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.

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.

palm tree on st john beach
Maho Bay beach, St. John

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. Learn more here.

Honeymoon Beach

Honeymoon can be reached by trail from Salomon or down the same trail adjacent to the VINP sign on Northshore Road. Learn more here. 

Caneel Bay Beach 

Although Caneel Bay is home to several amazing beaches, they are pretty much inaccessible after the 2017 hurricanes destroyed the resort. Learn more here.

Hawksnest Beach

Hawksnest is a dreamy beach and  is the first one from town with parking right along the shore. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here.

Jumbie Beach

Jumbie often gets overlooked on the way to iconic Trunk Bay. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here. 

Peter Bay

Located just past Trunk, beyond the Northshore Road switchbacks, is the entrance to the exclusive Peter Bay subdivision. Learn more here. 

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. Learn more here. 

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. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here.

Hansen Bay

Less than a mile down the road from Haulover you’ll find this delightful spot with soft white sand. Learn more here. 

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. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here.

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. Learn more here. 

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. Learn more here. 

Getting to St. John in 3 Easy Steps

Think of St. John and you probably conjure up thoughts of swaying palm trees, crystal clear water, exquisite white sand beaches, and leaving behind the crowds and the hustle and bustle. There’s no other place like it – at 19 square miles, 2/3 consisting of the Virgin Islands National Park, perfect year round weather, and more than a dozen of the world’s best beaches – St. John is, to sum it up, an idyllic island paradise. While St. John definitely rewards those with an adventurous spirit, getting here involves just three easy steps.

  1. Fly

The first step to starting your St. John vacation is to fly into St. Thomas, airport code STT. There are nonstop flights to St. Thomas from numerous US cities, including New York, Atlanta, Newark, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, Washington DC, Houston, Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale. Another option is to fly into San Juan (SJU) from the mainland and then take a quick 20-minute hop over to St. Thomas.

  1. Ride

After arriving at the St. Thomas airport, the next step to reaching St. John is getting to one of the two ferries. This leg of the trip requires a taxi ride. It is very simple to find a taxi, after you exit the baggage claim area, walk outside and tell them you want to go either to Crown Bay or Red Hook and the taxi dispatcher will tell you what taxi to get into. If you’re going to Crown Bay Marina it’s just a 5-minute ride for around $8-10 per person plus bags. This ferry is highly recommend and leaves twice a day, once at 3:30pm and again at 5:30pm.

If Red Hook is where you’re headed, it is a 45-minute ride give or take for $20 per person plus bags. The Red Hook ferry leaves on the hour every hour from 7am to 12midnight.

For the most part, taxis are the passenger van variety and shared by 10 or 12 travelers. Another option is to arrange a private taxi in advance. We recommend calling or texting Carol with Smile Taxi at 340-643-5837. This can be a pricey option for one or two people, but if you have a group of four or more, plus luggage, it’s actually pretty cost effective. And it’s a wonderful, personalized experience.

  1. Cruise

The cruise to St. John is hands down the best part of the trip. The ferry leaves Crown Bay daily at 3:30 and 5:30 and arrives at the “Creek” on St. John, where the Virgin Islands National Park office is located. If you can make the 3:30 or 5:30 departure from Crown Bay, it’s a more relaxed option with more personalized service in our opinion. It’s $20 per person plus bags from Crown Bay. The Red Hook ferry is $8.15 per person plus bags (unless you have a VI driver’s license, in which case it’s only $6). It arrives at the main ferry dock in Cruz Bay, St. John.

So that’s it — fly, ride, cruise — ahhh St. John! Let us know if you need any help getting here or finding the best St. John lodging.

7 Tips to Make Your St. John Honeymoon Truly Epic

Many publications, over many years, have named St. John as one of the world’s best honeymoon destinations. The reasons are obvious: perfect weather, uncrowded beaches with exquisite white sand, crystal clear waters, miles of hiking trails in the Virgin Islands National Park, and a laid back Caribbean vibe. It’s the perfect recipe for romance and relaxation. Some time spent planning before you check into your St. John honeymoon suite will really pay off. Here are 7 suggestions to help make the most of your St. John honeymoon.

