Hawksnest Bay, St. John — Photo courtesy of Karen ElowittThe Virgin Islands are blessed with some of the most picturesque beaches in the Caribbean. Visitors wanting the quintessential tropical beach experience complete with pure white sand, sparkling water, and rustling palm trees will not be disappointed. And though each island has a long list of beautiful beaches, each has a distinct character and appeal.
Honeymoon Beach, Water Island — Photo courtesy of Karen ElowittOn St. Thomas, the famous Magens Bay Beach offers a great all-around beach experience: its massive expanse of white sand, calm clear water, groves of shady palms, and excellent amenties draw thousands every year. For quiet seclusion and excellent snorkeling, head to Secret Harbour beach, located in a lovely sheltered cove out in the east end. Hidden and out of the way, the only people you'll see there are guests of the adjacent Secret Harbor Beach Resort, and a smattering of locals. As a bonus, the sunsets are to die for. Other must-see beaches include funky Hull Bay beach, which is beloved by north side locals; Coki Beach, because of its super snorkeling and party atmosphere; Smith Bay's Lindquist Beach, which has no amenities but feels like paradise; and the west end's expansive Brewers Bay beach, where you can hang with locals and eat West Indian food from the many food trucks that line the road. And if you're up for a bit of a trek, take a water taxi to Water Island. The quiet, luscious Honeymoon Beach is often overlooked by tourists and locals alike, but it is simply divine.
Trunk Bay, St. John — Photo courtesy of Karen ElowittOn St. John, the seemingly endless string of north shore beaches commands awe and admiration from visitors from around the world. Starting with Caneel Bay, and continuing through Hawksnest Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Trunk Bay, and Maho Bay, these beaches offer absurdly clear water, powdery sand, and numerous watersports opportunities. Tucked away between them you'll find the smaller (but also sweet) Jumbie Bay, Francis Bay and Gibney Beach, which are also worth exploring. Down south you should not miss Salt Pond Bay and Great Cruz Bay, or the more remote Ditleff Beach and Lameshur Bay, which are only accessible by rough walking or driving trails. To the east check out Leinster Bay, which is better known for the snorkeling at its excellent fringing reef than for its actual beach. Unlike many of the beaches on St. Thomas, St. John's beaches are not urban: since the island mostly consists of protected National Park land, you'll be surrounded only by jungle (and maybe some wild donkeys), instead of hotels and restaurants.
Buck Island, St. Croix — Photo courtesy of Philip BrewerThe jewel in the crown of St. Croix has got to be the north side's Cane Bay Beach, which dazzles with its pure white sand, swaying palms, and ultra-clear water. In addition, this beach is an excellent launch point for both snorkeling and SCUBA excursions, as there are numerous reefs and a wall just offshore. The incomparable Turtle Beach on Buck Island, a mile off the north east shore, is also a prime snorkeling spot. The island is uninhabited and the surrounding waters are a national monument, so you'll not only see a dizzying array of marine life, but you'll be free from distractions. Out in the west end, Rainbow Beach is a favorite, as is Sandy Point, a beach so beautiful it has starred in many movies and TV commercials. The only drawback to this beach – it's only open on weekends September through March, because the rest of the time it's reserved for nesting sea turtles.