Peter Bay Beach, St. John USVI

Located just past Trunk, beyond the Northshore Road switchbacks, is the entrance to the exclusive Peter Bay subdivision. While all the beaches in the USVI are public, there’s no easy way to get to Peter Bay Beach unless you’re a resident or guest. If your heart is set on checking out the sand, which is very nice, one option is to swim or snorkel or paddleboard from Little Cinnamon next door.

 

St. John Beach Guide

For its size, no island in the world has more world-class beaches than St. John. There are a few exquisite stretches of sand on the South Shore and East End, but most are found on St. John’s famed North shore, where each scalloped bay is more picturesque than the next.

palm tree on st john beach
palm tree on the beach in st john

Here — exclusively for guests and friends of Island Abodes — is our short guide to St. John beaches. This is just our personal take, but it’s based on many, many (did we say many?) hours at each and every one of these spectacular beaches. We’re sure you have your own favorites and insights. Send us your thoughts and we’ll include in the next update.

NORTH SHORE

Salomon Bay

This is the closest beach to town, accessible via an easy 15 minute hike starting right behind the Virgin Island National Park offices. Or, drive up the start of Northshore Road, 1/4 mile past Mongoose Junction, park adjacent to the sign marking the start of the National Park, and then hike down. You’ll be rewarded with a very special beach that you might have all to yourself. Good snorkeling on either end of the beach. No facilities.

Honeymoon Beach

Honeymoon can be reached by trail from Salomon or down the same trail adjacent to the VINP sign on Northshore Road. This is one of the few St. John beaches that offers concessions, with food & drinks at Binkins on the Beach, water sports rentals (mainly SUPs and kayaks), from VI Eco Tours, a gift shop, and wash rooms. It’s a perfect stretch of white sand that slopes gently into the water. A half or full day here is time well spent indeed.

Caneel Bay Beach 

Although Caneel Bay is home to several amazing beaches, they are pretty much inaccessible after the 2017 hurricanes destroyed the resort. Even before that you had to be a guest to officially access them. If you really want to check them out, one option is to ask your charter boat captain to pull in fairly close so you can swim to shore. You can also book a tour with VI Eco Tours to explore the waters around the resort.

Hawksnest Beach

Hawksnest is a dreamy beach is the first one from town with parking right along the shore. While that makes it super convenient, parking can sometimes be at a premium in high season. There’s good snorkeling on either side, and you can wade or swim over to Gibney/Oppenheimer beach to the right.

Gibney or Oppenheimer Beach

A couple hundred yards up Northshore Road from Hawksnest, at the end of the white picket fence, are metal gates that spell “Oppenheimer” across the top and lead down to the beach. There’s parking for a few Jeeps on the road side of the gates. This is a beautiful, tranquil little beach with perfect sand. On the right side of the beach as you’re facing the water is a small community center building owned by the VI government. The entire beach is public so you’re free to enjoy all of it, but don’t wander inland as it’s private property beyond the sand.

Denis Bay

Just past the Oppenheimer gates you’ll pass Easter Rock on your left and then reach the parking area for Peace Hill. Park there, walk about 20 yards and then veer right down a smaller unmarked trail. In about 10 minutes you’ll be rewarded with an incredible beach that you might have all to yourself. Hike back up to Peace Hill for an unbelievable sunset experience.

Jumbie Beach

Jumbie often gets overlooked on the way to iconic Trunk Bay. But this is a little gem of a beach. There’s parking right on Northshore Road and then a 350 foot easy hike down to the sand. One of the coolest things is the unique sea level view of Trunk Bay.

Trunk Bay

Unless you stopped at Jumbie, your first glimpse of Trunk Bay will be from the overlook. Stopping for photos is not optional. There’s a $5 per person admission fee. For that you get access to wash rooms, showers, concessions, and sometimes lifeguards. The beach is a short walk from the parking area; when you reach the sand you’ll instantly know why this is consistently named on of the world’s best beaches…it’s simply perfect. Be cautioned that during high season, or any time cruise ships are in port on St. Thomas, the beach can get crowded. If that’s not your thing, visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon (or anytime during offseason) for an otherworldly beach experience.

Peter Bay

Located just past Trunk, beyond the Northshore Road switchbacks, is the entrance to the exclusive Peter Bay subdivision. While all the beaches in the USVI are public, there’s no easy way to get to Peter Bay Beach unless you’re a resident or guest. If your heart is set on checking out the sand, which is very nice, one option is to swim or snorkel or paddleboard from Little Cinnamon next door.