  1. Make Travel Day Easy

Getting married can be a whirlwind – getting to your idyllic island honeymoon shouldn’t be. With no airport on St. John, you’ll need to fly to neighboring St. Thomas and then ferry over. While there are alternatives like going through San Juan, the best bet is to reach St. Thomas from one of the several mainland gateways including Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston or Dallas. Airport code STT.

Once you arrive on St. Thomas you have a choice between a 5-minute taxi ride to Crown Bay followed by a 30 minute ferry trip, or a longer taxi ride (around 45 minutes depending on traffic and stops) to Red Hook and then 15 minutes on the ferry. The Crown Bay ferry departs at 3:30 and 5:30, and the Red Hook ferry departs every hour on the hour. If it works for your flight schedule, the Crown Bay ferry is a more relaxed experience. If Red Hook works better, spring for a private taxi and arrive quicker and with more personal attention. Whichever ferry you take, there’s a bar where you can sip a cold beverage and stare into your sweetheart’s eyes.

  1. Rent a Jeep

While it’s possible to get around St. John via taxi, we highly recommend renting a Jeep. Having your own wheels will give you the freedom to come and go as you please, explore the island, find your own secret beach, or run up to the market for a bottle of bubbly.

  1. Hire a Private Chef

Hiring a private chef for a special meal at your vacation home is an amazing way to say I love you. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be staying at a St. John vacation rental with an extraordinary view, like Island Abodes’ Penthouse, Honeymoon Suite, Hibiscus Suite, or Papaya Suite; or our Chocolate Hole pool villa. St. John has some exceptional private chefs who can prepare and serve the perfect mouthwatering meal, often with local Virgin Islands fish and produce.

  1. Make a (Flexible) Plan

Having a plan before you arrive will help to maximize your adventure and relaxation time, and help ensure you don’t miss any “must do” activities. But it’s also smart to stay flexible. Maybe you and your betrothed will find the experience of swimming with sea turtles at Maho Bay so moving that it warrants another day? Or maybe you decide to push off this morning’s hike for a few more hours in your plush king size bed with this view. Whatever you decide, you’re on island time and flexibility is key.

  1. Take a Boat Trip

Many Island Abodes guests say that their one “must do” activity is a day on the water. There are some amazing private charter boats that can whisk you over to Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, or to the Caves and Indians at Norman Island, or stay in local St. John waters and visit Pizza Pi or Lime Out for an unforgettable lunch. There are also some awesome group charters that head over to the BVIs daily and offer sunset sails in domestic waters.

  1. Find Your Perfect Beach

There are so many world-class beaches on St. John, it’s really hard to believe. If it’s your first trip, we recommend spending part of a day beach hopping down the north shore. You can start close to town with a nice hike down to Salomon and Honeymoon, then hop back in your Jeep for a drive down to Hawksnest, where you can park just steps from the beach. The next two beaches, Dennis and Jumby, are each down a short trail, but well worth the effort. Then the iconic Trunk Bay (be sure to stop at the overlook for this not-to-be-missed photo op). Continuing down the coast you’ll reach Cinnamon (and Little Cinnamon if you head left when you reach the shore). Then the world-famous Maho Bay, which is the best place anywhere to swim with sea turtles. And finally, Francis Bay is the last beach on the north shore, with amazing views up St. John’s coast and over to St. Thomas in the distance. Remember, since the island is mostly national park, there are no St. John vacation rentals on the beach, so getting to the sand requires a short drive for everyone.

  1. Choose Accommodations Thoughtfully

If there’s ever a time to choose the right accommodations it’s on your honeymoon! Selecting a place with spectacular views, an oh so comfy king size bed, and all kinds of thoughtful touches and amenities, is the only way to go. It should be backed up with tons of stellar reviews from past guests, the kind of place where the owners and staff take your comfort and happiness very personally. You’ll find all this and more at Island Abodes. Whether you book our Honeymoon Suite, or any of our other St. John vacation apartments or villas, you will always find affordable luxury. Let us help make your St. John honeymoon truly epic!

