Magens Bay is consistently voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It's also one of St. Thomas’ most popular attractions. Known for its mile-long white sandy shore with sparkling turquoise waters surrounded by green hills, it's easy to see why this stunning location is so famous. This St. Thomas destination is easily accessible and a picturesque paradise for visitors to enjoy. There are activities like snorkeling, hiking, or simply lounging on the beautiful beach. Which is why it's a popular shore excursion for cruise ship passengers in the Charlotte Amalie port. Below is an Essential Guide to Magens Bay Beach on a St. Thomas Shore Excursion.
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Where Is Magens Bay?
Magens Bay is located on the north side of the island of St. Thomas. The beach is nearly a mile long and easy to spot from one of the many overlooks on the island. The exact address is Magens Bay Beach, St Thomas 00802, U.S. Virgin Islands, and can be found on Google here.
Best Time of Year to Visit St. Thomas
There is no wrong time to visit the US Virgin Islands as temperatures are warm and comfortable throughout the year, but the best time is in the spring. From April to June, St. Thomas has mild temperatures with low crowds before the hurricane season begins. Rainfall remains low at this time, although it is possible. Alternatively, winter is another ideal time to visit from December to April, this is the dry season and a great escape from colder temperatures. However, this is also peak season, so expect crowds. Summer and fall are hurricane season, and crowd levels are high during the summer.
How to Get To Magens Bay From the Cruise Port
St. Thomas has two ports cruise ships use, Havensight and Crown Bay. Most major cruise lines like Carnival, Celebrity, NCL, and Royal Caribbean (except for the ships Oasis and Allure of the Seas) dock at Havensight since it's a larger port. Magens Bay is approximately 15 minutes from the Havensight cruise port and about 18 minutes from the Crown Bay port depending on traffic. There are a few ways to get to Magens Bay from the cruise port, but the most common is a shore excursion or on your own via taxi.
1. Shore Excursion Through the Cruise Line
Shore excursions are a convenient and easy way to experience activities in each port. Generally, it’s the pricier tour option, and visiting Magens Bay Beach is no different. However, while the cost is comparatively higher, it’s also the safest choice as the ship cannot leave without you. You’re picked up right at the port, provided with transportation to each location and back, including Magens Bay, and learn about the fascinating history of St. Thomas.
Every cruise line offers multiple shore excursions that include Magens Bay Beach. This is how I enjoyed my time in St. Thomas and experienced Magens Bay. My excursion included a fun visit to Mountain Top additionally. Shore excursions to Magens Bay range from 3-5 hours and cost roughly $50-$100 per person, depending on the tour.
2. Outside Tour
Tours booked outside the cruise line are another way to get to Magens Bay. They are usually less expensive than the cruise shore excursions and still have plenty of options. Many of these tours meet you at your ship as well. The only caveat is that the cruise ship will leave without you if you miss the boarding time. This 4-hour tour includes a trip to Mountain Top, stopping at Drakes Seat overlook for photos, and then free time at Magens Bay. If you’re docked longer at the Charlotte Amalie cruise port, consider this 6-hour tour with all of the above plus 2 hours of shopping in downtown St. Thomas.
3. On Your Own
Many cruise ship passengers decide to visit Magens Bay on their own. Traveling without a tour in port is a fantastic option if you want to experience St. Thomas without being shackled to a schedule. Additionally, it’s the most cost-efficient way to see Magens Bay and other notable stops. As with booking an outside tour, remain vigilant of boarding time.
To reach Magens Bay on your own, you can either take a taxi there and back or rent a car. I don’t suggest the latter unless you have a full day in St. Thomas to explore the island. This is why most cruisers use the taxi service located near the port. The taxis are open-air buses that operate similarly to a taxi service. These buses can accommodate large groups and take handfuls of passengers at once. They cost $10-$15 per person each way. Conveniently, there’s a taxi stand at Magens Bay Beach to return to the ship.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Magens Bay?
Travelers who decide to visit the beach on their own will need to pay a $5 fee per person over the age of 12. Children under 12 have free admission. To park car rentals there is a $2 parking fee. A taxi shuttle costs approximately $10-$15 per person. Shore excursions and outside tours range in price, but the cost is generally $50-$100 per person.
Admission Pricing List
Daily Rate: $5 for ages 12+, Free for kids under 12
Taxi: $10-$15 per person each way
Shore Excursion/Outside Tour: $50-$100 per person
What Is Magens Bay Known For?
Magens Bay has been a popular destination for years, especially for cruises. Its fame continued to rise as National Geographic named it one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. With a mile of pristine white sand and crystal blue water, it's easy to see why. Additionally, Magens Bay is famous for a popular legend that claims Sir Francis Drake, a 16th-century sea captain and privateer, anchored here to watch for enemy ships. The spot above Magens Bay where the tale is to have occurred is now called Drake's Seat because of this.
Fun Fact: Magens Bay was a filming location in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn Part 1. This spot is the romantic honeymoon scene where Bella and Edward are together in the ocean under the moonlight. For all my fellow Twihards, this is a must-visit destination!
Does Magens Bay Have Bathrooms?
Magens Bay has three bathrooms available located along the beach. One is near the main entrance, and it's impossible to miss. They also have shower stands to wash off the sand before you leave.
