Best Snorkeling on St John

Best snorkeling spots on St John Virgin Islands

Snorkeling 101 mask and finsTop on any visitor’s list of activities has got to be snorkeling on St John in the US Virgin Islands. Much of the island’s beaches and reefs are under the protection and management of the Virgin Islands National Park. The result is a marine environment without equal in the Caribbean – protecting world-class snorkeling for years to come!



So what makes the snorkeling on St John so special? Well, first and foremost is the accessibility of many of the patch reefs and sea grass beds. Most are within a short walk of roads and parking. Most are located in and around the many world famous beaches. Second is the variety and health of the marine habitats under park protection. The reefs surrounding St John are home to over 400 species of reef fish and dozens of species of hard coral. The sea grass beds support rays, turtles and protect many juvenile marine species.

The following are our top picks for snorkeling destinations on St John, Virgin Islands. We hope this guide will help you pick the destinations that are right for you.



Waterlemon Cay – #1 snorkeling destination on St John.
Henley CaySTAFF PICK, requires guide or kayak, best overall snorkeling on the island!
Haulover (North)STAFF PICK, Some of the most dramatic underwater structure and corals on the island.
Salt Pond – Can get a bit crowded but offers some nice snorkeling especially center of the bay.
Yawzi Point – Located between Great Lameshur and Lameshur Bays, Yawzi Point has some of the best snorkeling on St John.
Hurricane Hole MangrovesSTAFF PICK, Located in Coral Bay, the mangroves are teaming with juvenile fish and corals!
Trunk Bay – A beautiful beach with an underwater snorkeling trail! One of the most popular snorkeling spots on St John!


Maho Bay – Easy access, shallow water, shade and a good chance you’ll see turtles, rays and lots of fish!
Caneel Bay beach – Shallow entry, calm waters and plenty to see close to shore.
Trunk Bay – Virgin Islands National Park snorkeling trail and a lifeguard!

Honeymoon Beach – The name says it all …out of the way; but has a small water sports shack!
Hansen Bay – Off-the-beaten-path location with a beautiful beach, food and some of the best snorkeling.
Trunk Bay – One of the top beaches in the Caribbean also has some great snorkeling!

Snorkeling is one of the most enjoyable things to do on St John. But, even a confident swimmer can be distracted. Make sure you stay within your physical limitations. Be aware of your surroundings. Never snorkel alone. Watch for strong currents, waves, boats, jet skis, changing weather and the distance you’ve traveled.

Snorkeling Information and Instructions

US Virgin Islands – St John Snorkeling Map


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Uniquely St John – Ranifly Bikini

Ranifly Bikini, Coral Bay St. John

Disclosure: We received compensation for this article and its timing. When we bring you items of interest, written by us, with editorial rights given to the featured advertiser you’ll see this disclosure. We do not receive commissions.

Owner / designer Rani Keohane has spent her life in and on the water. So, it should be no surprise that her life-path would bring her to the tiny island of St John in the US Virgin Islands.

Spend more time on and in the water than you do on land and you’ll need a flexible, functional and comfortable swim suit – and that’s exactly what inspired Rani Keohane to begin creating her bikinis.

Ranifly Bikini suitRanifly Bikini was born in January of 2009. Her store and studio are located in the Coccoloba Shops on the “quiet side of the island” in Coral Bay. Since launching Ranifly her uniquely crafted bikinis have found an ever expanding fan base. You’ll find Ranifly at retail locations from the USVIs to the BVIs from NY to Key West and Hawaii. Note: all custom work is done out of her St John studio.

The Shop
Step into her shop and you’ll see that it’s half retail and half workshop – allowing you to see both the creative process and the finished products. The atmosphere is relaxed. Suspended between bamboo poles, like island-style clotheslines, hang colorful bikinis, beach bags and sarongs. Browse among the various styles and sizes, patterns and shades. The selection is mix-and-match allowing you to find the right top and bottom to flatter your figure. The styles are modern, sporty, fun and designed for active use. And if you’re unsure or just looking for guidance, Rani and Sarah Swan [ Rani’s right hand woman] are there to help … AND remind you that the process should be fun!

