10 Caribbean Beaches Only Reachable by Boat

Waterlemon Cay, St. John
Waterlemon Cay, St. John

There’s something special about being on a deserted tropical beach. This isn’t always easy to find, especially during the winter when it’s cold up north and visitors flock to the region to soak up the sun, sea and sand. Yet, the best chance of finding this nirvana is to look for solitary strips that are off the beaten track. Beaches only reachable by boat often fills the bill. Here’s a sampling of 10 to visit:

Cayo Diablo, Puerto Rico

1. Puerto Rico, Cayo Diablo.

Also called Cayo de las Aves or Bird Island for its many seabirds including nesting Boobys, this small uninhabited cay is located east of mainland Puerto Rico and west of Culebra. This and several other even smaller islands are part of the Arrecifes de la Cordillera Natural Reserve. It takes a private boat, plus calm weather with seas three feet or less to land here, so crowds are not a problem. The rewards are a pristine beach and great snorkeling right off the waterfront. 


Waterlemon Cay, St. John

2. Waterlemon Cay, St. John.

St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is one of the few major inhabited Caribbean islands that doesn’t have an airport. Technically then, every one of the beaches on this 19-mile square island, home of the Virgin Islands National Park, is only accessible by boat. One step beyond this is the white shoreline at Waterlemon Cay on the eastern side of Leinster Bay. Boat, kayak, paddleboard or swimming is how to reach the brilliant sand at the shoreside tip of this 300-yard-long cay. The sea life all around is incredible. Go first thing in the morning for the best chance at being alone.


White Bay Beach, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

3. White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, BVI.

Like St. John, this British Virgin Island also lacks an airport. Ferries run here from Tortola as well as St. Thomas and St. John in the USVI. Yet many folks throughout the Virgins boat over, clear customs in Great Harbour, then head west to this beach famous as the birthplace of the Painkiller cocktail and made famous by country singer Kenny Chesney’s song, “No shirt, no shoes, no problem”. The quietest times are weekdays early morning or late afternoon when the day-trippers have left. 


Prickly Pear Cays, Anguilla

4. Prickly Pear Cays, Anguilla.

This pair of uninhabited islands, and their rimming beaches, are located six miles west of Road Bay. The cays are a popular destination for day sail and powerboat trips out of Anguilla or nearby St. Martin and St. Maarten, so if you want alone time, come early. Unlike many other boat-only accessed beaches, there is a little restaurant here that operates during the day. Burgers, whole grilled lobster and a fully stocked bar of beverages can cure any castaways hunger and thirst.


Colombier Bay Beach, St. Barths

5. Colombier Bay Beach, St Barths.

The bay here is ideal as an overnight anchorage, so it’s no surprise to see monohulls and multihulls at anchor. A quick trip by dinghy beats a vigorous 20-minute hike in by land. There’s a sheer elegance to this glittering sandy strip in everything from its remote nature to its sugar soft sands, jewel-like seas and nickname. Some call it the Rockefeller Beach because David Rockefeller’s estate overlooks the crystal sands from the hillside. The best time to visit is early morning.


Rendezvous Beach, Montserrat

6. Rendezvous Beach, Montserrat.

A boat is the best way to reach this gorgeous strip of white sand, the only one of its kind on this island known for its black volcanic beaches. The only other way to get here is via a strenuous hike that takes 45 minutes to 1 hour each way. Either way, it’s easy to feel like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe as you sit in the lee of the cliffs, watch the seabirds fly and look out over the seas to Redonda in the distance. This gorgeous shoreline is situated at the northwest of the island.


Rendezvous Beach, Antigua. Courtesy Antigua Barbuda Tourism Authority

7. Rendezvous Beach, Antigua.

Like its namesake in Montserrat, its boat or a long strenuous hike from Falmouth, on the island’s south shore, to reach this beach. It’s easy, especially on a calm day, to dingy into shore from a mothership moored further offshore for the day. The sands here stretch over one-third of a mile long. There’s a reef at the eastern end ideal for snorkeling, while the west side of this coast is a picture-postcard beauty especially with the mountains in the background.  


Mopion Island, St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Credit Caribbean Tourism Organization

8. Mopion Island, St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

One small, thatched umbrella marks this mound of white sand in the sea. Measuring only 20 yards by 9 yards, this island is basically all beach. A private boat or a water taxi from Union Island are the only ways to get here. Once you do, you’ll no doubt be alone. Sun or snorkel the surrounding fish-filled reef; there’s not enough walking room to register on a Fitbit.


No Man’s Land, Tobago

9. No Man’s Land, Tobago.

Located near the Bon Accord Lagoon off Pigeon Point on the island’s west end, this is really a sandy spit surrounded by shallow waters and fringing mangroves. The coastline here can get busy with day-trippers on weekdays, locals on the weekend and a little bit of everyone even after the sun goes down. It’s also become popular at night for barbecues and bonfires.


Klein Bonaire, Bonaire

10. Klein Bonaire, Bonaire.

It’s only a half-mile from the mainland, but the lack of habitation makes the shoreline at this little over 2-square mile island feel worlds away. No Name Beach, located here, is one of the only truly sandy stretches in all this Netherlands Antillean country. Water taxis, tour boats, private boats and even kayak and paddleboard are ways to arrive. There are a few historic structures, and a few rudimentary shade huts and trash cans at No Name, but no food or beverages for sale or restrooms.

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.