by Katie Bauer
Let’s avoid the big crowds! Why not veer off the main path towards lesser-frequented shores? St. Thomas’ Magens Bay is quite beautiful, but that’s no secret – which means you’ll be sharing its views with thousands of cruise ship passengers. Take advantage of a charter yacht captain’s deft maneuvering to work your way into the Virgin Islands’ smaller coves that are both beautiful and a bit more private.
British Virgin Islands
Check out White Bayon Jost Van Dyke, the smallest of the four main British Virgin Islands. Jost Van Dyke’s relatively few year-round inhabitants welcome smaller boats to their shores. They cherish their mountainous, lesser-developed (meaning devoid of mega resorts) island and so will you!
Jost Van Dyke may be small but it also offers close proximity to several tropical isles that are great for day trips. Little Jost Van Dyke, Green Cay & Sandy Spit, Sandy Cay, and Westernmost Great Tobago are all beautiful locations. Bring a picnic, plan to snorkel, and marvel at being the only people there! Westernmost Great Tobago, for example, is known for its nesting seabird population instead of casinos or shops.
Savannah Bay, Handsome Bay, and Big Trunk Bay are all fantastic beaches worth visiting. Probably the most spectacular is The Baths National Park where granite boulders have formed sheltered sea pools. From there it’s only a 15 minute hike to Devil’s Bay National Park, which has gorgeous secluded beaches.
Also worth mentioning is Little Dix Bay Hotel established by Laurance Rockefeller in the 1960s. This development turned Virgin Gorda from an agricultural community to one that could support luxury tourism. Little Dix Bay Hotel also runs the world-class Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor if you want to spend time with fellow travelers.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The beaches on St. Croix are a mainstay of island life. The east end of St. Croix (nearest Christiansted) is home to Cramer’s Park beach, which provides a weekend party-like atmosphere. But you’ll also find the quieter Tamarind Beach and Shoys Beach at the east end; come prepared to snorkel Tamarind and to wind through sea grape trees before emerging onto Shoys!
Sandy Point, the longest white sand beach, is at the west end of St. Croix and is a protected wildlife refuge. Cane Bay on the north shore is a great place to bring your cooler so you can stay all day. Turtle Beach on Buck Island is a real get-away because people must come to this uninhabited island via boat.
St. John’s allure is that you can walk the beaches, lie on the sand, and swim in the clear waters while perfectly surrounded by nature. St. John’s is almost two-thirds National Park so conservation is a way of life here. No matter where you moor the yacht, you’ll never be far from an extraordinary beach! Learn more about St. John here.
• Consider visiting Caneel Bay, Honeymoon Bay, Little Maho Bay, Trunk Bay, Turtle Bay, or Water Lemon Cay on the North Shore
• Boatman Point, Chocolate Hole, Fish Bay, Great Cruz Bay, Reef Bay, or Rendezvous Bay on the South Shore
• Drunk Bay, Europa Bay, John’s Folly, Johnson’s Bay, Nanny Point, or Salt Pond if you go toward Ram’s Head
• Brown Bay, Hansen Bay, Long Bay, or Privateer Bay toward East End
These suggestions aren’t nearly comprehensive! There is so much to explore that you’ll find it impossible to go a single day without seeing something absolutely breathtaking. Yacht charters afford you privacy, but you always have the option of going to St. Thomas or Tortola to get a real party going, if you’d rather! Your time is completely your own in the Virgin Islands.
Katie Bauer is an experienced travel writer and editor. Having been a stewardess on private yachts, a crew member for sail races, and a sail-maker in New England, she now specializes in yachting destinations. A frequent traveler, she has studied, worked, and volunteered abroad thus bringing a unique perspective to her content.