Magical Magen's Bay on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; a top world beach
ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS - Those travel magazines we read each winter that talk about Magens Bay being one of the best beaches on the planet?
I get it now.
We arrived Tuesday in St. Thomas, the best known (due to the cruise ships, I suspect) of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and made our way to the main city of Charlotte Amalie and to the 1829 Hotel, an historic property that sits on a hill overlooking the beautiful harbour. It’s a fun spot with a series of rooms step up the hill, reachable via a series of stairs that aren’t too much problem unless you’re hauling your typical North American suitcase crammed with stuff you really shouldn’t have brought in the first place.
There’s a small pool and a nice bar where they’ll serve up a number of local specialties. We tried a Frozen Bushwhacker, which has vodka, rum, amaretto and chocolate and tastes like an adult slushie, and also a Blackbeard’s Revenge, with five types of Cruzan rum (made on nearby St. Croix) and fruit juice. It was much too sweet and syrupy for my tastes, but I can see why lots of folks would love them.
With all the cruise business and tourism in Charlotte Amalie, there are a huge whack of open-air jitneys with rows of five or six seats for touring folks about. Campbell Rey, the wonderful driver we have for a few days, picked us up at the airport and, after we checked into the hotel, started up over the hill to Magens Bay.
It’s a steep, STEEP drive for the first couple minutes, with several switchbacks that offer fine views down to the harbour and the green hills that rise majestically around the deep blue water and past small bars and roadside businesses, including at least one pediatrician housed in a bright green home and also a “Spinologist.”
A couple minutes of driving through thick, overhead vegetation and you find yourself at Magens Bay. It’s a long, luscious strand of soft-golden sand; nearly a mile long and hemmed in on both sides by tall, green hills that are thick with jungle vines and trees and the odd home.
You look northwest out past the flanking hills to a small, cone-shaped island that someone with a higher authority placed there just for a perfect framing.
The water is gentle and warm and clear and clean, with nothing but smooth sand so you don’t stub your toe on any coral or rocks. They say it can get crowded on cruise days but there was only ship in port yesterday so it was just fine. I also walked down to the far western end and I think on even the busiest days you’d find plenty of space at that end; away from the parking lot and the gift shop and beach bar/restaurant.
They make a pretty good rum punch for just five bucks, by the way.
It’s a great spot for sure, and easily one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen anywhere on the planet.
The restaurant is situated at a lovely, hillside hotel called Bluebeard’s Castle. They make outstanding fresh snapper and also a fine steak au poivre, both with nice servings of veggies and crispy, red-skinned potatoes.
The views of the harbour are outstanding, and it’s a very romantic spot. Definitely a recommendation if you're ever down this way...
You can email me at email@example.com or follow me on Twitter @jimbyertravel