Snorkeling – Salt Pond Bay

Snorkeling at Salt Pond on St John , USVI

Salt Pond Bay beach and snorkeling mapAlthough not the easiest to get to, Salt Pond is one of the more popular beaches and snorkeling destinations on St John. Requiring a drive and a short hike you should plan to spend the morning, afternoon or day at this beach.

Salt Pond Bay Beach
This south-facing beach enjoys plenty of sun and wonderful soft white sand. Unlike most of the north shore beaches – Salt Pond doesn’t have much shade. Shallow water entry with sandy bottom turning to sea grass beds and patch reefs along the east and west shorelines are great spots to snorkel. While the sandy bottom and usually calm waters make it a top choice for swimming and enjoying the water.

Snorkeling Salt Pond
Salt Pond is best know for its snorkeling. And some of the best snorkeling is along the eastern shoreline out towards the point and at a “hump” in the center of the bay’s “mouth”. Lots of human traffic has impacted the easiest to reach spots, but there are still plenty of corals and marine life to see and enjoy. Keep an eye out for rays, turtles and Giant Hermit Crabs ( usually seen in a large Queen conch shell) that thrive in the sea grass.Snorkeling 101 mask and fins

Getting There
Located on St John’s south-eastern shore, just off VI107. You’ll take Centerline (Rte 10) or North Shore Road (Rte 20) into Coral Bay. Take a left at the “T” intersection at the bottom of the hill. Salt Pond is about 4 mi, just past The Tourist Trap and Concordia. Parking is just off and along the roadside. Then you’ll hike down to the beach about .5 mi.

Drunk Bay and Ram’s Head Trail
Salt Pond has some hidden treasures and chief among them is the salt pond behind Salt pond, the dramatic shoreline of Drunk Bay and an amazing hike and scenic overlook at the top of Ram’s Head. The trail starts on the eastern end of the beach. Follow the narrow path along the shore of the salt pond. The trail will split – left takes you to Drunk Bay and its collection of cairn (stacked stones) and rock and coral “sculptures”. Stay on the trail and it winds its way up to the ridge of Ram’s Head. Don’t forget to bring a camera and enjoy the dramatic beauty of St John’s southern coast.

 St John beaches: An interactive and mobile-friendly Google Map


View St John Beaches & snorkeling info in a larger map

Spotlight on – Honeymoon & Salomon Beaches, St John

Honeymoon Beach on St John, USVI

Honeymoon Bay Beach, St John mapHoneymoon/Salomon Beaches  are located within the boundaries of the Virgin Islands National Park. They are two of St John’s famous North Shore beaches; and are part of the seven beaches that make up the Caneel Bay Resort.

Hike from Cruz Bay along the Lind Point Trail to Honeymoon

Honeymoon Beach has powdery white sand and shallow water access. Great for swimming and snorkeling. For many years it was a best-kept-secret among residents. Now it can be one of the more popular beaches on the island – attracting day visitors from the St Thomas cruise ships as well as people staying on St John. That said, it really is a wonderful place to spend a day or afternoon.


St John Honeymoon Beack All Day Pass Promo Code SAVE50 OFF

 

 

Honeymoon Water Sports Rentals

The watersports operation that was running out of Caneel Bay Resort has been moved to Honeymoon. They refurbished a small watersports/rental “shack” where you can rent chairs, snorkel gear, stand up paddle boards / SUP rental, lockers and kayaks as well as snacks and refreshments. To find out more about VI Eco Tours or to reserve an All Day Pass at Honeymoon Beach click here.Honeymoon Bay Beach on St John , USVI

Snorkeling at Honeymoon Beach is best along the western shoreline that connects Honeymoon with Salomon Bay beach. Most of the patch reef is in fairly shallow water making it easy to see a wide variety of marine life including hard and soft corals and sea fans, schools of french grunts, snapper, wrasses and Tangs. You might also encounter sea turtles and rays. NOTE: the area gets a fair amount of boat traffic – so stay within the swim markers and be aware of boats.

