Sapphire Beach St Thomas Snorkeling & Beach Guide

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by Kristin Young | Updated On: October 19, 2020 | Snorkel

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 on the island is Sapphire Beach.  St. Thomas snorkeling is often overshadowed by it’s USVI neighbor, St. John.  Yes, the snorkeling and beaches on St. John are amazing, but there’s plenty to see on St. Thomas.  Our biggest draw to Sapphire Bay was the ability to rent condos right on one of the best snorkeling beaches on St. Thomas.  Waking up every morning and walking 15 steps across the beach to snorkel is paradise in our book.

See the Full Snorkel Tour Below

Aerial photo of Sapphire Beach St Thomas with Text Overlay, Complete Beach and Snorkel Guide to Sapphire Beach St. Thomas, USVI

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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.

Aerial Sapphire Bay Snorkel Map with Coral and Grass labels

If you want a spot in the shade, arrive early, or get a chair set up as soon as possible.  The best spots in the shade get snapped up quickly!

Entry: Beach
Experience: Beginner
Access: No Fee, Free Parking Available, Taxi Stand 
Facilities: Equipment & Chair Rentals,  Beach Restaurant/Bar, Public Restrooms, Beach Showers, Marina

WHERE TO STAY AT SAPPHIRE BEACH

The condos at Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina 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 options below.  We prefer buildings A, B, and C, as they are facing the sandy beach.

split photo of Sapphire Beach condo from air and photo of beach from condo patio

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)

If you’d rather have a bit more privacy, and a view, the units on the second and third floors all have balconies overlooking the beach and ocean.
Check out our favorites:

Get a bottom floor unit in Building A, B, or C for perfect walk out snorkeling.

GETTING TO SAPPHIRE BEACH

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.

WHAT TO EXPECT

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.

Shot looking down the beach at Sapphire Bay, St Thomas, USVI

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.

rental gear on table- snorkel bobs, beach noodles, water shoes, and sign listing all rentals

Right on the beach, Sapphire Beach Bar has plenty of options for snacks and drinks, so no need to worry about bringing any food along.  If you don’t mind a 10 minute walk through the condos, you’ll find a second bar and restaurant, Sudis, with a few more options.

beach bar at Sapphire Beach

Just in front of the beach bar, sun worshipers will find a gorgeous soft white sand beach, but just to the right(facing the water), there are several sea grape trees that offer a decent bit of shade.

sea grape trees at Sapphire Beach, St Thomas

SNORKEL TOUR

coral and fish underwater at Sapphire Beach, St. Thomas
fish at coral at Sapphire Bay St Thomas
underwater at Sapphire Bay
school of fish swimming at Sapphire Bay
red fish underwater Sapphire Bay
underwater coral at Sapphire Beach

USVI GUIDE

Maho beach with text overlay "Complete Guide to the U.S. Virgin Islands

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Aerial photo of Sapphire Beach St Thomas with Text Overlay, Complete Beach and Snorkel Guide to Sapphire Beach St. Thomas, USVI

Hi!  We’re Kristin & Andrew, lovers of everything tropical.  We spend as much time as possible searching for the best beaches, snorkeling, hiking, and fun in the sun!