Known as the gateway to the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is a Caribbean island known for spectacular long, wide beaches and wonderful snorkeling. The beaches range from those belonging to the large luxury resorts to those that are difficult to find but provide solitude and privacy. Most beaches have limited facilities, but have powder-fine white sand, clear waters with great visibility, and rich marine life perfect for snorkeling. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
Brewer's Bay is a popular beach located within the campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, on the western end of the island. Like so many St. Thomas beaches, it is wide and long, with pristine white sand and calm waters, but it is more lively than most, with roadside vendors selling homemade snacks, food, and drinks. The sunny beach is pleasantly shaded by scattered tall palm trees, offering a reprieve from the strong sun. The university staff keeps it well-maintained, and while not secluded, the beach is never too crowded. No bathrooms are available. Bring your snorkeling gear as clear calm waters are great for exploring.
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With picturesque white sands, clear blue waters, and a wide range of facilities, Coki Bay is one of the most popular beaches on St. Thomas. The beach is located about a 20-minute drive from Charlotte Amalie, on the northeastern end of St Thomas. The shallow waters are perfect for splashing in and cooling off on a hot day. Put your snorkeling mask on and go searching for colorful wrasses and snappers. You can rent out loungers from beachside vendors and enjoy the beauty around you in complete comfort. Listen to the soft sound of the waves, swaying palm trees, and watch elegant sailing boats passing by the bay. Look for one of the beach sellers if you feel thirsty, they will bring you a cool drink. For those who need more action, there is a dive center where qualified instructors teach you to scuba dive or will rent you the equipment if you are an experienced diver. You can discover the mesmerizing underwater world full of colorful corals and fish, large rays, sharks, and other underwater dwellers.
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Dorothea Beach is perfect for those looking for a bit of adventure on St. Thomas. Located on the north coast of the island, the beach is not easy to find, what means you will probably have it to yourself. Beautiful and picturesque, Dorothea Beach is surrounded by lush green hills and tall palm trees. The coastline is rocky, with cobblestones and exposed coral. There is always a strong breeze and rough, dangerous surf. The strong surf and unexpected drop-offs make it not a good idea to come swimming or snorkeling at Dorothea Beach alone. There are no public restrooms or any other facilities, but there are restaurants and other businesses nearby if you need refreshments.
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Located on the west coast of Water Island, just off the coast of St. Thomas, Honeymoon Beach is a great spot to spend the day swimming or sunbathing. The lovely sandy beach is surrounded by stately palm trees that provide pleasant shade, with lush green hills in the background. With clear turquoise waters, the beach is perfect for snorkeling and swimming. The bay is popular with boaters, so there are always elegant yachts and sailboats dotting the landscape. There is a charming restaurant right on the water, and plenty of walk-up vendors also offer hot, locally made food. The beach has public restrooms.
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Hull Bay is a quiet little beach on the north side of the island, popular with locals who bring families on weekends. Fishermen use the bay to anchor their fishing boats, and during the week the beach is almost empty and very quiet, perfect if you are looking for some solitude. The sandy beach is surrounded by dense sea grape trees that provide pleasant shade. There is a popular local restaurant and bar across the street from Hull Bay. There is also a dive shop on the same stretch of the road where you can rent diving equipment or take diving courses.
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Located on the southern end of Frenchman Bay, on the southeast coast of St. Thomas, Limetree Beach is a perfect beach for escaping the more popular and over-crowded beaches in Charlotte Amalie. It can be reached by taking a dirt road off Route 30. Limetree Beach is located in a small cove, with beautiful views and spectacular sunsets. You can even spot giant iguanas lounging in the sun. The sands are fine and white but the surf can be rough and dangerous and the rocky entrance into the water makes the beach uncomfortable for swimming. But, if you feel like a nice long walk on the sand, some sunbathing by the water, or reading a book in the shade of grape trees and palms, this beach is just perfect. The area around Limetree Beach is well developed, with hotels, bars, and restaurants lining the shore. There is a watersports stand where you can rent equipment for all kinds of watersports.
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Located on the east end of St. Thomas, Lindquist Beach is one the most beautiful beaches on the island. It is part of a 21-acre protected area called Smith Bay Park. The crystal-clear blue water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. On the west end there is a very shallow shelf with tide pools. The sand is bright white with a touch of pink, soft and perfect for playing beach volleyball or Frisbee, making sandcastles, or taking a long stroll along the water. Snorkeling can be enjoyed on the east side of the beach. The coconut grove and sea grape trees provide pleasant shade on both sides of the beach, while the middle area is mostly edged by low growing brush. The beach has a lifeguard, bathrooms, and picnic tables. The beach is very lively on weekends, when the local residents have picnics and parties, but the rest of the week it is pretty serene and quiet.