Getting to Honeymoon Bay Beach

Hiking from Cruz Bay: you pick up the Lind Point Trail which starts at the Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center on the east side of Cruz Bay. The approx. 1 mi. hike is not particularly challenging – but plan on 20 to 30 minutes each way. Along the way you’ll have several scenic overlooks to stop and take a break and just enjoy the view.

Drive and hike: The second way to get to Honeymoon Bay beach is by taking a taxi to the Caneel Bay Resort and making the short hike along the western shoreline of Caneel Bay. You must check in at the gatehouse and pay a fee ( refunded with a $20 purchase at the Resort). Then you can either hike back along the Lind Point Trail to Cruz Bay – or call for a taxi from Caneel.

 St John beaches: An interactive and mobile-friendly Google Map

Please note: Access is limited to Caneel Bay beach, Honeymoon and Salomon beaches and does not include use of beach chairs, towels or amenities. Resort guests do have access to all of the beaches and facilities.

Spotlight on – Rental Scams

St John Villa Rentals Guide

When selecting a vacation rental – ONLY work with established private owners or property management companies on St John. Here’s why …

Craigslist scam, St John villa rentalsMay 2013 – Craigslist USVI – posted under apts/housing for rent is Posting ID: 3792287094. The description and pictures are too good to be true. Constructed of island stone and mahogany – this 720 sq’, 2BR/2BA, has a heated pool and views of Reef Bay and Rams Head. At just $1300 it would be an absolute steal …literally!

The problem is that the property is actually a 2800 sq’ luxury villa listed for sale by Seaglass Properties for $2,250,000. A call to Seaglass confirmed our suspicions – they don’t know anything about the posting on Craigslist! No doubt the staff at Seaglass will follow up to ask that the listing be pulled.

We were curious to see who might be behind the scam. Turns out it is someone calling themselves Soba C. Victor the same person attempting a similar scam in Panama under the name Victor C. Soba! He requests personal information and a $500 deposit before he sends a set of keys to your new place!

Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader that alerted us to the scam posting, this would-be “teef” probably won’t get anybody’s money. But let it be a lesson to anyone planning to vacation on St John – “too good to be true is probably just that …”

So who can I trust?
If you’re looking for a rental villa on St John we DO NOT suggest searching VRBO, FlipKey or HomeAway. They offer lots of listings – BUT, you’ll pay a 4% – 15% “guest service fee” and have to weed out listings that aren’t on St John ( because they’re featured listings from St Thomas!). We strongly suggest you contact one of St John’s respected property management companies to assist in your search. They’ll likely have just what you’re looking for – or can offer up a suggestion or two.

On-island villa rental and property management sites:
www.IslandGetawaysInc.com

www.DestinationsStJohn.com

www.Windspree.com

www.SeaView.com

www.StJohn-VillaRentals.com

On St John: Wedding, Honeymoon or Anniversary?

Weddings on St John

Top Caribbean Wedding and Honeymoon locationsEverybody wants their wedding, honeymoon and anniversary to be special. No matter what stage of your relationship you wish to celebrate, St John is a top pick for couples to tie the knot, de-stress after the wedding or mark a milestone in your relationship.

Special days deserve special places, right! St John’s world-class beaches and luxury rental villas make it The Top Destination in the Caribbean.

So what makes St John such a great place to get married? Start with our staggering list of accolades and travel rankings. St John is a perennial list-topper on travel and tourism sites like TripAdvisor, Fodors and Frommer’s as well as international publications like Condé Nast Traveler and National Geographic. In fact St John is the 2013 Traveler’s Choice Winner for Top Caribbean Destination as well as earning the #2 Island on the planet ranking, Frommer’s Favorities Top 10 for 2012 and National Geographic’s 2013 Tours of a Lifetime!

Need more reasons? How about the fact that 2 of St John’s chefs made it into the book Best Chefs America. La Plancha’s chef Anderson Allen and La Tapa’s chef Alex Ewald were both nominated by their peers for inclusion! Nothing is more romantic than sharing a night out over a great meal, right?

How about Trunk Bay’s ranking as a TOP 10 Beach on the Planet by Condé Nast Traveler!

