Close your eyes to envision a tropical paradise, and it’ll probably look a lot like the beaches of St Thomas, where sugary white sands lined in perky green palms give way to faultless teal-colored bays. Whether you’re the type to worship the sun, snorkel with sea turtles or double-fist daiquiris, St Thomas has a beach sure to tick all the right boxes. Here are the best beaches the island has to offer, from the famous strips of sand featured on all the travel sites to the secret beaches locals visit to escape the crowds.

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Magens Bay

A frequent inclusion on lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Magens Bay really is worth the hype. Yes, you will have to pay a fee to enter. And yes, it does get packed with tourists (especially when cruise ships are in port). But there’s no other beach on St Thomas quite like it – it’s tucked at the end of a deep horseshoe-shaped cove with green hills snaking off into the horizon on either end. Changing facilities, restaurants, water sports rentals, picnic tables and lifeguards all make it a great choice for families.

Blue waters of St Thomas
Magens Bay is especially crowded when cruise ships are in port ©emperorcosar/Shutterstock

Honeymoon Beach

Take a 15-minute ferry from the Crown Bay Marina to the dock on nearby Water Island, hike for 10 minutes over a small hill, and you’ll find yourself at a picturesque cove lined in towering palms known as Honeymoon Beach. Blessed with incredibly calm waters, it’s a great place to rent a kayak or paddleboard for a leisurely mid-morning adventure. It’s also dotted with the umbrellas of low-key beach bars, making it an ideal spot for one of those lunches that accidentally turns into an early happy hour.

Lindbergh Bay

Plane spotters love Lindbergh Bay – as you lay back on a towel basking in the tropical sun, you can watch jets descend into the neighboring Cyril E. King Airport. Named after the pioneering American aviator Charles Lindbergh – who landed here on a victory tour in 1928 after completing the first solo transatlantic flight – this long, broad beach shaded by seagrape trees is great for strolls or swimming laps. Anyone flying out early should consider the two hotels on either end, Lindbergh Bay Hotel and Emerald Beach Resort, which make convenient final-night stays.

Lindquist Beach

Nestled in the protected Smith Bay Park, Lindquist Beach is a true vision of paradise, with soft white sands leading out to calm aquamarine waters. Off in the distance, emerald green cays roll across the horizon, making it a favored backdrop for both island weddings and American commercials. Families love the place, too, because there’s always a lifeguard on duty, picnic tables for lunching and a bathhouse with showers where you can rinse off the salty sea.

The blue waters of Brewers Bay in St Thomas
Brewers Bay is often quiet on weekdays and makes the perfect spot for travelers on a budget © BackyardProduction / Getty Images

Brewers Bay

Sea turtles and stingrays are frequently spotted ambling through the seagrass of this wide bay behind the airport, which is a favorite with students from the nearby University of the Virgin Islands. Despite being one of the best places on the island for sea life, Brewers Bay sees far more locals than tourists, who often come for picnics and gatherings on the weekend, chowing down on pates (meat pies) or johnnycakes (fluffy fried bread). On weekdays, it’s often deserted. With snack vans, restroom facilities and easy access by public bus, it makes a great destination for travelers on a budget.

Sapphire Beach

It may be called Sapphire Beach, but the water here is so turquoise that you’ll think your eyes are tricking you. Visitors often base themselves in the condo rentals and resort hotels that encase this East End beach for its sweeping views over St John and offshore cays that are as spectacular as the snorkeling at the reef near Pettyklip Point. Yes, it’s unabashedly touristy, but it never feels overrun with day-trippers. And with a steady breeze, it’s also the best spot on the island for windsurfing.

Famous Sapphire beach on St. Thomas island
Take in the beautiful turquoise waters of Sapphire Beach © Elijah-Lovkoff / Getty Images

Neltjeberg Bay

Pristine sand lines and a perfect half-moon bay are the rewards at the end of a 20-minute hike out to St Thomas’s finest secret beach. Neltjeberg Bay lies on the far side of a thick tangle of bush – including wild-growing pineapple and guava – to the west of the more accessible Dorothea Beach. The only sign of civilization is a solitary – and quite opulent – house atop Ruy Point, as well as the vine-clad ruins of an old sugar plantation. BYO everything (and cart it back out) as there are zero facilities; it’ll just be you, the sand and a few curving coconut palms! 

Coki Beach

If you want to snorkel right off the coast of St Thomas, just about everyone will point you in the direction of Coki Beach. While the corals here aren’t what they used to be – and the scene is anything but serene – most visitors do encounter plenty of tropical fish (thanks, in no small part, to the controversial practice of fish-feeding). Keep in mind that because it lies adjacent to the flashy theme park, Coral World, this narrow strip of sand can get absolutely slammed with tourists.

Mermaid’s Chair

The chance to put one foot in the Caribbean, then another in the Atlantic is what lures intrepid travelers to the remote double-sided beach known as Mermaid’s Chair. This small strip of sand on the wild western tip of St Thomas is best viewed at low tide. To reach it, plan to hike about 1.3 miles (2km) downhill from The Preserve at Botany Bay on a mostly paved road with extensive views over the westerly cays. 

Buck Island

Not to be confused with the Buck Island Reef National Monument off St Croix, the Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge off St Thomas is managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service as a preserve for migratory birds, including frigates, terns and gulls. There’s a historic Danish-built lighthouse, but little else on this scrubby, cactus-dotted isle. The real reason to visit is not to set foot on a beach (you’re aren’t allowed!) but to snorkel or scuba dive at the offshore reefs – both natural and manmade (a shipwreck) – as well as the seagrass-filled Turtle Cove, which is densely populated with, you guessed it, turtles!

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