What to Expect
Low season on St John is typical of many tourist destinations. The summer heat and humidity move in and things slow down. The roads see fewer rental Jeeps. Villas have higher vacancies. A fair percentage of shops, bars and restaurants will close for a week or 2 or even for the month of September/October.
In general the pace slows to that hot tropical crawl that is the signature of island livin’.
So, is low season a good time to visit St John? The answer depends on your travel goals. For those wishing to avoid the crowds and the relative expense of the high season on St John – low season might be right for you! But before you head off to book your tickets – here are a few things to expect.
St John Low Season Travel: Beaches like Trunk, Maho, Cinnamon, Salt Pond and Hawksnest, that get the lion’s share of the visitors during high season, will be mostly uncrowded during low season. Some of the off the beaten path beaches like Denis, Little Cinnamon and Little Hawksnest will probably be deserted! Beaches like Little Lameshur, that require AWD and take some local knowledge will likely be visited only by St John residents. As an example: we have been to Hansen Bay/ Vie’s several times this month and each time we were the only souls on the beach the entire day! Gibney …just one other couple on 2 occasions! Lameshur … 1 other couple. Denis … 1 other couple! Even Trunk Bay Beach has had days when you felt like the entire beach was yours and yours alone!
Since it’s low season you’ll have your pick of villas …many at their lowest prices of the season! These villas are a great value – but you might also consider upgrading to some of the features that are more expensive during high season travel. Check out villas with expansive water views and pools – they may be well within your budget! Popular villas that are book for high season years in advance may be available! Some villas which are winter retreats for their owners are available during these summer months.
Restaurants, Bars and Activities: Low season typically sees reduced hours, reduced menu options or businesses will close for 1, 2, 3 weeks …or even the entire month. St John Spice has the most complete list of restaurants and bars with their summer schedules. Many charters take a few weeks off – but call and inquire. You may just find that they are willing to take you out for the day! Many of the busiest spots in Cruz Bay stay open – so you won’t starve and you won’t go thirsty, promise!
Low Season Weather: here’s where you will have to be a gambler! September has the highest number of hurricanes and tropical storms on St John. Even if you don’t get the big-blow you might get 3 days of rain for your 7 day vacation. September weather is hot and humid. The tradewinds that usually cool the island will be reduced to an intermittent light breeze. Humidity increases and nights take on an island tropical feel. And consider travel insurance – that way you’ll be covered if the weather does conspire to wreck your vacation!
So, should you visit St John during low season? It’s not for everybody and probably not recommended for the first time St John visitor. But for those of you that have experienced St John before and are looking for a travel bargain and the slower pace of the summer season – then low season might be the perfect time to plan a visit to St John.
Caneel Bay Resort
Uniquely situated within the Virgin Islands National Park on St John’s world-renowned North Shore, lies Caneel Bay Resort. The Resort’s 170 tropical acres are the legacy of its founder, Laurance Rockefeller and share his desire to protect this wonderful natural environment. Guest enjoy 7 beautiful beaches surrounded by lush tropical plantings, plantation ruins and modern amenities like watersports, tennis, restaurants/bars, shopping and spa treatments.
Laurance Rockefeller fell in love with Caneel Bay in 1952 while sailing in the Caribbean. It is his vision and ideals that created the Caneel Bay Resort along with the over 5,000 acres that forms the foundation of the VI National Park on St John.
This lux-relaxed resort boasts 7 stunning beaches – each with it’s own character and detailed here in no particular order.
Caneel Bay Beach
Just a stones throw away from the Front Desk/Lobby, concierge desk and business center is the main beach, Caneel Beach. It boasts stunning sugar-soft white sand and crystal clear aqua water – with easy shallow water entry. You’ll also find the Caneel Bay Pier and Watersports Dive Shop on the east end of the beach. Chairs and towels are provided to Resort Guests.
This is the only beach at Caneel that does not have guest rooms. Located west of Caneel Bay – and a short walk – Honeymoon is a wonderful spot to unwind, enjoy aqua blue waters and excellent snorkeling. There is also a watersports shack with SUP, kayaks, chairs, snorkeling gear and lockers for rent. For more info on VI Eco Tours Kayak, SUP and Snorkel Gear Rental
On the western edge of Hawksnest Bay is a magnificent white sand beach fringed with majestic palms. Hawksnest catches the early morning sun and provides welcomed afternoon shade. Snorkelers will enjoy the marine life surrounding the rocks and patch reefs that mark both ends of the beach.
This beach enjoys the protection of Turtle Bay Point. A great beach to enjoy a lazy afternoon under the sea grapes or floating on the aqua-blue water. Scott Beach is a wonderful spot to catch the sun set over St Thomas.
