Honeymoon Beach Update

St John Honeymoon Beach

Like most every beach on St. John, most people are struck with just how much Honeymoon captures the whole “paradise on earth” theme.   There is no doubt that this perception of Honeymoon will not change for people who visit after Irma.  This beach is still gorgeous, and is in fact, wider than before the storm.  Honeymoon contains the magnificent qualities common to all of St. John’s north shore beaches, sugar white sand and clear, turquoise water.

Currently,  there are only two ways to get to Honeymoon.  You can go by boat or dinghy, but nowadays since Caneel is closed, almost everyone arrives by Lind Point trail.  We’ll cover this trail in another update, but walking along this forest path trail gives you the chance to really enjoy the peace and beauty of the unspoiled interior of St. John.

We prefer walking to Honeymoon on the Lind Point trail, right from St. John Escape.    It is a little over a mile from Cruz Bay to  Honeymoon.  The trail starts at the steps just beyond the National Park visitor center.  Since the option of parking at Caneel and then walking over is not possible at the moment, you can actually catch a dinghy ride offered by Virgin Islands Ecotours roundtrip to  Honeymoon right from the beach in front of Grande Bay.

Here’s a short video clip to give you a sense of how Honeymoon is #stillbeautiful.  If this doesn’t make you want to visit, I don’t know what will 🙂

 

Day 3 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

Day 3 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

Here is an adventure involving a hike that most active visitors will really enjoy, but you must wear comfortable shoes (no flip flops) and bring along plenty of water.  The Reef Bay trailhead begins nearly 5 miles from Cruz Bay on Centerline Road and descends about 2.5 miles down to the south shore beach.  Along the shady, damp trail you will find a diversity of plants and the remains of sugar cane estates and abandoned farming communities.

There are usually two options to do the Reef Bay trail hike.  The hard core way is to hike down and back up for a total of 5 miles.  If you are in decent shape it shouldn’t be too difficult.  The other option is to take the guided walk organized by the National Park Service, whereby you walk down with a guide and then take a scenic boat ride back into Cruz Bay.

There is a not to be missed short side trail near the bottom of the hike.  About 1.5 miles down the Reef Bay Trail, you can follow signs leading to the petroglyphs–rock carvings attributed to early Taino Indians marked along freshwater pools.  If you are lucky enough to do this hike shortly after it rains you will be rewarded with a beautiful waterfall.

 

When you reach the bottom of the Reef Bay trail you also have the option to wander down the Lameshur Bay trail, which continues another 1.2 miles from the junction with the Reef Bay trail.  Once you get to Lameshure Bay you will be treated to a south shore beach with white sand and turquoise waters.  There are also some great photo ops of the ruins that you will find there.

If you still want to hike some more there is another spur trail that leads to a salt pond and a coral rubble beach at Europa Bay.

Solomon Beach Update

Solomon Beach Update

We revisited one of my all time  favorite beaches on St John today, Solomon beach.  Solomon has so many things going for it   For one,  at least for us, it’s only about a 25 minute very enjoyable walk from our condo.   The beach has fewer crowds than most because of its limited access.  The only way to get there is either on foot or by boat.

There is no doubt that Solomon took a hard hit from Irma and is different from what it was.   Everyone’s favorite arched palms are now gone.   The beach is also rockier than it was, but in the two weeks we have been here the beach has definitely gained more and    more sand back.   Although Solomon has changed, it is #stillbeautiful!  I think these photos can can attest to that.

 

So enjoy this short clip of an amazing beach on an amazing island.

 

 

A Visit to Peace Hill

A Visit to Peace Hill

The Peace Hill hike on St. John is a very easy one, but nonetheless very rewarding. It begins at a small parking lot off Northshore Road, about half a mile after Hawksnest.  A 10 minute walk on a well-maintained trail with moderate incline brings you to a breathtaking view over Hawksnest and  Dennis Bay.

There are ruins of an old windmill at the top that originally was powered by the constant trade winds that passed over the top of the hill.

True to its name, Peace Hill is a truly peaceful place, there are rarely any crowds and it is great for a picnic and watching the sunset. It was voted as one of the top 10 romantic places to see while on honeymoon on St. John.

There doesn’t appear to be any damage from Hurricane Irma.  Having just visited one of our favorite spots on St John just a couple of days ago,  we can attest it’s just as great as ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

Day 2 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

If you’re the active type, why not start the day by working up a sweat on the Cinnamon Bay trail, followed by cooling off and relaxing at Cinnamon Bay beach.  Head a few minutes past Trunk Bay down the North Shore road until you reach Cinnamon Bay, either in your own jeep or take one of St. John’s open air taxis.

Cinnamon beach is the National Park’s longest beach.  It’s almost a mile long and is perfect for walking, snorkeling, water sports, and of course, lounging.  Right now Cinnamon is still recovering from Hurricane Irma, so the water sports concession is closed as is the campground.  The beach however, is open and still beautiful.

Ah, now for the working up a sweat part.  Before you head to the beach you can take an uphill hike that begins right after the Cinnamon Bay Campground entrance off of the North Shore Road.  The moderately strenuous trail follows an old Danish plantation road and provides breathtaking views down onto Cinnamon Bay and the British Virgins Islands in the distance.  Those that make it to the top will see the ruins of an old plantation that happens to be one of my favorite photo ops.

