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The beautiful beaches of St Thomas - brief descriptions/opinions

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Thanks, and good news. I'm expecting to read anytime that a vendor has been authorized to come in and set-up shop renting and selling stuff. That will ruin one of the last nice, quiet beaches...

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Bluewater - is Sapphire still open to walk-ins? We had such a fantastic day on Sapphire Beach in early April. We took the dollar taxi there and caught a cab home with a cabbie named Tim, who had a tour group at the beach. We want to do that again when we stop on St. Thomas but want to make sure that nothing has changed. We knew going there that there were no facilities and limited food options so we made sure we brought our own food. It wouldn't be the spot for families with young ones but it was the perfect spot for my husband and I. An incredibly gorgeous beach and not real crowded even on a day with lots of ships in port.

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Bluewater - is Sapphire still open to walk-ins? We had such a fantastic day on Sapphire Beach in early April. We took the dollar taxi there and caught a cab home with a cabbie named Tim, who had a tour group at the beach. We want to do that again when we stop on St. Thomas but want to make sure that nothing has changed. We knew going there that there were no facilities and limited food options so we made sure we brought our own food. It wouldn't be the spot for families with young ones but it was the perfect spot for my husband and I. An incredibly gorgeous beach and not real crowded even on a day with lots of ships in port.

 

Yes, definitely open as a public beach, no worries. Food and drinks are available, just no restrooms and chairs right now.

You know Sapphire as we do! Imagine renting a beautiful condo there - amazing!

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I was imagining just that when we were walking through the complex. We were chatting with a man who had owned a condo there for many years and I said I could not imagine how fabulous it would be to have access to that beach every day!! He said that it never got old. Thanks for the information and for sharing your expertise with all of us cruisers looking for help :)

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I have a sapphire question: I've seen posts about snorkeling there and people recommend water shoes because there is a lot of coral...is this accurate?

Thank you

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Blue,

 

We are the only ship in port on a Thursday in October, seems like it will not be crowded. I normally go to St. John, although we did try Sapphire last year before the closing of the facilities. My biggest issue there was the huge "pushy" iguanas....... I don't say aggressive because they were not biting....but one jumped up right in the lap of a woman in a lounge chair and I almost had a heart attack....so I could only imagine how she felt.......

 

I would like to try Linquist in the morning and arrange a cab to Coki around lunch time....do you think that sounds like a good plan....or is it even worth the bother?

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Hi Jenifer,

 

Yes STT isn't famous for having full beach facilities as the nicest beaches are home to condo properties. Magen's gas changing rooms and a small cafe on the beach although the food didn't look very good there. But a nice, calm bay with just a bit of a grade as you enter. Chairs for rent too.

 

The ideal option is renting a room for the day at the Best Western Emerald Beach Plus Resort in Lindbergh Bay. That would give you access to a comfortable and private changing room and shower. May be more than you want to spend but check it out.

 

Thank you for your reply! Unfortunately our ship had engine problems so we were 5 hours late to ST Thomas. We only saw the town and never made it to the beach.

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Sorry to read that Jenifer...hope you were able to see some of the historic charm of town at least.

 

But consider returning for a longer stay - easy flights and many accommodation options including beachfront at Sapphire.

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We went to St. Thomas earlier this month on the Caribbean Princess. We were fortunately the only ship in port that day. We took the ferry over to Water Island. The folks at Dinghy's Beach Bar took us on a free shuttle to Honeymoon Beach. They have chairs conveniently set up in both sunny and shady areas. We enjoyed the beautiful warm water, a few tasty rum drinks, and a jerk chicken sandwich. It was not crowded at all. There were a few excursion boats that dropped off people at the other end of the beach. Most of them stayed down there (near Heidi's Honeymoon Grill).

 

We were there the week after Tropical Storm Bertha. I brought my snorkel and mask, but there wasn't much to see. After our few hours in paradise, we caught the free shuttle back to the ferry dock. DH said it was the best excursion we've ever done.

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We went to St. Thomas earlier this month on the Caribbean Princess. We were fortunately the only ship in port that day. We took the ferry over to Water Island. The folks at Dinghy's Beach Bar took us on a free shuttle to Honeymoon Beach. They have chairs conveniently set up in both sunny and shady areas. We enjoyed the beautiful warm water, a few tasty rum drinks, and a jerk chicken sandwich. It was not crowded at all. There were a few excursion boats that dropped off people at the other end of the beach. Most of them stayed down there (near Heidi's Honeymoon Grill).

 

We were there the week after Tropical Storm Bertha. I brought my snorkel and mask, but there wasn't much to see. After our few hours in paradise, we caught the free shuttle back to the ferry dock. DH said it was the best excursion we've ever done.

 

is the shuttle from Dinghy's there every time the ferry arrives, or do you have to arrange a pick up from them?

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We went to St. Thomas earlier this month on the Caribbean Princess. We were fortunately the only ship in port that day. We took the ferry over to Water Island. The folks at Dinghy's Beach Bar took us on a free shuttle to Honeymoon Beach. They have chairs conveniently set up in both sunny and shady areas. We enjoyed the beautiful warm water, a few tasty rum drinks, and a jerk chicken sandwich. It was not crowded at all. There were a few excursion boats that dropped off people at the other end of the beach. Most of them stayed down there (near Heidi's Honeymoon Grill).

