Twenty minutes and a good suntan lotion with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or more are recommended for the first few days.
  • When snorkeling, wear a shirt to protect your back from overexposure to the sun.
  • Many beaches are nesting sites for endangered sea turtles. Please be careful not to harm the nests found near the surface in the sand.
  • For more helpful advice, please see our Virgin Islands Travel Tips.

St Thomas Beaches:

beach at Magens Bay, St. ThomasMagens Bay is the perfect Caribbean beach for a romantic rendezvous.

One of those beautiful beaches is Magens Bay Beach on the island of St. Thomas. This beach is a half mile in total length and is protected from the strong Caribbean currents by two peninsulas; therefore, making this beach a wonderful spot to swim due to its amazingly quiet water. Not only does it have quiet water, but it also boasts of some of the purest sand in the Virgin Islands. Because it is a popular beach area during the most popular traveling seasons and is a stop for cruise ships, expect it to be busy and somewhat lively, though it could be a very enjoyable place to relax during the less traveled seasons. It is an easy 3 mile drive from the capital city. Also on the island of St. Thomas is Emerald Beach on Lindbergh Bay. Here is a great beach for you to take your kids due to its more shallow water and the nearby playground. It is not one of the more popular beaches so it is less crowded and umbrellas can be rented anytime from any of the hotels that are nearby. You'll also find several charming beachfront restaurants typical of the US Virgin Islands at Lindbergh Bay, making it a great spot to spend the entire day. Lindbergh Bay can be reached by taking the west boundbus out of Charlotte Amalie.

Bluebeard's Beach
Known for its excellent windsurfing, Bluebeard's is quiet and uncrowded. Sailboarders and snorkelers will find plenty to do here, although equipment must be rented elsewhere. The beach, shaded by coconut palms, affords views of St. John and sailboats making their way bewteen the islands. Location: Adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, at the end of Bluebeard's Road (Route 322), which branches off Route 30 near Red Hook.

Coki Beach
With Thatch Key just across the Leeward Passage, Coki Beach offers some of the prettiest views on the island. Scuba diving and snorkeling are excellent in the calm, clear water here, and gear is available for rent. This funky little beach has great local flavor. Enjoy a drink at the colorful beach bar or a tasty lunch at the nearby paté stand. You'll also find changing and rest rooms here. Location: On the northeast coast.

Hull Bay
This is a tranquil strand on the northern shore. The bay serves as an anchorage for local fishermen, and surfers enjoy the rougher waters along the bay's western tip. Along the shaded beach, however, the water is usually placid and pleasant. There's a nearby bar and restaurant where you can refresh yourself with cool drinks and delicious food. Location: On the north shore, just west of Magens Bay.

Limetree Beach
This picture-perfect beach runs along a natural cove. A concessionaire rents water-sports equipment. It is also a popular spot for iguana watching. Location: East of downtown, next to Morningstar Beach.

Magens Bay
Deeded to the island as a public park, this beach has been named one of the world's most beautiful on many lists. Covered picnic tables, showers, dressing rooms, a boutique, a snack bar, a pizzeria, full-service bar and snorkeling and small sailboat rentals are available. Admission is $1 per car, $1 per person and 25¢ per child under 12. Location: At the end of tree-shaded Route 35 on St. Thomas' north shore.

Morningstar Beach
Morningstar is not only one of the most attractive beaches in the Virgin Islands, it is also truly unique, providing everything you need for a comfortable, fun day. Rent a lounge chair and umbrella for the day and sit back with a cool drink from one of the two full-service bars. When the spirit moves you, rent some snorkeling gear and explore the reefs at either end of the beach. For a little more action, you can sharpen your skills on a Sunfish or learn to windsurf from a certified instructor. The beach offers a vantage point from which to watch sailboats and cruise ships glide past the eastern point of St. Thomas' harbor. Location: Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, relatively close to town.

Sapphire Beach
This glorious beach offers a stunning view of St. John and the British Virgin Islands. It is a good spot for windsurfing, and the reef areas just off the beach are great for snorkeling. Amenities include a marina, restaurant and a beach-side dive shop that rents equipment. Location: Sapphire Beach Resort & Marina, on the east end of the island.

Vessup Bay
A gorgeous white-sand beach, interspersed with clusters of rocks, curves its way along this bay; seagrape trees, cacti and century plants provide a tropical backdrop. For an invigorating outing, walk the length of the beach, climb the rocks or wade around them. Water-sports equipment can be rented from a concessionaire at the populated end of the beach. Location: At the end of Bluebeard's Road (Route 322), which branches off Route 30 near Red Hook.

One of the best all-round snorkeling sites is found along Cane Bay, on Route 80, on the north shore of the island. On clear days you can swim out 150 yards to the drop-off and look hundreds of feet down a wall. Fish and coral formations are in abundance here.

North of Frederiksted the exposed coral has washed smooth and created small pools that teem with sea life. One called "Monk's Baths" is found a half mile before the north end of Route 63.

Christiansted harbor also offers snorkeling. Just to the right of the swimming area at the Hotel on the Cay beach, clear calm waters reveal all kinds of small fish, coral and even seahorses!

Buccaneer
East of Christiansted at the hotel. Non-guest fee $4 for use of the beach and changing facilities. Towels for hotel guests only. Watersports, snorkeling, beach bar.

Cane Bay
Northside along the coast on Route 80. Sandy beaches, shade and snorkeling off the reefs close to shore. Dive center, bar and restaurant nearby.

Chenay Bay Beach
East of Christiansted on Route 82. Restuarant and bar at Chenay Bay Beach Resort; also sandy beach, hammocks, beach chair and kayak rentals.

Colony Cove Beach
Artificial tire reef near shore, full natural reef with excellent snorkeling. Check with front desk for admission to beach.

