A Visit to St. John’s Gibney Beach

A Visit to St. John’s Gibney Beach

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.

Gibney Beach St John USVI

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!

Take A Walk Along Hawksnest Beach

Take A Walk Along Hawksnest Beach

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.

Hawksnest Beach St John USVI

A Visit to Jumbie Bay on St. John

A Visit to Jumbie Bay on St. John

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.

Jumbie Beach St John USVI

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 St John USVI

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!

Jumbie Bay St John USVI
Jumbie Bay

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 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

 

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!