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cruiseloving

Whats the best beach to visit in St Thomas?

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my wife and i went to secret harbor last july. it was great. it was not very crowded at all.

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Michylicious -

 

The closest beach to the Havensight dock is Morningstar, about a 5-7 minute drive (not easily walkable as it is not flat, curvy road, no sidewalks). The closest to Crown Bay dock is Emerald Beach, about a 2 minute drive (or 20 minutes or so walk, flat, sidewalks).

 

--Islander

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Michylicious -

 

The closest beach to the Havensight dock is Morningstar, about a 5-7 minute drive (not easily walkable as it is not flat, curvy road, no sidewalks). The closest to Crown Bay dock is Emerald Beach, about a 2 minute drive (or 20 minutes or so walk, flat, sidewalks).

 

--Islander

 

Thanks! I'm not sure which dock we'll be at in a few weeks. Which is the newer of the docks?

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Any updates on Sapphire beach. We're still planning out which beach to choose for St. Thomas on our cruise stop in December.

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Lindberg Bay or aka Emerald Beach is relatively close to the ships, has great water and sand, and restaurants. While we lived on St. Thomas, it was one of our favorites unless we traveled to St. John by auto ferry.

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that's correct..My kids got a big kick seeing some planes fly over the beach.

 

If your kids liked that beach, next time your on St Maarten, go to Maho Beach. The beach is at the end of the runway and the planes are literally 100 ft above your head....and big jets too, but very cool.!!!

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That's the one right next to the airport - correct?

 

 

How do you get to this beach? Best Western Emerald Beach

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Boowaaccaa - From either Havensight or Crown Bay you can drive to Emerald Beach. You'd enter through the hotel property or you can enter from just past the hotel property as well. From Crown Bay you could also walk to Emerald Beach, its about a 20 minute walk.

 

--Islander

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Islander,

would you pick Coki or Sapphire for snorkelling and overall beach experience? I'll be there on a Sunday but just one ship in port (mine) that day. I read in a guidebook that there are bands playing on Sapphire on Sunday afternoon and lots of people join in...is that still happening and is it a plus or a minus in your opinion?

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The band doesn't play at Sapphire on Sundays anymore. The beachside restaurant and bar are closed and they were the ones that organized the live band Sundays.

 

Coki vs Sapphire...

 

They are both pretty beaches. Coki is a very small beach. Sapphire is longer but also not a very long beach when looking at the sandy part only. Coki has a gentler slope in the water than Sapphire which deepens more quickly. Coki is usually very calm, and Sapphire calm. Coki is usually super clear, Sapphire also clear. Regarding calm and clear; this is the usual status but in both cases it depends on weather systems effecting the water and possibly stirring up the sand. At Sapphire if you wanted to take a stroll there is the opportunity to do this, you can walk along to the peninsula, walk around to the marina and walk the beach. At Coki you don’t really have that option but if you wanted to go to Coral World, it is right there. Sapphire has resort/condo/marina developments around/near it; the area is maintained accordingly. The area before/around Coki is a bit seedy.

 

Both are sandy, Sapphire has pebbles mixed in with the sand from around the middle of the sandy part of the beach over and then has a lot of pebbles/coral rubble on the far right side, it’s pretty much all sandy on the far left side. Directions are when facing the water and the comments apply to both the shore and in the water.

 

Coki has various vendors that sell drinks, food, souvenirs/gifts and they are housed in small booths along the beach. The vendors approach beachgoers to take drink orders and to sell their wares, rent chairs and so on. Sapphire doesn't have vendors on the beach. Both places have food/drink. At Coki there is food/drink service on the beach. Burgers, chicken, sandwiches and the like are available. Sapphire there is a small place a short walk from the shoreline that sells burgers, fish sandwich, beer/soda a few mixed drinks and a couple other things and also beach wait staff taking orders for the restaurant up at the condos.

 

Both have chairs for rent. Coki has umbrellas for rent, Sapphire does not. Sapphire has natural shade on the right side under sea grape trees, and some on the left side also, little to no natural shade in the middle. Coki has little natural shade but there are a few shade providing trees along the shore. There are restrooms at both. At Sapphire the restrooms were part of the now closed restaurant so they aren’t getting the upkeep they need but they are open. As far as the restrooms being clean, at both beaches its hit or miss.

