South Shore Beaches
Salt Pond Bay
Salt Pond Bay beach is one of the most popular St John beaches. A moderate hike from the road, you’ll find this protected cove. Salt Pond boasts a white sand beach and some of the best snorkeling and hiking on St. John. There is a bit of a hike to this spot ( remember, it’s round trip!). Once there you’ll understand why so many make the trek. The beach is crescent shaped with great exposure to the sun and breezes. Shallow water access makes this a great spot for swimmers. The beach is protected enough that most days there isn’t much surf. Great snorkeling and convenient access to several trails and sightseeing make it a great choice for an afternoon or day at the beach.
Snorkeling – this is one of the top snorkeling destinations on St John; and while there are certainly lots of fans of this location – I think there are other destinations that trump Salt Pond for seeing a wide variety of corals. That said, you should give it a try. Salt Pond is a great place to see a sea turtle, rays, conch as well as Giant Hermit Crabs. Some of the coral is a rock hump that’s off the center of the bay.
Drunk Bay and Ram’s Head Trail – Another great reason to choose Salt Pond is Drunk Bay and Ram’s Head. Both offer the kind of rugged beauty that makes for memorable adventures and great pictures. Take the trail at the eastern end of the beach. Follow it around the salt pond marsh. On the far side the trail splits. Go left to Drunk Bay with its rugged coral and stone shoreline. Or proceed right along the trail that leads to the crest of Ram’s Head.
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 4 mi., just past Concordia. As the road turns sharply to the right you’ll see parking on your left.
Panoramic view of Little Lameshur Bay, Saint John. Mouse over – to scroll left and right!
Lameshur Bay beach Just over 1.5 mi from the entrance, past Great Lameshur Bay, you’ll come to Lameshur Beach. There are usually plenty of places to park close to the beach. The beach itself is soft white sand with several places to grab some shade. You’ll also find several picnic tables and BBQ grills. Access to the water is easiest at the center of the beach where the sand extends into the bay. The bottom is mostly sand with some patches of sea grasses. Further from shore it transitions to all sea grass – a great place to see sea turtles and rays on St John. The bay is protected and doesn’t get large surf unless the wind is out of the south – and after a storm.
Snorkeling – This beach offers some of the best snorkeling on St John. Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced – you’ll find plenty to explore. A short swim from the shoreline and to the west is a small rocky outcropping in shallow water. This is a great place for beginners to explore. Closer to shore gets pretty shallow and care must be taken to avoid injury to you or the corals. Snorkeling along the eastern side of Lameshur you’ll find a nice mix of shallow and deeper water structure. I’ve seen octopus, rays, barracuda, tangs, parrot fish, Caribbean lobsters, coral banded shrimp and Queen Angelfish. Continue along to Yawzi Point and the waves increase but so does the marine life. Impressive deep water structure and canyons hold schools of fish, elkhorn and brain corals and myriad sea fans.
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
Great Lameshur Bay
Great Lameshur Bay beach Just over a mile from the entrance, and just past a salt marsh that comes up to the roadside, you’ll see Great Lameshur Beach through the trees on your right. The beach is a long crescent of mostly stone and pebbles. Access is not as easy as some of the sandy beaches but not a huge challenge. Because there are so many wonderful beaches on St John – this one doesn’t get a lot of visitors. Most continue on past Great Lameshur and go to Lameshur Bay beach. Unless you are looking for a secluded day …I would suggest that you do the same …
Snorkeling – For accomplished snorkelers, this is the best reason to visit this beach. Hike along the eastern shoreline about 300 to 400 yards and you’ll come to a small pocket cove. From here you can enter the water and snorkel along the eastern edge – across some deeper water rock walls and structure that few people visit. A word of caution: as you get closer to the point you’ll likely find the waves increase in size making snorkeling difficult.
ST JOHN BEACH MAP
Map of St John beaches: An interactive and mobile-friendly Google Map
View St John Beaches & snorkeling info in a larger map