Thanks to the wondrous beaches found on the islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands have rightfully earned their reputation as America's Paradise. Whether you prefer snorkeling among tropical sea fans and coral reefs or windsurfing in a protected turquoise bay, the U.S. Virgin Islands have something for everyone. From protected islands off the shores of St. Croix to pristine bays and white-sand beaches on St. John, we've compiled the 12 best beaches to visit during your next vacation to these divine island idylls in the Caribbean Sea. Pack some sunscreen and get ready to hit the sand!
Walk along the iconic shoreline of Cruz Bay in St. John to discover Salomon and Honeymoon Beaches—the first sliver of coastline that’s accessible by foot. The latter is situated within the Virgin Islands National Park and offers gorgeous palm tree-shaded vistas and spectacular snorkeling. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are popular activities on the beach, though we wouldn’t judge you if you decided to waste the afternoon away with a book instead.
Unlike Honeymoon Beach, which can get very busy, Lindquist Beach is a hidden secret—the perfect spot to enjoy a secluded getaway on the U.S. Virgin Islands' most crowded island. Located within the 21-acre Smith Bay Park, on the eastern end of St. Thomas, it's a favorite picnicking spot among locals. Entry costs $5 per non-resident and $2 per car (admission is free after 5 p.m.); cash only.
This gorgeous stretch of white-sand beach overlooks the calm, shallow turquoise bay. The coastline isn’t just a haven for privacy-seeking vacationers; green sea turtles live here, too, and make their beds in the nearby seagrass. Arrive to the beach early or stay late to improve your chances of spotting the gentile reptiles in their natural habitat. We recommend doing both—after all, once you arrive at Maho Bay, you won’t want to leave.
Another favorite spot for turtles in the U.S. Virgin Islands? Turtle Beach, of course. Located on Buck Island, this picturesque, white-sand beach is about 1.5 miles off the coast of St. Croix. Stick around for the snorkeling: Home to hawksbill turtles and brown pelicans, Buck Island Reef National Monument accounts for 176 uninhabited acres in the USVI. Set sail with a tour operator like Big Beard's Adventure Tours to experience it for yourself.
Known for its beauty and convenience, Hawksnest Beach is located just 5 miles down North Shore Road from Cruz Bay. If you're up for snorkeling and diving, a shallow reef housing fish like Parrotfish and Atlantic Blue Tangs can be found a few yards from the shore. Parking abounds, and there are several picnic tables and barbecue grills available for visitors.
Magens Bay is world-famous and one of the most popular beaches on the island of St. Thomas. The 1-mile stretch of sand along Magens Bay is a public park, donated to the Virgin Islands by the famous philanthropist Arthur Fairchild. You will certainly appreciate his largesse once you visit the beach for a lazy afternoon in the tropical sun. (And be sure to check out the delicious cuisine at Magen's Bay Café & Pizzeria before you head home.)
Trunk Bay beach is not only one of the most popular beaches in all of the U.S. Virgin Islands—it’s also one of the most photographed beaches in the world. With its powdery white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, Trunk Bay beach is a must-visit. Located within the Virgin Islands National Park, the beach spans over a quarter-mile and circles the gorgeous half-moon formation of Trunk Bay's waters. Check out the self-guided underwater snorkeling trail and keep an eye out for sea turtles, stingrays, and giant hermit crabs.
In Salt Pond Bay on the south shore of St. John, check out the colorful coral and vibrant sea fans while snorkeling in the underwater paradise, and admire the cactus growing along the coast. Day-trippers are encouraged to walk the short trail around the pond to the north shore (also known as Drunk Bay); for more adventurous hikers, the 4-mile hike to Ram’s Head Trail is not to be missed.
There’s more to Sapphire Beach than just the vibrant-blue waters that lend their name to this coastal getaway in St. Thomas. A destination rife with aquatic activities, you can expect terrific windsurfing, kayaking, jet-skiing, and—of course—snorkeling. After an afternoon hopping from one water sport to the next, travelers can sip on a tropical cocktail (or two) at the nearby Crystal Cove Beach Resort on Sapphire Bay.
For travelers interested in a beachside resort but not so interested in crowds, consider booking a reservation on the idyllic Peter Bay Estate on St. John. Surrounded by Virgin Islands National Park, their private beach is a deserted oasis for luxury-minded (and solitude-seeking) travelers. The best part? You can access Peter Bay Beach via island trails and garden paths from your own private villa—no human contact required.
Located just one coastline over from Peter Bay, Cinnamon Bay Beach is the longest beach on the island of St. John. It boasts not only spectacular sailing and windsurfing conditions, but also tourist shops, restrooms, snack bars, and cocktail shacks. After spending a day in the sun, travelers should check out the nearby 18th-century Cinnamon Bay Plantation to learn more about the slave revolt of 1733 while exploring historic ruins across 300 acres.
Also known as the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, Sandy Point Beach is located on the southwestern tip of St. Croix. Unlike other beaches located along the island's west end, Sandy Point remains resolutely untouched and rather undiscovered. The 400-acre natural refuge is a habitat for leatherback sea turtles, and in fact, the beach closes down for sea turtle nesting season (April to August). To preserve the natural beauty of this coastline, the beach is only ever open on the weekends—or when a cruise ship is in port—from September to March.