Oyster reporters headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to explore the destination’s top hotels. We slept in the beds, dove in the waves, and ate in the restaurants, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. When it comes to the U.S. Virgin Islands, not every beach is created equal; we’ve rounded up the most gorgeous and accessible hotel beaches, so you can sink your toes in the sand and splash around in the water.
Caneel Bay is unique in the Caribbean for its seven quiet, swimmable beaches. The resort sits on a 170-acre peninsula of protected national park, and with the exception of Caneel Beach, which also attracts nonresort guests (all beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands are technically public), the beaches feel secluded and private. Two of the beaches are childfree, to ensure an atmosphere of undisturbed tranquility.
Secret Harbor Beach Resort is an upscale boutique property located on Nazareth Bay on the East End of St. Thomas. The beach is the highlight at the resort, and it doesn’t disappoint. It is situated on Nazareth Bay; the water is calm, clear, and turquoise, and the sand is white and soft. There are numerous palm trees along the beach that provide shade and scenery, and the resort provides free lounge chairs and umbrellas for guests. There are bunch of hammocks stretched between the trees, making the area even more picturesque.
Crystal Cove has 1,200 feet of some of the nicest beachfront in the Virgin Islands. The water is clear and turquoise blue, and is famous for snorkeling. The beach also provides stunning views of St. John and other smaller islands and has plenty of shade from trees. However, the resort shares this stretch of beach with Sapphire Beach Resort, its neighbor. It is also popular with cruise ship passengers and the public. While there are plenty of loungers, you may be sitting close to another guest. There is an on-site water sports provider next door at Sapphire Beach Resort.
Sapphire Beach is one of the best in the Virgin Islands, with soft sand, clear water, nearby reefs for snorkeling, free windsurfing and snorkeling lessons, and beach chairs provided at no extra fee. Plus, the crowd of cruise ship passengers is smaller than you'll find at the even more popular Magens Beach.
The Ritz-Carlton is St. Thomas' classiest resort, located only five minutes from Red Hook's fun dining and yacht scene. Its private sailboat, fitness center, spa, and soft-sand beach -- a marine-life sanctuary -- are all among the best in St. Thomas. Although the beach has some of the best snorkeling on St. Thomas, its shores tend to get crowded early in the day.
Outside the Morning Star resort, the Marriott has a wide, soft sand beach. The beach is scattered with weathered sandcastles and stocked shoulder to shoulder with lounge chairs (free to use).
The first beachfront hotel on St. Thomas, Island Beachcomber Hotel has been mostly family owned since 1956. The beach is the best part of the hotel. The water is calm, blue, and clear, the sand is white, and palm trees dot the perimeter. Chaise loungers are provided for free. There are large hills on either side of the bay that provide great scenery.