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Best beaches in the US Virgin Islands

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If you are looking for white, soft sands, sparkling Caribbean waters, beaches for watersports and spectacular hiking trails ashore, then the US Virgin Islands has everything you need. If you always head to the British Virgin Islands for your vacation, it’s time to visit this neighboring paradise with famed national parks and impressive beaches.

Some of the best beaches in the US Virgin Islands can be found on the island of St. John and its northern shore. St. John is known for having some of the world’s most protected beaches in the world.

If you are planning a yacht charter and researching the best beaches in the US Virgin Islands, let us take you through some of our highlights…

Our top 10 recommended best beaches in the US Virgin Islands

1 Avoid crowds at Oppenheimer Beach, Hawksnest Bay, St. John

This peaceful beach was the home of Robert Oppenheimer, the nuclear physicist known as the father of the atomic bomb. He gifted his home to the local people and it is now a community center. Visit if you want to sink your feet into soft sand as you stroll the beach, shelter under palms waving in the breeze or enjoy the startling colors of the sea, from aqua to jade. It offers fantastic snorkeling with a shallow reef off the beach where you can swim over brain, elkhorn and fire coral. If you are feeling active, you can hike the nearby trails and see the Peace Hill Windmill. This is one of the best beaches in the US Virgin Islands to avoid crowds.

2 Turtles at Maho Bay Beach, Francis Bay, St. John

If you love marine life, this is one of the best beaches in the US Virgin Islands to see turtles and rays swimming among the seagrass. While snorkeling you may see tangs, parrotfish, angelfish, elkhorn and brain coral, anemones and sponges. There is plenty you can see in shallow water, which makes this a great beach for snorkeling with children and nervous swimmers. If you want to stay onshore, you can relax on the white sands and shelter under palms – get there early as it can get busy, especially on Sundays, fun days and full moon parties. For food, head to the Maho Crossroads pop-up village for delicious treats. For views, take the Cinnamon Bay Trail and America Hill Trail for amazing views over Maho Bay and Francis Bay, even over to the BVIs on clear days.

3 Snorkel at Waterlemon Cay, Leinster Bay, St. John

If you love snorkeling, Watermelon Cay is the best spot on St. John for clear water, healthy coral, tropical fish, sand, pebbles, seagrass and coral. It’s great for novice snorkelers and those who’ve been doing it for years. This special place offers rays, conch, starfish and turtles too. On land, you can walk along the shore through the sugar mill ruins of the Annaberg Plantation. Don’t miss this beach while on your US Virgin Islands yacht charter.

4 Hike at Honeymoon Beach, Caneel Bay, St. John

Set into Caneel Bay and the Virgin Islands National Park, this sandy beach with shallow waters is perfect for those who love watersports and walking trails. Trek along the Lind Point Trail to Cruz Bay for views across the bay (note, you cannot moor or anchor in Cruz Bay as the mooring balls are private). At Honeymoon Beach you can hire with a day pass SUPs, kayaks, snorkel equipment, beach chair, locker, changing room and restrooms. You can also dine at the beach bar and grill while Caneel Bay Resort is being refurbished for scheduled reopening in 2021.

5 Swim at Salt Pond Beach, St. John

With its shallow waters protected from wind and waves, this is one of the best beaches in the US Virgin Islands for a relaxing swim. You can often spot turtles and rays in the seagrass beds if you want to snorkel. If you want to work on your tan, relax on this white sand beach and watch the sun dance on the water’s surface. For views, walk along the Ram’s Head Trail and hike to Ram’s Head, or take a look at the sculptures at Drunk Bay.

6 Go remote at Great and Little Lameshur Bay, St. John

To find uncrowded and quiet cays, head round to the southern shores and Great and Little Lameshur, which are usually well protected. These bays are without services, so stock up your provisions and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Great Lameshur Bay has a stony beach and is secluded. If you want sand head to Lameshur Beach, which is always good for snorkeling and marine life.

7 Dine at Hansen Bay, St. John

For an interesting dining experience, sail to Lime Out, a fun, floating taco restaurant in Hansen Bay at St. John’s East End, near Coral Bay. Try the ceviche, ribs or green curry tacos, tasty cocktails or hibiscus tea. It’s one of favorite things to do when on a US Virgin Islands yacht charter.

8 Fun at Honeymoon Beach, Druif Bay, Water Island 

While Water Island is not as famous as St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, Honeymoon Beach offers a lively vibe that is similar to White Bay in the British Virgin Islands. Whether you want to listen to live music or enjoy Sunday brunch, this is the place to go. Try Heidi’s Honeymoon Grill and Dinghy’s Beach Bar. It’s also worth touring the island for awesome views.

9 Overnight at Christmas Cove, Great St. James

We recommend spending the last night of your charter at Christmas Cove, a very short sail away from our base in Compass Point Marina. You won’t need to cook, as there is an outstanding restaurant nearby – Pizza Pi for all your New York-style pizza cravings! This bay is home to plenty of turtles and rays too, so you can snorkel before you dine.

10 Enjoy the view at Magens Bay, East End St. Thomas

Start off your charter here before heading to St. John and settle yourself into the Caribbean spirit. It’s popular due to its large expanse of sand and turquoise waters, so get here early in the day. It’s a great beach for a swim, snorkel, boogie board or if you want to sunbathe.

Google Earth itinerary map

If you are planning your itinerary, you can take a look at the locations mentioned in this blog post on the map using Google Earth – just click here.

Find out more

Interested in the US Virgin Islands? Choose to charter bareboat to sail yourself, hire a skipper to sail the boat for you or for a luxurious sail choose an all-inclusive crewed yacht for complete ease and relaxation on your cruise through paradise. Learn more about planning your perfect vacation of a lifetime on our blog.

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