Seven Days on St. John, USVI

Our friends, Sasha and David, will be our first visitors down here in the Virgins. Some of you may remember them from our Abacos charter before we even purchased Bear. In anticipation of their visit, we put together a list of places to see and things to do in Leinster Bay, on St. John, and in the nearby area. We figured we would share the list here on the blog.

To put the list into perspective, Sasha and David are staying at an inn in Cruz Bay, and we do not know whether they will spend a night aboard. So we are not contemplating going far into the BVI should we go at all. And we do not know if they will want to or can come all the way out to Leinster every day. Likewise, Sasha and David are divers who may or may not be diving while they are here, but have already indicated that they are interested in doing a lot of snorkeling.

The note:

As you know from the last time we were together on a boat, all of this is weather dependent.  Down here, the weather we are worried about is just increased trades and a north swell. This will be forecasted well in advance. And such weather will just limit our ability to comfortably move the boat and be on it. It will still be warm, and we can still explore in the water and on land no matter what.

Leinster – Region One

a marine chart of Leinster Bay with trails indicated on the land

Chart of Leinster Bay and the surrounding area, from NV Chartkit 12.1.

We have found so much good snorkeling around the bay, and we have not even explored all of it yet. In fact, yesterday we found another cool spot where it drops from about five feet at the beach to 40 feet rather quickly with corals and tons of big fish. You could easily spend the whole week here in Leinster, and you would just start to get to know the place.

There are also a couple trails, including:

  • Johnny Horn Trail – up the hill from the beach to multiple ruins overlooking the bay. We could take it all the way over to Coral Bay and have lunch at Skinny Legs.
  • Brown Bay Trail – off of Johnny Horn to a cool isolated bay where we could snorkel or head on to Coral Bay and come back by Johnny Horn.

Annaberg sugar mill ruins are here to explore too. They are some of the most extensive ruins on the island.

Of course, we can always hang out on Bear as well.

Francis, Maho, Trunk, Hawksnest – Region Two

a marine chart of the north shore of Saint John

The north shore of St. John from Lind Point to Mary Point.

This is a larger area than Leinster and pretty much incorporates the rest of the northern side of St. John. The following suggestions go from the east – around the corner from Leinster – to just around the bend from Cruz Bay in the west.

  • Whistling Cay and Mary’s Point snorkels
  • Francis Bay Trail – rather short to ruins and first public school
  • Maho Point snorkel
  • Hanging out in Maho Bay – sandy beach and well protected on the boat
  • Cinnamon Beach – thought of as the most beautiful beach on St John; probably some good snorkeling along parts of it
  • Cinnamon Bay Trail – out and back up a hillside with ruins at the beginning
  • Trunk Bay snorkel trail
  • Trunk Bay is the most popular beach and most photographed
  • Hawksnest snorkeling – the best spot is supposed to be on the east side, but we saw tons of cool stuff on the west, probably lots to explore
  • Caneel Bay Resort “ruins” from Irma – check out by dinghy
  • snorkel around Caneel
  • Honeymoon Beach is a pretty beach, well trafficked by day charters, snack bar and grill on beach – also supposed to be good snorkel west of Honeymoon to Salomon Bay
  • lots of trails between Caneel and Cruz – Caneel Hill Trail looks tough but very cool with two summit overlooks, and the Lind Point Trail can provide an easy way for you to hike over and meet us at Honeymoon if you wanted

Coral Bay and South Side – Region Three

a marine chart of Coral Bay on Saint John

Coral Bay and some of the south shore of Saint John

We really do not know the south side of St. John as well as the north. In fact, we have not even been over there with Bear yet. There are surely other cool things over there, including a number of snorkel and dive spots on the NPS map.

  • Princess Bay mangrove snorkel (and Otter and Water Creeks snorkeling too)
  • Skinny Legs bar and grill
  • Lameshur snorkel
  • Two trails leave out of Lameshur, but we don’t know anything about them – probably difficult but neat

Other USVI Options

Carvel Rock snorkeling – short hop north of St. John for what some consider the best snorkeling in the USVI

Christmas Cove – USVI marine preserve with snorkeling and Pizza Pi, a floating pizza restaurant; we could overnight here or just hop over for the day from Cruz

BVI Options

It is not too practical to just go over to the BVI for the day by the time we check in, check out, and then check back into the USVI. But you could take a ferry to Jost or we could easily go for a night or two. There are two points of entry that we would make use of, either Jost Van Dyke or Soper’s Hole. While we could go anywhere, it sort of makes sense to target areas around one or the other.

Jost:

a marine chart of Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke

  • snorkeling: White Bay (just ok), east end by Foxy’s Taboo (good chance of turtles), Sandy Cay, and a spot on the far east end off Little Jost
  • hike to the Bubbly from Foxy’s Taboo
  • the finest bar hopping in the Virgins: Foxy’s, Soggy Dollar, and Ivan’s Stress Free to name the highlights

Soper’s Hole: gives us easy access to Norman, Peter, and Salt Islands

a marine chart of Norma, Peter, and Salt Islands in the BVI

Norman, Peter, and Salt Islands in the BVI

  • Norman
    • snorkeling at the Caves, the Indians, and a number of other spots
    • short, steep trail to an incredible overlook and other trails that we have not explored
    • Pirate Bight beach bar and grill
  • Peter
    • snorkeling in Great Harbour
    • possibly the William Thornton (aka the Willy T), a ship turned bar and restaurant that may or may not still be there
  • Salt
    • trails to an overlook and salt pond
    • tons of snorkeling including over the Wreck of the Rhone (a much better dive spot than snorkeling…we could arrange for Blue Water Divers to meet us out there if you wanted to dive it)
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