 

Lime Out – St. John’s New Floating Taco Bar is a Winner

There’s a new floating taco bar, Lime Out VI, on the Coral Bay side of St. John and it’s not to be missed. The Island Abodes team loves the delicious tacos and amazing craft cocktails in the beautiful setting of Round Bay on the East End. We highly recommend that you check it out during your next St. John vacation.

First let’s talk about the food offerings. It’s all tacos! But these aren’t any ordinary tacos…they are downright scrumptious. From Ceviche to Tuna to Surf and Turf (shrimp and short rib) and even a Vegan Taco, we’ve devoured them all. They are made-to-order with fresh ingredients wrapped in a soft tortilla. They are pretty big and we feel like you get a lot for $7-10 each.

You can’t eat tacos without a cold beverage, right? For libations Lime Out offers awesome craft cocktails, St. John Brewers beer on tap, and even bottles of bubbly if you really want to celebrate.

But the best thing about Lime Out is the location. You can either arrive by power boat, or swim/raft/kayak/paddleboard from Hansen Bay. If you’re going from shore there’s a swim up bar where you can comfortably hang out while enjoying the food, drinks and views.

Lime Out was started by the owners of the Lime Inn restaurant in Cruz Bay, which is one of our favorites. So they know good food. They are also a multi generational St. John family and have gone to great lengths to make Lime Out an environmentally responsible operation. Power comes from solar, they have only reusable cups, no straws, and they are very strict about collecting trash to make sure none ends up in the pristine surrounding waters.

How to get there? If you’re on a charter boat, just tell your captain it’s taco time! If driving, take Centerline Road to Coral Bay and turn left at the ball field. Go past Skinny Legs and keep on driving. Just past Haulover Bay is Hansen Bay where you can park. There’s a nice beach and other offerings for a small fee. Look out in the water and you can’t miss Lime Out!

Map Of Lime Out In St John USVI

Taxi Information

St. John Taxis

 

  • Lisa and Mitchell: 340-513-7444
  • Chico: 340-690-6507
  • Elvis: 340-642-0555
  • Ricky Penn: 340-513-1627
  • Owen: 340-626-6274
  • Merv: 340-690-1244
  • Erin: 340-344-4234
  • Avery: 340-690-0177
  • Starfish: 340-998-6139

If you are staying at Sunset Serenade Suites (Papaya, Honeymoon Suite, Penthouse, or Hibiscus Suite) tell the taxi driver you are staying at Sirenusa. This is the resort right next door to Sunset Serenade. Since we do not have addresses on island, this is the closest landmark that the taxi drivers will know. We are one lot over after the Sirenusa gate, so pass the Sirenusa gate and we are on the left.

If you are staying in one of our Chocolate Hole rentals (Down Yonder Pool Villa or Garden Suite) we are the first house on the left when you turn off Southshore Road onto Travelers Trail. Garden Suite is the LOWER driveway while Down Yonder is the UPPER driveway.

You will get detailed directions to your rental the week before your arrival to share with your taxi driver if you choose not to rent a jeep.

Taxi Tips:

  • Taxis are almost always available at the ferry dock in Cruz Bay (during regular ferry schedule hours) and also at the Westin. They frequently wait for passengers at the taxi stand area at Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay.
  • Although rates are standardized, we recommend that you speak to the driver and agree to your total rate (for you, your group, your luggage, waiting charges, etc.) before boarding the taxi.
  • Many taxis will wait to fill their vehicle before departing (particularly from the ferry dock and popular beaches).
  • To find out some approximate rates for popular beaches/destinations, visit vinow.com.
  • We highly recommend you rent your own jeep and not rely on taxis. Learn more reasons why here.