Hawksnest Beach is a favorite beach for both St. John locals and visitors alike, and a preferred beach for families with children. The reason for this is that Hawksnest is not only one of the most beautiful beaches on St. John, it is also the most convenient. It’s the closest beach you can drive to from Cruz Bay and the parking lot is close to the beach. Here’s a video of what it’s like to walk along Hawksnest Beach.
Hawksnest Beach also offers the closest reef to shore, coming right up to the sand. The snorkeling is easy and there is some great elk horn coral here. You do need to pay attention to how close you get the reef with your body and fins because the water gets pretty shallow in spots. It is best to snorkel Hawksnest when the bay is calm and there are no north shore swells.
For those considering a day trip to Anegada from St. John, you can easily do so. If you happen to be on St. John the first Sunday of the month, InterIsland Ferry Company has a reasonably priced day trip. Yes, it’s a long day but the change in scenery and the incredible beaches make it worthwhile. We did the trip ourselves in June and here’s a video of what it’s like to visit this paradise.
Anegada is the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands. It lies approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of Virgin Gorda and is about 55 miles from St. John. Anegada is formed from coral and limestone, rather than being of volcanic origin. While the other islands are mountainous, Anegada is flat and low. It is the only all-coral atoll in the VI and a mere 28 feet above sea level. Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 18-mile (29 km)-long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean. Aside from the Lobster for which Anegada is mostly known, it is also great for surfing, it is the Virgin Island that is most exposed to the swell.
The sand is even whiter and pinker than on St. John (since it is of coral and limestone) and that gives the water an absolutely amazing turquoise color. The island is very laid back and relaxed. It is amazing how chill you will feel during your time here.
We rented a Mini-Moke for the day (as seen in the video above) and it was an absolute blast exploring the island on this dune buggy like vehicle. You can easily see the whole island in a day if you want to. We would recommend checking out Cow Wreck Beach to truly have lobster in paradise! The Anegada Beach Club was also a great place to hang out.
Located along North Shore Road, between Hawksnest Bay and Trunk Bay, is Jumbie Beach. Because Jumbie is often overlooked for more popular beaches like Trunk bay and parking is fairly limited – Jumbie Beach is a great spot to enjoy a quiet stretch of St John beach. Check out this video to see what it’s like to visit this gem!
Jumbie is a small beach, only about 60 yards long. There’s parking for about 6 vehicles in the designated parking across the road. Then it’s just a short walk along a narrow path.
There you’ll find a crescent shaped beach of white sand. Sea Grapes offer some shade especially in the late afternoon. Entry is shallow. Waves and surf are usually calm to moderate. But due to it’s orientation, wind and weather Jumbie can have high surf at times!
Jumbie Bay is more exposed to the trade winds than most of the neighboring north shore beaches and the water can get choppy on windy days. On the positive side, the breeze can be refreshing and the rough water is very dramatic!
From the beach at Jumbie Bay you can see Trunk Bay and the islands of Jost Van Dyke, Green Cay, Whistling Cay, Trunk Cay and Great Thatch.
There’s certainly no shortage of ruins on St John, and most of our favorite hikes include a ruin or two. One of our favorite ruins can be found by hiking the America Hill spur of the Cinnamon Bay trail. Not only are the ruins attractive, the views of the north shore of St John are stunning. Watch this video to see what you will experience on the great St. John hike.
The trail starts 100 yards past Cinnamon Bay’s entrance on North Shore Road. The trailhead is marked by a sign for “Cinnamon Bay Trail” (there’s another sign along the way for the America Hill spur). It’s adjacent to the Cinnamon Bay Ruins and there is a place for one or two cars to park or you can just park at the Cinnamon Bay beach lot. This is a great hike to take before heading to the beach at Cinnamon Bay.