 

Coki has good snorkeling for beginners; the fish are used to being fed (which isn't necessary since they are used to it and will come around anyway and also feeding marine life food not usually in their diet like dog biscuits and bread can be harmful to them, more on that at: http://www.reefrelief.org/science_body4.html). Since they are used to being fed they come right up by the shore basically - so quite easy to see a school of fish without leaving the comfort zone of being very close to shore. Swim out toward/around the rocks on the right side and it's still pretty shallow and more fish to see. You can snorkel on the opposite side too. Not a huge assortment of types of fish and very little coral. Water is generally calm so another plus for beginner. Sapphire has a larger area for snorkeling and more diversity in what you see - there are sea grass beds in the middle of the sandy side and there are some fish in there but not many, what you might see there are marine life that like sea grass such as conch and turtles - but neither is a guarantee. On the right side (when facing the water) there are rocky outcrops and a large shallow rock/reef area that starts right by the shore and goes out. Along the outcrops and ledge near shore you can see juvenile fish and further out deeper areas see more fish and some coral, seafans. The closer snorkeling around the rocks and over sea grass beds are good for beginner adult and kids with assistance from adult. The shallow areas on the far right side should be avoided as it is quite shallow and without enough distance from the rocks to swim you might hurt yourself or damage coral. You can however snorkel around the ledges of the shallow area and stay in a regular depth of water; you'll see fish along the ledges and under them. What you can do is look for a rocky outcrop on the beach, just past the watersports booth. Enter just after the rocky outcrop and swim toward the shallow ledge, then swim along the ledge out toward the point of the peninsula. There is good snorkeling as you get near the point but it’s fairly deep and there is a current once at the point so keep that in mind. You can also snorkel on the left side of the beach and see various fish. You’d walk to the left side of the beach, up to a little wall and then enter there and snorkel around toward the beach on the other side of the wall.

 

PS: You mentioned being in port on a Sunday and only 1 ship. Coki Beach is popular with residents on Sundays for parties, picnics, bbqs - so it will be busy with both cruisers and residents. Sapphire is also popular with residents but not for parties etc. since the hotel/condos are there.

 

--Islander

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The band doesn't play at Sapphire on Sundays anymore. The beachside restaurant and bar are closed and they were the ones that organized the live band Sundays.

 

Coki vs Sapphire...

 

 

PS: You mentioned being in port on a Sunday and only 1 ship. Coki Beach is popular with residents on Sundays for parties, picnics, bbqs - so it will be busy with both cruisers and residents. Sapphire is also popular with residents but not for parties etc. since the hotel/condos are there.

 

--Islander

 

Wonderful information Islander, thanks. I think you are swaying me over to Sapphire. I'm a fairly experienced snorkeller and will bring my own equipment with oversized fins etc. so Sapphire sounds good and looks beautiful in the photos online.

I thought I read somewhere that you can take a bus to Sapphire and then just have a short walk down the road? Or would I be better off with a cab? How about cabs to get back? Do they hang around or would I have someone at the condos phone for me?

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Yes the dollar ride's east end route passes Sapphire. The dollar ride is a form of public transportation but it is not the Public Bus. You'd have to walk to a bus stop area close to the cruise ship dock and then once at Sapphire area you'd be dropped along the main road by Sapphire's entrance. You'd then have to walk through/down the Sapphire Resort entrance/road to the beach. Short walk but downhill and then flat. To catch the dollar ride back to the ship you'd return to the spot where you were dropped along the main road by the Sapphire entrance.

 

If you take a taxi it will drop you right at the resort lobby by the beach. There is a taxi stand there and when you are ready to leave you can go to the taxi stand to get a taxi. If there isn't one there you could ask someone at the lobby's front desk to call one for you.

 

--Islander

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Yes the dollar ride's east end route passes Sapphire. The dollar ride is a form of public transportation but it is not the Public Bus. You'd have to walk to a bus stop area close to the cruise ship dock and then once at Sapphire area you'd be dropped along the main road by Sapphire's entrance. You'd then have to walk through/down the Sapphire Resort entrance/road to the beach. Short walk but downhill and then flat. To catch the dollar ride back to the ship you'd return to the spot where you were dropped along the main road by the Sapphire entrance.

 

If you take a taxi it will drop you right at the resort lobby by the beach. There is a taxi stand there and when you are ready to leave you can go to the taxi stand to get a taxi. If there isn't one there you could ask someone at the lobby's front desk to call one for you.

