The coastline of St. Croix is lined with seemingly endless stretches of lovely sand, many backed by a postcard-worthy vista of lofty palm trees.
The islanders are well aware of St. Croix’s natural beauty, and large sections of the coast, and the interior, are protected. Eco-tourism is not just a marketing label for visitors, but deeply felt by Crucians themselves.
The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix packs a lot into an area only 28 miles long and seven miles wide. That includes beaches ranging from tiny, isolated coves, to some of the best, and most famous, in the Caribbean.
Here are ten of the best beaches in St. Croix to explore.
Cane Bay Beach
One of the most popular beaches along the north coast of St. Croix, Cane Bay has wide appeal. It’s home to incredible diving and snorkeling, with a wide choice of facilities that includes many good bars or restaurants.
First stop for any visitor should be the Cane Bay Dive Shop to pick up a copy of their excellent snorkel map of the island. If you’re a qualified diver, you’ll also want to explore the famous 13,000-feet “wall” just offshore.
Beginners might want to try a lesson, and snorkelers can rent gear and stick to the shallower water.
Either way, you should see plenty of sea life including species such as turtles, wrasses, moray eels, squid, and even seahorses. There are also many photo opportunities among the hard and soft corals offshore.
The sand here is perfect for a bit of serious sunbathing. You can rent sun loungers or umbrellas, sit under a shady palm, join a game of beach volleyball, or dance to the music in one of the bars.
Cane Bay is the endpoint for the annual Mardi Croix parade, the local variation of Mardi Gras. Its two days of Crucian food, and fun, are a highlight of the island calendar.
Often making lists of the world’s top beaches, Turtle Beach on Buck Island is easily among the best beaches in St. Croix. To reach the island you’ll need to rent a kayak, or join a tour boat, but those are both lovely experiences.
About one-and-a-half miles off the northeast coast of St. Croix, Buck Island is one of only three Underwater National Monuments in the U.S.
It was first listed by President Kennedy in 1961 as “one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea”, and later massively expanded by President Clinton.
This protected area is now a paradise for snorkelers, who float in turquoise waters over white sand and coral. Home to some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, you should see plenty of colorful fish, gliding rays, and lazily swimming turtles.
An underwater trail signposts some of the natural wonders you see around you. It’s within a calm, fish-filled lagoon protected by a coral barrier reef.
Turtle Beach, true to its name, is a nest site for leatherback, hawksbill, and green sea turtles. Relax on its white sands, looking out for the pelicans and terns that also nest nearby.
The beach is part of the protected area, so be careful not to disturb rocks, shells, and especially coral. The same applies to the nature trail on the island itself, popular with walkers.
Frederiksted Beach is right next to the town’s pier, and the old fort (so much so, it’s sometimes called Fort Frederik Beach). That location makes it a great place for a swim close to the urban area.
Sitting on the beach, under a shady tree, you can hear Caribbean music from local bars and restaurants. You’re never far from a cooling drink, or a tasty local meal.
Like many beaches here, Frederiksted is steeply shelving, with a rocky bottom in parts. Beach shoes are a good idea for helping you walk in or out of the water.
Under the calm water, snorkelers or swimmers will find lots of life, including exquisite angelfish, seahorses, or possibly an octopus. You might also be lucky enough to find some seaglass or “chaney”.
Chaney is an amalgam of “china” with “money,” and refers to tiny pieces of broken porcelain, smoothed by wave action. The colorful shards, found everywhere on the island, were so named by children using them as play money.
Visiting Frederiksted Beach is one of the best things to do in St. Croix, and its urban setting makes it a particularly good site for both glass and pottery. You’ll also find artists selling jewelry made from upcycled pieces in the park opposite the beach.
This is a classic Caribbean beach on St. Croix’s West End. This end of the island tends to be a bit calmer, and more scenic, making for great conditions to enjoy any beach.
Rainbow Beach is all about lying around in a sun lounger, maybe indulging in a spot of snorkeling. If you want to burn some energy, there’s also paddleboarding, and volleyball.
The focus of the beach is Rhythms beach bar/restaurant, where you can enjoy a tropical drink, and listen to music—sometimes live. You’ll meet other visitors, and some locals, over a pina colada, a grouper sandwich or a fish taco.
You can hire everything you might need here, from loungers to snorkels. Do bring water shoes, as there are some sharp rocks on the seafloor, especially toward each end.
Those rocks give the fish plenty of places to hide, but it’s fun to spot them. The beach itself is narrow, but has deep sand, and a lovely view out over the blue Caribbean water, putting it among the best St. Croix beaches for photographers.
