The Best St. Thomas Virgin Islands Beaches
Magen's Bay Beach on St. Thomas
Magen's Bay may be a more populated beach (it is frequented by daily cruise ship passengers), but that should not detract from its beauty. Magen's Bay is over half a mile long on the main part of the beach. There are dozens of picnic tables, ample trees for shade (many which are newly planted trees after the 2017 hurricanes), bathrooms, restaurant, bar, and shop. It is ideal for SUP usage and has a dedicated swim area marked by buoys. It is not a great spot for snorkeling, though rays, turtles, and fish may be seen quite often. Magen's Bay Beach simply is not a place with coral (except well outside the main beach area along the coasts), it is instead white sand and sea grass throughout most of the bay. If you are looking to host a party, they also have four covered sheds with power and grills, and they can be rented by the day at a minimal cost.
Local advice: if you are looking for more privacy, go to the far end of Magen's Bay Beach away from the entrance. Most cruise ship visitors stay near the bar/restaurant area (in large part because that is where they rent lounge chairs). If you go to the far end, there are far less people, sometimes nobody.
Hull Bay Beach on St. Thomas
If Magens Bay is considered a tourist beach, then Hull Bay would be considered a locals beach. Though there is much great sand in this location, there is also more rock than some other beaches. But it is super chill and more of a party place. The Hull Bay Hideaway (restaurant/bar) is steps from the beach. Boat moorings dominate the harbor, most owned by local individuals or snorkeling and fishing charter companies. Dogs are often roaming the property off-leash having fun in the water and sand. Beach bonfires at night is not uncommon. And you may be able to catch one of the local bands performing on stage at the Hull Bay Hideaway. Lastly, this is the get-in-the-water location for local surfers, so if a swell is in and the waves are crashing, plan to see some surfers heading out to catch the waves. Hull Beach is a very friendly place with some great conversations.
Local advice: The fish tacos at Hull Bay Hideaway are fabulous. Just ask for a dark and coke (this is the locally produced Cruzan Dark Rum) to chase it down and you will be in heaven. Check out and see if any music will be playing, most often on weekends. And this place is equally great at day or night. If you want to see how many of the locals live, this is your spot.
Sapphire Beach on St. Thomas
Sapphire Beach is located on the East End of St Thomas, near Red Hook. It is available to the public and most widely used by the four condominium associations that surround the area (Sapphire Beach Resort, Sapphire Village, Crystal Cove, and Sapphire House). It has also become a location frequented by cruise ship passengers, so it is not a quaint quiet beach. It has necessities like bathrooms and a bar / restaurant, along with lounge chair and snorkel gear rentals. I like Sapphire because it not only offers a nice beach, but it also has decent snorkeling. And the views towards St John and the BVI are excellent. There is also a marina adjacent to Sapphire Beach with various boat trip offerings (sailing, snorkeling, fishing).
Local advice: if looking to snorkel, it is a good idea to practice in the sandy areas. Once you are comfortable and know you don’t need to try to stand up, then you can venture over the rockier areas and out towards the coral. If you swim from the main beach out around the point to your right, there are some nice things to see out there. Once you are back, grab a Bushwhacker from the beach bar and your day will be complete.
Neltjeberg is my suggestion if you are looking for a far out place that is likely to be empty. Access is via a long rough road. There are palm trees everywhere and lots of nice sand. But again, there are rarely people down here. So if your goal is privacy, this is your place.
Local advice: The road is a mix of dirt/rock and concrete is some places. It necessitates the use of a four wheel drive vehicle, or at the very least a truck with ample clearance. Take your time and drive slowly, it is worth the time. Bring your own food and water, no shops at Neltjeberg Beach. And to find it, use one of the local maps -- they are actually really good and useful.