The Studio
The back of the shop has sewing machines standing-ready under stylish work lights. Swatches of brightly colored fabrics, with the most amazing patterns, are purposefully scattered about the construction table! Tropical inspirations and photos of family and friends are tacked to the walls. This is where all of her custom work and prototyping takes shape. And it’s at this table where your custom bikini will be cut and crafted!

The Atmosphere
You can and should leave any body image issues at the door. This is a woman-centric shop. While the cuts and styles are decidedly youthful and sporty – they are meant to accentuate and flatter a wide range of sizes and figures …for women of any age! Select a suit that’s already crafted or work with Rani in selecting the perfect colors, patterns and style for a suit that’s uniquely you! Either way, you’ll enjoy the comfort and fit of a bikini that’s anything BUT off the rack!

Rani still makes all of her suits by hand. Her newest bikinis utilize reversible construction and complimentary patterns and colors! Spoil yourself and take home something uniquely St John!

Ranifly Bikini is open M-F 11:00am > 6:00pm
Call 808-551-5461
or visit

St John Rib Cook Off 2014

St John Rib Cook Off 2014 to benefit St John Rescue

RAIN DELAY! Rescheduled to Nov 15th!

Following the success of last year’s benefit event, the St John Rib Cook Off promises to be the most finger-lickin’-est thing to do Saturday, November 15th starting at 4:30pm.

All proceeds from the Second Annual St. John Rib Cook Off  will go directly to St. John Rescue

St. John Rescue’s Second Annual St. John Rib Cook Off will be held Saturday, November 15, 2014, starting at 4:30pm at the Coral Bay Ball Field.

Rib tickets will be on sale at one of two ticket tables. Ten St. John Restaurants and Individuals will compete for the title of Best Ribs on St. John. Judging will be done by five willing St. Johnians, chosen out of a hat a week before the event.

The Competitors List

  • Tourist Trap (Last Years Winner)
  • Aqua Bistro
  • Cafe Concordia
  • East West Catering
  • Sam & Jack’s Deli
  • Dan & Jeff

In addition to the sale of ribs, there will be a raffle with many great prizes. All proceeds from the Second Annual St. John Rib Cook Off will go directly to St. John Rescue to aid in the purchase of training and medical supplies, vehicle maintenance and operating costs associated with the St. John Rescue Headquarters Building.

The Second Annual St. John Rib Cook Off kicks off at 4:30pm with live entertainment throughout the evening. There will be Community Information tables, a Giant Jenga and a Corn Hole Tournament.


Where: Coral Bay Ball Field ( no directions required – you can’t miss it! )

When: Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Time: Starts at 4:30pm

Fish Tales 2bdrm – Fish Bay

Fish Tales St John rental villa island cottage

Fish Tales is a cute and comfortable two bedroom,with new spilt AC units & 2 1/2 bath Caribbean Cottage with nice views of Fish Bay and the surrounding area out to Bovocap Point and Little St James Island. This spacious home away from home is easily accessed via a large flat driveway. Two small steps up from the driveway and you enter the home from a covered deck. The door leads you into the Great Room with comfortable seating, TV, DVD player, and Stereo. Cable TV and wireless internet are provided. The kitchen and dining area, as well as a 1/2 bath with full size laundry all flow easily off the great room. There is a sliding door that opens up to the large covered and uncovered pool deck. At the far end of the great room is the entrance to the master bedroom as well as the internal stairway to the lower bedroom. The large master bedroom has great views and a king size bed with a very comfortable memory foam mattress. A sliding door takes you out to the covered deck. There is a full, private, en suite bath in the master bedroom. The lower bedroom has a queen sized bed and a twin sized day bed with trundle that can expand the day bed into two twin beds or one king sized bed. All mattresses are very comfortable memory foam. There is a sliding door to a private deck with nice views of Fish Bay. There is also a private full en suite bath, closet, and small beverage refrigerator. This lower bedroom can also be accessed from its own entrance from an exterior stairway and deck.

