Best Beaches in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands
The British and U.S. Virgin Islands may differ in many things, but they also share a great deal. For example, travelers will find beautiful white beaches and aquamarine waters on all of the islands.
The Virgin Islands are known for their incredible beaches, in fact, St. John’s Trunk Bay was voted as one of the “Top 10 Beaches We Love” by The Weather Channel. Whether you choose the quieter British islands or the more bustling U.S. islands, you’ll find snorkeling and scuba diving off their shores. However, one thing that will change from beach to the beach is popularity.
As with many other things, the U.S. Virgins practically hold a monopoly on busy tourist spots. While some beachgoers appreciate plenty of activity, others are not so enamored of the crowds and prefer to escape to somewhere a little more secluded. While there are some quieter beaches in the U.S. Virgins, they’re often far more difficult to reach than the crowded stops.
Meanwhile, the British Virgins are more sparsely populated and are free of heavy tourist traffic. Visitors seeking a quiet vacation without seeing a soul on the beach would likely find this an easier task on the British islands. However, those who want the action of the crowds will not find many options here.
Remember that every beach and every island has its own specialties. For example, beaches on the northern coast of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands are home to waves favored by surfers. St. John in the U.S. Virgins is home to a national park with well-preserved beaches and incredible reefs.
US Virgin Islands
Another positive point about the beaches in the Virgin Islands is that all but one are free. Only Magens Bay Beach on St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) charges a fee for entry. Still, not all free beaches are easy to reach. Getting to some may require a boat ride or a walk through a hotel, but these can easily be worth the extra effort.
Making a beach choice is easy if you know what you’re looking for. However, those who simply want a powdery stretch of sand to enjoy will have far more options than those looking for something specific. Even so, you can rest assured that you’ll find something to suit your vacation when you visit these islands.
As with many other aspects of a vacation in the Virgin Islands, the island you stay on and the beaches you visit will depend greatly on the vacation style you seek. To learn more about beaches in both chains, check out the list of links below. They’ll take you to detailed pages about each of the beaches, where you can learn more about what you’ll find at each one.
The US Virgin Islands, with their sea-swept landscapes, historic towns, duty-free shopping, and luxurious resorts, is a combination of familiar and exotic, making them one of the Caribbean’s most popular cruise-ship destinations.
The largest and busiest of the sixty islands, islets, and cays that comprise the US Virgin Islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.
Each has its own distinct mood and culture, and you haven’t seen the US Virgin Islands until you’ve visited all three. US Virgin Islands beaches by island:
St. Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands, measuring 28 miles by 7 miles, is also the most remote, lying forty miles south of St Thomas.
For many years this peaceful gem has been accessible only by air or cruise ship but now that a fast ferry connects the island to St Thomas, it’s a must-see for all visitors to the US Virgin Islands.
The landscape, more gentle than its neighbours, is a mixture of rocky sierras, fertile coastal plain and rainforest and, of course, St Croix has its fair share of picturesque beaches.
Culturally, the island is a fusion of cuisines, ideas and customs, its employment opportunities (the Hess Oil refinery and tourism) and proximity to the US (and potential for US citizenship) attracting people from all over the Caribbean.
Don’t leave without a visit to the tiny but spectacular Buck Island, off the northeast coast. The island has been administered by the National Park Service since 1948 and is a paradise of beaches, reefs and hiking trails.
Jack’s Bay Beach, St. Croix
Jack and Isaac’s Bay are two of St. Croix’s most beautiful beaches. These relatively remote beaches are rarely crowded and are only accessible via a short 15-minute hike from the parking area just below Point Udall. The hike down to Jack Bay is well-kept, and I’ve done it with small children without incident. Because there are no restrooms, bring a small cooler with beverages and snacks. Bring your camera because there are some spectacular views along the way. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear, as this is one of the best snorkeling beaches on the island!
Judith’s Fancy Beach, St. Croix
Judith’s Fancy Beach is located on the island’s North Shore, past the guard entrance, inside Judith’s Fancy Quarters. I wouldn’t suggest this beach for swimming, but it has a lot to offer in terms of coral and shells (just remember to leave only your footprints). Surfers are common, but be aware that it is shallow and has a lot of reef to throw against. Because of the reef, snorkeling is good there, but only when the tide is low. It is mostly used for wave riding and is usually only visited by locals.
