My husband and I took a cruise to the Caribbean last summer and one of the islands we visited was St. Thomas. We knew we wanted to snorkel, so I did a lot of research online to find the most beautiful beaches with the clearest water the island has to offer. Two beaches were always being suggested. Coki Beach and Sapphire Beach are said to have the best snorkeling on the island. With three cruise ships in port that day, we decided to try Sapphire which I heard is the least crowded of the two. I can easily say this is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen!
Once the ship docks in Charlotte Amelie Harbor, it is about a 20 minute taxi ride to arrive at Sapphire. Fare is about $10 per person. The beach is very easy to access, and it breathtakingly beautiful once you lay eyes on it.
The water is a spectacular shade of blue, and you have great views of neighboring St. John in the distance. The sand is the finest and whitest I have ever seen. It is made up of crushed coral and is like walking through powder.
There were plenty of people at the beach that day, but since the beach is so large, it was easy to find an open stretch of sand to lay out our towels and relax. I couldn't get over how clean the beach was! There was no litter to be seen, no bottle caps in the sand. Most of the people seemed to prefer the sunbathing, as the water was nearly empty. You certainly didn't have to worry about bumping into others while you snorkeled which was great. The water was warm and very calm, making it a great place for beginners or those who are not strong swimmers.
We reached coral by the time water was waist deep. There was so much to discover! We saw purple sea urchins, brain coral, schools of parrot fish, a Caribbean trumpet fish, and spotted trunk fish. These were all in just a few feet of water. Once we swam out deeper (probably about 10 feet of water) we saw a sea turtle. It would dive down to the bottom to eat the sea grass, and then paddle back up to the top.
Snorkeling isn't the only activity popular on the beach. In the distance we saw people windsurfing and people on jet skis. They can be rented at the marina which is adjacent to the beach. The marina also rents boats, snorkel gear and you can go deep sea fishing. For those who just prefer to relax, chairs can be rented for $7 a day. There are no umbrellas, but there are trees along the beach that provide shade.
Amenities include a restaurant, bathrooms and there is an outdoor shower to rinse off the salt and sand. Everyone we spoke with was incredibly friendly and eager to help. All you have to do is walk a few feet from the beach and there are taxis lined up to take you where ever you want to go. Sapphire is only a few minutes from Red Hook. This is where you can catch the ferry over to visit St. John if you wish.
There is a condominium resort right on the beach which looks really nice. The yards were well manicured and there was a nice pool and tennis courts. For anyone staying on the island, it looked like a place to consider.
If you make a trip to St. Thomas, you will not want to miss out on Sapphire Beach!