The view from Magens Bay Beach.

A Magens Bay Beach Break on St. Thomas

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Charlotte Amalie in the U.S. Virgin Islands is an extremely popular cruise ship port-of-call and there is no shortage of visitors here. One of the most popular St. Thomas activities is a visit to one of the many beaches on the island – and no beach is more beautiful or popular than the Magens Bay Beach. Magens Bay is an adventure in paradise!

St Thomas beaches:  The lifeguard at Magens Bay Beach St. Thomas watching over swimmers. The beach at Magens Bay USVI (often misspelled Magen's Bay or Megan's Bay or Megans ) is one of the best beaches in St Thomas.

We visited St. Thomas on a cruise several years ago and weren’t impressed. While we’d initially considered going to Magens Bay Beach or one of the other St. Thomas beaches, we opted to take the ferry over to Trunk Bay in St. John instead. However, we realized we hadn’t given St. Thomas a fair chance.

So, during our recent cruise with Celebrity, we opted to rent a car and drive ourselves around St. Thomas. As it turned out, driving in St Thomas was the perfect decision.

Having driven on the other side of the road before, touring St. Thomas on our own made sense. The rental car company (Budget) is located right at the cruise ship pier. We were able to do our own best of St. Thomas island tour by hitting the highlights: Skyline Drive, Drake’s Seat, Mountain Top and on to Magens Bay Beach.

The Charlotte Amalie St Thomas cruise port as viewed from one of the mountains.  The two cruise ships are at the Havensight Dock St Thomas cruise port.
Cruise port in Charlotte Amalie

The drive along the entire Skyline Drive road (Route 40) offers stunning views of the island. From the scenic overlook (i.e., small parking lot) there are amazing views looking south to Charlotte Amalie and Crown Bay.

On the day we made the drive, there were four different cruise ships in port. It’s hard to see how the island can support that many visitors, but we didn’t experience a lot of overcrowding on our trip. Continuing on Skyline Drive, the viewpoint at Drake’s Seat offers amazing views of Magens Bay, the other Virgin Islands, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north.

The view of Magens Bay St Thomas.  This photo was taken from Drake's Seat St Thomas of the bay below.
View of Magens Bay from Drake’s Seat

Before continuing on to the beach, we stopped at Mountain Top. This is the #1 tourist attraction in the Virgin Islands. Millions of visitors make the trek up here for the stunning views of the Virgin Islands – and the gift shop that sells everything. And we mean literally everything. Mountain Top also claims to be home of the Banana Daiquiri, which we sampled and enjoyed. For our taste, Mountain Top was a bit too kitschy and we were interested in a more relaxing experience.

Home of the World Famous Banana Daiquiri St Thomas:  Mountain Top. Part gift shop, part bar, the Mountain top St Thomas is all kinds of craziness.

The real goal of our St. Thomas excursion was to soak up some sun on the beach: Magens Bay Beach. No other place in the Caribbean is more frequently misspelled or mispronounced. It is Magens Bay. It is named for a long-forgotten territorial governor named Jacob Jorgenson Magens. That’s with an “s” on the end.

It’s not named after a woman named Megan or a woman named Meghan or even a woman named Meagan. It’s not Megan’s Bay, or Magen’s Bay, or Meagan’s Bay (possessive). Nobody personally owns it. Nor is it Meagans Bay or Megans Bay or Meghans Bay (without the possessive). It’s Magens Bay. And you’ll be surprised how many people (and even the actual cruise ships) that get it wrong. Remember: Megans Bay.

This nearly one-mile long white sandy beach of Magens Bay is one of the nicest in the world. Protected by the Peterborg Peninsula, the water is calm, the sand is fine, the palm trees provide ample shade, and it’s practically perfect.

The only downside is that nearly all the cruise ship visitors seem to make their way to Magens Bay Beach, too. However, we learned some tips to get away from the crowds and enjoy this tropical paradise.

Masses of cruise ship visitors come to Magens Bay Beach and congregate near the concession stand.  The most popular way to get here is to take a taxi to Magens Bay from cruise port.
Masses of cruise ship visitors

After pulling up to the admission gate, private cars need to turn left and find parking in Magens Bay Park (and there is ample parking). However, the further down the beach you go, the fewer people there are. It seems most of the cruise ship visitors who come by taxi congregate near the concession stand. We went 500 yards down the beach and had a picnic table in the shade to ourselves with relatively few people.