St. Thomas Need to Know Information
Currency: U.S. dollar
Official Language: English
Time Zone: Atlantic Standard Time
Passport: Not required for U.S. Citizens
Driving: On the left side of the road
Average Temperature: Low of 73 °F and high of 90 °F
Credit Cards: Not accepted everywhere (make sure to carry cash)
Cruise Ports: Havensight and Crown Bay
Cruise Shore Excursions
If you decide to book one of the cruise shore excursions, you have several options to choose from. Most major cruise lines offer similar tours, so which line you take won't make a difference. Furthermore, shore excursion prices vary slightly between cruise lines, but not by much.
Five main experiences are included in some combination of the tours: Magens Bay, Mountain Top, Drakes Seat, Paradise Point Skyride, and downtown shopping. Choose the shore excursion with the combination of activities that interest you the most.
My Magens Bay Shore Excursion Experience
I took an NCL excursion with Mountain Top, Magens Bay, and downtown shopping. Pickup at the port was efficient, and I was quickly on the road to Mountain Top. The ride was bumpy, but our driver provided fun commentary and the history of St. Thomas. Plus, the view from the bus was beautiful the entire way up.
Mountain Top is the highest point in St. Thomas and offers the most incredible views on the island. Here you’ll find a large shop home to the original banana daiquiri and an overlook to the best vista.
The store is the largest duty-free gift shop in the U.S. Virgin Islands, so if you have time to browse for souvenirs, this is the place to do it. I skipped shopping and instead went to the back of the store where they make the banana daiquiris. The daiquiris come with brightly colored souvenir cups and slightly range in price depending on the cup. They are pricey, but it was the best banana daiquiri in my life with the perfect amount of rum.
Also located at the back of the massive store is an overlook with sweeping views of over 15 islands, including Magens Bay. It’s a beautiful spot for photos, but can get crowded. After soaking up the stunning panoramic views, it was time to return to the bus.
From Mountain Top, the drive to Magens Bay was less than 15 minutes. At the entrance, I was given a set time to return to the same spot. It was approximately 2 hours of free time to enjoy the beach as we wished.
Magens Bay was as beautiful as I imagined it would be. White sand with bright blue water surrounded by lush hills. The entrance was somewhat crowded, but walking further along the beach, I found a quieter spot with fewer people. After setting up my beach blanket, I spent the next two hours enjoying dips in the ocean, snorkeling, and relaxing under the sun.
Once my time was up, it was back to the bus. Although shopping was included with the shore excursion, my group unanimously agreed to skip it after pausing in the downtown area. We were all tired and wanted to get back to the ship. Despite passing on shopping, it was a perfect port day in St. Thomas.
Things to Do at Magens Bay
1. Snorkel and Watersports Rental
Magens Bay wasn’t the best spot for snorkeling, but it was still fun. You can rent your snorkel from the equipment rental stand near the entrance or bring your own. I opted for the latter on my excursion to Magens Bay.
I try to avoid renting snorkel equipment, as an immunocompromised person. My husband and I each brought one of these snorkels and didn't find them to take up much space in our suitcase or be a burden to carry on excursions. It's also less expensive than renting equipment.
However, renting gear is a viable option for visitors who prefer not to carry it. Prices are a bit high, and the rental line can get long, especially during peak season when multiple cruise ships dock. Snorkels plus the mask cost $16.95 per person, and snorkel fins are $22.95. A $35 refundable deposit is also required.
Kayaks and paddle boards are also available to rent. Although, I didn't see anyone taking advantage of them during my time at Magens Bay. Single kayaks are $20 per hour, and doubles are $30. Stand-up paddle boards are $30 per hour.
2. Beach Chair and Umbrella Rental
For total comfort and relaxation on the beach, beach chairs and umbrellas are available to rent. Despite the additional cost, plenty of cruise passengers take advantage of this. Daily rental chairs cost $20 per chair which includes a shared umbrella for two chairs. They also have towels to rent for $7 each, but I suggest bringing your own. I love these easily packable quick dry towels.
For more cruise packing suggestions check out my packing list for a Caribbean cruise!
3. Grab a Bite to Eat or Drink
There are two dining options to choose from for a quick meal. These are Magens Bay Beach Bar and Magens Point Bar and Grill. Plus, a full-service bar for drinks. A painkiller is a popular choice and worth getting.
The beach bar also has a small gift shop for souvenirs. As with the rental gear stand, lines can get long, but they move quickly.
4. Hiking Trail
If lounging on the beach sounds less than appealing, and someone is seeking more adventure, a 2.4-mile moderate hiking trail is another activity to choose from. The hike starts from the beach or at this trailhead. A few spots on the trail are steep, but the view from the overlook is incredible.
So, Is Magens Bay Worth Visiting?
With only one day in St. Thomas on a cruise, some passengers feel Magens Bay is overrated. I get it. This place can get crowded when multiple cruises are in port. It can ruin the experience. Even though it's considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, beauty is still subjective. Yet, in my opinion, it is worth visiting. The beach is stunning and large enough to find quieter spots. Magens Bay is a destination that everyone should experience at least once in their life.