Budget

Great American Beach Towns

by Sarah Tuff

CORAL BAY, ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

The sand: There are more than 40 beaches on the island—many protected by a national park—with hiking trails to nearly all of 'em.

Marine life: As one of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John may fly the red, white,and blue, but an expat vibe runs through the well-sheltered harbor of Coral Bay. Long a hippie-ish hideout for old salts and new beach bums alike, the funky little town—on the far side of the island from the main settlement of Cruz Bay—has none of the bling and bustle of sister islands St. Thomas and St. Croix, with their cruise ports and duty-free shop-o-ramas. Here, the entire economy depends on the sale of tropical trinkets from rickety shacks and bikinis from a VW bus. The unofficial town hall is Skinny Legs, a beachfront bar where the burger selections are scrawled on an old windsurfing board and an old sail serves as the awning. For those who insist on earning their Heinekens with a bit of exercise, Crabby's rents sea kayaks and snorkeling gear.

The sanctuary: Forget staying at a hotel—truth is, there aren't any this side of the island. Instead, lord over the coast in a villa like the Starlit Escape, a 2,500-square-foot house with five bedrooms and a freshwater swimming pool.

Starlit Escape
Tel: 800 965 1650
From $1,400 per week

Skinny Legs
Tel: 340 779 4982

Crabby's
Tel: 340 714 2415

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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