The Battery in Cruz Bay

The Battery in Cruz Bay

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!

Walk to Salomon Beach

Walk to Salomon Beach

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.

Hiking the Ram Head Trail

Hiking the Ram Head Trail

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!!

Panoramic View Ram Head St. John USVI

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!

Rainbow at Sunset on Ram Head St. John

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.

Sunset on Ram Head St. John USVI

Hiking the Leinster Bay Trail

Hiking the Leinster Bay Trail

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.

Trail to Waterlemon Cay
Access to 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.

Leinster bay access to Waterlemon 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.

Danish Guard House

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.

View from the Murphy House
Waterlemon Cay

Escape to the Caneel Hill Trail

St John’s Caneel Hill Trail begins in Cruz Bay about twenty yards past the Mongoose Junction parking lot and rises to the summit of Caneel Hill.  It’s a great hike that can easily be done starting right from St. John Escape, but it is by no means an easy hike.   When you reach the viewing platform at the top of Caneel Hill you will be able to see spectacular views all the way out to St. Croix and Puerto Rico.   It is definitely worth the effort.

Check out this video to see what it’s like to go on this excellent hike.

The total distance is 2.4 miles.  The trail to the peak of Caneel Hill is a steep and steady incline, gaining 719 feet of elevation in less than one mile.  We would recommend wearing proper footwear as this is definitely not a flip flop hike. You probably want to  wear sneakers or Keens and bring  along a bottle or two of water.  So while it is not an easy hike, it is definitely doable.

You will be amply rewarded for your efforts with spectacular views.  So if you like a nice little hike with stellar views, add the Caneel Hill trail to your list on your next visit.

 

Hiking the Caneel Hill Trail St John USVI

 

 

 

St John USVI St John Escape at Grande Bay

 

Escape to Cinnamon Bay Loop Trail – the perfect St. John hike for beginners

Escape to Cinnamon Bay Loop Trail – the perfect St. John hike for beginners

According to our favorite book about St John activities, St. John Off The Beaten Track, “If you only have enough time to hike one trail, then the Cinnamon Bay Self-Guiding Trail is the trail for you. Also, because the trail is relatively short, flat and shady, it’s a perfect choice for those who would like to experience a taste of the St. John interior, but who might be put off by the prospect of a long hike on the often hilly and rugged terrain characteristic of the St. John forest.”

Here’s a video we made of what it’s like to visit this magical and mysterious place. Meander through the ruins of the historic Cinnamon Bay Sugar Plantation. Smell the scent of the leaves from the bay rum trees, which were once used to make the famous St John Bay Rum Cologne. The boardwalk and nature loop are located across the road from the entrance to the Cinnamon Bay Campground. The nature loop is an easy 0.5 mile hike.

 

Represented on the Trail are three important stages of the economy and life on St. John in days gone by, the sugar industry, the emergence of bay rum and the subsistence economy that existed from the end of slavery to the beginning of the present day tourism economy.

St John USVI Cinnamon Bay

 

The old sugar works are in good condition and you can see the remains of the horsemill where the sugar cane was ground up and juiced and the factory where the juice was boiled down and evaporated to produce the crude sugar and molasses that were stored in the building that once existed where the stone columns are alongside the road.

Cinnamon Bay St John USVI

 

You can pick up the half-mile trail that leads through the forest crosses the gut and heads back to the ruins. Here you’ll pass through a stand of bay rum trees planted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and walk by an old Danish cemetery.

St John USVI Cinnamon Bay

What It’s Like to Visit St. John Now – 2019 Update

What It’s Like to Visit St. John Now – 2019 Update

A common question we hear from people who are considering a vacation to St. John is, “How is the island doing and is it ok to visit?”  As they say a picture, or in this case a video, is worth a thousand words.  So with this in mind we have prepared this video of our recent trip to St. John so you can see for yourself.

As you will see, St. John is still full of amazing beauty, life, and is definitely ready for visitors.  St. John is a special island that’s hard to describe until you actually go for yourself. It’s beautiful in photos, but once you visit is when you truly feel the spirit of the island.  If you’ve ever been to St. John, then you understand that it has this magnetic pull on you that’s like nothing else that keeps people coming back year after year.

St. John has changed a bit since Hurricane Irma and Maria so we thought a video update was in order.  While the beaches might look a little bit different now with fewer shade trees, the water and sand are just as amazing as ever.  The island is still pure heaven if you’re looking for a destination where you can relax and truly get away from it all. Whether you’ve loved St. John for years or you’ve not yet been, it is absolutely, without question worth the trip. Even more, St. John needs the tourism to continue to rebuild.

So sit back, relax and watch the video to see what it’s like to visit St. John now as we travel to the beautiful beaches, and hike along the amazing the trails!

 

Beach Update – Hawksnest

Beach Update – Hawksnest

For many, their favorite beach on St. John is Hawksnest.   It is not too long of a drive from Cruz Bay (about 2 miles from St John Escape), parking is close to the beach and the watercolor is just amazing.

Post Irma the beach is still in great shape.   In fact it seems a little wider.   It is also much easier to get to the section of the beach that some called “little Hawksnest”, the area to the left

Go for a snorkel over the reef (watch water level and make sure it is calm enough). It is amazing, the water is very clear, there is still orange elkhorn coral and an abundance of fish.

Hawksnest Panorama

Beach Update – Jumbie Bay

Beach Update – Jumbie Bay

Jumbie Bay is a lovely little beach with a short stretch of white sand fringed with sea grapes. If you’re looking for a small, private, intimate beach without having to walk a long trail to get there, then Jumbie is an excellent choice. A walk down a short trail leads you to the beach from the main road. The parking is limited. A small, almost obscure sign on the road indicates the beach. Snorkeling can be enjoyed on calm days  along a shallow reef that extends from both the right and left sides of the beach.

So what is Jumbie like after the hurricanes?  In a word, fabulous.  These photos show how beautiful this spot still is.  Our goal for the day was to visit most of the North Shore beaches, but once we got here we didn’t want to leave. We were even able to find some shade so we didn’t have to use our beach umbrella.  The norm for many beaches these days is to bring along a beach umbrella if you’re looking for shade.

At times we had the beach to ourselves, at other times there were two other couples.  A boat from the National Park Service arrived and dropped off someone to dive and locate vegetative debris.  He would pull it up to the shore and then those of us there would carry it up off the beach.   Those guys are doing a tremendous job of making the beaches great to visit.   After our work was done it was time for a cold one!