 

We were there the week after Tropical Storm Bertha. I brought my snorkel and mask, but there wasn't much to see. After our few hours in paradise, we caught the free shuttle back to the ferry dock. DH said it was the best excursion we've ever done.

 

Thanks for your post geoherb. Most reports talk about excursions unloading hordes and very crowded conditions but sounds like you found that perfect beach spot! We'll look for that next time in STT.

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Thanks for your post geoherb. Most reports talk about excursions unloading hordes and very crowded conditions but sounds like you found that perfect beach spot! We'll look for that next time in STT.

 

Geoherb was lucky. It is a very different beach during "season" when the other description is accurate.

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Lucky is good! But for those of us who are staying on STT we can go by the ship schedule and pick a good day ;)

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For the first-timer - and even a return visitor - there are indeed a ton of opinions about the various beaches, and we too are certainly biased in our rankings. But each beach has a unique or distinctive vibe or setting that can help one choose based on their situation that day. Some are located near a port while some take much more effort to get to but reward that effort.

 

The East End beaches of St Thomas are preferred by many who are looking for the nicest beach on STT. These include Coki, Smith's Bay, Sapphire, Secret Harbor, and Cowpet Bay (Coki and Smith's Bay are actually on the north side but are on the east end of the island). But others are also very nice and may work best if you have limited time or just want a nice beach to relax at that is closer to port and may be less crowded. And of course the beaches of St John are also gorgeous and should be experienced when possible. Trunk Bay, like Magens Bay, is highly-touted and so a bit touristy most days, but Cinnamon Bay and others less frequented are also beautiful.

 

For St Thomas -

 

Coki Point is a gorgeous beach set in a very small bay with good snorkeling off the beach. You'll find one of the nicest beaches you've seen here, but it will have a lively vibe as it gets very crowded. Several vendors renting stuff and selling food and drink. Taxis are readily available. We love Coki and find it a very intimate and romantic beach when ships are not in port.

 

Smith's Bay Park and Lindqvist Beach is a beautiful, maintained beach (both Smith's Bay Park and Magens Bay are maintained by the Magens Bay Authority and charge a small entry fee) but is much quieter and offers very few amenities. Here you would find natural beauty and relative quiet that you might have expected to see decades ago and not today. Grab your towel and a lunch and drinks from Gourmet Gallery and enjoy the beauty while it's still here. There may be chair rentals and portapotties there now, and you may need to have a taxi return for pick-up.

 

Sapphire Beach is a gorgeous beach in a larger bay with abundant natural shade, nice island views and great snorkeling off the beach. There is a reef area, a sandy swimming area, and a sea grass area where turtles and rays may be spotted. Home to 3 condo properties with food and drink options, but currently there are no chair rentals or public restrooms. So a very nice spot to be for condo guests on big ship days. And those cruisers young at heart (and body) that can be happy with a towel in the sand and the sapphire-colored sea for relief will be rewarded with paradise here. Taxis were stationed here but with fewer cruisers coming here you'll want to have the driver return or call a taxi when ready.

 

Secret Harbor is a small bay that is home to one condo property and has a quieter vibe more like Sapphire. However the water is dead calm at SH and there is no shade available to most day visitors. Good snorkeling and a restaurant on site and nice beach though.

 

Cowpet Bay is very close to Secret Harbor and is home to the Elysian Resort (condo resort) with a small beach and snorkeling. Primarily suited to guests of the condo but still a public beach.

 

Magens is on the north side and is a deep bay with a a nice, calm beach that's maintained (small entry fee) and is touted as one of the top 10 beaches in the Carib by Frommer's, cruise ships, etc. It has that rating for a reason, and it sees many people and so is touristy. No snorkeling here, and for some folks Magens doesn't have the charm or character some of the other beaches do. But it is a beautiful beach that is great for toddlers and kids because it is so dead calm, and it offers restrooms, small restaurant, a gift shop and available taxis.

 

Lindbergh Bay (aka Emerald Beach) is closest to Crown Bay and is a popular beach for folks docking there. A nice enough beach with rentals and food and drinks available at the Best Western Emerald Beach Plus Resort. You can also rent a room for the day to take advantage of a shower and changing room. Nice option if Magens and the East End beaches are too much effort.

 

Honeymoon Beach on Water Island is another popular destination for folks docked at Crown Bay because the ferry to Water Island is very close. This beach has become very popular however and gets crowded during the day.

 

Morningstar Beach is closest to Havensight and is a popular spot for folks docking there who are looking for a quick beach stop following an excursion or other tour. Home to the Marriott and you can use their services or just pick a spot on the beach for your towel and take a lunch if you'd like.

 

Hopefully not confusing the choices even more! And here's a map showing the beach locations for those not familiar with the island, just click on the map for a larger view -

http://www.virginislandsthisweek.com..._road_map.html

 

Thank you for posting this info! It sounds like you would recommend Magens Bay for us - a couple in our early 30s with our almost 3 year old. We'll also probably have my parents in tow for help babysitting. There will be 5 (!) ships in port when we are there in early December. Any other suggestions??