--Islander

 

Thanks Islander. What would the price be for one person in a cab? and do the cabs wait until there are others to share the costs?

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Havensight to Sapphire $10 pp, ow. From Crown Bay $11 pp, ow.

 

Taxi fares are per person, by destination however taxi drivers do usually try to get a few groups/people together going in the same direction before heading off in order to make the trip more worthwhile $$. The taxis that cater to the cruise docks are often safaris, they can hold up to 18-20 people. Also vans are common to and they usually can hold around 9-10 people.

 

--Islander

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Havensight to Sapphire $10 pp, ow. From Crown Bay $11 pp, ow.

 

Taxi fares are per person, by destination however taxi drivers do usually try to get a few groups/people together going in the same direction before heading off in order to make the trip more worthwhile $$. The taxis that cater to the cruise docks are often safaris, they can hold up to 18-20 people. Also vans are common to and they usually can hold around 9-10 people.

 

--Islander

Hi Islander

Based on your info and my own preferences, I was leaning towards Sapphire over Coki but have also read some glowing reports on Secret Harbor. Can you do me another comparison of Sapphire vs Secret Harbor for snorkeling, beach, restaurants, availability of cabs to return to the ship and overall experience?

Many thanks.

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Secret Harbor is usually not crowded; it’s usually people from the hotel that are there. It is a small beach, coconut palm trees for some natural shade. The hotel has chairs for guests pretty much under the trees which limits the amount of available shady spots but you can still find a spot of course. The dive shop rents chairs. Secret Harbor has a sandy shore, with some pebbles particularly on the right side (when facing the water). In the water at Secret Harbor there are some rocky spots and hard sandstone spots. The water is clear so you can see these rocky spots and avoid them. There is a fairly gentle slope in the water, usually calm. There is a resort/condo on it and it’s maintained accordingly. There is a restaurant/bar and it has a restroom (clean). Taxis are available outside the hotel lobby, if not have the front desk call one. The dive shop rents kayaks and a couple paddleboats but not much else as far as watersports. There are no motorized watersports here. There is ok snorkeling on the left and right sides along the rocky coast. There is good snorkeling in the middle of the bay, sort of head out past the swim raft and then go left and right and look around. There is a nice variety of fish to be seen.

 

--Islander

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Secret Harbor is usually not crowded; it’s usually people from the hotel that are there. It is a small beach, coconut palm trees for some natural shade. ... There is ok snorkeling on the left and right sides along the rocky coast. There is good snorkeling in the middle of the bay, sort of head out past the swim raft and then go left and right and look around. There is a nice variety of fish to be seen.

 

--Islander

 

Great info Islander...thanks. I may need to flip a coin, but if you were to choose between Sapphire or Secret Harbor with snorkeling and tropical ambience being the main criteria, which would you pick?;)

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Cheffip - they are very similar as far as having snorkeling, Sapphire has a bit more area to cover while snorkeling but you have to swim out further to see more. And ambience, Sapphire has a lovely view from the shore, you have the ability to take a stroll if you wanted to (peninsula, marina), Secret Harbor has lots of coconut trees so is a pretty beach and the floating raft is neat for sitting in the middle of the bay and taking the view back at the beach. They are both a good fit for what you are looking for; pull out that coin and flip. Or, they are actually very close to each other, 5 minute drive, you could do both if you were planning on a full beach day. ;)

 

--Islander

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Islander,

You are supplying a ton of wonderful information and I thank you. My wife and I wish to try a bit of snorkeling at Sapphire or Coki beach. Do they rent equipment, do they have RX masks and what is the cost for a couple of hours, if available?

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Do you think Magens Bay would still be crowded when we're there aboard Adventure of the Seas with only one other ship (Wind Spirit) with a total port load of 3200 (according to CruiseTT)? Got 3 kids and we're trying to find somewhere to go on St. Thomas although we'd prefer St. John, but too much time and $$ to get there and back for a family of 5. Thanks for any advice.

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MB was nice, and as a previous poster mentioned was very quiet in the morning. We were there probably from 10am to 1pm. But the snorkeling was terrible...not many fishes...more of a play in the sand type of beach IMHO.

 

I do have a question - if you have a party of 16 (12 adults 4 children, 6 and under) is there a private shuttle you can take or do you have to take the taxi's that are parked in the compound)???

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