Located just three miles east of St. Thomas and only accessible by boat, St. John , the smallest and most pristine of the US Virgin Islands, is the perfect hideaway and a paradise for nature lovers.
Twenty square miles of lush mountains rise from perfect white-sand beaches, and with two-thirds of the island designated a National Park – one of the largest areas of wilderness in the whole of the Caribbean – there’s an abundance of flora and fauna, including wild cats and burros, hummingbirds and iguanas to look out for.
You really need to come for longer than a day trip to get the most out of the scenery, miles of hiking trails, numerous secluded beaches, and many reefs to snorkel.
A hike into the mountains will also take you past man-made sights – ruins dating from the eighteenth century when the island had over one hundred successful sugar plantations and a population of two hundred whites and one thousand slaves.
The main town on St. John is Cruz Bay, home to half of the island’s four thousand inhabitants and the best of the island’s shopping, eating and nightlife.
Cinnamon Bay Beach, St. John
Cinnamon Bay Beach is one of the National Park’s most beautiful and pristine beaches. A half mile of soft white sand beach is ruled by towering palms. Snorkelers can explore the small cay, which is only about 100 yards from the shore. Cinnamon Bay is an excellent choice for families with children, thanks to its ample “elbow room” and shallow water entry. Kite boarding, paddle boarding, windsurfing, and snorkeling will keep even the most active adults and teens busy. A snack shop, showers and restrooms, as well as a small souvenir shop, are available.
Trunk Bay Beach, St. John
The most famous beach on St. John Island is also one of the most photogenic beaches in the US Virgin Islands. This is the National Park Service’s showpiece beach, with over a quarter mile of beautiful white sand. Take advantage of the self-guided Underwater Snorkeling Trail, which includes underwater details about coral formations and sea life. Please keep in mind that Trunk Bay is the only beach on St. John that charges an entrance fee.
The most accessible and Americanized of the Virgins, St. Thomas is the capital of cool – the couture, accommodation, and cuisine hub of the Caribbean. Its mercantile roots – the port at Charlotte Amalie has been an important merchant center since the 1700s.
There are several good beaches within striking distance of Charlotte Amalie.
On the north side of the island, the mile-long sandy stretch of Magens Bay Beach on Route 35 is the island’s longest beach and is almost always included in lists of the world’s best beaches.
Protected by two dramatic peninsulas, it’s the perfect beach for swimming and sunbathing, though the snorkelling isn’t up to much.
Round the peninsula to the west, Hull Bay Beach, also on Route 37, is a favourite with the locals, especially surfers who ride the choppy waves rolling in from the Atlantic.
Beaches on the south side of the island aren’t as good but are easy to get to.
Brewers Bay Beach, on Route 30, three miles west of town, is fairly unpopulated, except for students from the nearby University and has a few snack trucks, while Morningstar Beachat Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, on Route 315 one mile south of Havensight, is the closest and easiest to access from Charlotte Amalie.
Back on Route 30 and two miles east, Bolongo Beach, surrounded by the Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Resort, offers grill grub, frozen drinks and pick-up volleyball games.
Hull Bay Beach, St. Thomas
Hull Bay is situated on the Atlantic Ocean’s cool and calm north shore of St. Thomas, overlooking the islands of Inner and Outer Brass. It is a popular hangout for locals and fishermen who anchor their small fishing boats in the bay. On weekends, families and friends gather at the popular Hull Bay Hideaway to picnic on the beach, go kayaking in the bay, or simply relax and listen to live music while enjoying a casual meal or drink. There is a dive shop and a barbershop on the premises, as well as plenty of parking for everyone. Hull Bay is one of the best surfing beaches on the island and a great place to get away from it all.
Magen’s Bay Beach, St. Thomas
Magens Bay Beach is about a mile long and located on St. Thomas’ north shore. It’s just over the mountain from Charlotte Amalie’s downtown area. For your trip planning, here’s a map that shows you exactly where the beach is. Magens Bay Beach is a must-see attraction on St. Thomas.
If you’re looking for the best beaches in the rest of the US Virgin Islands, we’ve got you covered. Here are links to our Best St. John Beaches and Best St. Croix Beaches.
