Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

USVI's Beaches

Iconic Beaches
USVI's Beaches
Every beach on the U.S. Virgin Islands is public, regardless of any hotel affiliations, making it both simple and impossible to choose. Here are some of the island's top spots.
By Kristy Alpert, AFAR Contributor
Photo courtesy of U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism
  • 1 / 8
    Iconic Beaches
    Iconic Beaches
    Chances are, you’ve seen these U.S. Virgin Island beaches on a postcard or billboard, or in an advertisement. These sandy shores are gorgeous, but they are iconic for other reasons. Trunk Bay, on St. John, is considered one of the top beaches in the world, but it’s also the location of a famous underwater snorkel trail. On St. Croix, Sandy Point is the largest beach among the islands, and a nesting spot for endangered sea turtles. Legend has it that Sir Francis Drake used Magens Bay, on the Atlantic side of St. Thomas, as a hideout while waiting for ships to plunder.
    Photo courtesy of U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism
  • 2 / 8
    Beaches Worth the Entrance Fee
    Beaches Worth the Entrance Fee
    Paying a cover charge to unwind on the sand when there are literally dozens of other options within miles may seem like an odd choice, but these two beaches are definitely worth the price. Magens Bay charges a small entrance fee, but you gain access to a white-sand beach, an arboretum, coconut groves, mangrove forests, and wetlands. For an additional fee, you can camp on site. Trunk Bay, on St. John, is often cited as one of the world's most beautiful beaches, and a small fee will get you access to showers (always welcome after a day of swimming and sunning), a snack shack, equipment rental, and a lifeguard.
    Photo by Macduff Everton/age fotostock
  • 3 / 8
    Beaches Great for Snorkeling
    Beaches Great for Snorkeling
    Exploring the sand is fun when it comes to people-watching and hunting for seashells, but there’s so much more to be seen beneath the sea. With its underwater snorkel trail, Trunk Bay, on St. John, is an obvious choice, but also consider Jumbie Bay, just down the way. This small and secluded beach provides some of the same snorkeling but with much more privacy. Buck Island, just off the northeast coast of St. Croix, is uninhabited, protected, and the site of a carefully preserved reef system. St. Thomas's Secret Harbour is great for beginner snorkelers, and Coki Beach is popular as well.
    Photo courtesy of U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism
  • 4 / 8
    Secluded Shorelines
    Secluded Shorelines
    If you're looking for privacy, peace, and quiet, there are plenty of options throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Secret Harbour, in Red Hook, St. Thomas, is away from the business of the capital, but still has many amenities. Little Lameshur Bay, on the western shore of St. John, and Saltpond Bay, a bit further to the south, offer intimate beach experiences despite their public access. On St. Croix, visit Isaac Bay on the eastern tip (but note that it is a good 20-minute hike from the road); if you want something a touch more accessible, try Sandy Point (but only on Saturdays and Sundays).
    Photo by James Schwabel/age fotostock
  • 5 / 8
    Beaches to Hike For
    Beaches to Hike For
    St. John has some excellent beaches as long as you are willing to make the trek. Some of the best snorkeling in the U.S. Virgin Islands can be found in Waterlemon Cay, in Leinster Bay. Pick up the Leinster Bay Trail at the end of the paved road by the Annaberg Sugar Mill and hike in (less than a mile). Ram Head Trail is about a mile long (get on it at the south end of Saltpond Bay Beach) and will lead you to a blue cobble beach. Visitors can hike in to Salomon Bay from Cruz Bay (approximately one mile), and once they arrive, they will find a secluded and pristine spot in the sun. (Note that Salomon is known as a nudist beach.) On St. Croix, Isaac Bay Beach can be accessed by a trail that starts from the parking area at Point Udall—the easy 20-minute hike will earn you a beach deserted but for nesting turtles. Walk a bit further and find more deliciously lonesome stretches of sand on Jack Bay.
    Photo by Kristy Alpert
  • 6 / 8
    Sporty Hot Spots
    Sporty Hot Spots
    Even though catching (and manipulating) the perfect rush of wind to propel your wind- or surfboard is an art form in the U.S. Virgin Islands, your odds of success are greatly improved at these beaches. Located just five minutes away from the capital city of Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas, Bluebeard Beach has wide-open waters and plenty of amenities, including bathrooms, beach chairs, and restaurants. Nearby, Morning Star Beach overlooks Charlotte Amalie harbor. On St. John, Cinnamon Bay is a known water-sports destination and has all the rentals and amenities. For straight-up surfing, Hull Bay is one of the best spots to find a break, especially when there's a northern swell.
    Photo by Marc Auger/age fotostock
  • 7 / 8
    Family Fun
    Family Fun
    For a day of exploring, take the family to the Annaly Bay tide pools to spot sea life in the shallows. Located a few miles from the Carambola Resort, on St. Croix, the tide pools require a bit of a hike to get to; while some people go on their own, those with small children might want to hire a local guide, as the rocks are steep approaching the site. Hawksnest Beach, on St. John, is much simpler to get to—and the parking lot is nearby so carrying your gear is easy. Coki Beach and Cane Bay Beach are both good for kids who like calm waters and for parents who appreciate easy access and handy services such as snack bars and restrooms. Brewers Bay Beach, on St. Thomas, offers a winning combination of easy access, stunning beauty, and relative peace.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 8 / 8
    Where to Swim
    Where to Swim
    Francis Bay, on St. John, is well known for its calm, clear water, which is perfect for wading and a leisurely float, but don't miss the equally impressive snorkeling opportunities. Just under the surface, underwater grasslands are home to sea turtles. If you miss them at Francis Bay, try the appropriately named Turtle Bay in Caneel Bay, also on St. John; located in a semi-protected cove, this beach has placid waters. Davis Bay and Cane Bay, both on the north shore of St. Croix, are good swimming locations, and Magens Bay, on St. Thomas, is mellow and rock free.
    Photo by Kristy Alpert