First Visit After Irma – Impressions

Jumbie Bay St John USVI

Well, we’ve been here for a week and wanted to let you know our impressions, observations and experiences so far. We promise not to oversell anything. Having proper expectations is key to enjoying this amazing place – either pre- or post- hurricanes.

What’s still here? Let’s talk nature first…Great temperatures, beautiful colored skies and water, green hills and mountains, sunsets and sunrises painting the clouds coral and pink, rainbows – both single and double, boat and ferry activity in the harbor to observe, beaches with the amazing soft white sand we all love, clear water to see your toes in the beautiful sand, turtles, fish chasing each other across the surface of the water and hermit crabs rolling down the trail as you hike the nicely cleared and maintained trails.

 

Changes in the natural environment… palm trees and many of the sea grape shade providing trees on the beach are down. Solomon Beach is very different with lots of rocks washed up, but you can see where more sand is being washed up onto beach. The three twisted palms are gone and that was a bit sad. We walked on to Honeymoon Beach which still has beautiful sand, but less shade. Jumble Beach was the first beach we visited and thought it was great! We found some shade, the beach was a little wider. Francis Bay was very nice, still a great place to snorkel or stand up paddle board. Cinnamon Beach is wider and the sand is still beautiful. Unfortunately Maho Beach will take your breath away due to the amount of trees it lost. But even the bent trees are sprouting new growth.

Here is a general theme – getting to and approaching many beaches will be shocking and overwhelming at times when you see the destruction to some vegetation, others will be slightly changed from before. But once you get there, sit down in your chair (possibly under the beach umbrella we brought down) you will sigh and say “aaahhhhh – this is why we love this place.”

We keep trying to put our feelings into words to adequately convey to you what to expect. One thought is this. People who love St John will probably really enjoy it now. Why? Well for one thing it is a lot less crowded. That may not last long but it reminds us of when we come in the fall and you recognize faces -locals and tourists. And it reminds you of a simpler, less spoiled island.

Let’s move on to the man made attractions. Biggest change that we saw when arrived on ferry was that Wharfside Village is not open and there are still two boats on the beach. But barges with cranes are moving sunken ferries and sailboats every day.

But you can have a waterside drink at “Drink” right next to Grande Bay. (I can see its roof from where I am sitting writing this.). And we hear that High Tide on the ferry terminal side of Wharfside Village will open any day now. The Terrace is open, Lime Inn, Dalivio’s, Longboards. Many people will watch playoffs today at Drink, The Doghouse Pub or Quiet Mon.

We’ve actually enjoyed Quiet Mon a lot this week and even the guy who made it famous by singing about it was there last night hanging out with his local buddies. Yep, I mean Kenny Chesney, a true hero to the island with what he and his foundation have done.

There are lots more restaurants and stores open, just can’t name them all. And many more beaches to visit.

And then as always, you start and end your day with the incredible views from your terrace at St John Escape.

panoromic-view-towards-st-thomas

We will share more with you next week. Pls feel free to ask questions.

Cheers!
Leslie & Peter

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

Day 1 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

Day 1 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

It’s hard to argue that going to Trunk Bay on your first day is a bad idea.  Sure some consider it to be the most touristy beach, but once you visit it’s easy to see why its so popular.  It is often rated as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and it is  certainly the most photographed.  Make sure you stop for a great photo op at the overlook along the North Shore road.

We would recommend not going on days when there are lots of cruise ships visiting St. Thomas, because Trunk can get crowded.  If you visit at off peak times like early in the morning or late in the afternoon, this top rated beach might only have a few people on it.  Once you walk on the powder white sand and take a dip in the clear  water, it might be hard to leave the beach, let alone St. John.

Trunk Bay is the only beach on St. John where you have to pay an admission fee.  It’s worth it though because you get lifeguards, bathrooms, showers, a snack bar, snorkel rentals and an underwater snorkel trail.  Even though there is better snorkeling elsewhere on St. John, Trunk Bay is a good place to start because of the underwater signage along the self guided trail.  As we right this, Trunk Bay is open to visitors but is not yet charging admission because all of the facilities are not yet up and running.

 

Beach Update – Jumbie Bay

Jumbie Bay St John USVI

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!

 

 

 

The Perfect Week on St. John

The Perfect Week on St. John

As your plane begins to land and you look out the window, your reasons for visiting St. John–no matter how many times or for however long –become as clear as the turquoise Caribbean waters surrounding the island.  As we prepare to visit the island this week, we are just as excited as we were when we visited 16 years ago.

great view of-coral-bay-st-john

With about two thirds of the island preserved as a national park, lush green vegetation covers the mountainous terrain ( even after the hurricanes) and colorful reefs surround the beautiful beaches.

St. John is the smallest and least developed of the three US Virgin Islands, but what it lacks in size it easily makes up for with its natural beauty.  The abundant beaches on St. John are as diverse and beautiful as the marine life under the water.  The island is home to many hiking trails that please all skill levels of hikers.  The only problem in this paradise for you, is the limited amount of time you have to spend here.

As owners of a second home on St. John, our guests frequently ask us what they should see and do during a typical one week stay.   Our blog posts for the next two weeks will be devoted to what we believe is the best one week itinerary to follow.  During our upcoming stay on island, we will get a first hand view as to how far St. John has recovered from Hurricane Irma and we will share our impressions with you upon our return.