Beaches

Brown Bay

A 20 minute hike from the main road to find this sandy spit of beach. The trail path goes up hill and then over the crest and then down hill for another 10 minutes or so to the water’s edge.  You should be able to find a shady place to rest along the sandy and pebbly shoreline. Chances are pretty good that you will be able to enjoy the beach in privacy.

You will find decent snorkeling along the eastern side of the bay.  If you have energy left for more exploring look for the ruins on the western side of the beach.

Hansen Bay (Vies Beach)

Located right next to the former Vie’s Snack Shack, Hansen Beach is a wonderful spot to get away from it all.  Check out this photo by St John beach guide to really appreciate how wonderful a spot this is. For a small fee, Vie offers parking and a beach chair.  Make sure you take one of Vie’s Johnny Cakes and a cold libation to enjoy.  Hansen Bay has the soft white silky sand that St John is known for. It also has a very easy and shallow entrance so it is a good option for the little ones or those who are not great swimmers. Most days it also offers lots of protection from big waves but, make sure you bring lots of sunscreen!

Often moored off the beach is the floating bar ‘Angel’s Rest’. It is worth the swim out to enjoy a drink! Here is a recent Facebook posting, by the Casa La Famiglia Villa folks, about Vie’s Beach and Angel’s Rest:

“Something all guests of St. John should do…spend the day at Vie’s beach on Hansen Bay. For just $2.50, you can park your car, use her beach, lounge in her chairs, and rinse off with her hose. Vie’s delicious homemade lunch is $10, cash only. Beach access and her food shack is only open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM. Another fun activity to do there besides snorkeling and kayaking is visiting Angel’s Rest, a 40 foot pontoon boat anchored right off shore. It’s a bar! Call Captain Pete at Tel#. 340-514-6270 to check to see if he will be at Hansen Bay. Drinks are all $5, cash only. Bring a noodle or fins so you have something to swim with on the way BACK to the beach”

Cruz Bay

The beach located in front of Cruz Bay’s Wharfside Village commercial area is home to many moored charter boats, deck chairs, Beach Bar dinner seating, Dr!nk & Joe’s Rum Hut bar seating, not to mention a whole lot of nighttime hanging around. As of Jan 28, Wharfside Village remains closed (except for Island Cork), but we’ve heard of reopening in March 2018.

Not really meant for swimming and sunning, but you’re in the islands – make due!  It is the happenin’ place to be if you want to enjoy sunsets with other like minded limin’ people many of whom will be roaming the beach and visiting some of the many shops or restaurants which line the harbor.

Cruz Bay harbor is the main people ferry dock that can take you to St. Thomas and the BVIs.  The northern section of Cruz Bay harbor is home to the Virgin Islands National Park offices and is where the water taxis load and unload their passengers.

Cruz Bay is also home to The Battery which is where you will find many of the USVI government offices and the US Customs office (where you will arrive when coming from the British Virgin Islands), which is currently under renovations.

Cinnamon Bay

Cinnamon Bay is another National Park beach with multiple services (like Trunk Bay) including fixed tent and adobe camping and a full-service restaurant. There is plenty of parking and a complete water sport rental shop on the beach for everything from snorkel gear to paddle boards.

Cinnamon Bay beach is wide providing lots of opportunity for building sand castles and playing frisbee. There are also plenty of places to find a shady spot, if that is your preference. Good snorkeling can be found at both ends of the beach as well as out around the island off the beach.  As with virtually all the National Park beaches, Cinnamon is a wonderful spot for the little ones who are just learning to swim. The shallow entrance, silky sand, and clear, clear water allow for people to see fish while still in very shallow waters.

The Cinnamon Bay self-guided trail offers boardwalk access which meanders through the historic ruins. You can find the trail entrance located across from the exit gate of the Cinnamon Bay Campground.  There is great wildlife to be found as well as ruins left by the Danish settlers which can be seen along the trails, including the ruins of the original Cinnamon Bay sugar mill.

Taxis are readily available to transport people to and from Cruz Bay.

NOTE: Since the hurricanes of 2017, the services at Cinnamon Bay are limited. There is no fixed building camping and limited tent space camping.

Denis Beach

Locals sometimes referred to Denis as Secret Beach as it is primarily accessed through an small parking lot marked “Peace Hill Trail” off of the North Shore Road and requires a hike down a 300+’ trail (and a hike up when returning to your vehicle). Denis Beach lies in front of a couple of private residences and, while it is a great spot to just relax and be alone, make sure you respect the neighbors.