The beautiful blue waters of Magens Bay, St. Thomas.  It is close to paradise.

We spent over three hours lounging in the sun, swimming in the ocean and watching the pelican dive-bomb small schools of fish in the shallow water. We drank tropical island drinks and got a little too much sun. It was perfect in every way!

At St Thomas Magen Bay Beach, the pelicans dive bomb the small fish in the shallow water. The presence of the birds are indicative of the fish below allowing for Magens Bay snorkeling. Magens Bay is not the best snorkeling in St Thomas, but it is fun.

The cruise ships charge $50-$60 per person for the shore excursion to see the island and visit the beach. For our group, that would have been $200-$240. Independent shore excursions can be had for about $40. We did it for $76 with the rental car, $15 in gas and $20 to get into the beach. But even more important than saving money, we were on our own time schedule and had the independence to do what we wanted. We were able to have an adventure in paradise.

Magens Bay Beach Visitor Information

Magens Bay Beach Admission

$5.00 per person, plus $2.00 parking per car.

Magens Bay Location

Follow Route 35 from Charlotte Amalie due north until it dead ends at check point. Private cars will be directed to the left. There is ample parking.

Getting to Magens Bay St Thomas from Cruise Port

Our first question was, how far is Magens Bay from the cruise port? The answer is 5.8km (3.7 miles). However, that short distance is compounded by mountains, winding roads, and poor road signage.

You’ve really got three ways to get from the St Thomas cruise port to Magens Bay: expensive private excursion, hiring a taxi, or renting a car and driving yourself. The taxi fare from St Thomas cruise port to Magens Bay is between $10-$15 per person. Taxis are not private taxis – they are more like big, open-top buses.

If you’d rather book your own tour, consider this half-day Magens Bay Beach option.

The official cruise shore excursions are:

  • Royal Caribbean: Magens Bay Beach Getaway
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: Magen’s Bay Beach (yes, they misspell the name)
  • Princess: Magens Bay Beach, Scenic Drive & Shopping
  • Carnival: Magens Bay Beach Getaway

For us, the best way to get to Magens Beach is to rent a car. This also allows you the opportunity to see other things on the island like the Mountain Top and Drake’s Seat.

The concession stand at Magens Bay Beach on St. Thomas. Visiting St Thomas Magens Bay is one of the top things to do in the Virgin Islands.
The humble concession stand

Restaurants at Magens Bay Beach

There are three concessions services at Magens Bay Beach. The snack bar serves pizza (either whole or by the slice), food from the grill (hamburgers, hotdogs, etc.), sandwiches and salads (pre-packaged), plus snacks like chips and sodas. The food was actually better than we expected.

There is also a full-service bar serving all kinds of beers and tropical cocktails. There are also about a half-dozen young women in bikinis that operate a kind of independent waitress service from the Magens Bay Beach Bar. Technically not affiliated with either business, they will run drinks for you out to the beach (for tips).

The Magens Bay concessions stand at Magens Bay Beach on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Concession stand

Equipment Rentals at Magens Bay Beach

Equipment can be rented at Magens Bay Beach. Lounge chairs are available for $7.00 per day and beach chairs are $5.00/day (either option has a $5.00 refundable rental deposit). Mask, fins and snorkel can be rented for $15.00 (plus a $35.00 refundable deposit). Bringing your own snorkel gear will save you money. (Note: We strongly recommend buying your own snorkel gear. There’s something about putting your mouth on a snorkel that thousands of other people have used that we don’t love. We wrote an in-depth guide to snorkel gear here.)

The one downside is that the equipment rental shed is on the busiest part of the beach and you may need to wait for gear or carry your chair a long, long way to get away from the crowds.

Equipment rental (beach chairs and snorkel gear) at Magens Bay Beach in St. Thomas.


There are public showers and restrooms at several points along Magens Beach.

Official website

A final view of Magens Bay as we were visiting Drakes Seat St Thomas. Visiting Magens Bay is one of the top things to do in St Thomas cruise port. For us, visiting the St Thomas beaches is the best thing to do on the island.
A final view of Magens Bay

17 thoughts on “A Magens Bay Beach Break on St. Thomas”

  1. Lance these images are just awesome. Paradise here at St. Thomas!

    Your pelican story is neat. I recall watching them in the water as a kid, diving endlessly to grab their daily bread/fish. Fun times, and hey, what’s a trip to the beach in paradise if you don’t get too much sun, right? 😉 I for one use a bunch of block but always get nice and tan by the end of my trips to tropical locales. I block some rays and let some in to pick up my mood and goodness knows I won’t be Vitamin D deficient lol.

