Cinnamon Bay Trail Lookout St John USVI

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Top 9 Best Beaches On St John

Updated August 22, 2023

I spent two wonderful weeks exploring the beaches on St John, USVI. The North Shore is where most people head when searching for the perfect beach. The island of St John is blessed with so many beautiful beaches it will seem complicated to choose one on which to spend the day.

Each beach is unique, but they all have the following in common:

  • Crystal- clear aqua blue waters
  • Gorgeous white sand
  • Tropical plants and coconut palms lining the beach
  • The water is usually calm and shallow at the shore
  • Most have access to easy snorkeling

So in making this list I took into consideration the things that make a beach perfect for me. I weigh how crowded a beach is, the width of the beach, the amount of available shade and the amenities available. Below you will find my ranking of the most visited North Shore beaches on St. John.

If you are looking for tips on where to eat on St John, check out my post St John 9 Best Restaurant Guide.

The Top 9 North Shore Beaches:
Honeymoon Bay #9

Honeymoon is a beautiful beach with a sandy shoreline offering shade under coconut trees and sea grapes. This beach can be reached via the Lind Point Trail, starting just behind the Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center. You can also park at the Caneel Bay Beach Club for a fee.


Lots of amenities are available, including rentals, food and drink.


It is crowded and very commercial.

Maho #8

Maho is one of the most popular beaches in St John. The water is calm, making it an excellent beach for children. It also offers parking with a short walk along with bathrooms. The amenities include a bar, food vendors, chair rentals, picnic areas, and equipment rentals. And turtles, lots of turtles. You can sit on the shore and spot turtles as they breach the surface, making it easy to find them when you snorkel. The abundant seagrass makes this a good beach for swimming with turtles.


Easy parking and rentals are available, along with a beautiful white sand beach and shade.


It is crowded and very narrow. And in some areas, it is like you are sitting right on the road.

Maho Bay Beach St John USVI
Maho Bay Beach
Francis Bay #7

The beach at Francis Bay is one of St John’s longest beaches. You will find it is a fantastic beach for taking a walk. The clear water and long white sand beach make it an excellent family option. The beach also has restrooms and picnic tables among its amenities.


It’s a large beach and a bit less crowded than others.


Parking can be a challenge.

Jumbie Bay #6

Jumbie is a tiny little beach nestled between the larger and more crowded beaches of Trunk Bay and Hawksnest. If you are looking for a quiet, less crowded option that doesn’t require a long hike, this is the one. Keep in mind this beach does not have any amenities. Parking is quite limited, so arrive early.


Less crowded and more private.


Parking is limited.

Cinnamon Bay #5

This is one of the island’s largest beaches, almost a mile long. It is home to the Cinnamon Bay campground, one of the few remaining campgrounds in the USVI. Cinnamon Bay is an excellent place to snorkel, swim or kayak. The amenities include a large parking lot and public restrooms.


Lots of amenities are available, including rentals, food and drinks. And it’s a wide, long beach.


It can be a bit crowded.

Cinnamon Bay Beach St John USVI
Cinnamon Bay Beach
Hawksnest #4

Hawksnest is one of the more overlooked beaches. But it’s a good choice. You can easily spend the whole day here with convenient parking, restrooms, and picnic areas. Like most St John beaches, it offers good shade under the palms and sea grapes. It is also a good beach for snorkeling.


Ample shade and less crowded than some of the more famous beaches.


Parking can be limited.

Hawksnest Beach St John USVI
Hawksnest Beach
Gibney Beach #3

This is one of St John’s most private beaches. With only four total parking spaces, you have to luck out if you want to park and spend the day here. Or you could rent one of several beach cottages that line the beach and claim it as yours for the entire stay. This ideal beach has a beautiful white sand beach, plenty of coconut palms, and a perfect shallow sandy entry to the water.

You can also reach Mermaid’s Chair from Gibney Beach, a few hundred yards of swimming from the beach’s eastern end. It’s a tiny pocket beach surrounded by black volcanic rock.


Private and beautiful.


It is almost impossible to find parking.
And we had some very aggressive iguanas during our visit.

