St. John : Day 3-6
Insider's Guide to St. John!
After relaxing on the beaches in St. Thomas for a couple of days, James and I were ready to explore as much of St. John as possible. Although not necessary, we rented a jeep to get around the island easily. Taxis are fine too, they just take longer and I prefer to come and go on my own time (there isn't good cell service on the eastern side of the island and taxis can take up to an hour to pick up). I have put together an insider's guide of some must-see spots around the island!
Beaches man, beaches.
If you're looking for some fantastic snorkeling and a bit of exercise, Waterlemon Cay is the place for you! Just past the Annaberg Sugar Plantation ruins (very cool to check out for a photo opp!) in Leinster Bay, you will find a rocky path that leads to Waterlemon Key. There isn't much of a "beach" per se, so I would simply bring a towel to sit on. It is a little over a mile walk/hike to get to the main snorkeling area so wearing decent walking shoes is a must. James wore some new Rainbow sandals and they rubbed the tops of his feet raw.
Swimming to the actual Waterlemon Cay is farther than it looks and the current can be strong depending on the time of day, I would suggest bringing flippers for snorkeling in the area. If you'd like to take pictures, a waterproof camera or GoPro is also advisable as swimming is the only way to get to the Cay. We saw gorgeous purple sea fans, sea urchins, stingrays, and all sorts of tropical fish. The mongooses here have become accustomed to visitors leaving their snack filled bags on the beach while snorkeling - we saw more than a few mongooses unabashedly rummaging through tote bags.
Things to bring:
- Waterproof Camera
- Good walking shoes
- Towel to sit on the rocky beach
- Water/snacks for the day (in a bag that zips or a small cooler than closes properly)
- Toilet paper - the nearest public restroom is a mile back towards the parking lot. You've been warned.
- Snorkeling equipment, flippers included
Some of the best beaches in St. John aren't the easiest to access. There are two main ways to get to Honeymoon beach, and both require a bit of a hike. One can either park at the Lind Point Trail and hike about a 1.5 miles east, or you can park for $20 at the Caneel Bay Resort and hike about a mile west to the beach. You could also take a taxi and have them drop you off at either spot.
For $39, you can purchase an all-inclusive water sports pass giving you access to stand up paddle boards, kayaks, etc. There are public restrooms, a small bar, and a small restaurant to grab some quick food and drinks for the beach. Besides the crystal clear water and gorgeous, soft, white sand beach, the donkeys were my favorite part! They have some friendly donkeys that wander around this beach, go ahead and pet them! Just be careful not to walk immediately behind them as they're known to kick (and poop a lot). This is a great beach to simply lounge and lay out! The snorkeling is decent, but the scenery is fantastic. Totally worth the hike.
Things to bring:
- Good walking shoes
- Regular camera
- Towel to lay on, although there are chairs too
- Small cooler filled with water/beer/lunch (unless you'd rather buy all of your drinks/lunch at the beach, which can get expensive)
- Speaker for some beach tunes!
If ease-of-access and relaxation is your jam, Hawksnest beach is the perfect spot. With ample parking, public restrooms, shaded pavilions and picnic tables: this beach is very comfortable. My friend (the bride) hosted a Beach BBQ in the pavilions at Hawksnest, complete with Painkillers and rum punch. It was the perfect setting to get everyone together for a casual BBQ and a day of fun in the sun.
Things to bring:
- Flip flops are perfectly fine!
- Cooler filled with drinks/snacks
- Towel to sit on
Another very easily accessible beach on the west side of St. John is in Trunk Bay. This is where my friends actual ceremony was held! It is absolutely gorgeous with the white sand and clear water. There is an underwater tour around the coral reef in front of the beach - lovely snorkeling opportunity. This beach is a bit more crowded as it has become more popular (the easier a beach is to access, the more crowded it will be FYI) but there was still plenty of room to spread out under the trees on the sand. There is a little shop and restaurant in the park along with restrooms and showers - plenty of resources if you forgot to bring anything! There is a $4 cash entrance fee, which goes directly back into maintaining the National Park and all trails.
Eats and Drinks
- Sushi, St John - Sushi just opened up a few weeks before we came to St. John so it was cool to check it out! I am always a little hesitant to try out sushi restaurants in tourist towns, but it was actually pretty good. Fun ambiance too!
- Cruz Bay Landing - Great location and decent drink list! They usually have live music so grab a seat at the bar!
- The Longboard - AMAZING food. I would have eaten here every night if I could have. They use mostly organic and local produce and have a lot of gluten free options. Try the shrimp quinoa bowl and ahi tuna tower - delish.
- The Beach Bar - This was our unofficial after-party venue every night! Food is nothing to write home about, but they always had a lively band, good strong drinks, and they're right on the beach in Cruz Bay!
- Rhumblines - Our friend's wedding reception was hosted here - a super fun beachy ambiance with swings to sit on at the bar and a fun tiki vibe. You have to walk through a convenience store to get to the courtyard restaurant - pretty cool. The food served for the wedding was some of the best "wedding food" I have ever had : Ahi tuna, fried rice balls, sliced steak, potstickers, etc.
- Extra Virgin - We had an amazing group dinner at Extra Virgin. It was the night before the wedding so everyone got a little tipsy/emotional and toasted to our friends' marriage! Great wine list and super accommodating servers. Get the cioppino and thank me later.
James and I really fell in love with the little island of St. John, so much so that we started looking up real estate prices. No go. However, we would love to come back and visit again soon. The friendly people, beautiful beaches, delicious food, cool vibe, and cell reception, made this a super relaxing and easy vacation.
On to the British Virgin Islands!
Kat - Wander Life