7 Historic Beaches Worth a Visit on the U.S. Virgin Islands

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iStock

On St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Island, every coast is a museum—and every tanning session can double as a history lesson. From Cinnamon Bay to Honeymoon Beach, read on for the backstories of some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful stretches of sand.

1. CINNAMON BAY BEACH (ST. JOHN)

In the days before European settlers arrived, the U.S. Virgin Islands were occupied by two (often warring) groups known as the Caribs and the Taínos. A wealth of information about the latter has been discovered beneath the sands of Cinnamon Bay Beach on St. John. Here, archaeologists have unearthed what they believe was a Taíno temple, built at some point between 1020 and 1490 CE. Since 1998, the scenic coastline has also yielded hordes of Taíno artifacts with religious connotations, such as tiny sculptures of various deities. Other recovered objects include pots, beads, and golden discs.

2. COLUMBUS LANDING BEACH (ST. CROIX)

Thanks to the rhyme every kid learns in elementary school, the fact that Christopher Columbus supposedly “discovered” the New World in 1492 is common knowledge. But there aren’t many poems out there about the man’s three return trips. In September 1493, with 17 Spanish ships at his command, Columbus embarked upon a second expedition into the western hemisphere. This time, he came across a Caribbean island that the natives called “Ayay.” Columbus rechristened it “Santa Cruz,” though you might know this landmass better by its current name: St. Croix.

The famous explorer himself never went ashore. Instead, he sent a group of scouts to investigate the terrain. These sailors landed on a beach on the western side of Salt River Bay. In doing so, they became the only participants in one of Columbus’s voyages to ever set foot on what is now U.S. soil. Unfortunately, things quickly went downhill for the adventurous seamen. The party encountered several Taínos who’d been taken prisoner by some nearby Caribs. Columbus’s men decided to bring the natives back to the waiting ships, but en route, the Spaniards were attacked by a contingent of Caribs. Some historians maintain that this was the first documented confrontation between Europeans and Native Americans.

3. HONEYMOON BEACH (WATER ISLAND)

The United States bought St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas from Denmark in 1917. Then, in 1944, America took nearby Water Island off the Danish government’s hands for the modest price of $10,000. It was subsequently leased out by the Department of the Interior to a private developer in 1950. A terraforming visionary, the developer more or less built the landmass’ most popular attraction: Honeymoon Beach. Originally, this was a rocky patch of coastline that stretched just 50 feet in length. But under his direction, the beach was massively expanded—a process that involved removing some 200 truckloads’ worth of debris.

In 1996, Water Island was handed over to the territorial government. Today, the radically transformed land is a magnet for scuba divers, sandcastle-builders, and, yes, newlyweds.

4. THE CANEEL BAY BEACHES (ST. JOHN)

A grandson of industrialist John D. Rockefeller first laid eye on this tropical paradise in 1952. Utterly spellbound, he proceeded to purchase most of St. John and set up a resort on Caneel Bay. He couldn’t have picked a better location for this vacation spot, as the facility is surrounded by no less than seven beaches which continue to delight its guests today.

In 1956, the wealthy philanthropist gave some 5000 acres worth of land on St. John to the United States’ National Park Service (NPS). By accepting this gift, the government agreed to honor two key provisos. As per his wishes, the plot was converted into a brand new National Park—which now covers a grand total of 12,909 acres and spans multiple islands. The Caneel Bay resort, which hosts movie stars and dignitaries, is open for ten months each year.

5. LINDBERGH BAY BEACH (ST. THOMAS)

What does Charles Lindbergh have to do with the Virgin Islands, you ask? In 1927, he made history by becoming the first pilot to ever complete a solo, non-stop, transatlantic flight. Less than a year later, Lindbergh celebrated the feat by flying across Latin America, South America, and the Caribbean in an epic victory tour. On January 31, 1928, he touched down in St. Thomas, at the invitation of the then-governor. The aviator’s landing site was a golf course located on a part of the island known as Mosquito Bay. After his departure, this whole area was renamed Lindbergh Bay. Accordingly, its long, palm tree-dotted beach came to be known as the Lindbergh Bay Beach. 

6. MAGENS BAY (ST. THOMAS)

One of the most oft-visited beaches on the Virgin Islands, Magens Bay is another hotspot for Taíno artifacts. Flutes, pottery fragments, and even sculptures have all been found in the area. Presidential history buffs might also be interested to learn that John and Jackie Kennedy once went for a swim there on December 16, 1958.

7. GIBNEY BEACH (ST. JOHN)

Located on the Denis Bay peninsula, this white-sanded seashore was once the favorite vacation spot of a man who helped split the atom. In 1957, a veteran of the Manhattan Project bought two acres of nearby land and built a modest beach house for his family. Before the physicist’s untimely death in 1967, he could often be seen sailing offshore with his wife and their daughter. Sadly, his home away from home was eventually destroyed by a hurricane. At present, a government-run community center—complete with a front porch and kitchen—sits in its place.

What better way to explore the U.S. Virgin Islands’ rich history than in the Islands themselves? Learn more about the upcoming Centennial at VisitUSVI.com.

10 of the Most Popular Portable Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon

Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon
Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon

As convenient as smartphones and tablets are, they don’t necessarily offer the best sound quality. But a well-built portable speaker can fill that need. And whether you’re looking for a speaker to use in the shower or a device to take on a long camping trip, these bestselling models from Amazon have you covered.

1. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker; $26-$30 (4.4 stars)

Oontz portable bluetooth speaker
Cambridge Soundworks/Amazon

Of the 57,000-plus reviews that users have left for this speaker on Amazon, 72 percent of them are five stars. So it should come as no surprise that this is currently the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on the site. It comes in eight different colors and can play for up to 14 hours straight after a full charge. Plus, it’s splash proof, making it a perfect speaker for the shower, beach, or pool.

Buy it: Amazon

2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $110 (4.6 stars)

JBL portable bluetooth speaker
JBL/Amazon

This nifty speaker can connect with up to three devices at one time, so you and your friends can take turns sharing your favorite music. Its built-in battery can play music for up to 20 hours, and it can even charge smartphones and tablets via USB.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker; $25-$28 (4.6 stars)

Anker portable bluetooth speaker
Anker/Amazon

This speaker boasts 24-hour battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection within a 66-foot radius. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can easily take calls over speakerphone.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker; $129 (4.4 stars)

Bose portable bluetooth speaker
Bose/Amazon

Bose is well-known for building user-friendly products that offer excellent sound quality. This portable speaker lets you connect to the Bose app, which makes it easier to switch between devices and personalize your settings. It’s also water-resistant, making it durable enough to handle a day at the pool or beach.

Buy it: Amazon

5. DOSS Soundbox Touch Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $28-$33 (4.4 stars)

DOSS portable bluetooth speaker
DOSS/Amazon

This portable speaker features an elegant system of touch controls that lets you easily switch between three methods of playing audio—Bluetooth, Micro SD, or auxiliary input. It can play for up to 20 hours after a full charge.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Altec Lansing Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $15-$20 (4.3 stars)

Altec Lansing portable bluetooth speaker
Altec Lansing/Amazon

This lightweight speaker is built for the outdoors. With its certified IP67 rating—meaning that it’s fully waterproof, shockproof, and dust proof—it’s durable enough to withstand harsh environments. Plus, it comes with a carabiner that can attach to a backpack or belt loop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker; $33-$38 (4.6 stars)

Tribit portable bluetooth speaker
Tribit/Amazon

Tribit’s portable Bluetooth speaker weighs less than a pound and is fully waterproof and resistant to scratches and drops. It also comes with a tear-resistant strap for easy transportation, and the rechargeable battery can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use after a full charge. In 2020, it was Wirecutter's pick as the best budget portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

8. VicTsing SoundHot C6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $18 (4.3 stars)

VicTsing portable bluetooth speaker
VicTsing/Amazon

The SoundHot portable Bluetooth speaker is designed for convenience wherever you go. It comes with a detachable suction cup and a carabiner so you can keep it secure while you’re showering, kayaking, or hiking, to name just a few.

Buy it: Amazon

9. AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $30 (4.4 stars)

AOMAIS portable bluetooth speaker
AOMAIS/Amazon

This portable speaker is certified to handle deep waters and harsh weather, making it perfect for your next big adventure. It can play for up to 15 hours on a full charge and offers a stable Bluetooth connection within a 100-foot radius.

Buy it: Amazon

10. XLEADER SoundAngel Touch Bluetooth Speaker; $19-$23 (4.4 stars)

XLeader portable bluetooth speaker
XLEADER/Amazon

This stylish device is available in black, silver, gold, and rose gold. Plus, it’s equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, a more powerful technology that can pair with devices up to 800 feet away. The SoundAngel speaker itself isn’t water-resistant, but it comes with a waterproof case for protection in less-than-ideal conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The 10 States With the Most UFO Sightings

According to the data, cows in Texas have nothing to fear from aliens.
According to the data, cows in Texas have nothing to fear from aliens.

According to the National UFO Reporting Center, there have been more than 4000 UFO sightings so far in 2020—meaning that this year, we’re already well on our way to eclipsing the 5971 sightings reported in 2019.

If you want to increase your odds of seeing a UFO for yourself, you’re in luck. Using NUFORC data, SatelliteInternet.com took the total number of sightings from January 2019 to June 2020 and did the math to determine how many sightings there were per 100,000 people.

According to their calculations, Idaho is the state most likely to yield a UFO sighting, followed by Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Mexico.

States With the Most UFO Sightings

  1. Idaho: 9.18 sightings per 100,000 people
  2. Montana: 9.17 sightings per 100,000 people
  3. New Hampshire: 7.87 sightings per 100,000 people
  4. Maine: 7.22 sightings per 100,000 people
  5. New Mexico: 6.2 sightings per 100,000 people
  6. Vermont: 6.09 sightings per 100,000 people
  7. Wyoming: 6.05 sightings per 100,000 people
  8. Hawaii: 5.16 sightings per 100,000 people
  9. Washington: 5.07 sightings per 100,000 people
  10. Connecticut: 4.94 sightings per 100,000 people

If you want to avoid UFOs, however, the data suggest you should head to Texas (1.29 sightings per 100,000 people), Louisiana (1.44 sightings per 100,000 people), New York (1.59 sightings per 100,000 people), Maryland (1.6 sightings per 100,000 people), or Illinois (1.84 sightings per 100,000 people).

For the full rankings, head here. And remember, a UFO is an Unidentified Flying Object, not necessarily aliens—but here’s some advice for what to do if you run into E.T., just in case.