Apparently the Estate Mandal Homeowners are attempting to block access to Kiddle Bay.
While the coastlines and beaches of of the Virgin Islands are public domain the question of access has nor been formalized. In most jurisdictions that have public beach access laws, the owners of properties adjacent to beaches are required to provide public access through the land.
Here in the Virgin islands developers and landowners have taken the position that access is only necessary via the sea and providing land access is optional. This interpretation is not necessary correct.
Excerpt of a ruling by Judge Christian concerning the erection of a fence blocking the entrance to Bolongo Bay on St. Thomas:
United States v St. Thomas Beach Resorts, Inc.
Open Shorelines Act
“Shoreline of the Virgin Islands” are defined to be those areas, along the coastlines of the Virgin Islands from the seaward line of low tide, running inland a distance of fifty (50) feet; or to the extreme seaward boundary of natural vegetation which spreads continuously inland; or to a natural barrier; whichever is the shortest distance.
And under section 403, the Act commands that,
No person, firm, corporation, association or other legal entity shall create, erect, maintain, or obstruct any obstruction, barrier, or restraint of any nature whatsoever upon, across, or within the shorelines of the Virgin Islands as defined in this section, which would interfere with the right of the public individually and collectively, to use and enjoy any shoreline.”
Concerning the defendant’s property rights:
“…whatever defendant’s property right in and to Bolongo Bay Beach, they have always been subject to the paramount right of the public to use the said beach as established by firmly, well settled, long standing custom. Insofar as this beachfront property is concerned, the Open Shorelines Act does no more than merely codify this confirmed right. And if further proof were needed, plaintiffs’ unopposed affidavits abundantly support their position that Bolongo Bay Beach was used by the public on a regular and continuing basis for swimming and recreation, without permission from, or need of permission of the upland owners, at least from 1923…”
(As this Court had occasion to note in Red Hook Marina, supra. 9 V.I. at p. 43, (n. 19), public use of the beach generally dates back to the period when these islands were under Danish dominium.)
(The general custom of using the beaches as if they were public has been affirmed by our own Legislature: The shorelines of the Virgin Islands have in the past been used freely by all residents and visitors alike. . . . The Legislature recognizes that the public has made frequent, uninterrupted and unobstructed use of the shorelines of the Virgin Islands throughout Danish rule and under American rule as recently as the nineteen fifties. It is the intent of the Legislature to preserve what has been a tradition and to protect what has become a right of the public.)