The Francis Bay trail is an excellent short hike (about 30 minutes round trip) that starts from the parking area before you start down the road to Francis Beach. The trail starts right behind a scenic old stone building. It wanders about half a mile, through the forest, past some ruins, around a salt pond, then leads to Francis Bay beach. Watch this video to experience the diverse flora and fauna along this beautiful trail.
The trail is built and maintained by Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting our National Park. A large portion of this trail is ADA and eco friendly. Almost half of the trail is built as a raised platform to protect the ecosystem of the local salt pond. Here you’ll find many native species of birds and ducks. It is also common to see lots of land crabs, hermit crabs, iguanas, deer, mongoose and, of course, donkeys. The pond is of the best bird watching spots on the island. Expect to see lots of Maho trees and Mangroves towards the pond.
Right after you start the trail there are some interesting ruins.
We usually suggest that our guests go out on a sunset sail during their vacation on St. John. St John has some amazing sunsets, and even though you get an amazing view from the terrace of St. John Escape, there is nothing quite like being out on the water to experience the sunset. On a recent visit we decided to go out with Beach Charters VI for their sunset sail featuring a performance by the very talented Erin Hart. It was a delightful evening and we were treated to a beautiful sunset and great music. Sit back with us and relax aboard this beautiful catamaran as the sun goes down.
Welcome to Trunk Bay, widely considered one of the most pristine, best-preserved beaches in the Caribbean. It has perfect blue water, and features a 225-yard long underwater snorkeling trail and .3 miles of a soft white sand beach to walk on. Trunk Bay is commonly considered one of the best beaches in the world and is certainly one of the most popular on St. John. In fact, in 2013 Travel + Leisure ranked this beach as one of the “Best Beaches on Earth.” Watch this video to see why a visit to Trunk Bay is a must on your visit to St. John!
On your way from Cruz Bay stop at the Trunk Bay overlook to take photos that will make all your friends back home jealous.
Trunk Bay is often mobbed, since it is the most popular stop for organized day trips from St. Thomas and the cruise ships. To avoid the crowds come early or late, but do come–this is what Caribbean beach dreams are made of.
One of the shortest and easiest hikes on St. John (about 100 yards) is the Peace Hill trail. The short hike up the trail from the parking area takes you up to the aptly named Peace Hill. At the top of the grassy knoll is a wonderful early plantation windmill ruin. Peace Hill looks over Hawksnest Bay to the West and Denis Bay and Trunk Bay to the East. From the top you can also see Cinnamon, Great Thatch, Tortola and Jost van Dyke. The views are worth the walk … so don’t miss this one! Watch this video to see the views for yourself and make sure to visit Peace Hill on your next trip.
Sometimes called St. John’s “secret beach,” Gibney is a little secluded beach that can be hard to plan a day around because there is only parking for a handful of cars. If you’re lucky enough to get a parking spot, enjoy a quiet day on a picturesque beach with gorgeous views across the bay to Hawksnest and Caneel. Watch this video to see the beauty of Gibney beach for yourself!
Gibney Beach takes its name from the Gibney family that established a home in the 1950s on the land behind the beach at the southern side of Hawksnest Bay.
Located about a 1/4 mi east of Hawksnest Bay’s parking area. Visitors can access this beach via the Oppenheimer Beach iron gate. Parking is very limited – and you should not block the gate-access! From here you’ll walk down to Oppenheimer Beach and follow the shoreline to your left as you face the water. Take care not to disturb the privacy of the Gibney family or their guests. About 100 yards down the beach you’ll find a wonderful white sand beach.
Like many of St John’s beaches, entry is shallow with moderate waves! Sandy bottom extends out 20 – 30 yards! Due to the September, 2017 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, many of the majestic coconut palms that once lined this beach are gone. But the survivors are making a comeback – and it won’t be long before the iconic shadow of a palm tree extends across this beach again!
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.
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.
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.