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8.Magen’s Bay Beach
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Magen’s Bay is 4,000-foot-long stretch of incredibly beautiful fine white sand surrounded by lush green hills and palm trees swaying in the constant breeze. The northwestern exposure makes the waters particularly calm and warm in summer, so it is perfect for children. The water is so clear it is easy to spot turtles, schools of fish, and large conchs. The view from the beach is spectacular and you can spot fisherman patiently sitting in their small boats waiting for the fish to bite. There is a snack counter selling food and drinks and a souvenir shop that sells local crafts. The nice little restaurant on the beach offers great local food. The beach has showers, restrooms, and lifeguard patrols. You can rent deck chairs, floats, lockers, masks, snorkels, and fins.
9.Morning Star Beach
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Located on the south coast of St. Thomas, Morning Star Beach faces Frenchman's Bay and is part of the Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort. The beach features soft, white sand and calm surf, making it great for swimming and snorkeling. The beach is surrounded by a well-developed area with resorts and hotels and it offers plenty of amenities. There are two coral reefs are not far from the shore and offer great snorkeling with plenty of marine life. There is a snack bar with cold drinks and snacks and local vendors sell home-made food on the beach. The beach has public bathrooms and a shop that rents out umbrellas and chairs. Because of the nearby resort and other hotels, the beach is very popular and often crowded.
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Sapphire Beach is a favorite of windsurfers, located on the eastern side of St. Thomas, about a 20-minute drive from Charlotte Amalie. The beach has a long stretch of fine white sand and magnificent views of St. John, tiny offshore cays and – on a clear day – even neighboring St. John. At its eastern end, snorkelers can enjoy crystal-clear water with perfect visibility and rich marine life along the reef. There is a convenient watersports shack that rents out equipment for wind surfing, snorkeling, and sea kayaks. They also offer deck chair rentals. The beach is surrounded by dense sea grape trees that offer pleasant shade from the hot sun. Sapphire Beach Resort, Condos, and Marina are nearby.
Located at the eastern end of St. Thomas, in a heavily populated area at the eastern outskirts of Red Hook, Vessup Bay is a narrow bay with good connections to the capital city, which makes it a convenient destination for beach-goers, but also makes it very popular and often crowded. The narrow bay provides protection from the surf, making the water always calm and warm, perfect for families with kids. Clear water with great visibility means great snorkeling, and the soft white sand is great for stretching out under the sun and for taking long strolls along the water. Public bathrooms are available.
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Located in Cowpet Bay on the east coast of St. Thomas, Cowpet Beach is surrounded by private homes, villas, and tennis courts, giving the beach a resort vibe. The warm shallow bay waters are perfect for swimming, especially for kids. The white, well-maintained sand and pleasant shade from the surrounding palm trees make the beach a heaven for sunbathing. St. Thomas Yacht Club is nearby, so you will see many luxury yachts anchored in the bay. The beach is a windsurfers’ favorite and it offers magnificent views of St. John and the offshore cays. Snorkeling is best at the reef near Pettyklip Point. There is a charming restaurant located right on the beach, serving local specialties.
Emerald Beach is located in Lindbergh Bay on the west coast of St Thomas, near the island’s airport. The proximity to the airport deters many tourists, who miss a wonderful beach with soft white sand and calm warm waters and no crowds to spoil it. The beach is fringed with tall palms and lush sea grape trees that provide pleasant shade and the soothing sound of leaves swaying in the breeze. There is a charming beachside restaurant that offers local delicacies. The beach has a public restroom and a stand renting out beach chairs and umbrellas. The snorkeling is wonderful as the water is crystal clear and the visibility is fantastic.
Renaissance Beach is located in Coki Point near Thatch Cay, on the southwest coast of St. Thomas. The beach is very popular for windsurfing and its calm waters make it great for swimming. There is a charming local restaurant right on the beach offering local food, as well as a concession stand selling snacks and refreshments. The beach has public bathrooms. Don’t forget your snorkeling gear, as the water in Renaissance Beach is perfectly clear and the excellent visibility provides an opportunity for great snorkeling and observing the rich marine life. The area around the beach is well developed, with many hotels and condos.
