Beachfront that is Not Beachfront

The villas in the Virgin Islands are often labeled ‘beachfront’ or ‘waterfront’, both by the owners and often by the real estate agencies that market the homes to the public. We have lived here now for five years and we have learned not to trust the descriptions any longer. I will start with some specific examples to make the point. We live in Peterborg, a narrow peninsula of land that is the border for Magen’s Bay.On the Ocean side of Peterborg, there are many properties listed as ‘waterfront’, and that might be true in a technical sense.  What the ads don’t tell you is that there is no beach at all, only rocky cliffs that overlook the ocean. 

On the Magen’s Bay side of Peterborg there are a very few houses that have actually small pocket beaches to which the property has access.  These houses are very seldom on the market; they sell generally for much higher prices per square foot, and rent for more than most other properties. Interestingly, the Western shore of Magen’s Bay, across the water from Peterborg, has some waterfront property, but there are no sandy beaches at all because of the currents in the Bay.

The truth of the matter is that there are relatively few houses on St. Thomas and St. John that can boast of being on the beach. More beachfront property exists on St. Croix, which is the largest of the three islands, but the surf is rougher and the sand generally less than on the other two islands.

So, when you read online that a villa is a “waterfront” or “beachfront” property, you need to understand the three meanings of that description, because the marketing materials seldom make it clear.  First, there is waterfront that has no access to the water at all, usually because the houses are located on cliffs above the ocean.  Second, there are homes where you can go down to the water, but where the beach is rocky, strewn with boulders, and not useable. Finally, there are a handful of properties that actually have direct access to a stable, usable, sandy beach. I use the word stable because many beaches on the northern coast of the Island disappear entirely when the Christmas winds whip up the surf.  I love Sandy Beach at Botany Bay, but it should be renamed boulder Bay in the winter season.

Villa Cote Sud and Villa Eau Claire are two villas that fit the third, and preferable, definition of “beachfront,” meaning they have direct access to a sandy beach.  Cote Sud has 345 feet of pebble beach, with a 100 foot pier into the Caribbean, which provides direct access to excellent snorkeling. The pier has been there for nearly 50 years, long before the coast was regulated, so it is permitted to remain under the CZM code. Cote Sud also has a 400 foot walk to Green Cay Beach, a half mile of largely deserted sand beach.  Eau Claire is, on the North side, is about 40 feet over a small sandy beach on Magen Bay, and has a private deck, shower and lighting for night time use.  So, if you really want to enjoy real beachfront, these two properties will provide that enjoyment.

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