From celebrities to top-rated TV shows, the spotlight is on St John. And you can share some of that spotlight and create lasting memories by sharing your special times with us on the beautiful island of St john.

For more information on St John’s award-winning wedding planners, concierge services, luxury villa rentals, charters and more – check out our Weddings and Special Events pages!

Blue Chair Bay Premium Rum

Kenny Chesney Blue CHair Bay Rum

Blue Chair Bay Rum awardWith 14 gold and platinum albums and 105 million fans world wide – Kenny Chesney has certainly established himself as a top country talent. But, what many fans may not know is that Kenny Chesney “discovered” St John over 15 years ago – and has been a regular visitor and homeowner ever since. Hell, his latest album “Life on a Rock” was inspired by St John and a portion of the profit from sales will go to the Virgin Islands National Park.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’ve drunk a lot of rum in a lot of places,” Chesney muses. “And the more you drink, the more you know what you wish you could have. I finally decided there was no reason not to…”

Also no secret is Chesney’s love for great rum. He sings about it and talks about it and now he’s created his own rum under the label “Blue Chair Bay Rum”. Blue Chair won’t be available until May – but rest assured after I’ve had a chance to sit down with a bottle – I’ll post my review. Until then, you’ll have to be satisfied with the rum’s lineage – a product of Chesney and master blender Mike Booth out of Barbados. The premium white rum has already received an impressive score of 90 points from The Ultimate Spirits Challenge!

Blue Chair Rum LocatorCT, FL, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NY, RI, SC, TN, TX & WI
Visit www.bluechairbayrum.com for more information

Or to read the Story of Blue Chair Bay Rum from the man himself
BORN ON THE BEACH

Chesney’s Blue Chair Bay Rum is available in 3 rum styles – Premium White Rum, Coconut Rum and a Coconut Spiced Rum. But let the man tell you for himself …

Shipwrecks of St John

shipwrecks-on-st-john-usvi

Shipwrecks of St John, US Virgin IslandsThroughout its history St John’s many harbors and reefs have served to protect countless ships as well as shipwreck some 28 ships passing through its waters. Many of these wrecks are not recorded or have been reduced to ballast stones by time and erosion. But some have endured. The HMS Santa Monica is one such ship.

The Santa Monica was a 28 gun frigate commanded by Don Miguel de Nunes. But on September 14, 1779, just off the Azores, she came under attack by the HMS Pearl. The HMS Pearl being larger, faster and more heavily armed quickly brought the Santa Monica to the point of surrender. The ship was repaired by the British Royal Navy and was put into service defending British holdings in the Caribbean. She was 145 ft long with 36 guns and a crew of 202.

Just a few short years later on April 1, 1782 the HMS Santa Monica struck a rock, now called Santa Monica Rock, south of Norman Island. Captain John Linzee put 5 pumps and 40 buckets to the task of keeping her afloat; but was forced to run the vessel ashore at the nearest harbor. The closest bay was “Crawl Bay” or Coral Bay on St John.

It is now known that the HMS Santa Monica went down in Round Bay just 100 yards off shore in about 40 feet of water. By the 1970s an archeological project recovered a host of artifacts including ceramics and glass as well as iron and copper objects. What remains is largely “cemented” together by sea and time. Yet the wreck remains a treasure trove of information on late 18th century warship construction and may, in coming years, provide greater insight into the history of the West Indies.

St John Villa Rentals!

St John villa rentals

Visitors to St John have some wonderful choices when it comes to accommodations. In addition to our luxury resorts – St John has a wide variety of privately owned villas for rent. Whether you need a romantic Caribbean cottage for 2 or a luxury villa with pool and spa for 6, 7, 8 or more people – there is a perfect rental for you.

How do I find a St John rental villa? Here again the options are diverse. Many of the popular short term rentals are under property management companies. A search for St John Villas will return a slew of on-island resources. As well, web sites like VRBO, Flipkey and Homeaway provide searchable databases of available villas along with pictures, information and reviews to help you select just the right villa rental for your needs.