The hike up is steep at first, and fairly exposed, but as you cross the gut it levels out a bit and becomes shadier & cooler. Once you reach the America Hill Spur, which is not very far up Cinnamon Bay Trail, it’s only about five more minutes to the ruins. The walls of the house are mostly intact, and you can see where the remains of the front steps were.
The ruins were once home to sugar cane plantations and bay rum distilleries, the most prosperous on island. Today, the remnants of the old rum factory are still prominent, and when you reach the top of your hike, you’ll be able to see the ruins and enjoy the stunning views over to Maho Bay, Francis Bay and Tortola. These unforgettable views, with the ruins and forests all around, make this hike one of our favorites and certainly worth the effort.
The Reef Bay Trail in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park holds the secrets of St.John’s tropical forests, sugar mill ruins, and ancient petroglyphs. The two-mile trail explores the depths of the island, featuring a steep rocky terrain, 40 foot waterfall, and a freshwater pond near the trail’s end. When adventuring from your St. John Escape vacation home, pack a light lunch, plenty of water, and a swimsuit to take a dip.
Watch this video to see what this classic St. John hike is like:
You will find off road parking at the Reef Bay trailhead along Centerline Road about halfway between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. The rocky trail descends steeply from 900 feet above sea level to the rocky beach at Reef Bay. Bring plenty of water, bug spray, and wear sturdy walking shoes.
The National Park Service is currently not offering their guided hike option that included a return to Cruz Bay by boat. This means you will have to hike both down and back up the trail. The long steep, uphill walk back is far more difficult than the descent. This should not be a problem for those in good physical condition who may even enjoy the challenge. Make sure to pace yourself and bring plenty of water. It may also be a good idea to plan a picnic either at the petroglyphs or at the beach near the sugar factory. A cooling swim at Genti or Little Reef Bay is another pleasant way to prepare for the walk up the valley.
A hike through the tropical forests of St. John wouldn’t be complete without some beautiful water features. Along the Reef Bay trail you will sometimes find a stunning 40-foot waterfall, with a freshwater pool at the base. Whether or not you see the waterfall depends on how recently it has rained. Fresh water at the bottom provides a home for a shrimp, frogs, fish, hummingbirds, and dragonflies. This is a great spot to take a rest or have your lunch.
There are some historic elements along the Reef Bay Trail that will catch your attention. The sugar mill ruins along the Reef Bay Trail remind you of a different era on the island and carry a dark shadow of history. Another historic element is visible on the rocks surrounding the freshwater pool near the trail’s end. Here, you will see some mysterious carvings. Archaeologists believe that these carvings are in fact sacred symbols carved by Taino Indians over 1,000 years ago. These petroglyphs are a great historic treat at the end of a great hike.
Awaiting you at the bottom of the trail is lovely Reef Bay beach.
What’s more romantic than spending your day in paradise at a beach called Honeymoon? Honeymoon contains the magnificent qualities common to all of St. John’s north shore beaches, sugar white sand and clear, turquoise water. Here’s a video of Honeymoon Bay on St. John taken on a recent early morning visit. Enjoy the solitude!
While Honeymoon’s prime location gives you views of the islands and cays in Pillsbury Sound, its remote access keeps the beach more tranquil and private than many of the other North Shore beaches. You can’t drive directly to Honeymoon, but that’s part of its allure. There are currently three ways to get to Honeymoon: hike the Lind Point Trail, arrive by boat, or take the golf cart shuttle at the entrance to Caneel Bay resort.
The Battery is a short walk from St John Escape at Grande Bay. Once a fort that protected Cruz Bay since the late eighteenth century, the building now serves as government offices. However, the building itself is protected as a National Historic Site, and has a small museum inside. The grounds of the Battery offer great views of Cruz Bay and the harbor.
To reach the Battery you walk out of the Grande Bay garage and head onto the beach. You walk towards the ferry dock along Cruz Bay beach which is always an interesting experience, no matter what time of day.