Located on the far side of Cottage Point. This tiny crescent of white sand offers a quiet spot for those seeking solitude.
Turtle Bay Beach
Located on the tip of the peninsula that divides Hawksnest Bay and Caneel Bay. Turtle Bay Beach is fine white sand with abundant sea grapes for shade and protection. Easy shallow water entry and sandy bottom make this a top choice to spend your beach days!
Just west of the pier is a small stretch of beach – set apart from the main beach of Caneel.
Rooms at Caneel
From Court Side to Garden View, Beach Front Suite to Cottage – the range of accommodations at Caneel are tailored to couples, families and groups! For more information and pictures please visit: Caneel Bay Accomodations
St. John is the Caribbean Island experience that will open your senses to nature. Feel the warm tropical breeze as it causes the palm trees to sway. Hear calypso music playing from beach side shacks painted in ultra vivid tropical colors. Taste Island food with spice that excites and flavors that tantalize. Cold tropical drinks will cool you down after spending the day in the sun. Swim off of white sand beaches in crystal clear water. Snorkel with fish that you have seen in a fish tank. Get off of the beaten track. Put the adventure back into your life. Contact us at Three Palms today and book a reservation!
Imagine You in the Caribbean. St. John is a tropical Island abundant with natural beauty and cultural diversity. Island warmth is a few hours away and no passport is required. Throw a few things in your bag, grab your shades and sunscreen and you will be on the beach in no time. Feel the soft Caribbean trade winds as the palms sway and the calypso plays. Hang out at a beach bar after playing in the sun all day. Swim in crystal clear turquoise water, take your shoes off and stay a while. Contact Three Palms St. John now for a quote for your group!
Villa details: 3500 sq’, wheelchair accessible ( ground floor bedroom and shower), children welcome, events allowed, A/C, linens/towels, washer/dryer, parking, TV/satellite/cable/DVD, internet, outdoor grill, hot tub …oceanfront view!
Glamping is all the rage in tourism. Not familiar with the term? It’s simply ….the camping you remember as a child combined with the amenities and creature comforts that most modern travelers have come to expect.
US News lists Concordia as one of the top places
to Glamp on the planet! Read the article
Long before this type of eco-tourism was “mainstream” Stanley Selengut, founder of Concordia, had a vision of low-impact tourism that was managed in harmony with the natural surroundings of the island of St John. His vision became the much-loved [ recently closed ] Maho and Concordia Eco-Resorts on the island of St John in the US Virgin Islands.
Concordia Eco-Resort’s 51 acres are located on St John’s rugged and beautiful south eastern coast. Built into the hillside the resort enjoys dramatic views of Drunk Bay, Ram’s Head and Salt Pond Bay; as well as wonderful trade wind breezes off the ocean. The resort’s architect, Glenn Speer, used green building techniques whenever and wherever possible to create a unique development that truly respects its place on this special island.
“It is now possible for green travelers to enjoy intimacy with nature while staying in dwellings constructed almost entirely of recycled materials …” – Selengut says
“It is now possible for green travelers to enjoy intimacy with nature while staying in dwellings constructed almost entirely of recycled materials, powered by the sun, and built with site-sensitive techniques that preserve and protect the fragile eco-system of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Selengut says. “In others words, creature comforts for all creatures.”
Yawzi Point is located in the Virgin Islands National Park on St John’s rugged south shore. While this is one of the more demanding spots to snorkel – requiring experience and a level of fitness – it is also one of the top spots to snorkel on St John.
The mostly dirt road to Lameshur Bay can be a challenge after heavy rains. You are advised that getting to Yawzi Point is best done in an AWD or 4X4 vehicle.
Coming from Cruz Bay you can take Centerline Road ( Rte 10) or North Shore Road (RTE 20) toward Coral Bay. At the bottom of the steep hill coming into Coral Bay you’ll come to a “T” intersection. Take a right and travel the twisting winding road about 5 mi., past Concordia and Salt Pond. At the end of the paved road you’ll find the entrance road to VIERS and the 2 Lameshur bays. Yawzi Point is the spit of land that divides the 2 Lameshur bays.
Just over 1.5 mi from the entrance, past Great Lameshur Bay ( a stone and pebble beach), you’ll come to Lameshur Beach. With ample parking, a beautiful soft sand beach and some spots to grab shade – this is the perfect spot to call “base camp” on your snorkeling adventure.
You have a couple of options for getting to Yawzi Point. First, you can take the short hike down the path that runs along the eastern side of Little Lameshur Bay. DO NOT mistake the path for the narrow road that leads to the VIERS research building. About half way out you will see a narrow path that leads down to the water to your left. When you reach the bottom there is a convenient mini cobble “beach”. This is a great spot to hang your towel and shoes and to enter the water.