Outside on the main level is a large covered and uncovered pool deck. The dipping pool is 8 x 13 x 3, and it is surrounded by 4 chaise lounge chairs. The outside dining table with seating for six and a Weber grill provides an easy, comfortable outdoor living space.

A short walk from the home brings you to the National Park and Reef Bay. Walk down a short trail and you are on the beach, where, in calm weather, the snorkeling is great. On windier days you can watch the surfers, or hike along the beach, over the low rocks, along a second beach, over a trail to a third beach where the Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins are located. You can then go up the famed Reef Bay trail to the petroglyphs. For the more adventurous, Reef Bay Trail also connects with other trails that take you to both Europa and Lamshur Bay.

Fish Tales is quiet, comfortable, and only 15 minutes from downtown Cruz Bay. Enjoy!
Amenties and cottage details; 2 bdrm, 2.5 bath, pool, ocean view, A/C, grill and so much more!

Tammy Donnelly at (340) 779-4478

Availability and Pricing:
View the VRBO Listing for Fish Tales

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Spotlight on – Brown Bay beach / Hike

Brown Bay, St John beach and trail

Brown Bay St John mapBrown Bay is one of St John’s hidden gems. With its off-the-beaten-path location and moderate hike – it just doesn’t get the number of visitors that hit Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Hawksnest and Salt Pond. And in one sense it’s a shame – because Brown Bay has a great mix of hiking, adventure, seclusion and wonderful beach and water.

The Brown Bay Trail
Located on St John’s East End, most visitors reach Brown Bay via the Brown Bay Trail. The trail starts just off Rte 10 / East End Road about 3/4 mi. past Coral Bay center. There is a convenient parking area which leads to the narrow hiking trail that takes you up and over the ridge and down to Brown Bay.

The hike is moderately challenging – because you must climb to the ridge before descending to Brown Bay. I’d plan on 30 min. each way – give or take …

Brown Bay Beach
The beach is narrow and soft sand turning to pebble as you go west ( away from the trail). The shoreline has some wonderful shade and spots to hang a towel. The water is shallow and sandy turning to sea grass the farther you go from shore. Waves are usually lightest in the morning and when the wind is out of the south. Since it takes some effort to get to Brown Bay – I suggest bringing some refreshments – food/snacks and water. It’s a wonderful place to spend a day relaxing.Brown Bay Trail on St John, USVI

Brown Bay Ruins
At the western end of the beach you’ll find a rambling group of foundations, arches and a maze like system of stonework. The area is pretty overgrown with vines – but well worth a bit of exploration. A word of caution – the Jack Spaniard Wasps seem to love to make a home on the vines. They aren’t particularly aggressive – but it’s best to keep an eye out for them so that you don’t inadvertently come face-to-face with a nest!

Looking for other St John hiking trails?
The Virgin Islands National Park has dozens of trails to great destinations. Lace up your shoes and hit a trail to discover St John’s natural beauty, history and secluded beaches. For more information

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Uniquely St John – Fine handcrafted Jewelry

Michael Banzhaf jewelry

Jewelry by Michael Banzhaf, Cruz Bay, St JohnWith a nod to the many wonderful memories and photos you’ll take …there’s nothing as wonderful as bringing home a treasure from the US Virgin Islands.

Among the many shops and galleries of Cruz Bay is a gem among gems, Michael Banzhaf Studio. While The Gallery does represent paintings and works of art by local artists – the real star here is Micheal’s work in gold, platinum and silver accented with Diamonds, Sapphires and other precious and semi-precious stones.

My more recent designs draw upon my fascination with plant life. I find inspiration in natural forms for the stylized interpretations that appear in my pieces. – Michael Banzhaf

His creations are an amalgam of styles that pull their inspiration from ancient designs, Art Nouveau and more earthly forms of leaves, animals and the geometry of nature. Each piece is handcrafted in his Studio with an attention to detail that is rarely seen today. The smallest detail has been conceived and created at the hand of a true master goldsmith. Michael’s designs create A stage for some of the most interesting stones and pearls imaginable.

