15 St. John Beaches You Can’t Miss (in 2023)
Let’s take a moment to thank Virgin Islands National Park for preserving the best beaches in St. John to a pristine level. This place, and St. John more broadly, is amazing with some of the most beautiful beaches in the US Virgin Islands and, indeed, the entire world.
And I’ll be the first to tell you, as someone who lives on St. Thomas, I make a point almost every weekend to get over to St. John to explore a new beach, new trail, and new corner of the island. And it seems I’ve yet to scratch the surface.
So if you’re visiting the US Virgin Islands, I beg you, plan at least one day to spend on St. John exploring the many beaches this gorgeous island has to offer! It’s definitely one of the best things to do in St. John.
Here are a few of my favorite St. John beaches:
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Beaches on St. John, USVI
- FAQs About Beaches in the Virgin Islands National Park
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15 Best Beaches on St. John, USVI
Cinnamon Bay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: street and small parking lot | 🏠 Search for private rentals along the North Shore Road
Soft white sand. Glimmering turquoise waters. Breathtaking views of the surrounding islands. Cinnamon Bay Beach is the postcard image of your Caribbean vacation.
And even beyond the serenity, this St. John beach is ideal for the entire family with water sport rentals like paddleboards and snorkel equipment, newly renovated restroom facilities, and an easy hiking trail through the Cinnamon Bay Sugar Mill Ruins, a breakfast and dinner cafe, food trucks, and even a campground.
👉 Pro Tip: One of the best ways to visit the best St. John beaches is to stay on St. Thomas and take the ferry over for the day! It’s much cheaper than staying in St. John too!
Francis Bay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: small sandy lot and roadside
The best part about Francis Bay is its perceived remoteness contrary to the relative ease of getting there. It feels so far out that very few people actually make the trek, when in reality, it’s not much farther than popular spots like Maho Bay Beach and Trunk Bay.
The beach is quiet with calm waters and plenty to do in the surrounding area. The Francis Bay Trail runs between the beach and a mangrove pond before ascending to sugar mill ruins on a small hilltop. A short car ride away is Annaberg Plantation Ruins, one of the best things to do in the US Virgin Islands.
Hansen Bay Beach
Coral Bay, East End
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: small sandy lot, donations appreciated to maintain the local beach | 🌴 Search for private rentals around Coral Bay, St. John
Off the beaten path is one of the best-kept secrets of St. John: Hansen Bay. Located as far east as the island goes, Hansen Bay is the only beach operated on a donation basis. The experience is unique, with kayaks, floats, beach toys, and paddleboards all available on the same donation policy. It’s a fun spot, ideal for families with kids looking to snorkel in calm waters, and chances are you’ll have the place to yourself.
🔖 Bookmark for Later: Few people realize how close the US Virgin Islands are to Puerto Rico. Consider visiting the neighboring countries one after the other!
Maho Bay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: primarily streetside parking with one small gravel lot
Along with its neighbors, Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay, Maho Bay Beach has more amenities than most other St. John beaches. But that’s not what draws the crowds to this beautiful stretch of sand.
Rather, it’s the sea life, particularly the green sea turtles, that makes Maho Beach so spectacular. Sure, rum huts, beach chairs, water sports, and food trucks are great. But where else in the Virgin Islands are you all but guaranteed to snorkel with a sea turtle!?
📚 Related Reading: Don’t forget to visit the neighboring islands, St. Thomas and St. Croix, to discover the top places to vacation in the USVI!
Salt Pond Bay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hike in only along Salt Pond Bay Trail | Parking: small gravel lot and roadside at the trailhead | Best Nearby Hotel: Concordia Eco-Resort, Coral Bay
Set aside an entire day to explore the surroundings of this secluded beach just south of Coral Bay. Spend your morning trekking Ram Head Trail, one of the best hikes on St. John, before taking a plunge into the glimmering blue waters of Salt Pond Bay.
Take a glimpse at the mangrove pond, the namesake of the beach and bay, that was once used to mine for salt during dry summers. Salt Pond Beach is only accessible after a short hike and has no facilities so be sure to pack everything!
