The Most Beautiful Beaches on St John, US Virgin Islands

Maho Bay Beach is just one of many picturesque beaches in St John
Maho Bay Beach is just one of many picturesque beaches in St John | © James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Anny Wooldridge
1 November 2021

St John is the smallest of the main US Virgin Islands – but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in natural beauty. With more than 2,000ha (5,000 acres) of national parkland, the island offers more hidden coves than its neighbors, many of them only accessible by boat. Here’s our pick of the best beaches in St John.

Discover the white-sand beaches of St John for a day by chartering a yacht with SamBoat. Longer trips can be booked on a boat hired with Dream Yacht Charter.

Maho Bay Beach near Windberg

Natural Feature
A palm tree on Maho Bay Beach hangs over the surf, St John, US Virgin Islands
© James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo
Picture the perfect tropical beach scene and Maho Bay Beach comes pretty close. Anchor just offshore and swim into the narrow beach, lined with coconut palms. Both sides of the bay are prime spots for snorkeling with shallow reefs and plenty of marine life. Look out for schools of Atlantic blue tangs, grey and French angelfish. Feeling lucky? You might even see a nurse shark.

Cinnamon Bay Beach near Windberg

Natural Feature
Cinnamon Bay sits within pretty pink flowers and forested hills
© Larry Malvin / Alamy Stock Photo
As the longest beach on St John, it is easy to find a patch of sand to yourself at Cinnamon Bay Beach. The coconut and sea grape trees offer plenty of shade if you get there early. There used to be snack shacks and toilets here but they were destroyed during a hurricane, so remember to bring supplies with you. For keen snorkelers, Cinnamon Bay offers an unusual wreck a small aircraft.

Haulover Beach near East End

Natural Feature
A boat rests at the rocky shoreline of Haulover Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands
© James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo
What’s better than one beach? Two, of course. That’s exactly what you will find at Haulover Beach – divided into Haulover South and Haulover North. The north beach is pebbly, while the south beach is sandy and dotted with trees, which offer shade from the bright sunshine. Wherever you decide to anchor, both beaches offer incredible snorkeling – peer down at the spotlight parrotfish, puffers, reef squid and Atlantic blue tangs.

Salomon Bay Beach near Cruz Bay

Natural Feature
Two palm trees lean towards the sea waters on St John
© BlueOrangeStudio / Alamy Stock Photo
One of the best-loved beaches on St John is Salomon Bay. This local favorite is only accessible by dropping anchor and taking the tender ashore or via a 1.6km (1mi) hike. Its hard-to-reach location is part of the charm. Explore the coastline via stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or take a short hike to Lind Point and admire the ocean views.

Gibney Beach near Hawksnest Bay

Natural Feature
Palm trees line Oppenheimer and Gibney Beach on the north shore of St John
© Matt May / Alamy Stock Photo
On the northern shore of St John, Gibney Beach was once a privately owned stretch of sand, but now it is open to the public. Wade along the shallow sandy shoreline into the gin-clear Caribbean waters. Check the weather forecast before you go – northerly winds can whip up large waves, especially in the winter, making anchoring rather tricky.

Trunk Bay Beach off North Shore Road

Natural Feature
Islands dot the sea at Trunk Bay with sun bathers relaxing on a white-sand beach, St John, US Virgin Islands
© Tetra Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Trunk Bay Beach is the most famous and most photographed beach on the island. Expect a quarter of a mile-long lick of white sand with a little island, plonked just offshore. Facilities include sun loungers with umbrellas, as well as food and drink shacks. Make sure you grab your mask and follow the self-guided underwater snorkeling trail. The bay is named after the leatherback turtle, after all, which the islanders call “trunks”.

Honeymoon Beach in Caneel Bay Resort

Natural Feature
Canoes rest on the sand by Caneel Bay Resort
© James Schwabel / Alamy Stock Photo
As one of seven beaches within the Caneel Bay Resort and Virgin Islands National Park, Honeymoon Beach is among the nicest in the US Virgin Islands. Purchase a day pass, which gives you access to hammocks, loungers, kayaks and paddleboards for the day. However, the real highlight happens at night when the bay is illuminated with bioluminescence from the millions of plankton in the water.

Denis Bay Beach near Trunk Bay

Natural Feature

Accessible only by boat or rugged trail, this beach has nothing but nature and greenery. A location within the Virgin Islands National Park means it’s rather tricky to access. Take your tender to the beach and remember to bring a picnic, drinks and sunscreen. If you enjoy hiking, Denis Bay Beach has a short trail up to Peace Hill, with a great ocean lookout.

Hawksnest Beach in Hawksnest Bay

Natural Feature
Four friends walk down a small strip of sand on Hawksnest Bay
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Another of our favorite beaches is Hawksnest Beach, a narrow strip of sand between Caneel Bay and Honeymoon Bay. Spot locals enjoying their picnic on weekends under the covered benches; there’s always a friendly vibe here. Arrive early to beat the crowds. Some couples love this beach so much, they’ve even held their wedding ceremonies here.

Spend a day touring the white-sand beaches of St John when you book a yacht charter with SamBoat. Or, take longer to sail around them by hiring a boat with Dream Yacht Charter.

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