Top Spots to Snorkel – Yawzi Point, St John
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