Columbus Landing Beach
The historic site of the 1493 landing of the fleet of Columbus on Salt River. Access by road to the left of the marina. Public land. Minimal facilities.

Cormorant Beach Club
West of Christiansted. Fine palm-fringed, sandy beaches, restaurant and bar; also snorkeling, watersports center. Watch for undertow in rough seas.

Cramer Park
Public beach at the end of Route 82. Recently renovated changing rooms; bathrooms; limited facilities.

Hibiscus Beach Hotel
West of Christiansted. Palm-fringed sandy beach, snorkeling. Watch out for undertow in rough seas. Restaurant and bar.

Hotel on the Cay
Across from Christiansted by ferry ($3 charge). Full watersports facility including parasailing, waverunners, wind surfers, snorkeling. Restaurant and bar.

Reef Beach
East end of the island at Teague Bay on Route 82. Duggan's Reef restaurant and bar.

Sandy Point
Lovely, secluded beach in southwest corner of St. Croix. Open weekends, recommended for groups only. No facilities.

Shoy Beach
East of Christiansted. Turn right at gate to the Buccaneer Hotel; after checking with guard, proceed to parking at the end of the road. Path to fine sandy beach. No facilities.

Sprat Hall
North of Frederiksted on Route 63. One mile of beach. Beach use fee $2. Beach chair rental. Beach restaurant and bar.

Rainbow Beach Club
About 1 mile north of Frederiksted; spectacular sandy beach. Beach restaurant and bar.

St. Croix Beaches

caribbean beachYou can still find your own "undiscovered" beach on the island of St. Croix.

One of the best beaches on the island of St. Croix is Cane Bay Beach. This beach is loved by all residents of the Virgin Islands, but is especially popular with divers and snorkelers due to its spattering of colorful coral reefs just offshore. Thanks to the powdery soft sand that the Virgin Isles are famous for, Cane Bay is a wonderful option for families or for couples who desire just a walk along the beach. The nearby reefs offers some of the best diving in the world. A visitor to Cane Bay Beach can rent umbrellas for shade from the sun, kayaks to enjoy the water, and horses for horseback riding. Its location right off Route 80 make it a convenient beach on a perfect day. Weekends are the most popular days for the locals to visit, so those days may be more lively than others during the week.

Best Beaches of St. John, USVI

On the island of St. John, you will find one of the most famous beaches in the Virgin Islands-- in fact Trunk Bay has been named one of the “Top 10 Beaches in the World” by Travel and Leisure magazine. The pristine nature of Trunk Bay falls under the protection of the National Park Service and is a longtime favorite stop for visiting yachts and cruisers. Trunk Bay is known for its unique underwater nature trail accessible by snorkel and scuba, featuring descriptions of the myriad underwater life that can be viewed. It also has a new program called SNUBA that allows for a taste of the incredible world of underwater exploration without the hassles of learning to use scuba equipment. If you prefer a more isolated and undiscovered feel to your US Virgin Islands beaches, live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies on lovely Caneel Bay. Here you will find seven beaches, two of which, Honeymoon and Caneel, are open to the public. The private beaches are unsurprisingly much less crowded, so if you're lucky enough to be one a guest of one of the Caneel Bay hotels, you just might end up scoring a patch of sand and a few palm trees all to yourself. Honeymoon Beach requires a bit of a hike to access, so you may find the cool shade of its palm trees completely empty. And the amazing view will go a long way to explaining the name “Honeymoon Beach”. Caneel Bay is a great location for day use as you can book rooms at one of the hotels for the day and benefit from their amenities, such as restaurant meals, drinks at the bar, and snorkeling equipment. Also enjoy a walk through the old sugar works ruins. To access Caneel Bay, travel eastbound on route 20 just over 1 mile from Mongoose Junction.

Caneel Bay
Located closest to Cruz Bay on the north shore, the beach is accessible through the Cancel Bay Resort. Ask the front desk for a day-visitor guide.

Hawksnest Bay
Locals often head here during the peak tourist season. Located relatively close to Cruz Bay on the north shore, it is smaller and quieter than neighboring Trunk Bay. Like all the beaches on St. John, the water is crystal-clear; tropical greenery provides a beautiful backdrop, and the snorkeling is good. Changing facilities, shelters and picnic tables are available.

Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay, one of the top ten beaches in the worldTrunk Bay is justifiably famous as one of the best beaches in the world, according to travel magazines.
By far the most popular beach among visitors, this is the site of the renowned underwater snorkel trail. Fifteen underwater plaques identify the corals and fish that inhabit these waters. The beach itself has pure white sand and is bordered by luxurious foilage. Rental snorkeling gear is available; a shop, snack bar and changing facilities are located here as well.

Cinnamon Bay
This National Park campground has a fabulous beach with good snorkeling, water-sports rentals, a restaurant and a store, as well as scenic views of the nearby islands. A concessionaire rents windsurfing equipment, kayaks and mountain bikes. Across the road from the campground is the Cinnamon Bay Self-Guided Nature Trail. The loop takes about an hour to complete and passes through an old sugar-factory site. Along the path, you'll see giant kapok trees, as well as bay, mango and cacao trees.

Other Beaches
Maho Bay, Francis Bay and Leinster Bay are also lovely spots on the north shore. If you're energetic, follow the Leinster Bay Trail to Watermelon Cay, where you can enjoy a swim and view some great coral. All but Francis Bay have changing facilities.

If you're the adventurous type, you can find numerous small hidden beaches on park land. For information and a map, pick up the Virgin Islands National Park brochure from the Visitors Center. The brochure also contains a guide to the park's regulations, one of the most important of which reminds beachcombers that conch shells cannot be removed from park waters.