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Sapphire beach: Snorkeling paradise on St. Thomas

Calm, protected waters make Sapphire beach a snorkeler's paradise.
Calm, protected waters make Sapphire beach a snorkeler's paradise.
Leslee Haralson

Sapphire Beach on the island of St. Thomas is famed for its beauty and snorkeling. Despite its out-of-the-way setting, by the time afternoon rolls around, the white sand is busy with beach-goers, each staking out a piece of sand with towels, swimming gear and snacks. Clear turquoise waters beckon, palm trees gently sway, beach workers bringing anything you might desire to your side, marshmallow sand is warm between your toes and a soft breeze caresses your skin; paradise has been found.

Visitors to the island generally get to Sapphire beach by rental car or taxi, but the best kept secret is the Dollar bus. It’s called the Dollar bus, but it actually costs two dollars which is still a bargain. The reason the Dollar bus can be difficult to find is because it is not accessible from the pier where many island visitors arrive. By law only taxis are allowed at the docks. To catch the Dollar bus people have to cross the busy main road just down the street. TIP: The tourist information office at the pier can give more details on the Dollar bus.

Sapphire beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling; a gentle slope allows for easy entry and children can play safely in the shallow water. Not too far out alluring tropical fish can be seen and a little beyond that stunning coral grows in magnificent formations. Deep in the watery depths parrot fish bite at coral with strong beaks, scales flashing in the salty brine while yellow tangs and a variety of other fish flit about among the rocks. It is truly a sight to behold.

It may take a bit of extra effort to find Sapphire beach, but the quality of snorkeling and beauty of the locale make it worth the effort. If you’re in for an adventure and want to experience life the way the locals live it, try the Dollar bus.

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