St John Villa Rentals

When choosing a vacation rental villa you’ll want to be close to your favorite destinations and activities. Visitors looking for a variety of restaurants, bars and shopping might prefer being on the western side of the island and close to Cruz Bay. Cruz Bay is also convenient to many of the most popular north shore beaches.

Looking for a quieter vacation? Coral Bay is the destination for those seeking a more relaxed stay. Located on the eastern side of St John, Coral Bay is known on-island as the “country” while Cruz Bay is the “city”. A search for villas in Coral Bay, Bordeaux Mountain, the East End, Mamey Peak and Ajax Peak produce a large assortment of rentals that sleep 1 to 14 people.

Spotlight on Annaberg Plantation Ruins

Annaberg Sugar Mill plantation ruins

Located within the boundaries of the Virgin Islands National Park on St John are the ruins of the Annaberg Plantation. With a commanding view of Leinster Bay and Sir Francis Drake Channel – Annaberg was once the largest plantation on island and now is the best Annaberg Plantation Ruins on St John, USVIpreserved of St John’s historic sugar and rum industries.

While the boundaries and ownership changed over the years – it is a Dutchman named Solomon Zeeger that gave the plantation it’s name. Having acquired the land in 1758, Zeegler named the property Annaberg or “Anna’s Hill” after his wife Anna deWindt. Between 1779 and 1870 the plantation thrived and adjacent properties where added to the plantation. By 1808 it comprised nearly 1,300 acres and covered Mary’s Point, Betty’s Hope, Munsbury, Leinster Bay and Brown Bay. But by 1871 the plantation went into decline and was eventually abandoned.

While all of the wooden structures are long since gone – those structures made of local stone and coral such as storage buildings, windmill, rum production and sugarcane processing have survived.

The VI National Park volunteer staff provide guided tours and offer insight into the details of life on the plantation and its history. You’ll also find handouts that lead you through the ruins and outline the history of many of the larger structures on the property. A recommended destination for it’s history, beauty and insight into St John’s past and present!

Getting there:
Take North Shore Road out of Cruz Bay. Follow the winding road past Maho Bay. Approximately 1.5 mi. from “split” you’ll come to a “Y” intersection. Left brings you to Francis Bay ..and right takes you to Leinster/Waterlemon Cay and the Annaberg Plantation Ruins. Parking is in the lower lot and there’s a wooden walkway that takes you to the foot of the ruins.

A Guide to Hansen Bay / Vie’s Beach

Vie's Beach one of St Johns East End beaches
Panoramic image of Hansen Bay. Mouse over scroll – left and right.

Vie’s Beach at Hansen Bay

After 38 years, Vie has decide to CLOSE her popular beach access/parking and Snack Shack. We’d like to thank her for some wonderful food, Sugar Apple generosity and many wonderful days on Hansen Bay!


 

The East End of St John has several great destinations. Hansen Bay beach, also known as Vie’s Beach ( she owns the property between this beach and the road), is one of the top spots on St John for its beautiful beach, fantastic snorkeling and off-the-beaten-path location. Comprised of several beaches –  “Vie’s beach” is located directly across the road from Vie’s Snack Shack. She chargse $2.50 pp. – which includes parking, a shady spot to enjoy some of her island cooking and access to the beach and beach chairs.

Looking for a little adventure?
Vie has several kayaks to rent. Inquire at the Snack Shack for pricing and availability.

This is one of my personal favorites. The crescent-shaped beach is soft white sand with a couple of places to find some shade among the sea grapes or a coconut palm. Entry to the water is shallow with a sand and pebble bottom. Just off the beach the sand transitions to sea grass beds. Hansen Bay faces south and is protected from large waves – making for some of the nicest swimming on St John. And when you need a break from the sun and fun – grab a bite at Vie’s Snack Shack. Enjoy home-cooking and a cold non-alcoholic drink in the shade of 2 very old and very large boxwood trees. She’s famous for her Garlic Chicken; but I like her conch fritters or Johnny Cakes  dipped in honey.Vie's conch fritters

Keep an eye out for Angel’s Rest – St John’s only floating bar!