Recent works showcases his most popular creations using rare green-blue Tourmaline, Sapphires, Aquamarines and Gem Chrysocola!

Treat yourself or someone you love to the gift that is an instant heirloom. The shop is open M, T, Th, F 12-6 or by appointment: 340-642-2047

A portfolio of his work can be seen by visiting ; better yet, visit his gallery in Cruz Bay – conveniently located in the St John Properties building beside Mongoose Junction.

Spotlight on Jumbie Beach

Jumbie Beach on Saint John, US Virgin Islands

Jumbie Beach St John mapEvery beach on the planet has something special or unique about it. It could be majestic waves or long stretches of white sand or perhaps it’s secluded. For some, it’s the memory of a vacation or holiday or summers at the shore. And each of St John’s beaches are different and special and each has its fans and diehard visitors.

… a tiny crescent of sand rimmed by dark volcanic rocks and the cool shade of seagrapes.

Jumbie Beach, located on Saint John’s north shore, is a tiny crescent of sand rimmed by dark volcanic rocks and the cool shade of seagrapes. Fans of Jumbie will likely be up in arms because they treasure this “secret” gem. Jumbie Beach is located along North Shore Road, just west of world-famous Trunk Bay. For this reason most visitors pass right by the narrow path that marks the entrance to this tranquil beach. And Jumbie fans would just as soon have you drive past!

This beach was historically visited mostly by St John residents. It was a retreat from busier beaches like Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon and Maho. It enjoys a pleasant breeze and  doesn’t get the strong summer sun or hard afternoon light of some of the other North Shore beaches. Because of its orientation and reef structure just off shore, Jumbie gets larger surf than some other beaches. Larger waves and a steeper water entry make it less kid-friendly than Trunk or Maho. But don’t let that deter you from spending some time relaxing on this special little piece of paradise. Pack a cooler and head out along North Shore Road. Parking is limited to a handful of spots. At Jumbie you’ll discover a place that quietly hides in the shadow of Trunk – and thus remains one of the top beaches on the island.

St John rental JeepHow to get to Jumbie Beach: Take North Shore Road east out of Cruz Bay about 2 mi. or west out of Coral Bay. Just before you reach the Trunk Bay overlook you’ll encounter a set of speed bumps. Parking is just off the roadway – with the easy-to-miss path located just across the road. Follow the path about 150 yrds and you’ll emerge onto the south east end of the beach. There is more shade on this end of the beach. There are more stones and less sand as you enter the water on the far end of the beach. Early birds can grab a spot under a short palm located at the center of the beach. St John Beach Map

Snorkeling at Jumbie: Not known for its snorkeling, there are still some descent structures, corals and fish to the left and right of the beach. Depending on the size of the waves, head toward Trunk and you’ll pass over a Swiss-cheese type maze of corals and rocks. Out at the edge of the reef it drops to about 20′; with the leading edge of the wall having larger numbers of sea fans, corals and a wider variety of fish. Keep an eye out and you’ll likely see reef squid, parrotfish, Atlantic Blue Tangs and Surgeon Fish, wrasse, Yellowtail snapper and the occasional grouper and Spotted Hind.

Is Low Season the New High Season?

Trunk Bay beach on Saint John during low season

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.

Saint John's top beachesSt 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!

Saint John weather low seasonLow 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.

Spotlight on Caneel Bay Resort

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.

Resort History
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.


Caneel’s Beaches
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.

Honeymoon Beach
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

Hawksnest Beach
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.Snorkeling 101 mask and fins

Scott 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.

Paradise Beach
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!

Little Caneel
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

Three Palms Villa – 4 Bdrm, 3 bath, oceanfront near Cruz Bay

St John rental villas - Three Palms Villa oceanfront

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!

Call 340-514-8194
Email us: Three Palms Villa

Three Palms Villa - St John rental villa

St John Island

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