Easy access and silky white sand are wonderful attributes of Denis Beach, however, because of our prevailing winds you might find some high surf and waves.  The snorkeling is reputed to be good especially on both ends of the beach as well as the rocky coral outcroppings/

Because of the limited parking you might well have the beach to yourself to enjoy.

Europa Bay

Europa Bay, located on the southeastern side of St John, is best accessed via the Lameshur Trail.  You will arrive at Europa Bay beach after trekking about 20 minutes from the Trail (at the westernmost end of Little Lameshur Bay Beach).  Once there, you will be glad you made the effort for the views are spectacular.  Be aware that while the beach is fairly sandy you will also find sea urchins.

Gibney Beach (Oppenheimer)

Home to the famous Oppenheimer house and many weddings/private parties, Gibney Beach (Oppenheimer) is a small beach with very limited parking (room for 3-4 parallel jeeps) on one side of the driveway in front of the wrought iron gate. Famous for not only its previous scientist owner, but also the small concrete building that is now owned by the government and can be rented for wedding reception or other functions. The beach is fairly small but can be a nice break from some of the busier areas and not a very long drive from Cruz Bay.

Technically, the western beach is the original Gibney family beach and the eastern portion in front of the pavilion Oppenheimer (sold to him by the Gibneys decades ago).

During the summer months it is harder to find a shady spot.

We had our wedding & reception as well as 10th anniversary dinner here in 2002 and 2012.

Little Maho Bay

Just around Maho Point, this beach used to be accessible through the Maho Eco-tent camping area but now can really only be gotten to by boat or by swimming/snorkeling around the point from Maho Bay or down the shore from Francis Bay.

If you want to enjoy a nice snorkel alone or with your partner, then sit quietly in the sand on a beach with no other humans, this is the place to do it. Park at Maho Bay, find a spot for your chairs and cooler, then snorkel around to Maho Point to the north or ‘right’ when standing on the beach.

Salt Pond Bay

A beach with some great hiking to boot. There a a dozen or more parking spots (plus some more roadside room) and usually a small snack stand just off the ‘highway’ 107. Park and unload your towels, chairs, cooler and snorkel gear and it’s a casual walk down a the Salt Pond Bay Trail.  The Vitran bus will also stop at Salt Pond Bay trail-head so for $1 you can get to Salt Pond from Cruz Bay!

Salt Pond is also a great spot for hikers. From Salt Bay trail-head you can either take the trails to Ram Head Point or Drunk Bay. Both are hikes with great vistas.

Little Lameshur Bay

Even further out of the way than Grootpan or Great Lameshur, Little Lameshur is the farthest beach from Cruz Bay and the literal end of the end of the road. The entire beach is a nice sand and there is a few feet of small stones as you enter the water.

This is one of Steve’s favorite beaches on the island. There are parking spots, a new style outhouse bathroom, awesome snorkeling along both east and west rock shores, as well as some nice pinnacles out in the middle right of the bay.

Pack a picnic and cooler and stay for the day, with maybe a stop at Skinny Legs or Wok on the Beach on the way back to the villa.

Also, consider bringing water bottles and comfortable shoes/boots and hike up and over to the petroglyphs and sugar house on the lower part of the Reef Bay Trail.

Kiddel Bay

Just west of Salt Pond Bay, this rocky (cobblestone) beach is secluded and private. In early 2016, private landowners blocked access to the beach which was actually found through their land.

There is wonderful snorkeling off the point where you will see a number of rocks jutting above the waterline. The best spots are about 10′ – 15′ deep so good snorkeling (or diving) skills required. If you are less inclined to dive deep there is still plenty to see along the rocks on either side of the bay.

This is also a great spot to picnic. We have done so and in the middle of our last picnic we heard the sound of ‘thumps’ on the water and looked out to watch whales breaching! They entertained us for several minutes before moving on. What a thrill is was!

Hawksnest Beach

Beautiful foliage, great snorkeling and easy to access with plenty of parking, Hawksnest Beach is convenient and fun – but it can get busy when there is significant cruise ship traffic on St. Thomas. Hawksnest also has picnic tables for having a beach side snack or romantic evening picnic.

Hawksnest beach is one of the most popular and romantic on St John.

Carrie and I particularly like the west end which has some old smooth coral rocks directly in front in the water, but is much quieter (usually no one) and can be accessed from a path at the very west edge of the parking lot.

Grootpan Bay

The nearly sand-free beach is actually covered in small, smooth pebbles and stones and sits just south of a large salt pond. It is easy to get to by parking in the small area at the east end. Armed with a beach chair, towel, cooler and some snorkel gear, Grootpan is one of the most private beaches on the island. The snorkeling near the beach and along both sides of the bay is excellent and should be experienced.