Cinnamon Bay (and Little Cinnamon)

Cinnamon Bay used to be known for its campground and cottages that led out to the longest stretch of sand on St. John. Since the 2017 hurricanes only the amazing beach remains. There’s plenty of parking and a short walk to the beach. Head left when you hit the shore and a brief hike will take you to Little Cinnamon, an exceptional small beach that will make you feel like you’ve left the world behind. Or, head down to the right end of Cinnamon in the direction of Maho Bay and explore the rocky outcroppings where you can find your own private oasis. Good snorkeling at this end of the beach. Watch out for blowing sand on windy days.

Maho Bay

For many residents and visitors, Maho is a beach lover’s heaven. This is the most protected bay on the North shore, with the calmest waters that gently lap at the shore. This is also where green sea turtles congregate; they’re so accustomed to snorkelers that they will swim right along with you. Be sure not to touch or disturb them. There’s parking at either end. Food and drinks are available at Maho Crossroads, and you can also rent a SUP or kayak. Maho Bay is an experience not to be missed.

Francis Bay

Northshore Road jogs inland at the far end of Maho Bay. Keep bearing left for a couple of miles and you’ll reach Francis Bay. It’s a little harder to get to than some others, which means fewer people. The sand is perfect, the water is clear, and the view of the St. John coastline is to die for. No facilities. Good snorkeling on both end of the beach.

Leinster Bay and Waterlemon Cay

Head toward the Annaberg Ruins, park where you can, and start hiking along the shoreline. You can stop anywhere to swim or snorkel or chill, but keep going for 20-30 minutes and you’ll find some nice sand and an easy swim out to Waterlemon Cay. It’s definitely worth snorkeling to this perfect little island and walking around. On the way, you’ll likely see lots of fish, stingrays, turtles, and sea stars. Just be sure to give yourself time to get back to your Jeep before dark. Another way to get here is to park past the Moravian Church in Coral Bay and hike in on the Johnny Horn Trail. It’s a pretty strenuous hike, so be prepared with plenty of water.

EAST END

Haulover South

Take Centerline Road to Coral Bay, then veer left at the ball field, pass Skinny Legs, and keep on driving for 3 more miles. Easy parking on the road. The sand and pebble beach is right there. Pretty good snorkeling on either side of the bay. The water is typically very calm. This is a sweet spot if you want to get away from everyone else, and you can hike to another beach (North Haulover) without getting back in the Jeep.

Haulover North

Look for the narrow trail across the road from the beach. After maybe 300 feet it opens up to an incredible view of the Sir Francis Drake Channel across to Tortola. The shoreline is rocky and craggily usually with just a trace of sand her and there. The main draw is awesome snorkeling, especially to the left as you’re facing the water. Water shoes are highly recommended. Use caution getting in and out, and avoid completely when seas are rough.

Hansen Bay

Less than a mile down the road from Haulover you’ll find this delightful spot with soft white sand. It’s become a popular beach hangout for Coral Bay residents and guests, especially on weekends. While there, you’ll definitely want to paddle out to Lime Out, the floating taco bar for a delicious lunch and cold beverages.

SOUTH SHORE

Salt Pond

This very special spot is the most popular beach on the South shore. To get here, take Centerline Road to Coral Bay, go right at the ball field, than drive 4 miles to just past the entrance to Concordia (now closed). Where the road turns sharply right is the parking area. It’s a 10-15 minute easy/moderate walk down to the beach. Once there you’ll discover a perfect crescent bay with white sand, good snorkeling, and trails to explore the surrounding areas. Insider tip…if the seas are rough on the North shore, head to Salt Pond where it will almost certainly be calm. This is also the start of the Ram Head Trail.

Lameshur Bay

This off-the-beaten-path gem is located 1.5 miles past the Salt Pond parking area. The last stretch is unpaved so the short distance will take 15 minutes. There are actually 2 bays. You reach Great Lameshur first — a long, rocky, crescent beach where access isn’t super easy. Next door is the real charmer, Little Lameshur, with some of the best snorkeling on St. John. The beach offers soft, white sand and the bay is very protected and usually very calm (except when weather is coming out of the South). There are great trails around and cool ruins to explore.

