Magens Bay, St. Thomas – The most famous of the US Virgin Island beaches and, arguably, the best beach on the islands is Magens Bay. This lovely stretch sits on the north side of St. Thomas, sheltered by a long, thin promontory. Hugely popular with tourists and residents alike, Magens Bay is a great place for a picnic as well as a swim. The beach has picnic benches and barbecue grills as well as a calm surf, protected on both sides by two peninsulas.
Sapphire Beach – Along the east coast of St. Thomas lies Sapphire Beach, perfectly named for its warm, turquoise, crystal-clear water. Sapphire Bay is a delightful place to swim. Exercise caution, however; the surf can be rough. Because of this, the area is very popular with windsurfers.
Morningstar Beach – At the mouth of Charlotte Amalie’s picturesque harbor in St. Thomas lies Morningstar Beach. Enjoy the sun here as you watch the cruise ships glide into port. This beach has fabulous views of both the city and out into the Caribbean Sea. Morningstar Beach offers good snorkeling as well as a wide range of water-sports.
Grapevine Beach – On the east side of St. Croix is Grapevine Beach, an area that was heavily damaged during Hurricane Hugo several years ago. Although many hotels here were destroyed beyond repair, the beach has returned to its former glory. This sunny, wide expanse of sand is several hundred yards long and has water-sports for water sports as well as snacks.
Buck Island – Located about a mile and a half off the north shore of St. Croix is Buck Island Reef National Monument. This island and the surrounding reef are a fascinating underwater marine park with clear, warm water and coral reefs. In addition to the over 90 different varieties of fish along the reef, Buck Island attracts a wide variety of birds and butterflies. Frequent boats and ferries connect Buck Island with St. Croix. Facilities on the island include picnic tables and barbecue pits, a lovely hiking trail, and an observation platform.
Maho Bay Beach – The three beaches at Maho Bay on St. John are known for their award-winning, Eco-campground and high-tech “cottages.” This campground is dedicated to preserving the environment and has taken conservation and re-cycling to a fine art. Each unit is equipped with composting toilets; solar-powered appliances, lights, and hot water heaters; and is totally self-sustaining. The beach here provides good snorkeling opportunities and is home to a large population of pelicans.
Cruz Bay – Cruz Bay is the entry point into St. John, the spot where the ferries from St. Thomas and St. John dock. The visitor center here informs travelers about the national park as well as activities and accommodations and rental cars. There is also an eighteen-minute video shown here about wildlife watching, beaches, and hiking trails in the park.
Caneel Beach – Leading off the visitor center is a mile and a half trail leading to Caneel Beach, one of the best beaches on St. John and indeed the Caribbean. Caneel Beach is home to several luxury hotels, but non-guests are welcome to use the beach as well as the restaurants there. Caneel Beach is actually made up of seven, white sand, pristine, cove beaches and is a mecca for divers and snorkelers because of its just-off-shore reefs and coconut palm-fringed, relatively untouched, sandy expanses.