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Beaches on St. Thomas, St. Thomas's insider take:

The majority of the beaches on St. Thomas are home to hotels, so expect to compete with other visitors for your own place in the sun. Non-guests are permitted, although some resorts charge a small fee for a beach chair if you're not staying at the property. Here are our favorite beaches on the island:

Magens Bay
If you avoid this mile-long landmark between 10 am and 2 pm—the crush of the cruise ship day—Magens Bay can be every bit the unspoiled strip of sand all those "best beaches" lists make it out to be. The water is consistently calm, the shallows are sandy, and there are tons of palm trees for a shady respite; in addition, there are ample changing facilities and a snack bar, making it a great choice for families. It's overseen by the Magens Bay Authority, which charges $4 per person and rents lounge chairs and nonmotorized water-sports gear. On your way there, take Route 35 up and over the central range and stop to admire the stunning Drake's Seat overlook.

Hull Bay
Two miles west of Magens Bay and accessible via serpentine Route 37, this pretty little north-side beach caters to locals and visitors who want to escape the crowds. Many of the island's fishermen keep their boats anchored here; during the winter, in-the-know surfers paddle out to ride St. Thomas's most consistent waves. There's a low-key restaurant-bar, the Hull Bay Hideaway, stand-up paddleboard outfitter Bluewater for surfing lessons and board rentals, and on weekends, even a single-chair barber operating out of a step van.

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