15.Secret Harbor Beach
Located in Cowpet Bay at the east end of St. Thomas Island, Secret Harbor Beach is part of the Secret Harbor Beach Resort. The whole area is well developed, lively, and crowded. The beach is not large but the sand is clear white and fine, the water is warm and a beautiful blue, and there are plenty of amenities. The beach is surrounded by magnificent palm trees. The rocks scattered just offshore provide great snorkeling as they attract many marine animals. There is a great restaurant right on the beach, or you can try the home-made food sold by vendors walking down the beach. The beach has public restrooms and a shack renting out beach chairs and umbrellas.
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15 Best St. Thomas Beaches
- Brewers Bay, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Coki Bay, Photo: Olga Mendenhall/stock.adobe.com
- Dorothea Beach, Photo: LR Photographies/stock.adobe.com
- Honeymoon Beach, Photo: VladFlorin/stock.adobe.com
- Hull Bay, Photo: Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Limetree Beach, Photo: thatpichai/stock.adobe.com
- Lindquist Beach, Photo: haveseen/stock.adobe.com
- Magen’s Bay Beach, Photo: Jo Ann Snover/stock.adobe.com
- Morning Star Beach, Photo: Leszek Czerwonka/stock.adobe.com
- Sapphire Beach, Photo: skylarkstudio/stock.adobe.com
- Vessup Beach, Photo: eqroy/stock.adobe.com
- Cowpet Beach, Photo: travelgalcindy/stock.adobe.com
- Emerald Beach, Photo: VladFlorin/stock.adobe.com
- Renaissance Beach, Photo: travnikovstudio/stock.adobe.com
- Secret Harbor Beach, Photo: radub85/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Konstantin L/stock.adobe.com
More Ideas: Hassel Island
Hassel Island is a National Park located in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 135-acre island park sits off the western shore of St Thomas between the Charlotte Amalie Harbor and Gregorie Channel. Originally a peninsula of St. Thomas island, it was separated by the Danish in the 1860’s with the hope that it would improve the flow of water in the harbor. The Park’s mission is to conserve, protect and interpret the island’s rich military, maritime and natural history.
Several structures on the island are related to the British occupation during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800’s. Ruins of a British Army Hospital consist of two structures built between 1801 and 1802. One of the hospital structures was originally surrounded by housing for convalescents, while the other hosted a surgery gallery. Researchers estimate the hospital was oft used, as the British army lost more soldiers to alcoholism, yellow fever and malaria than in any island conflict. The remains of the Garrison House are an example of a Board of Ordnance Stores. The thick-walled stone and brick structure with a vaulted metal roof was built sometime between 1807 and 1815 and was the only major structure to be built on the island after 1807. The building was used to store and keep cool munitions, weapons, and military equipment. Other sites include Shipley’s Battery, Prince Frederik’s Battery and Cowell’s Battery and Signal Station as well as an 1801 British Officers’ Quarters and Barracks Complex. The island’s fortifications are the only surviving British fortifications on U.S. soil.
Other structures are related to the island’s mercantile history. A historic barge from the late 1800’s sits abandoned on the shoreline. Barges were used to transport coal that was mined on the island to larger ships anchored in deeper waters offshore. The Hamburg America Line, or HAPAG, was a German trans-Atlantic shipping line established in the mid-1800’s. Their hub on the island’s Careening Cove was established in 1871, and seized for use as a U.S. Navy base in 1917 when the U.S. purchased the islands from the Danish. Additional structures related to the history of industry on the island include a lime kiln, the Brondsted and Company Wharf, and the Hazzell Family Cemetery (with the original Hassel spelling).
The island’s Creque Marine Railway is an example of the western hemisphere’s oldest steam powered marine railway. Visitors can still see the remains of the slipway and rail lines that would hoist vessels from the water for dry dock repair. A first in many feats of engineering, the company was hoisting vessels over 1,000 tons from the water as early as 1868. The business was operational under different owners until the 1960’s when the site was abandoned.
A leprosarium complex was built on the island in the 1830’s. The excluded location was the ideal place to send sick and contagious patients. James Hazzell earned $2 per head from the government of St. Thomas for those staying at the 22-person leprosarium. Only five years after it first opened, however, usage of the facility declined and it was closed in 1860 with just 2 patients remaining.
Although the island was used for raising livestock at several different times during its history, today it is occupied by native inhabitants, including Iguanas and other small lizards, the red-footed tortoise, and birds.
