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cruiseloving

Whats the best beach to visit in St Thomas?

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niceneasy - both Sapphire and Coki have snorkel gear rentals. Its around $10 for snorkel gear for the day. Don't know if either has RX masks. At Coki there is a dive shop and at Sapphire the watersports booth is also a dive shop. You might contact them and check: http://www.cokidive.com/ and http://www.diveinusvi.com/.

 

Openwater - Magens Bay is about a mile long, so while its popular you have the room to spread out more so than other beaches - like Coki for example which is a very small beach. Most cruisers that go to Magens tend to stick around the concession area because that is where the food/drinks are, chair rentals are there too and also the taxi stand is nearby. If you head left or right the crowds tend to thin out. For sure more ships means more people; 2 ships isn't a busy ship day for St. Thomas considering some days there are 6-7 ships. If its a Sunday you are going to be in port then Magens will have both folks from the ship and residents - its a popular beach for beach parties and picnics on Sundays. If your kids are young Magens is good, the water is usually very calm, deepens gradually, very clear. The sand is nice for making castles. If the kids are older, they rent kayaks and paddle boats at Magens and they might enjoy that.

 

xcell - If you have a group of 16 you could arrange for a private taxi/tour in advance or you could get one from the ship area. Just approach the dispatcher and tell them you have a large group, 16 people, and want it just to be your group on the taxi. The only vehicles that could accomodate 16 all together would be a safari - the open air taxis, they do not have seat belts. A large van might work, but I think they are usually 12 passengers so with the kids it would be tight. Anyway, try contacting some taxis and seeing what the options are for your group and the price for whatever you all were wanting to do, try: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=st.+thomas+activities+%2B+island+tours&aq=f&oq=&aqi=.

 

thecruisers723 - Magens Bay rents the floating mats. Sapphire does too. Bolongo also and Coki, Sugar Bay and Morningstar I think do too.

 

--Islander

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WE loved the Caribbean and our cruise, I snorkeled at Coki and Grand Cayman, and neither experience was anywhere near the experience of Hanauma Bay on Oahu...

 

http://www.honolulu.gov/parks/facility/hanaumabay/welcome.htm

 

Which was my only frame of reference for snorkeling...

 

If I go again i wont bother at all with St Thomas snorkeling but would go on one where you are taken out a ways like we were at Grand Cayman...while the fish werent any better or there werent any more, it was a lot of fun going out there on the boat...

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Thanks Islander. Appreciate your advice and input. If we don't book a snorkel excursion, we'll probably head to Magens.

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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.

 

Just to add my two cents....We've been to both Coki and Sapphire numerous times. Finally decided not to go back to Coki(although the water is absolutely gorgeous, behind the sandy beach area is a bit "slummy"). Coki is in a "not so great" neighborhood and began to feel uncomfortable. There was talk about the local government taking over the management of the beach, but don't think this has happened as of yet. Since then, we visit Sapphire on our visits to St. Thomas. It has great snorkeling, great views(St. John's), beautiful water and beach and offers a very safe and comfortable atmosphere. They rent chairs and there is shade, but don't know about snorkeling gear since we bring our own. So my recommendation would definitely be Sapphire! We'll be visiting again in February.

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Just to add my two cents..... So my recommendation would definitely be Sapphire! We'll be visiting again in February.

 

Thanks for your 2 cents cruiseawaits. I have my own snorkel gear as well and will probably do Sapphire. I like the idea of the views and the ability to stroll for awhile as the Islander pointed out.

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WE loved the Caribbean and our cruise, I snorkeled at Coki and Grand Cayman, and neither experience was anywhere near the experience of Hanauma Bay on Oahu...

 

http://www.honolulu.gov/parks/facility/hanaumabay/welcome.htm

 

Which was my only frame of reference for snorkeling...

 

If I go again i wont bother at all with St Thomas snorkeling but would go on one where you are taken out a ways like we were at Grand Cayman...while the fish werent any better or there werent any more, it was a lot of fun going out there on the boat...

 

Randys,

I second your opinion of Hanauma Bay. That was my first real snorkeling experience - after that the Carribbean pales in comparison. Also snorkeled off a beach in Maui on same trip - excellent as well.

I guess we were both "spoiled" by Hawaii!

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i was wondering if anyone has gone to morningstar beach, and how it was for an experience. thanks for any info you can give me.

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Morningstar Beach is nice, sandy shore, not much or any natural shade but you can rent an umbrella and also chairs. There are bars/restaurants there as Mariott has two resorts in the area and a timeshare. Water is typically calm to mild waves. In the water the sand has pebbles mixed in. Has watersports booth with jet skis and some other things. It is not known for snorkeling. Hope that helps.

 

--Islander

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Hey all,

 

Man, I have to return the favor of posting an update because I was addicted to these boards and everyone (esp Islander) was a huge help.

 

Well, we enjoyed our cruise last week and selected Sapphire Beach. It was GREAT! Much more wave action than I expected, but the water was great, FOOD was available, restrooms (women) were CLEAN and functional, and no issues with locals. They were working on the men's room, but it wasn't a mess.

 

Papa Bear dropped us off and picked us up without any incident.

 

The water was a bit rough for snorkeling, but we had a great time. It was my mom's first beach stop in the CAribbean and she played in the water like a little girl. lol! :D

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Hello blueslily, glad your family had a great time at Sapphire.