    Keep on inspiring, you’re doing great work!


    1. Thanks Ryan. I’m so fair skinned that I basically just sunburn. I go from zero to lobster in about 15 minutes.

  2. That view from Drake’s Seat is incredible! I much prefer Trunk Bay over Magen’s Bay, which when I visited was definitely overcrowded and also dirty, but I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to return, that’s for sure!

    1. Depends on your situation. Magens Bay is great because it’s more convenient since you’re not leaving the island, but that also means it could be more crowded. Trunk Bay is gorgeous and smaller but had fewer services when we visited. I know St. John was really devastated during the storms last year, so I can’t say what it’s like now. Neither is a bad choice.

  3. We are going via cruise ship to St Thomas in Feb 2019, I read all of your info on renting a car, but didn’t see a date as to when this was. If it was several yrs ago, I wonder if the car rental prices are more now. When was it that you went and rented the car?
    PS, thanks for all the great information

    1. We went in 2015. I just did a quick search on the prices and they are comparable. I picked three different days in January and February 2019 and the prices were actually a bit less than we paid (and is in the article).

    1. $8 chairs. Umbrellas available, but don’t remember the prices. There are not “cabanas” per se as you may be accustomed to on other islands. You’ll be fine with the chairs and umbrellas.

  4. Hi – do you think it’s possible to hit Trunk Bay in St John AND Magen’s Bay in St Thomas? I also want to try to fit in Mountain Top, Drake’s Seat and the Skyline Drive (if possible).

    Also, where did you pick up your rental? That may take some time out too.

    My cruise ship will be on the island 7am – 5pm (10 hours).

    1. That’s really biting off a LOT. You’re really got two trips here. First is Magens Bay, plus visiting the Mountain Top, Drake’s Seat and Skyline Drive. All that of that is one trip and is outlined above.

      The other trip is Trunk Bay. You can read about that here:
      Given the amount of time the ship is in port, plus the ferry schedule, you really wouldn’t be able to do much more than Trunk Bay that day. So you’ll need to chose.

      We were able to pick up the rental car right at the Havensight/West Indian Docks. There’s a rental agency right there. But yes, it did take some time to sort out the rental, even though we’d reserved in advance.

      1. Thanks so much for your tips! I’m seeing two budget car rental places- one in downtown and one in Charlotte Amalie West. Is the west one the best place to use? Also, do you think it’s best to book in advance, as opposed to when we get off the ship?

        1. You need to figure out which dock your boat comes into. There are two cruise terminals in Charlotte Amalie. On the east side of the town is the Havensight docks (sometimes called West Indies). There is a Budget office right on the pier. On the west side of town is the Crown Bay docks (sometimes called Frenchtown). And to complicate things even more, when there are a lot of ships in port, they anchor in the bay and tender. Once you know which place your boat docks, you can determine which rental car place is closest to you. Hope that helps. And I would absolutely book the rental car in advance.

  5. Unless you are VERY experienced driving on the left side of curvy, mountainous roads, I recommend you take one of the open-air taxis and let the locals do the driving. Much safer and you can enjoy the view. Our driver was very capable and we made arrangements with her to take us back to the ship.

    1. We didn’t find the driving to be particularly challenging (certainly not as difficult as Ireland). However, there are pluses and minuses to driving in St. Thomas. On the plus side, you’re not beholden to the cruise line or some other company’s schedule for getting around. If you’re more than three people, you’ll probably save money renting a car on St. Thomas. And there’s always that rewarding feeling of getting out there on your own. The big open-air people movers (a.k.a., “taxis”) are fine for point-to-point transfers, but can be rather inconvenient if you’re trying to make your own tour and see all of the sights. Of course, the people movers do tours too, but you’re paying elevated prices for those.

      On the negative side, there is always a risk of accidents, which is slightly increased driving on the other side of the road. There can be the additional stress of driving or traffic. If you are looking for a catered experience where you don’t need to do any research and don’t care about how much you are spending, then the people movers can be a good option.

  6. Thanks so much for this helpful article and all the good tips! Decided to rent a car when our ship stops here next week–going with Budget, as you suggested. Compact came to $62 for the day, all fees included (agent on phone beat online pricing by about $17).

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