🗺️ Help Plan Your Trip: Hikes + beaches are THE dynamic duo throughout Virgin Islands National Park and St. John. Help plan which of them you’ll want to visit with this handy USVI National Park Travel Map!
Trunk Bay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: paved lot, $5 daily admission fee for amenities
The most famous, most visited, and most photographed beach in the USVI’s: Trunk Bay. Considered one of the best beaches in the world with its sugar-white sand, clear blue waters, swaying palms overhead, thriving coral reefs, and lush green hills wrapping around its shoreline. Below the waterline is a 240-meter coral reef snorkeling trail complete with information plaques offering insight into the marine life you’ll witness.
The beach has all the amenities you’d want for a successful beach day with the family, as well. Snorkel gear, paddleboard, and kayak rentals. And don’t forget the updated restroom facilities, a snack shack, picnic tables, beach chairs, and even a beach shop!
👉 Pro Tip: Trunk Bay is famous for a reason, so it’s not uncommon for this beach to get busy. Consider visiting nearby, and equally as stunning, beaches like Jumbie or Peter Bay for a thinner crowd.
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: gravel lots and streetside
Seemingly built for the adventurous, Lameshur Beach is an excellent launching point for a handful of the best hikes in St. John. The trailheads for renowned hikes Tektike, Bordeaux Mountain, Yawzi Point, and Europa Bay are all excellent picks for a sunrise view.
The best might be Lameshur Bay Trail as it joins with Reef Bay Trail near the Petroglyphs. Of course, the beach is gorgeous too, with sugar mill ruins overlooking the blue, calm waters of Great Lameshur Bay.
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hike in only from the Peace Hill Trail (beach entrance is the first offshoot trail on the right) | Parking: small paved lot at the Peace Hill Trailhead
Often referred to as Oppenheimer Beach, the secret beach at Denis Bay is one of the only northside beaches only accessible after a short hike. It’d be tough to haul your cooler to the sand, but if you’re carrying nothing more than a beach blanket and some snorkel gear, you’re bound to have a great time, and quite possibly, the entire beach to yourself.
Great Cruz Bay
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: in hotel parking lot | Best Nearby Hotel: The Westin St. John Resort Villas
Tucked away on the outskirts of Cruz Bay is the largest resort on the island: The Westin. The beachfront hotel boasts its own sandy shore along Great Cruz Bay complete with its own beach bar and mooring field. You don’t need to be staying in the Westin Resort to kick off your shoes, enjoy the sand, and have a rum punch before boarding one of the many boat tours departing the bay.
📍 Google Maps | Website | Parking: large lot and streetside parking
If I ever make an early morning trip to St. John, Hawksnest Bay Beach is always my first stop along the North Shore Road. With picnic tables, shaded pavilions, clear waters, and sugar-white sand, it’s hard to beat the sunrise views with a cup of coffee.
But mornings aside, Hawksnest Beach is a great beach to spend a few hours in the afternoon. The water is incredibly calm and crystal blue with plenty of snorkeling opportunities above the seagrass shoals and along the rocky outcroppings near the corners of the bay. Look out for sea turtles, southern stingrays, and plenty of colorful fish.
🇻🇮 Staying on St. Thomas? Find out the best things to do on St. Thomas to stay busy during your entire USVI vacation!
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hike in optional from the National Park Visitor Center | Parking: at the old Caneel Bay Resort + shuttle | Best Nearby Hotel: Estate Lindholm
Weathered sailboats and shiny new catamarans dot the waters directly off Honeymoon Beach. It’s a favorite mooring site for sailors with its extremely calm conditions and natural beauty. Gaze at the water long enough and you’re likely to spot a green sea turtle pierce the surface for a gasp of air. Off to the east are the remnants of the Caneel Bay Resort, an unfortunate result of the 2017 hurricane season.
As for beachgoers, you’ll need to hike to Honeymoon Beach via the Lind Point Trail or take a shuttle from the Caneel Bay Resort parking lot.