Reef Bay

This is really 2 distinct places. There’s one Reef Bay beach at the end of the Reef Bay Trail, accessed mid-island from Centerline Road. The trail is awesome, moderate to strenuous heading down, and quite strenuous going back up. At the bottom there are ruins and an isolated coastline with ever changing sand and rocks. The crystal clear water is incredibly refreshing after the hike. The other Reef Bay (also called Parrot Bay) is accessed from the Reef Bay subdivision beyond Fish Bay, down an easy/moderate trail, about 10 minutes to the water. The trail head can be a bit tricky to find; look for other vehicles parked along the road for no apparent reason. This is an amazing spot with incredible views of St. John’s rugged Southern coast. There’s good coral here and there and a sometimes a surf break that attracts a few surfers. If you like to get off the beaten path, go here and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Hart Bay

This is an awesome pebble beach with sand here and there, located down an easy trail right in the Chocolate Hole neighborhood. There’s pretty good snorkeling in spots, with rock formations, coral, and sea life. The seas can get quite rough when weather is coming from the Southeast. We love the vibe of this usually deserted beach. If you’re staying at Down Yonder Villa or the Garden Suite, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the trail head and another 10 minutes to the beach. Walk up Southshore Road towards town, take the first left on Chocolate East Road, then the first left on Tamarind Road, keep to the right and you’ll see a small sign for Hart Bay in front of a small parking area.

Chocolate Hole Bay

This is the other walkable beach from Down Yonder Villa or the Garden Suite. Same directions like you’re going to Hart Bay, except don’t turn left on Tamarind Road, keep straight on Chocolate East until you reach the Pond Bay development. There are two public parking areas, the first one is paved and the second one isn’t. The beach is mostly rocky with a little sand here and there, but it’s a great place to walk and explore. There’s surprisingly good snorkeling on either side of the bay, especially near the point.

Is There a Grocery Store on St. John?

A frequent question we get from first time St. John visitors, or those thinking about visiting, is if there is a grocery store on st john. In fact, there are several options for buying groceries to stock your St. John vacation rental. While some are quite small, and none resemble a Super Walmart (thank goodness), they each have St. John character (and characters), and everything you need to eat and drink on your St. John vacation.

CRUZ BAY

Starfish Market

This is by far the largest grocery store on island, and for many St. John vacation visitors it’s the only place to shop. It’s located at the Marketplace, which also houses St. John Hardware, and Chelsea Drugstore, among other businesses. You’ll find it just as you’re leaving town at the start of Southshore Road. Starfish has a good deli with prepared foods, and everything else you need for eating at your St. John vacation rental…meats, seafood, produce, dairy, frozen foods, plus beer/wine/liquor. You pass this on the way to all of our St. John vacation rentals.

Dolphin Market 

This is a great little grocery store located right at the roundabout. They have everything you could possibly need to stock up your St John vacation home, including a recently expanded produce section and huge selection of beer/wine/booze. You also pass this one on the way to all Island Abodes vacation villas and suites.

St. John Market 

If you’re staying in Chocolate Hole at Down Yonder Villa or the Garden Suite, this is your closest option for groceries. It’s a great little market with everything you’ll need. The fresh produce offerings leave a little to be desired, but the deli serves up an awesome breakfast and lunch daily and there’s a great salad bar, the only one on St. John. This is a convenient spot to buy ice and drinking water, and the beer/wine/liquor selection is impressive. You pass this on your way to our Chocolate Hole rentals.

Pine Peace Market

All St. John locals know about Pine Peace. There are a few isles of groceries, plus all kinds of cleaning, personal, and household products. Where else on St. John can you buy ice cream, a magnum of bubbly, a hair dryer AND chicken feed? You really won’t believe the cornucopia of stuff available in this little store. Probably the best prices for food and household items on St. John. It’s located on Southshore Road, just after EC Service Station and the basketball courts, behind Caravan Auto, just before the start of Jacob’s Ladder. You pass this market on your way to all our St. John vacation rentals.

Bayside Mini Mart

It might be a stretch to call it a grocery store, but this hole in the wall across from Longboard sells lots of food and beverages. It’s a super convenient place to grab snacks or drinks if you’re in town.

CORAL BAY

Dolphin Market 

This is the sister store to the one in Cruz Bay. While not as large as the one in town, it’s waaay more convenient if you’re in Coral Bay. For its size it’s a well equipped store with everything you’ll need. It’s located in the same commercial center as Aqua Bistro.

Love City Mini Mart 

This place is sort of legendary and definitely worth a stop of you need to pick up provisions while exploring Coral Bay. From the outside it looks tiny, but the amount of food, drinks, and supplies inside will blow your mind. It’s located just up King Hill Road, a few hundred yards past Pickles in Paradise, and just before the Coral Bay dumpsters.

4 Things You Need to Know Before Vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Going on vacation is a great way to leave the stress of being an adult behind for a while. Each year, 62 percent of the American population goes on a vacation away from home. Choosing a vacation destination should be your first concern when planning a trip.

If you are looking for a tropical paradise to visit, there is no better place than the St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Visiting this vacation destination will allow you to soak up some sun and enjoy lots of tourist attractions.

Here are some of the things you need to know before going on a trip to St. John in the United States Virgin Islands.