 

--Islander

 

Islander

is there often a lot of wave action at Sapphire? Is Secret Harbor a safer bet for snorkeling?

-Phil

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Sapphire is usually calm... so are most of the other beaches on St. Thomas, however weather systems can change that. Secret Harbor is more protected than Sapphire. That said bad weather can affect Secret Harbor also - stirring up the sand making visibility poor which isn't good for snorkeling.

 

--Islander

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Secret Beach/Harbor was great and we will be back in a 3 weeks! the restaurant on the beach was also great. Not very crowded and water and fish were good too. Coki was OK,,but has a very "local" flavor(some were smoking pot,,I didnt care). Swim/snorkel over to the left side near the cliff area. Fish were very abundant.

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Hello Islander,

 

Thanks so much for the great info on your beaches! My sister and I have been to your beautiful island several times. We have never taken the time to check out St Johns for snorkeling. Is it worth the time or should we just visit some of the beaches on your island. We will be in port 7Am to5PM so I think we have plenty of time. I would appreciate your input please.

Thanks

Cathy (cathy@seniorplans.biz)

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Hello Cathy,

 

St. John is beautiful and its worth visiting. Whether you think its worth it as far as doing it on a cruise day in port depends on your take on the commute time... you do have to allow around 1 hour each way for getting to ferry dock and taking ferry over (and it can be a bit longer if there is traffic getting to the dock or if you have to wait at the ferry dock for the next departure), add another 10-15 for getting to a beach (if you choose one on the northshore of St. John). Some folks consider the 2-2.5 hour travel time to be worth it and others feel they could have been on the beach quicker if they had stayed on St. Thomas therefore making the most of their time. So something to think about.

 

--Islander

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Islander,

I'm not sure of which dock we will use when we arrive but wondering if you can give an estimate of the taxi fare from town to Secret Harbor?

Thanks.

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Islander,

 

I'll be on the Oasis of the Seas in May, and I'm not sure where we'll dock. Regardless, what's the best way for four adults to get to Magens Bay? Taxi cab, open-air taxi, van, etc? What is the approximate cost, and how long does it take to get there? Will our driver stop somewhere on the top of the hill to let us snap a few pictures? Will we have any problems getting from the beach back to the ship, or are there plenty of taxis/vans available? How soon before our ship leaves should we start our journey back from Magens Bay? Is it completely safe to take any taxi/safari/van, or is there anything we should avoid?

 

I'm sorry to ask you so many questions, but on all the threads I've read on the St. Thomas boards, I've noticed that you are by far the most experienced and informative, so I thought you could help answer my questions.

 

Thanks so much; I appreciate it!

Erica

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Hello Erica,

 

Oasis is docking in Crown Bay right now and pretty sure it will throughout this season. In order for it to dock in Havensight - that area needs to be dredged and a suitable location for dumping the dredge material has not been agreed on so the dredging can not start.

 

Magens Bay is not on the public transportation or dollar ride routes. You will need to take a taxi or rent a car.

 

Crown Bay to Magens is $10 pp, ow. It takes 25-30 minutes with just a little traffic. If there was a lot of traffic then it would take a bit longer. The traffic would be through downtown which is the popular route for going from Crown Bay to Magens Bay.

 

The taxi driver may be willing to stop at Drakes Seat (which is a very short detour from the road to Magens and offers lovely views of Magens Bay from above) or to stop at the Skyline Overlook (same general area, either along the route or short detour depending on which way the taxi goes to get to Magens; the view is of the Charlotte Amalie harbor including ships at Havensight Dock if there are any there). You will need to ask the driver before heading off to let them know of your interest in doing this, and to see if there will be any extra charge - best to not have surprises in regard to fare.

 

There is a taxi stand at Magens Bay and there are typically lots of taxis waiting around, shouldn't have a problem.

 

As far how long before to start heading back... depends on when you have to be back to the ship, and the traffic situation - more ships mean more traffic.

 

The taxis that are stationed at the taxi stand inside Crown Bay dock and at the Magens Bay taxi stand must be licensed taxis and members of the taxi association that is permitted to work at those locations. Licensed taxis have a light or placard saying taxi typically on the roof, a small sign with passenger capacity- typically on the side of the vehicle, and a taxi license plate. They also must have their ID inside the cab area and a copy of the published rates. All licensed taxis are suppose to follow the regulations of the taxi commission and stick to the published taxi fares.

 

Hope that helps.

 

--Islander

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Islander - thanks for the cab info. We will be on the Ruby Princess in a few weeks, do you know which dock she uses?

 

Thank you and have a blessed and Happy New Year!

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I was on the Miracle last month, and after referrals from CC, we went to the Best Western Emerald Beach. Beautiful beach, nice and quiet, restaurant, beach bar, bathrooms. I've been to all three of the "Tourist beaches" you mentioned, but this place was the bomb !!!

 

 

Anyone know if there's a charge to use this beach?

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You can rent gear at Coki and Secret Harbor. No gear at Smith Bay (AKA Lindquist), not sure about other beaches.

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We are looking for a beach that does not have jet skis - for me they ruin the tropical beach experience.

 

Islander (are you the same guy as on VINow?) you are clearly really knowledgeable - which of the beaches with facilities (chair/umbrella rental, toilets, food) would NOT have jet ski rentals?

 

Thanks!

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