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Beaches on St. John, St. John

U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean's insider take:

It's hard not to find a quiet cove to call your own on idyllic St. John island. A drive along North Shore Road will take you past dozens of secluded spots, all with crystal-clear water, sugar-white sand, and shady coconut palms. Here are our favorite beaches on the island:

Trunk Bay
Mainly due to its proximity to Cruz Bay—it's less than a ten-minute drive east from the port town—Trunk Bay is St. John's most popular beach. But much credit should also be given to the powdery white sand, luxuriant palms, and well-marked, beginner-friendly snorkel trail. In addition to lifeguards, there are picnic tables, bathrooms, and showers—all well worth the $4 admission fee (children 16 and under are free). Other amenities include a snack bar and snorkel rental. Note to the thrifty: There's no entry charge after 4 pm.

Caneel Beach
Even if you're not staying at Caneel Bay resort, you can still laze on its fabulous namesake beach. You'll have to bring your own towels, and steer clear of the guest-only chaise longues, but you'll have access to one of the prettiest strands on St. John as well as the open-air Caneel Beach Bar & Grill. (Remember to bring a shirt or wrap to wear in the resort's public areas.) Adventurous snorkelers can hop in the water (BYO gear, too) and head west around the rocky point to secluded Honeymoon Beach. It'll take strong swimmers about 15 minutes to get there, but once ashore you'll be rewarded with a slice of sand all your own. If you're not exhausted yet, explore the headland between Honeymoon Beach and Salomon Bay (the next cove over) for a closer look at the reef fish hugging the coast.

Cinnamon Bay
Cinnamon Bay, just east of Trunk Bay, is best known for its affordable beachside camping, but it also happens to be home to the longest beach within Virgin Islands National Park. Strong afternoon breezes make it popular with windsurfers; newbies can get a two-hour introductory lesson from Wind 'n' Surfing Adventures. If balancing on a board is not your style, rent a sea kayak from the same outfitter and paddle out to one of the bay's five snorkeling sites for an up-close glimpse of giant brain and elkhorn coral, plus plenty of parrotfish, barracuda, and blue tang.

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