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by Kristin Young | Updated On: January 5, 2021 | St. Thomas
With fewer cruise ship visitors than places like Coki or Magen’s, calm crystal clear water, and plenty of coral and fish, one of our top 3 picks for snorkeling on the island is Sapphire Beach. St. Thomas snorkeling is often overshadowed by it’s USVI neighbor, St. John, but there’s plenty to see on St. Thomas, and with easier access too.
One of the biggest draws to Sapphire Bay is the ability to rent condos right on one of the best snorkeling beaches on St. Thomas(also check out Secret Harbor). Waking up every morning and walking 15 steps across the beach to snorkel is paradise in our book.
This map of Sapphire Beach, St. Thomas will give you a good idea of the best places to stay because not only can you see all of the pools, restaurants, beach areas, and snorkeling spots, but we’ve included labels for Crystal Cove and Sapphire Beach Resort building maps to help you choose the best place to stay.
There are three properties located at Sapphire Beach, all of which are independently owned condominium units that will need to be booked through a site like Airbnb, VRBO, or Booking.com. Many of the units are listed on all of the booking platforms, but some are not, so it’s best to check all of them. But, after many trips, we’ve compiled our top picks below.
Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina
The condos at Sapphire Bay Resort in St. Thomas are the prime spot at Sapphire Bay because they are right on the water. There’s no packing up to go anywhere. Just wander out your door and you’re on one of the best beaches in the Virgin Islands. With food and a marina on site, and taxis available any time to run you to nearby Red Hook for shopping, there’s really not a better or more relaxing place to be in St. Thomas.
Nearly all of the rentals can be found on VRBO, so we’ve linked to several great Sapphire Bay Condo options below. We prefer buildings A, B, and C, as they are facing the sandy beach.
Our preference is a ground floor unit, as they have patios with direct beach access. (The ground floor units are almost all studios, but many have a sliding partition that can divide the bedroom area from the living area)
Not quite as prime of a location when you visit Sapphire Beach, but in a close second are the condos at Crystal Cove Beach Resort. Building A is closest to the beach, but all are just a short walk to the water with most having decent views of the ocean. You’ll also find a pool and tennis courts just to the right of our map.
Up the hill a bit from Sapphire Beach the condos as Sapphire Village are a great option for people who love the view from higher up the mountain. It is about a 10 minute walk down(which means you will have to go back up) to Sapphire Beach.
Sudi’s, one of the main restaurants in the area, is located within Sapphire Village, and even includes a swimming pool. There’s an additional pool located just at the top of the property.
GETTING TO SAPPHIRE BEACH
Where is Sapphire Beach?
On the opposite side of the island from the Airport, Sapphire Beach is about a 30 minute drive from the cruise port in Charlotte Amalie. Be warned that taxis here do charge by the person, and also for luggage. Expect to pay around $10 per person each way.
Just a 2 minute drive to Red Hook for groceries, shopping, and the ferry to St. John, Sapphire Bay is one the best spots for a home base on St. Thomas.
AMENITIES AT SAPPHIRE BEACH, ST. THOMAS
Not only does Sapphire Bay have one of the prettiest beaches and some of the best snorkeling on the island, but it also has plenty of amenities from a marina with boat tours to on-site restaurants and pools, you really don’t ever need to leave!
Located near Red Hook, there are many restaurants near Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas. But, there are only two restaurants, Sapphire Beach Bar and Sudi’s Restaurant, and one coffee shop, The Beach Buzz, within the Sapphire Bay complex.
The Beach Bar at Sapphire Beach is located right on the beach adjoining the Sapphire Bay Beach Resort, has open air and beachfront seating, and serves basic beach grill food like burgers, hot dogs, and fish tacos, along with plenty of drink choices at the bar. You can find their menu here.
The Beach Buzz, a little cafe just next to Sapphire Beach Bar, offers coffees, breakfast sandwiches, and sundries, and is mostly a morning coffee spot. You can find their up to date hours and pics of drinks and food currently on offer at their facebook page here.
Sudi’s Restaurant is located just up the hill from Sapphire Beach within the Sapphire Village condominium complex. Sudi’s is much more of a full scale restaurant, rather than beach bar or cafe. They offer many main dishes from the grill, pizzas, appetizers, and of course a bar. You can check out their menu here.
Sudi’s also has an on site pool where you can take a dip while you wait for your order! Love that pool!
Gear Rentals at Sapphire Beach
Sapphire Beach has just about any kind of rental you could want, from beach chairs to snorkel bobs! If you want a noodle to float or a paddle board to explore the bay, you can find it all just near the beach bar.
BEACH & SNORKELING AT SAPPHIRE BAY
Most of Sapphire Bay is completely exposed, with the exception of a few sea grape trees along the East side of the beach. If you want a spot in the shade, arrive early, or get a chair set up as soon as possible. These spots get snapped up quickly!
The water in the bay is usually quite calm with only gentle waves lapping at the shore, so it’s a perfect spot to swim or for families with young children to play in the water.
Sapphire Beach Snorkeling
The best snorkeling is near and along the rocky outcropping, where you will see plenty of small and medium sized colorful fish, and quite a bit of large coral. We absolutely recommend renting a condo along the beach.
Entry: Beach Experience: Beginner Access: No Fee, Free Parking Available, Taxi Stand Facilities: Equipment & Chair Rentals, Beach Restaurant/Bar, Public Restrooms, Beach Showers, Marina
Even on heavy cruise ship days(trust me, we were there when 20,000 cruisers descended on the island- by the way, check the cruise schedule here), the beach may be a bit packed, but the good snorkeling is mostly left untouched. It’s surprising how many people were snorkeling along the sandy bottomed part of the beach just off shore, and not taking advantage of all of the beautiful rocks and coral at the sides.
Make sure to keep your distance from the coral as touching it can not only damage the coral, but hurt you as well. Beware of the FIRE CORAL!
Still looking for the perfect home base?? Check out this post on Secret Harbor, our other favorite spot to stay on St. Thomas. It’s always a hard choice between the two. Our opinion: Sapphire Bay has a slight edge on the beach and view, and Secret Harbor has a slight edge on the snorkeling. Really you can’t go wrong with either.