This was my fourth visit to the island of St. Thomas, although it was my first time via a Disney Cruise. For two of my previous visits, my family took cruise ship-sponsored tours to St. John’s Trunk Bay, similar to this tour offered by Disney Cruise Line. If you love to snorkel, this is a great tour. Trunk Bay is pretty spectacular. You don’t need to swim far to get to the reef from the beautiful beach. I even remember seeing a huge sting ray swim beneath me as I was swimming to the reef. During one of my other visits to St. Thomas, we did the famous (infamous?) Kon Tiki party boat tour (similar to this tour offered by Disney Cruise Line but without the beach stop). It was quite the booze cruise, with plenty of rum punch flowing and crazy dancing on the boat (limbo, anyone?)!
But, this time, I wanted to do something different – a relaxing day at the beach was in order, and I’d always wanted to visit Magen’s Bay, which is world-renowned for being a gorgeous beach. So, I booked us on the Magen’s Bay Beach Break “port adventure” through Disney Cruise Line.
On the morning of our port adventure at 9:15am, we met up with our tour group in The Tube on Deck 4. We grabbed about six towels (I try to bring at least two for each of us), and then we were led off the ship by the tour leader.
Once off the ship, we walked a very short distance to a line of open-air safari bus taxis. We would be caravanning to the beach on these buses. Here is a view of the ship while we waited to depart:
It took 25 minutes to get from the port to Magen’s Bay. The drive was very scenic and went up windy roads.
Here is a view of the ship, as we circled around the harbor:
The drive included a stop at Drake’s Seat, which has a spectacular view of Magen’s Bay:
Drake’s Seat is named for the British explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who supposedly watched over the area from this vantage point (waiting for ships to plunder?).
Here is a closer view of Magen’s Bay Beach:
You may be able to tell from the picture that a lot of the vegetation had been destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 (and still had not grown back). Overall, however, the island of St. Thomas seems to have recovered pretty well, as compared to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, which we visited the previous day (and which still looked like a war zone).
After Drake’s Seat, our driver took us to the beach. When we arrived, we saw this sign:
Interesting that they have to explicitly prohibit nudity, among other things…
The beach at Magen’s Bay is a perfect crescent – a half-mile of white sand. The bay itself is horseshoe-shaped, which protects the beach from strong waves. It reminded me of Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii. Here’s a panoramic photo showing (an exaggerated) view of the shape of the bay:
All the folks on our port adventure had a “reserved” section of the beach:
As part of our port adventure, we each received a bottled water and were allowed access to these reserved chairs. There were plenty of chairs to go around. They were supposed to provide umbrellas as well, but when I asked for one, they said none were available. Hmmm…so, we didn’t have any shade during the entire time that we were there. That actually didn’t really matter much, as the sun peaked out only a few times through the dark clouds – it poured rain on us twice! These were absolute torrential downpours, lasting about five minutes each. It actually felt great because it was pretty hot and humid in late August, but it would have been nice to have the umbrella to protect our stuff. Luckily, my camera and other valuables were in my waterproof backpack, which I also covered with our beach towels from the ship. That did not bode well for the towels, which were drenched and unusable. We actually could have taken shelter at the outdoor restaurant, gift shop, or at a covered outdoor picnic area, but the rain came in so quickly, we did not have time to escape. And, those areas got pretty crowded with other people trying to seek shelter.
In any event, the beach itself was not extremely crowded, but that probably was because we were the only cruise ship in town that day. I could imagine that this place would be super-packed if more than one ship was docked in Charlotte-Amalie.
The water was crystal clear, very calm, and perfect for swimming – quite an idyllic, Caribbean beach!
You actually can see some of the hurricane damage here…notice the stubby/sparse palm trees?
If you do an internet search of Magen’s Bay Beach images, you can see how there used to be very lush foliage and large palm trees along the beach. Don’t let the lack of lushness deter you! It’s still quite a beautiful place to visit – the water is as beautiful as ever.
We had a total of 3.5 hours at the beach, and it was just enough time to relax and enjoy the fantastic water. During that time, we had to leave our mark:
The beach has a fairly decent gift shop with lots of gear (e.g., towels, swimwear, t-shirts, sunscreen, etc.), in case you forget anything. Also, the food and drink options at the on-site restaurant were varied and good:
My husband had a turkey and cheese sandwich; my son had the chicken tenders and fries; and I had the cheese pizza. It was all very good quality, despite the Disney-like prices.
At around 1:45pm, we met back up with our driver on the safari tax bus. I was glad that we had a designated ride back. I knew that we could have done this entire excursion on our own, since taxi drivers were plentiful at the port, but I liked having the piece of mind that we had our own section of the beach and a guaranteed ride.
During the drive back, we had a great view of our ship:
We drove back through parts of downtown Charlotte-Amalie, which has a lot of older buildings:
Here’s a view of our ship as we got closer – you can see an empty open-air safari taxi in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo:
Here is the entrance to the shopping area right at the port, which is where they dropped us off:
After being dropped off, we walked back to the ship:
I loved Magen’s Bay and would highly recommend it to anyone who has not visited. The only issue for us was not having an umbrella. Also, if there is more than one ship in port, then it could become extremely crowded at the beach.
Overall, the port adventure was very well-run. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at this gorgeous beach!
This post may also be viewed on the Disney Cruise Mom Blog.