History: Originally called “Estate Orkanshullet” or Hurricane Hole, by the Danish, the island today is named after James Hazzell, who purchased the land in 1784, and whose family lived there through the 1900’s. In 1978, the National Park Service acquired approximately 95% of the park’s acreage, while 3 sites remain privately owned, and 3 remain owned by the government of the Virgin Islands. The National Parks Service manages the island in cooperation with the St. Thomas Historical Trust.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Visitors are able to hike throughout the island’s public parkland. Access is available through three different trailheads, Shipley’s Battery Trail on the north end of the island, Officers’ Quarters Trail in Careening Cove, and Cowell’s Trail, which begins on the east side of the island. There are 14 marked ruins or historical sites along the three trails. All three trails intersect with each other, although they do not form a perfect loop. Hikers should be aware that most trails are not protected from the sun, and there is a small elevation change.
What’s Nearby: Visitors to the island may explore with one of several outside tour groups who offer guided hikes, snorkeling and kayak tours.
Hassel Island, U.S. Virgin Islands, Phone: 340-774-5541
More Things to Do in St Thomas
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More Ideas: Coral World Ocean Park
Coral World Ocean Park in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a marine park on the island of St Thomas. The Caribbean Reef Encounter is an 80,000-gallon recreated Caribbean reef, home to a variety of fish, sea creatures and sea turtles. The open-air aquarium is fed by natural seawater and exposed to the sunlight, moonlight and rain, which improves the health of the sensitive sponges and corals and hence the sea creatures that depend on them for shelter and food.
360-degree viewing allows guests to see the sea life, all of which is native to the surrounding St. Thomas waters. The marine park is home to two sea turtles, both of which were rescued as babies, are now over 20 years old, and each over 200 pounds. Although these two residents are unable to be released into the wild, the Park does serve as a rehabilitation center for many other releasable turtles.
Sharks and stingrays may be touched at the Stingray Lagoon and the Shark Shallows. A small Mangrove forest is located at the end of the Stingray Lagoon and demonstrates the importance of Mangroves as shoreline buffers that prevent erosion and improve water quality, and as nurseries that offer protection from predators. A Touch Pool introduces children to even more shallow water creatures, including Conch, Sea Anemones, Starfish and Sea Cucumbers.
A Nature Trail offers the opportunity to see red-footed tortoises, and to hand feed the Lorikeets, colorful non-native birds that were brought to the island from captivity in Florida. The Nature Trail also introduces visitors to the native flora of the Virgin Islands, including the lignum vitae tree, which has historically been used in the building of ships. Iguana Alley is a popular hang-out spot for the island’s native Iguanas, who can be seen in the trees opposite the Lorikeet Garden.
Two restaurants and two gift shops are located within the park for guests who choose to spend a full day and enjoy the amenities and activities.
History: The park has been open since the 1970’s, and immediately became St. Thomas’ most valuable tourist attraction. In 1998, the park gained recognition for its seahorse breeding program. Additional conservation efforts at the park include Earth Day ocean clean ups, animal rehabilitation services for sea birds and sea life, and research. The park is a coral nursery on behalf of the Coral Restoration Program of the Nature Conservancy. In 2000, Coral World was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award. The public may participate in the park’s conservation efforts through Coral World’s Conservation Heroes VI program.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Guided tours of Coral World are available, as are guided treks along the Nature Trail. Twice daily during feeding times, aquarists give educational presentations at the Stingray Lagoon and Turtle Pool. Turtle Encounters offer a personal, up-close introduction to the Park’s resident sea turtles, and guests may even enter their pool with the guidance of a staff member. Sea Lion encounter is a similar experience, although guests stay dry and meet the Sea Lions from the deck of their enclosure. The Sea Lions may be hand fed, and love to be pet by the visitors. The Sea Lion swim is a 75-minute program in which guests spend 50% of their time in the pool with the Sea Lions.
Shark Encounter and Sea Trek are two of the Park’s adventures that have not yet opened in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but are expected to be back in action in early 2018. Shark Encounter allows guests to snorkel in the Shark Shallows, while the Sea Trek is a guided tour along the ocean floor, with guests breathing through Sea Trek headwear. Unlike SCUBA, no specialized training is required, and the tour reaches depths of up to 20 feet.
The Nautilus is a ‘semi-submarine’ that offers viewing of the ocean through glass windows underneath a pontoon boat. The 45-minute tour takes guests past the coral reefs while a Nautilus diver feeds fish and points out interesting sea life. The Nautilus offers an underwater view with the comfort of air-conditioning and no need to get wet.
What’s Nearby: The Park is adjacent to Coki Beach, an excellent swim and snorkel beach offering crystal clear waters and sandy beaches. The park rents showers and lockers for those who choose to enjoy a day at the beach.
6450 Coki Point, St. Thomas, USVI 00802, Phone: 340-775-1555
More Things to Do in St Thomas
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