Wednesday, August 17, 2022

St. John Beaches and More

 st. john, st. john travel guide, nc blogger, virgin islands

Hey y'all! Today is third part of my St. John travel series and this post is going to be all about the beaches... and more. We arrived in St. John on June 30 and flew home on July 9 so we had about eight full days to enjoy everything the island has to offer. Even though it's a really small island, we still didn't get a chance to see and experience it all. 

Let's talk beaches first...

1. Maho Bay: This was the first beach we visited and we fell in love with it immediately! If you want to see sea turtles, this is where you need to go. You will definitely see them here! You can just swim in the calm waters and see there little heads pop up just a few feet away from you. Seeing the sea turtles never ceased to amaze me and was one of my very favorite parts of this whole vacation! As pictured above, you can rent a clear bottom kayak right across the street the beach area and it's only $30 for 2 hours. We saw so many sea turtles while we were kayaking! I literally squealed every single time I saw one. This particular beach can get a little crowded so this is one that you will want to get to early (around 9am or so) for good parking and a nice shady spot. There's lots of trees for shade right along the beach so all you need is something to sit on and of course, your reef safe mineral sunscreen.  Our favorite bar was at Maho and there's also a gift shop and food available for purchase. We loved this beach so much that we came back at least 4-5 more times!




2. Cinnamon Bay: Cinnamon Bay is just up the road from Maho Bay and it's also a gorgeous beach! There's also some ruins right on the beach to check out. Besides the beach being gorgeous, there's lots of parking here and a great bathroom... and you know this is important when you are spending the day at the beach. One of the days that we came here, it had been raining off and on all day long so we were able to see the biggest crabs that I have ever seen in my whole life right along the walking path to the beach. The wildlife was definitely one of the most amazing things to observe in St. John!


3. Trunk Bay: Next up along the North Shore is Trunk Bay. It's just minutes from Cinnamon Bay so we visited both of these beaches on the same day. The first time we came to Trunk, it was rainy and it made the water a little rough. But thankfully, we decided to give it another try on a sunny day and I'm so glad we did! It was incredibly beautiful and the water was so calm on our second visit. At Trunk, there's also a snorkeling trail that guides you to see some amazing fish. It's definitely a great snorkel spot! There's not a lot of parking here so it's another place that you will want to get to early to secure a spot and yes, it also has great bathrooms and a foot rinse (which is essential after a day in the sand). There were also food, drinks, and snacks available to purchase here.



4. Hansen Bay: Hansen is located on the East side of the island and it was a journey to get to for sure! Super steep hills and lots of goat sightings later, we made it there. This beach is privately owned but it's open to the public to enjoy. So, there's plenty of parking and a portable bathroom here. They have tents with lounge chairs as well as picnic tables so it's great spot to visit if you forget your chairs or don't have any to use. There's also water sports equipment to rent as well. Everything is honor system so you just put your money to use the amenities in the donation box on the beach. The son of the owner came over when we arrived, greeted us, and explained how everything worked there. He was super kind and helpful. It was such a quiet and relaxing spot! I think we were only one of three or four other families on the whole beach. I would definitely recommend visiting this beach!



5. Salt Pond Bay: This beach is quite the adventure! From the parking area, you have to walk down a trail to get there. This trail is rocky and it's downhill to the beach. You definitely have to be careful but thankfully it isn't too long of a journey. The beach is absolutely gorgeous (the donkeys even loved this place because they were just right on the beach) and there's so much to see in this area! You have to go check out the Salt Pond. The water is pink and you can just pick up the sea salt at the edge of the water. You can also access several different hiking trails from here so pack a cooler and prepare to spend the day. There are bathrooms available here as well. It's such a cool spot and a must visit while in St. John!







Like I mentioned above, there's so many trails on St. John to explore. One of the more challenging ones is Reef Bay Trail, which leads you to petroglyphs. We weren't prepared for that trail because no one besides Josh had proper footwear to take on a slippery trail but pack some good sneakers or boots if you love an adventurous trail experience and go do that one! There's also so many ruins from sugar cane factories to see all over the island so we went to see several of those, including Annaberg. It's a short walk but there's so much to see and some really great views! We could even see a great view of the British Virgin Islands from the area where the girls were standing in the picture below. We also explored some of the other trails around this area.


We also did a boat charter for Josh's birthday during our trip. We booked our charter through Voodoo and chose the Laid Back Lime Out excursion. This charter was on a catamaran boat that offered an open bar, fruit platter, snorkeling stops (plus equipment), and a stop at Lime Out for a late lunch of the most delicious tacos. There were about 30 people on this charter with us our girls were only two or three children. While we loved this charter and totally think it's family friendly, I don't think I would chose it again with children. I think there are probably other charters that are more family focused that the kids would have enjoyed even more than this one. I say all of that but really, it was an incredible excursion that I'm really glad we got to experience it. We even got to see Kenny Chesney's St. John property from the boat, which was incredibly impressive!


And, that's it! It's really hard to put 10 days into 3 blog posts because there's so much more I could say and share. But, to close out, I'll answer the two most asked questions about this trip. The first one was would I go back again... and the answer is 100% YES! I absolutely fell in love with this island. The water, the mountains, the animals. All of it. It's just a magical place! I sincerely hope to go back sometime in the future. And the second most asked question, do I like Puerto Rico or St. John better... and that question is much harder to answer. Puerto Rico is special to me because I fell in love with the culture and the beauty of the island. Puerto Rico is also important to my husband because of his family connection there. If you are looking for a cultural experience and honestly, a more affordable place to vacation, I would recommend Puerto Rico. Josh and I talk about moving there one day because we love it so much! I love both places for different reasons but the shared reason would be they are both incredibly beautiful and have so much to offer. We are hoping to keep exploring next summer by taking our first visit to Europe. And yes, we will be taking our girls because they love to explore too! Keep on adventuring, y'all. There's so much beautiful world to see!

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