Gibney Beach St John USVI
Gibney Beach
Trunk Bay #2

Truck Bay is the iconic Caribbean beach captured in so many pictures. And it does live up to the hype—this is St John’s most famous and popular beach. So be prepared for a crowd. If you want shade, arrive early. I suggest choosing a day when fewer ships are docked, and you will find a much less crowded beach. Check the cruise ship schedule here.

View of Trunk Bay St John USVI
View of Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay is the only beach on the island that charges an entrance fee since it is part of the National Park. Entry is $5 per person, but it does offer the best amenities of any beach on St John (showers, bathrooms, picnic areas, food, bar, and equipment rental).

Trunk Bay also has an underwater snorkeling trail. It’s excellent for beginners since you can rent equipment at the beach, and the underwater markers provide some basic information. If you have snorkeled a lot, you will find it a bit of a letdown. But it’s worth putting your mask on for.


Beautiful and filled with amenities


It is crowded, and there is an entrance fee.

Trunk Bay St John USVI
Trunk Bay Before the Crowds Arrive
Denis Bay #1

I almost hate to write about this beach. It was, hands down, our favorite beach. It has no amenities (no restrooms, food, rental, or picnic area), and it requires a hike to reach it. But those are the things that make it so unique. Give me an empty beach, a great shade tree, a beautiful view, and I will be happy. Denis Bay Beach made me very happy. We went to Denis at least six times during a two-week stay and only shared the beach with 2-3 other couples. And often, we would be the only people there for hours.

This beach is home to a private residence, and out of respect for the owner, please be mindful of the start of his property, which is marked. But there is plenty of shade no matter what time of the day you arrive. I did not find this to be a good snorkeling beach; the water is less protected than in other areas. But it is a great place to read a book (or two or three, in my case).


Beautiful and private.


You do need to hike down to the beach.

Denis Beach St John USVI
My Private Beach…Denis Beach
Honorable Mention Beaches

Here are a few honorable mention beaches not found on the north shore you should check out. Often they do not have the perfect white sand and calm, shallow waters. But many of these are less crowded and harder to get to.

Lameshur Bay

Great Lameshur Bay and Lameshur Bay are two less visited beaches. The lack of visitors is due to the rough, unpaved road to access these beaches. Both beaches have a lovely crescent of sand lining the bay. Snorkeling is good in the area, and at Lameshur Bay, you will find picnic tables, grills, and plenty of shade.

Salt Pond Bay

This beach requires a little bit of work to reach. But you will be rewarded with a picturesque beach with calm waters and decent snorkeling. Park at the lot for Salt Pond and the Ram’s Head hiking trail. You will need to walk downhill for about 10 minutes on a wide path that can easily be done in flip-flops. Here you will find a calm bay with a lovely wide sandy beach. There is a decent amount of shade. Be careful; this beach seemed to have more thorns and burrs which can be painful. But the water tends to be the warmest on the island, and the snorkeling is excellent. It also has a restroom at the entrance to the beach.

Salt Pond Bay St John USVI
Salt Pond Bay
Hansen Bay Beach

This is a little gem on the east-end of St John. It is a private beach that owner Thalia has opened to the public. She or a family member will greet you and explain the beach. They ask you to donate to use the facilities, including shade, lounges, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards (for additional rental fees).

While on the east-end, a great beach to visit is Haulover, it’s not a sandy beach, but it has some fantastic snorkeling. I found the best collection of sea fans in this area.

Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay

This beach is a bit of a hike along a flat trail that follows the water. This is more of a snorkeling beach, it does have a mix of sand and pebbles, but it is not the white, fluffy sand of the other north shore beaches. Since the entry is rocky, it requires more swimming, so take your water shoes. But you will find an abundance of fish, and this is where we spotted several sting rays. With that in mind, the walk is worth it for some good snorkeling.

Leinster Bay St John USVI
Leinster Bay

The one thing you will find on St John is an abundance of great beaches. There is something for everyone. Whether your perfect beach is a private, secluded area or a hopping beach with activities and a bar, you will find it on this island. So grab your reef-safe sunscreen, a good book, a comfy beach chair, and head to St John.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS and are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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