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Monday, March 25, 2013

Bare Facts: St. Thomas’ Secret Beach

Does this look like a beach entry welcome sign.  It’s what
we’ve come to expect.
Our Caribbean clothing optional beach survey continues….  

On St. Thomas, we’d heard Magen’s Bay fit the bill.  As the crow flies, or here, the pelican, it was just a few miles across the narrow part of the island from Charlotte Amalie.  However, in between was a shoulderless narrow mountain highway, not walker-friendly trails.

While Megan Bay is a popular beach, there are no taxi-bus routes going there. We caught a “Gypsy Cab” – unofficial cabby -- at the Kmart parking lot in Charlotte Amalie.  Cost?  $8 for each of us, and our cheapest option. 

But it still didn’t quite get us there.

Even though I blog about nude beaches with Wayne’s blessing, he didn’t want to tell the driver we were looking for the clothing optional beach.  We got dropped off at the main beach, and were unpleasantly surprised with an $8 entrance fee ($4 each for non-locals) to a broad but crowded “textile” public beach. 

The options? 
  1. Pay $8, and rock-hop along the shore.  Shorter, but less goat-like a hiker than Wayne, would’ve taken me a long time.  I'm a decent hiker but not the best rock-hopper.
  2. Give up.  
  3. Hike, blindly, in search of it.
We chose option #3.  We walked, and walked, and walked some more, up to and along a ridge road.  The couple of cars parked just outside a gate with a “No Trespassing” sign was our tip-off we'd arrived.  The entrance was about as friendly and obvious as St. Martin’s Happy Bay (click here to see that but no cows on the loose this time.  Past the No Trespassing sign, we bailed down a hillside trail; just took some faith to persevere and find that, too.

Still… we’ll take our chances on this typical pocket beach welcome any day over paying $8 for a crowded, swimsuits required beach.

Didn’t get a shot of the iguanas at the beach, but they
looked similar to these, in nearby Charlotte Amalie.
Not only did we not need to worry about the fit of our swimsuits, we were enterntained by the antics of several diving pelicans, and a couple good-sized iguanas.  One iguana was mounted atop another.  Were they mating or fighting?  Dunno. 

We also met some great, equally intrepid folks at the beach. 

Beautiful!  The not-quite-public pocket beach at Magen’s Bay.
No entry fee or swimsuits required.
One couple offered to make a trade for the night—they’d spend a night on our boat, we’d enjoy their landlubber shower and a night to ourselves in their king-sized bed.  Another gave us a lift to a place we could and did flag a taxi-bus, sparing us a rock-hop or long hill hike back.   We were grateful.  No way would we hike the shoulderless ridge highway between Magen Bay and Charlotte Amalie, with cars and taxi-busses careening along its sepentine spine.

Our take on Magen Bay’s unofficial beach? Tough to get to. Tough to find.  Tiny. Definitely worth it.  We’ll be back.