One of the highlights of a visit to St. John is the opportunity to snorkel and observe turtles. Maho Bay is the place to go for sea turtles. The seagrass beds in the middle stretches of this shallow bay provide habitat for the green sea turtles that are seen more frequently in the early morning or late afternoon. There’s coral and fish along the western (left if facing water) waters of this long beach, they are more abundant the closer you get to the point between Maho and Cinnamon. To the north east, the rocks and reef supports abundant fish populations, including angel fish. If you are lucky you may see octopus in the coral crevices. Both Maho and Francis Bay can get stirred up reducing visibility when there is a north swell but in general are less affected by winter swells than elsewhere on the North Shore.
Here’s a short video so you can check out what it’s like to swim with the turtles. The sea turtles of St. John are accustomed to the presence of snorkelers, so you’ll often get an up close and personal experience with these magnificent islanders during your time here, though it’s important that you maintain proper turtle etiquette. Proper turtle etiquette means respecting the sea turtles’ space – no chasing, no touching, and definitely no riding the turtles.
We have always wanted to do the Reef Bay coastal walk, but for some reason never got around to it. Maybe it was because we heard it was a very hard trail that involved holding onto ropes on the descent down to the beach and then a rock scramble! Well, we did the trail last week, which is also called the Parrot Bay Trail, and we lived to talk about it. Yes, it does involve some ropes at the beginning and a rock scramble, but if you are in decent shape it is definitely very doable and incredibly worth it. Check out this video to see the beauty and solitude that awaits you if you do this trail!
The trail is only steep at the very beginning and is a short distance. Once you get to the beach, the trail is very flat and you are walking on the beach until you get to a section of beautiful red rocks you need to scramble over to get to the next beach. There isn’t much shade so wear plenty of sunscreen and bring lots of water.
The Reef Bay Coastal Walk provides an alternative route to the historic Reef Bay Sugar Mill, the petroglyphs and the Reef Bay Estate House, normaly reached via either the Reef Bay or Lameshur Bay Trails. By taking short trails, walking along the beach and scrambling around small headlands, you can cover the entire perimeter of Reef Bay. The distance between the Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins and Parrot Bay on the western end of Reef Bay is about 1.2 miles.
For exact details on how to reach the trail head and do the walk, make sure you get a copy of St. John Off The Beaten Track (we have a copy at St. John Escape.) So if you have a zest for adventure (and good balance!) we highly recommend this trail. You will see a side of St. John you have never seen before.