MAGENS BAY AUTHORITY
No other place in the Caribbean has a more frequently misspelled or mispronounced name. It’s spelled Magens Bay. It’s not Megan’s Bay, or Magen’s Bay, or Meagan’s Bay. There is no possessive because nobody personally owns it. And, it’s pronounced May-gens Bay. You’d be surprised how many people (and websites) get it wrong. So, Magens Bay. Where did this unique name come from?
Legend has it that Sir Francis Drake used this inland nook as a hideout while waiting for passing ships to plunder. While that’s a romantic notion, it’s not necessarily true. What we do know is that early maps of St. Thomas first referred to this region as “Great Northside Bay.” The area was re-named “Magens Bay,” after territorial governor Jacob Jorgenson Magens whose family owned this land over two hundred years ago. The property changed hands several times over the years and was eventually acquired by Wall Street financier Arthur S. Fairchild in the 20th century.
In 1946, Fairchild donated fifty six acres of his private property, including the beach and surrounding grove and grassland, to the Municipalities of St. Thomas and St. John for use as a public park. The entire area was developed by the St. Thomas Park Authority, now the Magens Bay Authority, for public recreation in accordance with Fairchild’s wishes. He specifically stated his desire that Magens Bay should be “maintained as a public park (with its natural beauty preserved) for use by the people of the Virgin Islands in perpetuity without discrimination of any kind as to race, creed, color, or national origin.”
In 2002, additional private land was acquired. Through partnership with the Nature Conservancy and the Virgin Islands government, this land became the Magens Bay Watershed, a 319 acre parcel of protected wildlife space offering visitors a glimpse of the varied ecosystems living on the island. The Discovery Nature Trail, opened in 2004, offers visitors a chance to explore this natural treasure.
Today, the Magens Bay Authority holds dominion over Magens Bay Park, Smith Bay Park, and the Magens Bay Watershed. Our land holds endless opportunities to play, explore, and learn. We work to preserve the natural beauty of the place while continuing to make its splendor available for all people.