I’d say your trip to paradise is going relatively smoothly if your biggest problem is deciding which of the best St. Croix beaches you should visit. But hey, I get it. You’re only here for a limited time and want to see the best the US Virgin Islands offers.
The good news is I did the most challenging part for you during my St. Croix stopover from my home in St. Thomas: I visited the good beaches in St. Croix. The bad St. Croix beaches. And the acceptable ones.
As a result, I’ve compiled my top list of best St. Croix beaches from a firsthand account. I hope you find it helpful during your stay in the US Virgin Islands!
Table of Contents
- 13 Best Beaches on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
- FAQs About St. Croix Beaches
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13 Best Beaches on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Sandy Point Beach
Pristine miles of sand, are sparingly open due to high rates of sea turtle nesting.
I’ve visited almost every beach in the US Virgin Islands, and I must say, Sandy Point Beach is probably my favorite of them all. Maybe it’s the miles of uninterrupted sandy shoreline, the secluded corner of St. Croix, or the exclusive seasonality and hours for which it’s open to the public. Whatever it is, visiting Sandy Point Beach is a must-do in St. Croix.
The beautiful white sand beach is in the island’s southwest corner, deep within the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. You can only visit the park between September 1st and March 31st, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 AM – 4 PM. The park is closed at all other times due to its high concentration of sea turtle nests – including the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle.
Cane Bay Beach
Pleasant beach with fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, including a Wall Dive.
A Wall Dive is an underwater cliff covered in sea life where scuba divers travel alongside at varying depths. You can find one of these fantastic geological features directly from shore at Cane Bay Beach.
This is the closest point where the island of St. Croix meets the Puerto Rican Trench, the deepest underwater point in the Atlantic Ocean – meaning, the Wall in Cane Bay plunges thousands of feet below the surface.
For non-scuba divers, the bay still features shallow coral reefs for snorkeling adventures, plus a sandy shoreline for beach activities. After a day in the sun, pick a lively beach shack between Off the Wall or The Landing Beach Bar.
🏛️ Must-See St. Croix: Aside from the beaches, my favorite activity on the island was visiting the beautiful buildings within the Christiansted National Historic Site.
Hay Penny Beach
A hidden gem on the island’s south shore.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: free gravel lot
Most of St. Croix’s best beaches are along the north shore. For whatever reason, the beaches tend to be sandier with associated seagrass beds – an excellent recipe for snorkeling opportunities with green sea turtles.
Now, that’s not to say you can’t find great beaches (or sea turtles) on the south shore. For one, I found Hay Penny Beach to be quite pleasant. You can wade through ankle-deep water from the parking area to access a secluded beach with palm trees. It’s tucked away down a long dirt road, so you might have the place to yourself.
🚘 Driving on the Left Side: Don’t forget, we drive on the left in the USVI! See my guide to driving in the USVI to help with the transition before you arrive.
Isaac’s Bay Beach and Jack A. Beach
Two secluded beaches are accessible only after hiking on the island’s East End.
📍 Google Maps | Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve – the Nature Conservancy | 🅿️ Parking: free at Point Udall parking lot | 🛎️ Where to Stay Nearby: Grapetree Bay Hotel and Villas
Few other beaches in St. Croix get as much coverage as Isaac Bay and Jack A. Beaches. And yet, you might have the beautiful shorelines to yourself once you get there.
The Nature Conservancy protects the beaches and coinciding bays of the preserve, resulting in what must be one of the last untouched slices of Caribbean paradise. The only way to access Isaac Bay and Jack A. Beaches is to hike from the Goat Hill trail or Point Udall – the easternmost point in the United States.
My recommendation? Catch the sunrise at Point Udall and pack your hiking shoes, snorkel gear, swimsuit, water, and plenty of snacks before trekking to the two beaches with a possible extended hike up to Goat Hill for incredible views of St. Croix.
Smugglers Cove Beach
Sandy beach, tucked away on the Northeast corner of St. Croix.
📍 Google Maps | 🅿️ Parking: directly on the beach within the treeline
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I turned off the main road onto a short, pothole-ridden dirt drive. I had just wrapped up hours of hiking on St. Croix’s East End and figured I’d search out a few hidden beaches for this exact article.
Upon arrival, I must say Smugglers Cove Beach was a pleasant surprise. It was the prime hours of the day, and only one other couple had decided to check out the beach, too. The water was turquoise blue, with apparent snorkeling opportunities all around. So if you get the chance after hiking, stop to cool off or snorkel.
Weekend hangout for tourists and locals with incredible sunset views.
Rainbow Beach is Frederiksted’s most famous beach, with more recreational activities than nearby beaches. The spot is a favorite among locals for scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, or enjoying live music at Rhythms – one of the best beach bars on the island.
You can expect the small stretch of sand to get busier on the weekends as islanders flock to the shores to share food, laughs, and sunshine after a long week or work. If you end up at Rainbow Beach, make sure you go towards the end of the day to witness the best sunset in the Virgin Islands.
📚 Related Reading: 10 Days in the USVI Itinerary
Tucked away yet easily accessible if you’re staying in Christiansted.
