Hilly Caribbean Paradise – St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
The gorgeous green island of St. John is a perfect peaceful getaway, lined by beautiful white and pink sand beaches, and surrounded by clear blue water. It’s the smallest of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), with a population of just over 4,000. More than 60% of the island is protected as Virgin Islands National Park, thanks to the preservation efforts of the United States National Park Service. And while remote enough for those seeking solitude, the main airport is on neighboring USVI, St. Thomas, a mere 4 mile ferry ride away.
See the island:
The Beaches of St. John:
Trunk Bay is considered Saint John’s most popular, and most frequented beach. With a large, pristine white beach, and a renowned underwater snorkeling trail, this one is hard to beat. The snorkeling trail is great for any level, as long as the winds and tides aren’t making the currents too strong. You’ll be self-guiding yourself on this underwater excursion, too, so bring your own gear, or rent it from a nearby shop. There are plenty on the island.
As goes for much of St. John, Trunk Bay is any photographer’s paradise. And hey, we’re all photographers these days. Parking is cheap and easy, and there are public facilities, a gift shop, and snack bar. This beach can become a bit crowded, with the constant hoopla about perfection and all, so you’re best off heading down to the left side (if you’re facing the ocean). Come see why Trunk Bay is one of the most photographed beaches in all of the Virgin Islands, ranking repeatedly in Top 10 Beaches of the World lists.
The beautiful waters of Trunk Bay:
Cinnamon Bay is one of the largest beaches on St. John. It’s a beautiful, cozy beach with incredible views, and one of our favorites. The beach includes camping facilities, public facilities, and watersports and relaxation rentals, including scuba gear, chairs, umbrellas, and kayaks.
These crystal clear waters, and incredible white sand beaches, demand your leisure and exploration. So make sure you rent a mask, and check out the underwater scenery. You won’t regret it for a second.
The water is relatively boat-free, which makes for perfect enjoyment, whether you’re masked-up, or floating on your back looking at the lush, hilly landscape. And just a tip, the best snorkeling is off to the right side of the beach, over by the coral reefs. You’ll spot sea grasses, stingrays, turtles, gorgeous fish, and of course the reef. But make sure not to step on the coral, or you’ll be hearing the lifeguard’s whistle. Furthermore, the wind and tides can pick up, making swimming conditions a touch perilous.
If direct sun isn’t your forte, there’s plenty of room under the palm, coconut, and sea grape trees, all along Cinnamon Bay beach. So settle into your towel or chair, and when lunch or dinner roll around, hit up the snack bar, or one of two restaurants on the beach. Frosty beverages in paradise are a must if nothing else, and you’ll find it all here. But don’t expect to roll in at any time of day, if you’re looking for a prime spot. This beach can get a bit busy, so you’re best bet is to arrive on the early side, before the cruise ships roll in and crowd it up a bit.
Cinnamon Bay in all its paradise glory:
For those looking to get a little exercise, or privacy with their beach experience, Salomon Bay is the perfect option. It’s not too far from the Caneel Bay or Honeymoon Bay beaches, but just far enough to weed out the weak, leaving you to the peaceful, shallow blue waters and silky white sand. The proximity to Honeymoon Bay is great for those looking to kayak or snorkel; and the snorkeling between the two bays is great, as the reef between them is full of colorful Caribbean corals and fish. You’ll likely see Blue Runners along the shore, and French Grunts by the corals. And as always, use caution when swimming. These are very forgiving waters, but all it takes is a change in the tides to whip up the currents.
Hiking into Salomon:
If you do hike in to Salomon Bay, you’ll be rewarded with some excellent views, and you’ll burn off a few of those margaritas in the process. The parking can be a bit more expensive than some of the more popular beaches, but with all that solitude, how can you go wrong?
Put Saint John on your to-do list. It’s a truly marvellous island, with high hills and unforgettable dining, lounging, and ocean views to be had, when you’re not kicking back in the smooth white sand, or floating in the aqua blue waves.