Once you reach the ferry terminal you continue on the small beach until you reach the Battery grounds entrance. To get some great photos just walk along the perimeter, close to the rocky shore. You’re reward will be some great views!
Walking to Salomon Beach is one of our favorite activities while on St. John. It’s a beautiful, relatively short hike on one of the most flat trails on St. John. We love to start our day with a power walk to Salomon just to get some exercise. The beauty is you just walk out the door of St. John Escape and head on out, no need for a car.
Watch the video to see what it’s like to do the walk to Salomon. We start out looking at the trail from the terrace of St. John Escape. Walking out of the garage at Grande Bay, we immediately get on the beach and begin. We walk through town and arrive at the National Park Visitor center where the Lind Point trail begins. Walking along the trail we see nice views of Cruz Bay and the many Cays in the distance. In less than a half hour we reach the solitude of Salomon Beach.
Another must do while on St. John is the Ram Head Trail. It is a beautiful hike which starts at the very remote East End of St. John at Salt Pond Beach. The views from the top are some of the best on the entire island. Watch this video to see what the hike is like and why we consider it our favorite hike on St. John.
It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon in the West by St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and the full moon rise to the East above Norman Island, British Virgin Islands.
We start off hiking along Salt Pond Bay and then head inland, walking across Blue Cobblestone beach, past amazing cactus fields, before reaching the summit of Ram Head. The reward for getting to the top is the amazing panoramic view. On the way up we will pass the actual Salt Pond that the beach is named after., before we get to Drunk Bay and see the rock statues. This is an amazing hike and one of our favorites. Enjoy the views!!
On our most recent visit, we hiked the trail out around 5:30 pm, getting to Ram’s head just in time for the St. John sunset. We love to hike this trail on the full moon, as it’s a magnificent spot to see the moon on the ocean and take in the beautiful scenery . If you do this, make sure you’re comfortable hiking and perhaps bring a flashlight or even better, a headlamp!
The trail is 1 mile long each way and leads to a beautiful crest that is 200 feet high and has an absolutely stunning view. One mile does not sound hard, but bear in mind it is hot and the trail is occasionally steep. Still, with proper shoes it can easily be done, also for kids and fit seniors. It takes about an hour. Don’t forget water and sunscreen.
The Leinster Bay Trail is a flat 0.8-mile trail that follows the shoreline of Leinster Bay from the end of the paved road beyond the Annaberg Sugar Mill parking lot Leinster Bay Road to the beach at Waterlemon Bay.
Watch this video to see first hand what it’s like to hike this scenic trail that leads to our favorite view on St. John!
The Leinster Bay Trail runs right along the water’s edge with splendid, unobstructed views of Leinster Bay, the Narrows, Sir Francis Drake Channel, and West End, Tortola. Moreover, it provides land access to one of St. John’s best snorkeling locations, Waterlemon Cay, the small island that lies just offshore of the beautiful little beach at Waterlemon Cay.
The Johnny Horn Trail begins just behind the beach and continues on to Coral Bay. But if you hike only a short stretch you will be rewarded with some great ruins and spectacular views.
Right near the beginning of the Johnny Horn Trail, there is a short spur trail that follows the shoreline of Waterlemon Bay. By walking along this trail, you can get to a point on the shore that is half the distance to Waterlemon Cay than it would bestarting from the beach. This way you can save your energy for the really good snorkeling around the cay.
Further up the trail there is a spur trail that takes you to ruins of an old Danish guard house. This small fortification was built on this strategic location, called Leinster Point, because it overlooked two critical passages, the Fungi Passage, between Whistling Cay and Mary Point, and the Narrows, which separate Great Thatch and St. John. The guardhouse was equipped with cannons and manned by 16 soldiers.
As you proceed up the hill, you will come to several areas that provide excellent views of Leinster Bay and the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Near the top of the hill, the trail forks. The trail to the left is a spur that leads to the ruins of the James Murphy Estate house. The view from up here is our favorite on St. John.