1. Be Sure to Bring Your Passport

While you won’t need a passport to get into the US Virgin Islands, you will need one if you want to venture into the British Virgin Islands. Most people want to go on an excursion to see the Baths of Virgin Gorda, or Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, both of which are located in the BVIs.

Failing to bring along your passport will prohibit you from getting the most out of your vacation. The British Virgin Islands, including Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Cooper Islands Necker Island, Norman Island, Anagada and more, are just a short boat ride away from St. John, which is why you need to make a point to visit them while on vacation. We are happy to help you plan your day trip to the BVI.

2. Do Your Homework Before Choosing a Vacation Rental

One of the most important decisions you will make when booking your trip to the US Virgin Islands is where you will stay. Luckily, there are a number of affordable vacation rentals in St. John. Before choosing a vacation rental, you need to look at a few different things.

The first factor to consider is whether you need a St. John vacation rental for a couple, or a villa for a family. Another major factor is of course the price of the rental in question. Location of the rental is also extremely important. Ideally, you want to choose a vacation rental with scenic views and a prime location. While you may have to pay a bit more for a premium Cruz Bay rental vs. a Coral Bay rental, it will be worth it. Remember everyone has to drive to the world class St. John beaches as they are protected by the National Park so no rentals are ON the beach.

3. Take It Easy On the First Day of Your Island Vacation

The main thing you need to focus on when arriving in the US Virgin Islands is pacing yourself. Some people get off of the plane and immediately head to the beach for a few drinks. Often times, this can lead to sunburn and/or dehydration. Plus to get to St. John, there are a few more steps after arriving to the airport including taxi, ferry and getting your rental jeep.

Taking the time to let your body acclimate to the change in temperature is crucial. Doing this will allow you to avoid problems during your vacation. Plus Island Abodes welcomes all guests with cold beer, drinking water and snacks on arrival.

4. Contact Your Cell Phone Service Provider

An adjustment for first-time visitors to the US Virgin Islands is the spotty cell phone service. Before you leave for your trip, contact your service provider to find out about the towers they have in this location. You will also need to get information on roaming charges and data overages. AT&T and Sprint work best. Learn more on our FAQ page.

Seeking Out Professional Help is a Good Idea

Planning a great vacation to the Virgin Islands can be a bit difficult. Working directly with the owner of your rental who has a deep knowledge of St. John can help you simplify this process and make your vacation more enjoyable.

St. John Travel Guide

A Guide to your first time traveling to St. John

You’ve booked your St. John rental suite and you’re counting down the days – you’re on your way to come see us here at Island Abodes and you’re undoubtedly excited about your travel to St. John. However, if it’s your first time traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, then you probably have a few questions about what to expect during your stay with us here. Many people understandably are a little bit uncertain about what the lifestyle and culture is like, which is why we’ve assembled this handy guide for first timers to St. John.

You Won’t Need Your Passport (But You Will Want It!)

If you’re an American citizen, you don’t need your passport to come visit St. John. Because it is a U.S. territory, your goverment issued ID such as a driver’s license or state identification card should work just fine. That said, many people like to carry a passport with them for a couple reasons. For starters, it’s one of the best types of identification and will make getting on and off the island a breeze. And secondly, with the British Virgin Islands just a short jaunt away, including Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke and the Baths on Virgin Gorda, you’ll definitely need your passport if you decide to visit them.

The Currency is the Same

There’s no need to worry about changing your money when you visit St. John. Your dollars are still good here! Of course, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you carry enough cash on you while you’re here. ATM surcharges can add up quickly, and cash is always the preferred method of tips and the only way to pay for things like the taxi.

Be Sure to Drive on the Correct Side of the Road

Here on St. John, we drive on the left side of the road. It’s extremely important to remember this to avoid any unwanted fender benders. Your driver’s license is perfectly fine here, though. Always make sure to buckle up when behind the wheel (this goes for all passengers) to avoid a hefty ticket (and for safety!), and hang up your cell phone when you’re driving. While almost anything goes on St. John, talking and driving is against the law.

Speak the Language of the Locals

The official language of St. John is English, so you shouldn’t expect any communication barriers holding you back when you’re staying with us. However, the English you hear may be spoken with a Caribbean lilt. It’s good form to greet others warmly when out and about. Here’s a fun tip: locals don’t say “good evening.” They actually say “good night” when meeting someone after dark! Be sure to always greet with a “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” (after 12noon) or “Good Night” (after the sun has set). If you are unsure, say “Good Day”.

Visiting St. John can be an awesome experience for you and your family, so be sure to arrive with an open mind and a strong sense of adventure. To learn more about what it’s like here, please be sure to check out our FAQs. Or, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for an extended travel guide for St. John built just for you. We look forward to having you stay with us here at Island Abodes!