Being just over a mile from Frederiksted, it’s quick to reach by taxi, or even on foot. That makes it very popular—and more fun—on Sundays, when shops are closed, but it’s much quieter during the week.
Sandy Point Beach
Another beach in a protected area, this West End wonder is part of Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. With no shade and no facilities, it’s a real unspoiled gem that attracts fewer visitors than other beaches nearby.
Adding to its exclusive feel, the beach closes completely from April through August, peak nesting season for the endangered leatherback turtle. A saltwater lagoon, lined with mangrove trees, is also part of the refuge as a haven for more than 100 bird species.
As well as potentially swimming with turtles and rays, or watching for birds, you can enjoy what is the longest beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands, at more than two miles end to end.
Sandy Point, which may seem familiar from appearances in film, and advertising, is a photographer’s dream. Hikers will also love walking among its white sands, blue ocean, green mangroves, and bird-filled lagoon.
If you just want to sunbathe, do bring some shade, such a large hat or parasol; essentially, cover that doesn’t involve sticking anything into the sand where it might disrupt a turtle nest. Wearing reef-safe sunscreen will also help you do your part in nature conservation.
Jack’s Bay/Isaac’s Bay
These two bays on the East End of St. Croix are reached with a well-signposted hike from Point Udall. the easternmost point in the U.S. The reward for the one-and-a-half mile walk is a feeling of complete isolation, with a choice of two gorgeous Caribbean beaches.
The two bays themselves are linked by another short walk. Both are backed by some 300 acres of the scenic St. Croix’s Nature Conservancy, which you’ll enjoy for the whole hike.
Protected by an offshore reef, the beaches are ideal for swimming. Isaac’s Bay Beach has the edge for snorkeling, with deeper water and fewer rocks.
This eastern side of the island is the most exposed, so the water can sometimes be a bit choppy. However, the reef offers a lot of protection, both to snorkelers, and to countless species of coral, fish, and shellfish.
Back on the powder-soft sand, you’ll find no facilities, so bring your own food and drink. Bring your own sunshade too, but, again, take care not to disturb any turtle nests.
The two bays are home to large nesting populations of hawksbill and green turtles. The former nest from July through November, with the green turtle season running about a month later, and both hatch into January.
Cramer Park Beach
This North Shore beach is near Point Udall, the easternmost point of the United States. Tear yourself away from the point’s Millennium Monument, and its sweeping seaward views, to enjoy this relaxing beach.
Cramer’s Park Beach is popular with local families at weekends for its calm waters, gently sloping sand, and great snorkeling. All this also makes it a great spot for visitors to enjoy one of the best beaches in St. Croix.
Seagrape trees offer plenty of shade in which to park yourself for a few hours, or a whole afternoon. There are covered picnic tables, and even BBQ grills if you feel like making yourself completely at home.
That sand offshore does have a few rocky parts, but those are also good spots to find fish when snorkeling.
A few miles offshore, adding to the view, is Buck Island, one of the best places to swim in the world. Protected by the National Park Service as a National Monument, its reef protects and shelters the coastline here.
Pelican Cove Beach
Pelican Cove is more than a mile long, and curves around one side of Saint John Bay. Out in the bay is tiny Shark Island, site of a seabird colony, and offering some great scuba diving. Lined with palm trees, the beach looks like the perfect Caribbean postcard view. It’s one of the very few Blue Flag beaches in the region.
This long beach on the North Shore has a bit of everything, from a touch of isolation to a major resort hotel. There are beautiful areas for novice snorkelers, and rocky areas that might catch out the unwary.
An offshore reef keeps the water calm, but you will need beach shoes to walk on the rockier parts—especially eastward towards Christiansted. Heading west, you will find even better snorkeling but you do need to be careful of the currents.
Popular with Crucians, Shoys Beach is on the East End of St. Croix, only a short distance east of Christiansted. Access to the beach is through a private road belonging to the Estate Shoys residential neighborhood.
You’ll need to give your name to the friendly gate guard, but entry is otherwise easy. From the car park, you walk through an atmospheric tunnel of trees to reach the beach.
That may all sound like a magical mystery tour, but it’s worth it when you see this very special beach. It’s a gently curving stretch of white sand, lined with welcoming shady trees.
The sand extends out to sea, offering great conditions for swimming and snorkeling, although there are some rocky areas. Go eastward for the best snorkeling in St. Croix, where you can expect to see anything from a colorful conch to large rays.
Shoys Beach is seldom crowded, and you can certainly find a spot among the trees where you think you have this wonderful place to yourself. For many islanders, it’s easily the best beach in St. Croix.
Has this list of the best beaches in St. Croix inspired you to feel your toes in its warm sands? Then browse Celebrity’s cruises to St. Croix and find the perfect Caribbean getaway.