List of Beaches in the Virgin Islands
|Anguilla Point||4.5 mi. Northeast of Spanish Town||South West||Virgin Gorda|
|Apple Bay||Long Bay||South West||Tortola|
|Big Reef Bay||Peter Island||East||Peter Island|
|Big Trunk Bay||1.0 mi. South West of Spanish Town||South West||Virgin Gorda|
|Bolongo Bay||2.7 mi. Southeast of Charlotte Amalie||South East||St. Thomas|
|Brandy Wine Bay||Newport||East||Tortola|
|Brecher’s Bay||6.0 mi. East-Northeast of Spanish Town||East||Virgin Gorda|
|Brewers Bay||3.2 mi. West of Charlotte Amalie||West||St. Thomas|
|Brewers Bay Beach||2.5 mi. Northwest of Road Town||North West||Tortola|
|Buck Island||Buck Island||West||Buck Island|
|Cane Bay Beach||Cane Bay||North West||St. Croix|
|Cane Garden Bay||Cane Garden Bay||West||Tortola|
|Caneel Bay||Caneel Bay||West||St. John|
|Chenay Bay Beach||3.1 mi. East of Christiansted||North||St. Croix|
|Cinnamon Bay||2.5 mi. Northeast of Cruz Bay||North West||St. John|
|Coakley Bay Beach||3.9 mi. East of Christiansted||North||St. Croix|
|Coki Point Beach||Thatch Cay||South West||Thatch Cay|
|Colony Cove||1.3 mi. West-Northwest of Christiansted||North East||St. Croix|
|Columbus Landing Beach||4.3 mi. Northwest of Christiansted||North||St. Croix|
|Cooten Bay||2.1 mi. Northeast of Road Town||North East||Tortola|
|Cormorant Beach||Judith’s Fancy||North||St. Croix|
|Cow Wreck Bay||19.3 mi. North of Spanish Town||West||Anegada|
|Cowpet Beach||Catadupa||East||St. Thomas|
|Cramer Park||7.7 mi. East of Christiansted||East||St. Croix|
|Davis Bay||4.8 mi. Northeast of Frederiksted||West||St. Croix|
|Deadman’s Bay||Peter Island||East||Peter Island|
|Dorothea Bay Beach||3.1 mi. Northwest of Charlotte Amalie||North||St. Thomas|
|Elizabeth Beach||3.2 mi. Northeast of Road Town||North East||Tortola|
|Fat Hogs Bay||3.5 mi. East of Road Town||North West||Tortola|
|Grapetree Beach||Knight||East||St. Croix|
|Great Cruz Beach||Cruz Bay||West||St. John|
|Great Harbour Beach||7.2 mi. North-Northwest of Coral Bay||South||Jost Van Dyke|
|Green Cay Beach||Green Cay||North||Green Cay|
|Grotto Beach||1.3 mi. East-Northeast of Christiansted||None||St. Croix|
|Guana Island Beach||Guana Island||South West||Guana Island|
|Half Penny Beach||2.9 mi. South of Christiansted||South||St. Croix|
|Hawksnest Bay||1.3 mi. Northeast of Cruz Bay||West||St. John|
|Hibiscus Beach||2.2 mi. West-Northwest of Christiansted||North East||St. Croix|
|Honeymoon Beach||Water Island||West||Water Island|
|Hull Bay||2.7 mi. Northwest of Charlotte Amalie||North West||St. Thomas|
|Isaac Bay Beach||8.5 mi. East of Christiansted||East||St. Croix|
|Jack’s Bay Beach||7.8 mi. East of Christiansted||East||St. Croix|
|Josiah’s Bay||2.5 mi. Northeast of Road Town||North East||Tortola|
|La Grange||Frederiksted||West||St. Croix|
|Lambert Beach||3.0 mi. Northeast of Road Town||North East||Tortola|
|Lameshur Bay||2.0 mi. South-Southwest of Coral Bay||South||St. John|
|Leinster Bay Beach||1.6 mi. Northwest of Coral Bay||North||St. John|
|Leverick Bay||4.7 mi. Northeast of Spanish Town||North East||Virgin Gorda|
|Limetree Beach||Frenchman Bay||South East||St. Thomas|
|Lindbergh Beach||2.4 mi. West of Charlotte Amalie||West||St. Thomas|
