Grab your suit and sunscreen and head for a paradise like no other -- the best beaches of the Eastern Caribbean! Whether you're a total beach bum or an active adventure seeker, we've complied this list to guide you to the perfect sunny spot.
Best Beach for a Half-Day Visit:
Paradise Island, Nassau - You can find all manner of watersports rentals and eateries here. Our second choice? Cable Beach, lined by a strip of resorts (and all the usual beach amenities).
The beach at Hotel on the Cay, St. Croix - An island just off Christiansted, it has a gorgeous beach, of course, but also a bar and restaurant. Closest to the Fredericksted pier is Sandy Point, a huge stretch of sand (leatherback and green sea turtles nest here April - June).
Magen's Bay, St. Thomas - St. Thomas' calmest and most gorgeous beach is a 20-minute taxi ride from the port. The facility includes a bar, a cafeteria-style eatery and one of the island's best shops for casual wear and bathing suits. There is a small admission fee.
Best Beach for Active Types:
Hotel on the Cay, St. Croix - This is a great beach for water sports -- like renting a waverunner or parasailing.
Dawn Beach, St. Maarten - This beach is best for snorkeling and body surfing.
Sapphire Beach, St. Thomas - This resort on the island's east end has a stunning view of St. John and the British Virgin Islands. Virtually every conceivable type of water sports equipment is available for rent, from kayaks to Jet Skis to sail boats. Coki Beach, adjacent to Coral World, is a good destination for snorkeling and scuba diving (equipment can be rented there).
Best Beach for the Dedicated Beach Bum:
Arawak Cay, Nassau - A 10-minute taxi ride from Nassau, it's famed for its pastel-colored shacks, selling all sorts of local delicacies.
Cane Bay, St. Croix - Located on the north shore, it is a major destination for snorkelers who come to explore its undersea wall; it's deep enough for naval submarines to launch practice missions, dropping some 13,200 feet just 25 - 40 feet offshore. There are some terrific beach bars (both serve food as well) at Cane Bay, including Boz's and Off The Wall.
Hawksnest, St. John - A local's hangout, there's nothing there but sand, surf and a gorgeous beach (pick up snacks and beverages in town before you head out).
Adelaide Village, Nassau - The southern shore is called "the back of the island," and Adelaide Village, a community first settled by African slaves in the 1830's, is located here. Small, brightly colored huts are clustered near the almost empty beach where conch shells litter its shore.
Salt Pond Bay, St. John - Located on the east end of the island (you'll need to rent a Jeep) has a comfortable beach and, as an added attraction, a terrific hiking trail called the Ram's Head.
Cupecoy Beach, St. Maarten - This beach has caves, rock cliffs and lots of private nooks and crannies. Also try Dawn Beach for snorkeling.
Baie Longue, St. Martin - Gorgeous and quiet, this beach fronts the ultra-chic La Samanna Hotel.