“Impressive deep water canyons provide for some really dramatic structure. Sea fans wave to and fro …as schools of Atlantic Blue Tangs pass below you!”
The other choice is to enter from Little Lameshur Bay beach and snorkel out along the eastern side until you reach the point. This is the athletic choice and requires about 30 minutes of snorkeling each way. However, it does offer some decent snorkeling on your way out and on your return. I regularly see spiny lobster, rays, turtles, and Queen Angelfish on this route. So, depending on your level of fitness this is a great way to see lots of marine life.
As you approach Yawzi Point ( the very tip ) waves increase but so does the marine life. Impressive deep water canyons provide for some really dramatic structure. Sea fans wave to and fro with every wave. Schools of Atlantic Blue Tangs pass below you. Large elk horn and brain coral formations dot the reef. Pairs of parrotfish cruise the bottom turning coral to sand as they graze. Schools of French Grunts huddle in the shade of every overhang. And because of its “open water” location – you’ll likely see larger fish like Spanish Mackerel, Jacks and Permit.
One word of caution – Yawzi Point can be a fairly demanding spot to snorkel. Waves, current and no easy way to exit demand respect. Use common sense, don’t exceed your abilities and always snorkel with a buddy.
Points of Interest
Sugar Mill Ruins and Lameshure Bay Trail – At the western end of the bay you can explore some nicely preserved and renovated sugar mill ruins. This is also the start (or end) of several of St Johns best hiking trails. You can take the Lameshur Bay Trail to Europa Bay, The Par Force Great House ruins, petrogylphs and the Reef Bay ruins. This is also the bottom of the Bordeaux Mountain Trail. A somewhat controversial character has create a wonderful online resource for hiking trails on St John is www.trailbandit.org
St John – Sail with Kekoa
Kekoa “The Brave One” is a 50′ hand-built catamaran. Brothers Ryan and Jamison Witbeck spent over 2 years building her at their small boat works in North Carolina. Captained by Jamison Witbeck, with her signature black sails and his experienced hand at the helm, Kekoa is a popular sailing excursion around St John and the BVIs.
The best way to get to know him [ Jamison ] is to get to know his boat – Savannah Jane Buffet – Host of Ex-Pats
Available for full day, half day, sunset sail, Jost Van Dyke (BVI) and private charters. Whether you are looking for snorkeling, swimming or sailing to the BVIs - you’re sure to find an adventure that’s right for groups of any size!
Located in Cruz Bay you can reach Kekoa Sailing Expeditions
by calling (340) 244- SAIL(7245)
Check out this episode of EX-PATS with host Svannah Jane Buffet. You’ll learn how the Kekoa was sold to an operation in the Virgin Islands – and how she was abandoned at sea during a huge storm on her way to St Thomas. But fate stepped in and the brothers found her adrift, brought her in for repairs and made the move to St John. Truly inspiring …
Ever wonder what life was like on St John in the 1950′s or 1900 or 1780 or earlier? If so, then you’ll likely find the St John Historical Society’s web site, www.stjohnhistoricalsociety.org , and publications a true treasure trove of knowledge and entertainment!
Life in Five Quarters is the St John Historical Society’s latest effort. The pages of the 200+ page book contain selected articles and historic images from the Society’s archives. From the Danish struggle to colonize the island through “modern day” St John ( 1950′s) you’ll discover, through text and pictures, some of the most important events to shape today’s island of St John.
“… 66 unique articles …as well as an impressive collection of images … many never before published.”
I encourage you to discover St John beyond the beautiful beaches, villas and watersports. There is a St John beneath the modern exterior that is brimming with fascinating history. Whether you are driving, walking, hiking or snorkeling – every corner of St John bears evidence of its past. Give context to the things you see and the places you visit on St John by learning a bit about life before cruise ships and Piña Coladas. I think you’ll find it enriches the experience!
Life in Five Quarters is available at many of the gift shops on St John or by visiting the St John Historical Society’s site Shop Now. The price is $29.99 for the printed book or $9.99 for an electronic download. Your support helps to protect and promote the island’s history and treasures.
Ask anyone who’s visited St John and they’ll likely tell you that Maho Bay is among their favorite beaches. And why not, with its easy to reach location, beautiful shallow water, soft sand beach, towering coconut palms, parking, facilities and excellent snorkeling.
Planning to spend the day on one of St John’s beaches?
Voted a “Visitors Favorite Beach”- Maho deserves it’s fame. Located on North Shore Road, the beach is just a few yards from parking. This makes it a top choice for anybody with kids and chairs and coolers and snorkeling gear and floatation.
