- The US Virgin Islands Best Guide
Located on the East End of St. Thomas, Great Bay shares its sands and surroundings with The Ritz Carlton Club. With a luxury timeshare on site you can expect beautifully landscaped walkways from the parking lot to the beach, a manicured tree line and shore, a beachfront bar and restaurant, multistory accommodations, staff coming and going on golf carts, and perfectly lined lounge chairs with towels and umbrellas on the beach for the owners and guests of The Ritz Carlton Club.
Even with a resort nestled right at Great Bay the shoreline is typically surprisingly quiet. The sweeping curve of a beach is covered largely in sand with some areas of pebbles. The very far-left side of the bay is rocky. The beach is great for taking a leisurely stroll, sunbathing, reading a book, or taking a nap under a sea grape tree. The sea grape trees are worth noting, they are mature trees and twisted from decades of contending with the tropical winds. They are very beautiful and perfect as a backdrop for a photo. They also provide great amounts of natural shade.
The feel at Great Bay is one of a distant wind-swept beach, away from everything else on St. Thomas. This is due in part to Great Bay being the easternmost point of the island. If a pirate ever buried his loot here it would not matter for the real treasure lays in plain sight – the beautiful view. Enjoy a view of the ocean, Cabrita Point, and St. John in the distance. And lets not forget watching a moon rise. There are few things more romantic than watching a full moon rise, and Great Bay is a lovely spot to watch the moon rise over the island of St. John.
The water at the beach is usually calm or there might be small, gentle waves. The beach is known for its large seagrass meadows. Seagrass isn’t a favorite for beach-goers to wade through therefore it is uncommon to see many people swimming at Great Bay. The seagrass growing on the seafloor can give the water a dark appearance rather than that crystal-clear water for which St. Thomas’ beaches are famous. There are some areas however that are clear, and the clarity varies greatly based on sea conditions. Seagrass that washes up on shore gets raked and collected quickly.
Seagrass has an important job. It helps stabilize the seafloor in shallow areas, helps filter sediment, and provides a home for small and juvenile marine animals. Plus, seagrass is the meal of choice for green turtles! Snorkeling above the seagrass might provide you with the opportunity to see green turtles. There is OK snorkeling on the right side along the rocky sea floor and along the coastline. Great Bay, when the wind is right, is ideal for windsurfing and kite-boarding.
Beach amenities at Great Bay are reserved for owners and guests at The Ritz Carlton Club and that includes chairs, umbrellas and beach gear. Everyone else will need to bring with them what they need for a day at the beach. A poolside restaurant with bar serves lunch and dinner. The delightfully elegant beach and club area is made all the more relaxing by the absence of water sports.
Access and Transportation: The beach is largely used by Ritz owners and guests, however access to Great Bay for the public is available through a public access road just past the Ritz Carlton Resort’s main entrance. Just at the bottom of the public access road on the right side is a small public and employee parking lot with about 8 parking spots. A taxi can take you to Great Bay.
Name Confusion: What do Great Bay, Turquoise Bay, and Bluebeard’s Beach have to do with each other. Great Bay is the proper name for the area and bay where The Ritz Carlton Club is today located. Within that larger bay is Turquoise Bay, a name hardly used and very few on island would recognize, but it’s used on some maps. Finally, there was another hotel property on this same site called Bluebeard’s Beach Resort and the beach was known as Bluebeard’s Beach for many years even after the property was torn down. When The Ritz Carlton Club was built they promoted use of the proper name, Great Bay, and that name is currently most popularly used. Adding to the confusion, there is a more recent Bluebeard’s Beach Club located on Limetree Beach on St. Thomas.
If you are staying at the club. Or you are looking for lunch at a beachfront resort restaurant and a stroll along the beach.
Don't Go Here
If you want to swim in crystal clear water with an all sand seafloor.
- Food Vendors
- Taxi's Available
- Parking Available
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The beach has plenty of lounge chairs and palm trees for some quiet reading time or sneaking in a nap. For the swimmers, you'll find a nice smooth bay for dipping unless the winds are up. A couple days were fairly windy so we were able to enjoy a bit of body-surfing/wave splashing. Nice fun! For the sand sculptor, the beach is not great for verticle sculpting. It appears to be a sand-crushed sea shell mix but I did manage to carve out a nice palm tree. (horizontally) Verticle sculpting in the form of towers or castles turned out to be too risky. I didn't even attempt an arch!Cheers!