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Caneel Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Lovely Caneel Bay on St. JohnView All Sizes

JOURNAL : July 8, 2003

Spectacular Beaches of St. John

U.S.V.I. > Caribbean

Series Spectacular Beaches of St. John

The first time we saw St. John was on a snorkeling expedition within the U.S. Virgin Islands. We anchored off the northern tip of Francis Bay and had our first glimpse of Cinnamon Bay and its bright beach. It was so tantalizing we were already making plans to camp on the beach for a week.

And here we are, one week later, camping on the beach at Cinnamon Bay on St. John.

The Main Road, St. John

The Main Road, St. John

For $21 per night we got a camp spot on one of the finest beaches in the world. Bathrooms and cold showers are nearby, and the campgrounds also have a cafeteria and a shop that rents fun beach stuff.

Sun n' Rain

St. John is always beautiful, and so it was when we arrived one fine sunny day. But that night a steady tropical downpour began which soaked the island for two solid days. During this time we hiked about and explored by car. The tight road coils through the jungle and all over the island with sharp turns and drops. Remember to drive on the left side, per original British custom. While it rained the winding roads were dangerous and 4-wheel drive was necessary.

When the sun finally came out the forest was fresh, the water sparkled and the beach beckoned. The island had been cleansed; now shiny and new. We alternated between hanging out on the beach, snorkeling, and shoreline hikes.

The water of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Clear WaterView All Sizes

A view of Cruz Bay, St. John, from North Shore Road.

Cruz Bay, St. JohnView All Sizes

The water is extraordinarily clear and full of life. Just into the water vast schools of fish swirl around the gorgeous reef. You could spend a whole vacation without leaving the beach.

Cinnamon Bay is heaven on earth, but we had rented a vehicle to venture around the island. So we went about exploring the island's natural beauty.

Just down the road from Cinnamon Bay is picturesque Trunk Bay, quite possibly the most famous beach on the island. We were spoiled from hanging out on the relatively crowd-free beach at Cinnamon Bay and never checked out Trunk Bay.

The North Side Beaches

Everything comes through Cruz Bay and either goes north or south. Along the the north branch of the island's road are all the premium beaches. This is where you'll find most of the island's fancy hotels and timeshare resorts.

Beaches of St. John

Caneel Bay, St. John, USVI

Caneel Bay, St. JohnView All Sizes

What About the South Side?

The beaches along the north side are much more photogenic and were able to make it to this page. Another notable is the famous Trunk Bay and Caneel Bay, part of the resort owned by the Rockefellers.

On the south side you'll see alot of rugged beauty. Along the rocky coast the nice beaches are few and far between.

An Island Park

Most of St. John is part of the national park system. The corridor of the roadway is virtually invisible from the beaches or the ocean. With minimal trace of human existence in sight, most of St. John maintains an aura of a haven in a remote archipelago.

Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay, St. JohnView All Sizes

A lizard with a frilled tail, on St. John, John, USVI

Lizard at our CampsiteView All Sizes

Hermit Crab on St. John, John, USVI

Huge Hermit Crab at our CampsiteView All Sizes

Someone’s Driveway, St. John

Someone’s DrivewayView All Sizes

Old Plantation Building on St. John, USVI

Old Plantation BuildingView All Sizes

Getting to St. John

Swim! You can also get to Saint John from Saint Thomas by vehicle ferry or passenger ferry. Thomas is like John's older brother — more cosmopolitan and well-developed. It acts as a gateway to its more expensive little brother. Cruise ships and small amphibious aircraft arrive frequently in Charlotte Amalie. Thankfully, most of the island of Saint John remains in fairly pristine condition like Isla Mujeres, another one of our favorites. Both are island paradises with unique character.

As you can see, the island is given over to lush jungle vegetation common to tropical regions. Some wild donkeys have free run, and there are lots of land crabs, hermits crabs and lizards lurking about. It's a great place to live if you can handle an island, and a healthy dose of commercial civilization is just an brief jaunt away in Saint Thomas.

Plantation Building, St. John, USVI

Plantation Building

Near Trunk Bay is an old plantation building out on a point. It's a simple cylindrical structure with an excellent view of the whole coastline. Elsewhere are similar remnants of the once-thriving sugar industry in the Virgin Islands. This particular building is one of the more curious antiquities. It's situated right off the main road at the end of a short trail. Out on its promontory it distinctly resembles a lighthouse.

Entrance to our Campsite, Cinnamon Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Entrance to our Campsite, Cinnamon BayView All Sizes

Pelicans in flight near Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S.V.I.

Pelicans in FlightView All Sizes

In the photo on the right the entrance to our camp spot is a dark indentation in the bushes, marked with a coconut on a stick. Our tent is nestled just a few feet back from the beach.

Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI

About this day

Spectacular Beaches of St. John

July 8, 2003

U.S.V.I. > Caribbean

Tags   Walkabout · Swimming · Ocean · Beaches · Islands

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