Travel and Leisure — March 27, 2014 at 5:00 am

Best Beaches of the U.S. Virgin Islands

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SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / thinkstock.com

SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / thinkstock.com

There are way too many to list and arguments abound as to which are the “Best.” Here are just as few of the most popular and well photographed beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Chances are, you’ve seen pictures of all of these, now go see them for yourself.

St Thomas: Sapphire Beach
Located on the northeastern end by Redhook is Sapphire Beach. A popular stop for cruise ship day-trippers it is best in the early morning or late afternoon. Considered one of the best snorkeling spots on St Thomas there is snorkeling, paddle boats and windsurfing equipment available. There are two story condos on the beach so this is not a pristine spot but the sand is fine, the water clear and drinks are available.

St Thomas: Magens Bay
This is a park and costs $4.00 per person to enter. Though not a snorkeling spot this mile long beach is one of the most beautiful in the U.S. V.I. and is regularly listed as among the top 10 beaches in the world. The park has all amenities and is full of trees and picnic benches to shelter you from the sun. All watersports equipment is available for rent along with a restaurant and gift shop. Most folks set up close to the shops so there is plenty of room to head further down the beach for more privacy.

St Thomas: Little Magens Bay
Although nudity is banned from the beaches here, this is one spot where the authorities seem to look the other way. Just a quarter mile away from Magens Bay and off to the right as you’re facing the water is Little Megans Bay. Travel north a quarter mile or so along the beach and there you can drop the suit, but don’t forget to put it back on before venturing back.

St John: Trunk Bay
This is St. John’s most visited and photographed beach. There is an underwater trail and is perfect for beginner snorkelers. It also a favorite for cruise ship day-trippers so get here early or late to avoid the crowds. There are all the amenities like snack bar, changing rooms, bathrooms and snorkeling equipment rentals. You’re not going to be alone here as it is close to Cruz Bay and is usually everyone’s first stop.

St John: Cinnamon Bay
A little further down the road, about 4 miles east of Cruz Bay, is Cinnamon Bay Beach, which abuts the national park campground. Open to the public and providing showers, bathrooms and a restaurant, you can also rent water sports equipment. There is excellent snorkeling and since the afternoons can get windy, this is a great spot for windsurfing. There are two beautiful hiking trails nearby with the trailheads across the road from the parking lot.

St John: Salt Pond Bay Beach
Quite a bit further around the island and about 3 miles past Coral Bay you will find Salt Pond Bay Beach. Park on the road but don’t leave your valuables as break-ins are common. Take a short hike downhill and arrive at a rocky beach with few people and a lot more privacy. Tide pools are filled with fish and the snorkeling is quite good. The only facilities are an outhouse and a few picnic tables but this makes the place a lot quieter than the others.

St. Croix: Cane Bay Beach
Located just across from the Cane Bay Plantation on Route 80, Cane Bay Beach offers excellent snorkeling and diving. Weekends fill up with locals as this is a favorite with the residents. Nearby reefs just offshore offer some of the best diving in the world and about a ¼ mile offshore the depths drop to 1,000 ft. There is a dive shop nearby for all your diving needs along with cottages for rent. Umbrellas for the sun and kayaks for the water are also available for rent at Cane Bay as are horses for beach riding as well.

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