Salomon Bay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hike in only from the National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay | Parking: behind the Visitor Center, permit available inside | Best Nearby Hotel: Gallows Point Resort
If you’re taking the ferry from St. Thomas for the day and want to save on a taxi ride, consider visiting Salomon Beach. It’s one of the few St. John beaches accessible by foot directly from the ferry dock. And the best part? It’s an absolutely stunning stretch of sand.
From the USVI National Park Visitor Center, you’ll find the trailhead of Lower Lind Point Trail. After a beautiful walk, you’ll wind up along this gorgeous beach. Nearby Honeymoon Beach has a few amenities you might need on your beach day.
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hike in along a short, 300-foot path | Parking: small gravel lot and streetside
Jumbie Bay is the smallest and most intimate of St. John’s north shore beaches. And even though it’s a stone’s throw away from the wildly popular Trunk Bay, Maho Bay, and Cinnamon Bay, it has a completely different change of pace. This beach is ideal for couples seeking some peace and quiet as they sip a cold drink under the warm, Caribbean sun.
Waterlemon Cay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hike in only along Leinster Bay Trail | Parking: small paved lots at Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins
You won’t find much white sand along this stony shoreline, but what you will discover is some of the best beach snorkeling on St. John. After a relatively short hike along Leinster Bay, you’ll come to an access point to Waterlemon Cay. A short swim later, you’ll find one of the most dazzling coral reefs on St. John surrounding the small islet.
🤿 Travel Snorkel Gear: I never go on any hike or visit any beach in the US Virgin Islands without a set of snorkel gear. This handy travel snorkel set from Cressi is an excellent addition to your St. John island vacation.
Reef Bay Beach
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hike in only along Reef Bay Trail | Parking: roadside at the trailhead
A product of the island’s rugged south shore, compared to other beaches on St. John, Reef Bay Beach is a little rockier and not as postcard-worthy. Although still beautiful, what makes this beach so wonderful is its emergence from the tropical forest as you finish your descent of the Reef Bay Trail. It’s the perfect culmination of a great hike. An excellent place to cool off, snorkel, or relax before you begin your journey back up the old forest roads to your starting point.
👉 Read Next: 21 Best Things to Do on St. John
FAQs About Beaches in the Virgin Islands National Park
With more than 60% of the land area on St. John protected by the Virgin Islands National Park, the vast majority of the St. John beaches fall within the park’s boundaries.
Are St. John beaches public?
All beaches on St. John are available to the public. There are no private beaches in the US Virgin Islands and every stretch of sand must be accessible to the public. You legally cannot be denied access to a beach. St. John and the Virgin Islands National Park are no different.
Do you need to pay for parking at the beaches in the Virgin Islands National Park?
All parking is free within USVI National Park except for a facility fee at Trunk Bay and a required permit at the Visitor Center for long-term parking. Otherwise, all parking and entrances to St. John beaches are free.
Does Virgin Islands National Park require an admission fee?
St. John beaches within the USVI National Park do not require admission fees (except for Trunk Bay) for the everyday beachgoer. Certain activities require permits like using mooring balls, holding an event, or conducting business within the park boundaries.
What is happening to the Caneel Bay Resort, St. John, USVI?
We would have loved to include Caneel Bay Beach and its beloved resort on our list. But unfortunately, the resort and coinciding beach have been shut down since 2017 because of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It might be a few years yet before this beautiful beach reopens.
Which of the St. John beaches are you most interested in? Which of the beautiful beaches have you been to before?
Be sure to let us know in a comment below before checking out the most beautiful beaches on St. Thomas!
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These all sound great. My wife and I will be on St Thomas Dec 24-30. We have a car, what beaches would you recommend for a day trip (as obviously we can’t get to them all) very calm water ( good for casual floating) preferred to surfing water. Do any have good shells wash up? I like taking photos of shells as our souvenirs (no taking actual items from national parks).
North beaches have clear flat water….my faves: Maho, Cinnamon, Hawks Nest, Trunk & Francis.
No shells to be seen, except for the occasional conch.
It’s an AMAZING Island… Your first trip won’t be your last.
Enjoyed staying for my 60th birthday 500ft above fish bay. Visited Cruz Bay, Hawksnest Bay, cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay. All were absolutely beautiful!