Beaches of St. John
Most visitors and locals will agree that when it comes to beaches on St. John a ‘good to best’ scale just would not do. The scale for describing St. John’s beaches is ‘Great’, ‘Greater’ and ‘It’s a secret so I am not telling anyone’. All beaches on St. John are open to the public. Beachfront property however, in many cases is private and a few popular beaches have hotels nearby. Respect private property when accessing beaches. It is illegal to collect shells from beaches in the Virgin Islands; shells are confiscated at airport customs. There are no clothing optional beaches in the Virgin Islands.
Cruz Bay is the bay where the ferry pulls into. The beach lines both sides of the dock. It is an active harbor with lots of boats moored and anchored there. It is a great beach to hang out, watch sunset, wait for the ferry or have a happy hour cocktail. We do not recommend this as a swim beach due to the boat and ferry activity.
Looking for a sun kissed stretch of sand to relax and revitalize, while also having the option to get active and explore. This is it. Honeymoon Beach is a pretty beach with sandy shoreline surrounded by sea grape and coconut trees. Hammocks and picnic tables are scattered under the trees. The crystal clear turquoise waters are rich in marine life and offer great snorkeling, particularly around the rocky headland that extends into the water between Honeymoon Beach and Solomon Bay next door.
You can access Honeymoon Beach via Lind Point Trail which starts just behind the Virgin Islands National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay, see our National Park trails page for more information. (Please note: Access from Caneel Bay Resort to Honeymoon Beach is offered by shuttle from the parking area.)
Hawknest, a National Park Beach, is the first beach with parking. It has gorgeous clear water and a pretty shoreline. Two pavilions with picnic tables makes the beach a favorite with residents, particularly on weekends for picnics and in late afternoons for a relaxing swim after work. This beach has good parking and is easily accessed from the road. The beach is lined with sea grape trees that offer a bit of shade. A great beach for enjoying a few hours of perfect waters and sunshine! Snorkeling to the left side is good but you must swim straight out and around the shallow reef to the left to get to the good spots.
Jumbie Bay is a lovely little beach. Often sparsely populated, it is a great spot to enjoy some private beach time; spread your towel, beach blanket or just to lay in the sand. A walk down wooden steps and a short trail leads you to the beach from the main road. Parking is limited to a few roadside spots. A small sign on the roadside indicates the beach; it is easily missed. The water at Jumbie can be choppy on windy days. Use caution when swimming as the water deepens quickly. A hard rock covers an area of the beach with sandy areas around it. Snorkeling can be enjoyed on calm days along a shallow reef that extends from the right side of the beach.
Beautiful waters and wonderful white sand has made picturesque Trunk Bay one of the most popular beaches on St. John. Renowned for it’s underwater snorkeling trail, Trunk Bay is definitely worth a visit. Six hundred and fifty (650) feet of underwater trails are a highlight for Trunk Bay’s visitors. Trunk Bay is part of the National Park and is the only beach on St. John that has an admission fee. Fee is collected from 8am to 4pm. There are restrooms, changing areas, rinse showers, concessions and chair and snorkel gear rentals.
The beach is a popular stop on tour itineraries and can get very busy on days when there are several cruise ships in port on St. Thomas or anchored off of St. John. Trunk Bay has been voted one of the most photogenic beaches in the Caribbean. Lifeguards are on duty daily.
Cinnamon Bay, at about 1 mile, is the National Park’s longest beach. This great beach offers snorkeling, swimming, volleyball and more. The campground and concessions are being rebuilt. There is good snorkeling around Cinnamon Bay Cay, a short swim from shore. The clear waters will tempt you to spend your time swimming and snorkeling, while the white sand calls for a nap on your beach blanket. Across from the beach and campground entrance/parking area is a Hiking Trail through the Cinnamon Bay Plantation ruins. It is a short, mostly flat hike and offers an abundance of our flora and fauna surrounding the ruins.
Maho Bay is a long beautiful, white sand beach. It is close to the road so access is easy from the newly graveled parking area. Boaters often frequent Maho on weekends. The bay is calm and sheltered. Seagrass beds in this shallow bay provide food for green sea turtles, which are plentiful especially in the early morning and late afternoons. Maho Bay is now home to Maho Crossroads which offers a great tiki bar, a food truck. a gift shack as well as chairs, shade and beach games. There is often live music or fun events going on. Family friendly.
Visit Francis Bay and you will find yourself on one of St. John’s longest beaches. This beautiful beach has calm waters and a lovely, sandy shore. Picnic tables are available. The Francis Bay Trail runs along a salt pond and offers great bird watching. There is good snorkeling for beginners along the western end of the beach towards Maho Bay. For strong swimmers, enter the water from the rocky section of the other end of the beach (right side looking at the water). Halfway out from the bay’s point begins a varied, narrow reef. For those with a kayak, Whistling Cay, adjacent to the bay, offers very good snorkeling.
Leinster Bay, is bordered by the Leinster Bay Trail. The area before the parking lot is great for walking and exploring. Mangrove trees line the left side of the bay. The water is very shallow for a distance and then it quickly drops off and becomes the open ocean. The shoreline is fairly pebbly, however there are a few sandy areas that can be used to enter the water for a swim. A 10-15 minute walk from the parking area down the trail will bring you to a narrow stretch of sand. Another 10 minutes down the trail is Waterlemon Bay, a lovely, often quiet beach. Waterlemon Cay, offers excellent snorkeling but it a long swim and the far side is exposed to open water and the channel. Snorkel gear, including fins is highly recommended. Walking along the rocky coast on an unofficial trail to the tip of the bay will allow you to enter at a closer point to the cay for a shorter swim. A strong current runs along the back, right side of the cay, use caution.
Salt Pond (East end, south shore)
Salt Pond Bay is a beautiful bay with amazingly clear water. The beach is often sparsely populated because it is a longer drive from Cruz Bay then most of the popular beaches, and requires a short 7-10 minute hike downhill once at the parking lot. You can continue hiking around a nearby salt pond toward the ocean on the Drunk Bay Trail. A long swim to the middle of the bay to a set of jagged rocks that break the surface offers good snorkeling. Snorkeling can also be enjoyed along the rocky sides of the bay, in particular the eastern coastline. The beach doesn’t offer shade as foliage consists of short shrubs. The far side of the beach is the access to the ram head hike.
There are two Lameshur Bays; Little Lameshur and Great Lameshur. Little Lameshur is a protected sand and pebble beach separated from Great Lameshur by Yawzi Point. The bays offer scenic shorelines and good snorkeling. It is somewhat isolated due to the long drive required to get there but well worth the effort. Great Lameshur is a beautiful rocky beach with great snorkeling options. This beach is off the beaten path and its suggested that a 4×4 be used to access. Most jeep rental companies do not allow you to take the jeep here so heed the sign, park and hike in.