 

If Magens is the way to go, I'm seeing that's about a 15 minute ride away. We have no intention of dragging our car seat with us. RC wants to charge almost $40 a person for an "excursion" to the beach. What is your transportation recommendation?

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

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is the shuttle from Dinghy's there every time the ferry arrives, or do you have to arrange a pick up from them?
He happened to be there when our ferry docked and said that he would be making the return trip to meet the ferry each time about 15 minutes before it was scheduled. It could just be that they were doing this because it was not a very busy day for them. Our ship was the only cruise ship in St. Thomas that day. I'm sure it is a lot more crowded when there are lots of other cruise ships in port.

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Thank you for posting this info! It sounds like you would recommend Magens Bay for us - a couple in our early 30s with our almost 3 year old. We'll also probably have my parents in tow for help babysitting. There will be 5 (!) ships in port when we are there in early December. Any other suggestions??

 

If Magens is the way to go, I'm seeing that's about a 15 minute ride away. We have no intention of dragging our car seat with us. RC wants to charge almost $40 a person for an "excursion" to the beach. What is your transportation recommendation?

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

 

Yes, Magens is a good choice for your situation, and if you are one of the earlier ships in port and can get to Magens somewhat early you may be able to get a picnic table with shade where you can also place some lounges. Nice day!

 

If concerned about the crowd or you dock later other options with calm water include the Best Western at Lindbergh Bay, and Secret Harbor on the East End.

 

I believe the taxi coordinator at the dock can direct you to a driver going to your beach of choice that has a car seat, perhaps someone else here who has experience with that can better answer that question.

Have a great day!

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Does anyone know if the restrooms are available at Sapphire yet?

 

Yes the restrooms and dive center are open along with chair rentals and food & drink

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Yes, Magens is a good choice for your situation, and if you are one of the earlier ships in port and can get to Magens somewhat early you may be able to get a picnic table with shade where you can also place some lounges. Nice day!

 

If concerned about the crowd or you dock later other options with calm water include the Best Western at Lindbergh Bay, and Secret Harbor on the East End.

 

I believe the taxi coordinator at the dock can direct you to a driver going to your beach of choice that has a car seat, perhaps someone else here who has experience with that can better answer that question.

Have a great day!

 

 

Thank you so much for the quick response! Unfortunately we are the 5th ship coming in that day, not arriving until noon. I'm guessing all the good spots will be well taken by the time we can get on the island :(

 

Does the Best Western have day passes? I don't see any information on their website. And are there facilities available at Secret Harbor?

 

Royal Caribbean is offering a tour to Secret Sands/Smith Bay Beach Eco Park and another to Magens Bay but it's like $40 a person, so I'm eager to find a cheaper alternative.

 

Just trying to be realistic about what to expect on such a crowded port day. Thanks again for any suggestions on how to entertain a toddler!

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Yes I understand, and to have a decent beach day on such a busy port day and arriving at noon does pose challenges.

 

Secret Harbor is a small bay home to a condo resort with a good restaurant and restrooms, you can call ahead and reserve chairs and I believe umbrellas at the dive shop there -

http://www.aadivers.com

You will pay $20pp taxi roundtrip + chair rentals. Shade may be limited as well unless you can rent umbrellas.

 

No day pass at the BW in LIndbergh Bay that I'm aware of, but you can rent chairs and buy food and drinks. You can also rent a room for a day (depending upon availability) to have access to a shower, changing room, and their swimming pool.

 

The secret sands excursion takes you to Smith Bay Park (Lindqvist Beach) which has always been a natural beach with zero amenities. There are reportedly amenities there now for this excursion, and I would consider that excursion just to get a spot at a less busy beach. The $40pp doesn't sound terrible compared to the alternative overcrowded beach, but you do have a few choices.

 

I would probably stay on STT with the little one and parents and not venture to St John and the popular beaches will be crowded there too.

 

So unfortunately no great choices on such a busy day with a later arrival. I would look at the BW at Lindbergh Bay on your own, or the secret sands excursion. You can contact the BW with questions on chair rental rates or someone else here can answer that. But the secret sands option sounds nice and easy! :)

Good luck!

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The taxi rates for beaches range from $4 - $12 pp each way depending on where your ship is docked and which beach you choose.

 

Most of the excursions include transportation, at least a beach chair/lounger, and some type of complimentary drink. You would have to pay for those items separately if you went on your own.

 

It will be interesting to see how crowded Smith Bay Park will become once the amenities are in place (still not available but the beach is still getting more popular every day). It's a smaller beach than Magens and Sapphire.

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I'd recommend Sapphire over any other beach for the beauty, abundant natural shade, and room to spread out. But that would be $20pp roundtrip, at least for the adults, and chair rentals are another $9 ea so not an inexpensive day. And it may not be as calm as Magens or SH depending on the day.

 

So again no clear winner, but the secret sand (Smith's Bay) sounds like a good option, and that beach is also beautiful....

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