Voted a Top Snorkeling Spot on St John: Hansen Bay offers a wonderful mix of sea grass and rocky patch reefs. Snorkeling to your right is the easiest – offering some interesting structure with lots of fish, corals, sea fans. Much of the reef is shallow – between 2″ and 8′ – sloping off to 10′ to 16′ as you head further out. Keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Staghorn coral. This threatened species of hard coral seems to like this spot. Snorkeling to the left …across the small bay brings you to a larger patch reef nicknamed Pelican Rock. Again, lots of underwater structure with plenty of corals and fish. Hansen Bay is a great place to spot turtles, rays and some larger Jacks and Pompano that come in to feed on bait fish. For the experienced and physically fit – snorkel west around the point and you’ll come to Limetree Cove. It’s a nice little sandy beach that’s only accessible from the water. Remember: no beach is private in the USVI. You are allowed to use the beach up to the high water line ( or where the plants/foliage begin).

Getting there:
From Cruz Bay – take Rte 20 ( North Shore Road) or Centerline towards Coral Bay. Continue on through Coral Bay, past the Moravian Church,  Donkey Diner and Skinny Legs. You’ll drive a winding and sometimes hilly road out to the East End. You’ll come upon a large Tamarind tree that splits the center of the road  …on your left ….under the shade of an ancient Boxwood tree is Vie’s Snack Shack.

Go ahead and share!

Snorkeling 101 & protecting our coral reefs

Snorkeling Basics

Turtles Nest Snorkel gear rentals, ecotours and gift shop
Snorkeling Guide

Snorkeling is one of the top activities on St John. Each year thousands of visitors step into our waters to discover the amazing variety and beauty of the reefs and marine eco systems that surround our island. And that’s where the trouble starts. With so much “traffic” it is imperative that each and every one of us tries to mitigate our impact on these sometimes fragile environments.

Snorkeling 101 mask and finsThat’s where you come in.
Learning and teaching some snorkeling basics can go a long way toward protecting the corals and sea creatures of St John.

Numer onePROPER FIT OF MASK, FINS and SNORKEL. Struggling with ill-fitting gear probably causes more people to stand on or damage coral than any other factor. Not sure how it should fit? Ask for assistance at one of the many retail outlets on island or consider a snorkeling excursion where the boats guide will give you invaluable info on choosing and using snorkeling gear.

number 2 destination St JohnDO NOT TOUCH – as tempting as it may be there are lots of coral and marine life that can sting! And if that’s not reason enough to look-not-touch then consider the life of that creature. The coral reefs are teaming with bacteria and many creatures have developed a complex mucus that covers their skin for protection. When you touch them – you remove this layer of protection and could cause disease.

Voted number 3 St John destinationDO NOT STAND ON CORAL HEADS – sounds obvious but I’ve seen too many people stand on coral to adjust their mask or take a break from swimming! The damage this causes takes years to rebuild. If you’re an inexperienced snorkeler or poor swimmer – consider using some sort of floatation device so that you can enjoy the view safely. If you must stand – find a sandy spot and adjust equipment or rest.

number-fourDO NOT STIR UP SEDIMENT/SAND – it can settle on corals and sponges and literally suffocate and starve them to death. Always maintain a good distance between you and the bottom and remember – those fins extend well beyond your foot! Consider using the short fins – they’re easier to walk in and there’s less chance they’ll strike coral as you explore the shallow reefs.

Corals take years to grow under optimal conditions. With the world’s oceans warming and pollution and human activities putting pressure on our coral reef systems – it’s more important than ever to take a few basic steps to reduce our impact on St John’s coral reefs and marine life so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come!

DISCOVER ST JOHNs TOP SNORKELING and BEACHES

Check out St John’s TOP SNORKELING DESTINATIONS!
Check out our ST JOHN SNORKELING MAP & GUIDE!
Check out St John’s TOP BEACHES!

St John Island

Getting to know St John island is half the fun. Discover the best St John resorts, top St John snorkeling beaches, beach bars and restaurants and more!. Our pages are the #1 Virgin Islands resource for visitors - providing maps, guides, bar and restaurant reviews, St John villa rentals and news announcements.
Enjoy!

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