|Lindquist Beach||East End||East||St. Thomas|
|Little Bay||3.5 mi. Northeast of Road Town||North East||Tortola|
|Little Buck Island||Little Buck Island||North West||Little Buck Island|
|Little Dix Bay||0.8 mi. North of Spanish Town||South West||Virgin Gorda|
|Little Magens Bay||2.3 mi. North of Charlotte Amalie||North||St. Thomas|
|Little Reef Bay||Peter Island||South East||Peter Island|
|Loblolly Bay||21.6 mi. North-Northeast of Spanish Town||North East||Anegada|
|Long Bay East||Beef Island||West||Beef Island|
|Long Bay Virgin Gorda||3.8 mi. North-Northeast of Spanish Town||North West||Virgin Gorda|
|Long Bay West||Long Bay||South West||Tortola|
|Lormer Bay||2.0 mi. North-Northwest of Road Town||North||Tortola|
|Magens Bay||1.9 mi. North of Charlotte Amalie||North East||St. Thomas|
|Maho Bay||2.1 mi. West-Northwest of Coral Bay||North West||St. John|
|Mahoe Bay||2.3 mi. Northeast of Spanish Town||West||Virgin Gorda|
|Cooper Island||North West||Cooper Island|
|Mandahl Bay Beach||2.7 mi. Northeast of Charlotte Amalie||North||St. Thomas|
|Marina Cay||Marina Cay||South West||Marina Cay|
|Mermaid Beach||1.5 mi. East-Northeast of Christiansted||None||St. Croix|
|Morning Star Beach||1.4 mi. Southeast of Charlotte Amalie||South East||St. Thomas|
|Nail Bay||3.6 mi. North-Northeast of Spanish Town||North West||Virgin Gorda|
|Nanny Cay||Nanny Cay||South||Tortola|
|Rainbow Beach||1.5 mi. North-Northwest of Frederiksted||West||St. Croix|
|Reef Beach||6.6 mi. East of Christiansted||East||St. Croix|
|Renaissance Beach||Thatch Cay||South West||Thatch Cay|
|Rogues Bay||Wesley Will||North East||Tortola|
|Salt Pond Bay||2.6 mi. South of Coral Bay||South East||St. John|
|Sandy Cay Beach||Sandy Cay||South West||Sandy Cay|
|Sandy Point||0.8 mi. South-Southwest of Frederiksted||West||St. Croix|
|Sandy Spit||Sandy Spit||South East||Sandy Spit|
|Sapphire Beach||East End||East||St. Thomas|
|Savannah Bay||1.3 mi. Northeast of Spanish Town||South West||Virgin Gorda|
|Secret Harbor||Catadupa||East||St. Thomas|
|Shoy’s Beach||1.7 mi. Northeast of Christiansted||North||St. Croix|
|Smuggler’s Cove||3.4 mi. North of Coral Bay||North||Tortola|
|Sprat Hall Beach||3.4 mi. North of Frederiksted||West||St. Croix|
|Spring Bay||1.3 mi. South West of Spanish Town||South West||Virgin Gorda|
|Sugar Beach||1.2 mi. West-Northwest of Christiansted||North East||St. Croix|
|Tamarind Reef Beach||2.9 mi. East of Christiansted||East||St. Croix|
|The Baths||1.6 mi. South-Southwest of Spanish Town||South West||Virgin Gorda|
|The Bight||Norman Island||North West||Norman Island|
|The Crawl||1.7 mi. South-Southwest of Spanish Town||South West||Virgin Gorda|
|Tiny Trunk Bay||1.9 mi. North of Road Town||North East||Tortola|
|Trellis Bay||Beef Island||North West||Beef Island|
|Trunk Bay||2.2 mi. Northeast of Cruz Bay||North West||St. John|
|Turner Hole||6.5 mi. East of Christiansted||None||St. Croix|
|Vessup Bay||East End||East||St. Thomas|
|Prickly Pear Island||South||Prickly Pear Island|
|Wacho Beach||2.9 mi. South of Christiansted||None||St. Croix|
|Waterlemon Cay Beach||1.5 mi. North-Northwest of Coral Bay||South West||St. John|
|White Bay||7.5 mi. North-Northwest of Coral Bay||West||Jost Van Dyke|