Island Abodes Secret Beach Breaks: Brown Bay


Brown Bay beach

St. John is loaded with special “off the beaten path” spots, and the Island Abodes team is here help you find them! This week, our team got the opportunity to scope out a wonderful destination called Brown Bay.

Brown Bay is located past Coral Bay toward the East End of the island. To get to this private oasis, it would be wise to rent a Jeep and drive about a mile past Skinny Legs. When you get to the entrance, you can park in the gravel lot and begin your hike.

Lots of conchs to find at Brown Bay!

The hike to Brown Bay is a 1.5 mile round-trip and we rate it as moderately difficult. Waterproof hiking shoes are recommended given the rocky trail surface, but if you’re careful and a bit daring it can be done in flip-flops. When we got to beach, we were rewarded by the shallow and calm water, so refreshing! We spotted dozens of conch, crabs and sea stars! Just off the shore on the east side there’s great snorkeling with lots to see. This beach is also home to sea turtle nesting sites, so you may see a turtle gliding up to say hello. When we visited the beach, we were the only ones there for two hours. It was so nice to be able to enjoy our Sam and Jack’s deli lunch while gazing into the crystal clear waters and sitting in the plentiful shade around the beach.

The Brown Bay Trail reaches the beach

At Island Abodes, we love every St. John beach and want you to see them all. Brown Bay is a spot that not many know about, making it the perfect unexpected adventure while you stay

St. John Hiking Guide: America Ruin Trail

St. John is home to some of the best hiking in the world.

The gorgeous America Ruin Trail overlook of Maho Bay.

There are trails for every taste: short, long, sandy, rocky, mountainous, and even some that end at spectacular beaches. To kick off our trail series, we wanted to describe one of our favorites, the America Ruin Trail. We were lucky enough to have local professional photographer, Yelena Rogers, hike the trail with us to capture the beautiful views and moments on top of the world!

The trail starts 100 yards past Cinnamon Bay’s entrance on North Shore Road. The trailhead is marked by a sign for “Cinnamon Bay Trail” (there’s another sign along the way where the two trails diverge). It’s adjacent to the Cinnamon Bay Ruins and there is a place for one or two cars to park.This is a great hike to tack on to a day at Cinnamon Bay Beach.

Starting point of the hike on the Cinnamon Bay Trail.

The ruins were once home to the Danish Cinnamon Bay Estate (a/k/a America Hill) sugar cane plantations and bay rum distilleries, the most prosperous on island. Today, the remnants of the old rum factory are still prominent, and at the top of your hike, you’ll be able to perch on the ruins of the Estate boiler room and gaze over to Maho Bay, Francis Bay and Tortola. These unforgettable views, with the ruins and forests all around, make you feel completely lost in time.

We rate this hike as moderately difficult. The start is quite steep, then it’s about 30 minutes to the top with moderate incline, rocky points, and passable foliage. While hiking, you’ll see tons of bay leaf trees. Be sure to grab a leaf to sniff; the bay rum distilleries used these leaves in the early 20th century to make colognes and lotions. Be sure to bring plenty of water.

Our intern, Mary, overlooking the beautiful Maho Bay from the top of the America Ruin Trail.

All Island Abodes units come equipped with tons of island information, including trail guides, making it easy to explore during your stay on St. John. While having a car makes it easy to get to the trail, a taxi to Cinnamon Bay would work great too. Hiking is a must-do while on St. John, and this trail cannot be missed! If you loved the pictures in our blog, be sure to visit Yelena Rogers Photography’s blog and website to book your photo shoot during your next St. John vacation.