The beach is narrow, but the water is usually calm – with only the lightest surf. The sand is as soft as sugar and extends a fair distance from the shoreline. The shoreline is rimmed with sea grapes and coconut palms that cast an inviting shade throughout the day. There are plenty of “pockets” along the beach so that you feel almost like you’ve got Maho to your self!
But, popularity comes at a price …and the beach can get crowded especially at high season and on holidays! The best times to avoid a crowd are early in the morning ( before 10:30am) or late in the day ( after 3:30pm). Because of its location, Maho is fairly shaded by late afternoon.
Maho is home to a large variety of marine species that live and feed on the extensive sea grass beds of the bay. Chief among them are sea turtles and rays that frequent the bay. You’re also likely to sea schools of young Tarpon hunting for small fish and crabs in the shallow waters. Looking for corals? The best spots are along the western edge of the bay. There you’ll find a mix of shallow water coral outcroppings and colorful fish.
America Hill Great House Ruins – Look high up on the ridge to the west and you can see the ruins of this 19th century Caribbean great house. If you’re looking for a wonderful hike – it can be reached via the Cinnamon Bay Trail > America Hill Trail.
From Cruz Bay – take Rte 20 ( North Shore Road) approximately 5 miles. There is a small parking area beach side or a larger parking area at the eastern end of the beach.
Blue Bay Rum Review
Well, I finally got my hands on a couple of bottles! Talk about something catching on …and fast. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are buzzing with fans asking the same question …”Where can I get a bottle of Blue Chair Rum?“. And the distributor has responded by getting more bottles on more shelves and quick!
“We took all the beauty out there and bottled it up in here.” – Kenny Chesney
Using the Rum Locator on their site I found a shop near me. Short drive, if 30 miles is a short drive. When my wife and I got home we decided to try one of the signature drinks, an Island Girl. It uses Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum and we like coconut anything. So, here’s the drink recipe and our review:
1 1/2 oz. Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. pinapple juice
2 oz. lemon-lime soda
Mix all of the ingredients in a tall glass half full of ice, stir and serve with a garnish of orange or pineapple
Now for the Review
Full disclosure, I tried some straight so I’d have a better idea of the true taste of this premium rum. Glad I did because the soda in the Island Lady was just a bit too sweet for me. What I will say is that it is definitely easy to drink. It’s a clear white rum with a nice but not over powering flavor of coconut. It definitely puts some distance between itself and say Malibu Rum. It’s a lot more subtle coconut flavoring. And surely not as sweet as some coconut rums on the market. And Blue Chair Bay Rum would be a great rum choice for just about any of our favorite rum mixed drinks. On the rocks it was smooth and cool …warming as it went down without any hints of fake coconut flavoring. IMO, it stands out from some of the other coconut rums in its balance and drinkability. It’s a true premium product …no doubt and no disappointment. This will be one of the top rums in a very short time.
Find out where you can pick up Blue Chair Bay Rum using their handy store locator.
So pick up a bottle and give it a try then let me know what you think.
Panoramic view of Trunk Bay – mouse over or tap to scroll left and right!
Trunk Bay is St John’s most famous beach, the most photographed beach and voted one of the top ten beaches in the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine! Located on St John’s north shore and under the protection and management of the Virgin Islands National Park – Trunk Bay should be on everybody’s short list for destinations beaches. Conveniently located with amenities, good parking and taxi service, you’ll find plenty of beautiful white sand beach, coconut palms, aqua blue water and terrific snorkeling. Trunk Bay is the only St John beach with a lifeguard(s); and the only beach with an admission fee.
” …snorkel at Trunk Bay, where you might end up swimming with a Hawksbill turtle.” – Condé Nast Traveler
Snorkeling the underwater snorkeling trail is great for first-timers, kids and adults. Although this site sees a lot of visitors, it’s still one of the best snorkeling spots on St John to see colorful fish and corals in less than 20′ of water. Keep an eye out for clusters of indigo-blue tunicates. They are a rare treat – and seem to thrive in this location! Snorkel around the rocky cay is more adventure than sightseeing. Waves increase and corals decrease as you reach the far side. The eastern side of the cay is relatively barren of corals.
Taxi service is available in town. If traveling by car – you’ll take North Shore Road out of Cruz Bay. Travel along the winding road for about 2 mi and you’ll come to a scenic overlook. This is where the majority of Trunk Bay pictures are taken. Continue on down to the bottom of the hill and the entrance to Trunk is on your left – you can’t miss it.
NOTE: Because of Trunk Bay’s popularity – it’s best hit the beach early …or later in the afternoon.