Hidden in the confines of a gated community near The Buccaneer – the top-rated hotel on St. Croix – is Shoys Beach. The secluded shoreline is a favorite among locals of Christiansted as it’s the most excellent beach near town.
Located on the north shore outside Christiansted, Shoys Beach stretches a few hundred meters, combining a sandy shoreline with pebbled sections for shelling and collecting sea glass. The beach has excellent snorkeling opportunities, with a shallow coral reef and seagrass beds for sea turtle sightings.
Turtle Beach (Buck Island)
The postcard image of a Caribbean Paradise.
Very few of the beaches on St. Thomas, the picturesque shorelines of St. John, and even the St. Croix beaches I visited compare to the beauty of Turtle Beach on Buck Island. This shoreline is simply stunning.
The beach, corresponding island, and surrounding coral reefs are protected via the National Park Service as the Buck Island Reef National Monument – one of the only underwater national parks in the US. It’s only accessible by boat, with many tours aboard sailboats, catamarans, and power boats departing Christiansted and Green Cay Marina.
👉 Pro Tip: Visit the USVI during the slow season, and you won’t have to share boats to Buck Island with loads of other people!
Protestant Cay Beach
The only beach within the town of Christiansted accessible by ferry.
If arriving at St. Croix from St. Thomas via seaplane or ferry, you’ll notice a small islet in the middle of Christiansted Harbour, known as Protestant Cay. The island is home to a beautiful hotel and the only beach within the town limits of Christiansted.
The beach is an excellent spot for people staying downtown Christiansted without a rental car, as you can take a short ferry ride to the island from the Christiansted boardwalk. However, if you fall into that category, I suggest you reconsider renting a car in St. Croix – trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Local beach near Frederiksted with calm waters and sandy shoreline.
The west end of St. Croix, near Frederiksted, features the calmest waters and best snorkeling opportunities. Rainbow Beach and Sandy Point are rightfully mentioned. Yet, Dorsch Beach rarely gets any love among the best beaches in St. Croix.
However, this might have been my favorite beach directly bordering the town of Frederiksted. Streetside parking was ample, the beach was pleasantly sandy, and sea turtle heads were constantly popping up for air atop the shallow coral reefs scattered in the turquoise waters.
👉 Pro Tip: How to Make the USVI Budget-friendly
Davis Bay Beach
Beautiful beach with amenities along the northwest coastline.
Davis Bay Beach, also known as Carambola Beach, is a palm-tree-laden shoreline near the northwest corner of St. Croix. The beach is associated with the Renaissance Carambola Beach Resort.
Davis Bay is the only resort-associated beach on my list since I gravitate to quieter beaches. However, Davis Beach was so beautiful. It was hard to pass up with the distant cliffs, spouting waves, and turquoise waters.
Salt River Beach
Visit the only Columbus Landing Site in US Territory.
📍 Google Maps | NPS – Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve | 🅿️ Parking: streetside | 🛎️ Where to Stay Nearby: Arawak Bay Inn at Salt River
I’ll be honest: Salt River Beach isn’t the loveliest spot to post for a beach day. Rather, what’s unique about this stretch of sand is its historical significance. This is the Columbus Landing Beach – the only plot of US soil on which Christopher Columbus set foot.
The occurrence was in 1493 during his second voyage to the ‘New World.’ While searching for freshwater, Columbus and his men rowed ashore, met by the Carib, one of two indigenous tribes residing in the Antilles. The meeting quickly devolved, marking the first recorded violent interaction between Columbus and Native populations. [Source]
Today, nothing more than a small sign tells the tale. Yet, the area is managed by the US National Park Service under the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve. As of this writing (Feb. 2023), a new visitor center is under construction nearby.
Chenay Bay Beach (Southgate Coastal Reserve)
Secluded beach within a nature preserve with flat blue waters and a mangrove salt pond.
Chenay Bay was my favorite beach, aside from Cane Bay, along the north shore of St. Croix. This place was absolutely gorgeous, with very few other people on the beach with me (not the section associated with Chenay Bay Beach Resort). Plus, it had the calmest and bluest waters I had seen for the day.
Another neat portion of the area is its association with a nature preserve and coinciding mangrove salt pond. Birders will especially love strolling the boardwalk into the mangrove lagoon to find yellow warblers, night herons, snowy egrets, and ruddy turnstones.
FAQs About St. Croix Beaches
Does St. Croix Have Good Beaches?
St. Croix has outstanding beaches with sandy shorelines, turquoise waters, and shallow coral reefs for snorkeling!
Can You Swim in St. Croix?
Yes, you can safely swim in St. Croix at most beaches. The north shore, in particular, has calm seas, sandy shores, and favorable conditions for swimming.
Which Has Better Beaches, St. Thomas or St. Croix?
St. Thomas has better beaches if you like calm seas, superb snorkeling, and vibrant beach bars. St. Croix has better beaches if you want secluded shorelines, natural settings, and shore-diving opportunities.
Are All Beaches Public in St. Croix?
All beaches are public in St. Croix, and even if a beach is associated with a resort, you may still access the beach even if you’re not staying there.
I hope you found my list of the best St. Croix beaches helpful! Sure, there are others, but these 13 stuck out in my mind!
Next, be sure to check out my list of the best places to visit in the USVI to continue your planning!
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