st john
-->
seestjohn.com
 
Popular St. John Virgin Islands Links
Home
Blog - St. John Life
Bookstore
About St John
Beaches
Snorkeling
St. John Hiking Trails
Attractions
VI National Park
Accommodations
Bars & Restaurants
Catering
Activities
Weddings
Shopping
Transportation
AutoMobile Rentals
Real Estate
Markets & Delis
Services
Live Music Schedule
Events
Arts - Music - Sports
History
Culture
Environment
Flora
Fauna
Sea Creatures
Webcams
Photo Gallery
Videos
Forums
Articles
Vieques Blog
Advertising
Contact
Login
 
©2008 seestjohn.com
 St. John USVI beaches: Gibney Beach

St. John USVI Beaches: Gibney & Oppenheimer Beaches

Excerpted from St. John Beach Guide © 2006 Gerald Singer

Why Gibney
There is nothing formal about Gibney Beach. There is no sign, no parking lot and no facilities. It used to be a private beach with no public land access, and although this has recently changed, the beach still retains much of that “private” feeling.

gibney beach fruit garden
Gibney Fruit Garden

Getting There
Gibney Beach is 0.3 mile east of Hawksnest Beach or 2.1 miles east of Mongoose Junction on Route 20. The entrance to the beach is through the third driveway on your left after passing Hawksnest Beach. Limited parking is available in places where you can pull your vehicle completely off the road.

Enter the driveway through the door in the iron gate and walk down the driveway to the shore. The renovated structure at the bottom of the driveway on the right is the former Oppenheimer home, which is now a community center.

The area in front of the community center is sometimes referred to as Oppenheimer Beach, while the longer and wider southwestern part is known as Gibney Beach. They are both geographically the same beach, with names that have been changing and evolving over time.
Remember that on St. John, as well as in the rest of the US Virgin Islands the area from the sea to the line of first vegetation is public domain. Behind the line of first vegetation, though, may be private property, as is the property behind Gibney Beach, which belongs to the Gibney family.

Movies
Gibney Beach has served as the location for numerous commercials and magazine articles as well as several major motion pictures, including “The Four Seasons” and “Columbus.”

St. John virgin islands beaches: Gibney Beach
Gibney Beach

The Beaches of Hawksnest Bay
There are four beaches on Hawksnest Bay. Caneel Hawksnest formerly known as Sheep Dock, which is part of the Caneel Bay Resort, Hawksnest, the National Park beach, replete with parking facilities, picnic tables, barbecues, covered pavilions, changing areas, and bathrooms, Little Hawksnest, which lies just west of Hawksnest and Gibney Beach at the eastern end of the bay.

Gibney Beach is 0.3 mile east of Hawksnest Bay or 2.1 miles east of Mongoose junction on Route 20. You will enter via the second driveway on your left after passing Hawksnest Beach. Limited parking is available in places where you can pull your vehicle completely off the road. Enter the driveway through the door in the iron gate and walk down the driveway to the shore.

History of Gibney Beach

Snorkeling Gibney Beach
Snorkeling is best from the Oppenheimer section of the beach. The entry into the water is on soft sand and the snorkel is suitable for beginners.

Right off the Community Center (the old Oppenheimer house) is a shallow reef, which occasionally breaks through the surface of the water. Much of this reef was negatively impacted when a heavy rain occurred during the excavation for the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic. Tons of earth were washed down into Hawksnest Bay and the resulting turbidity damaged much of the coral in the bay. Today the reefs are coming back to life and you will see some beautiful live elkhorn and boulder coral, along with fire coral and other examples of reef life. Schools of small fish such as, goatfish, grunt and tang can commonly be seen in the area.

A narrow fringing reef runs along the eastern coastline. Close to the beach is a section of beautiful brain coral. The reef here is colorful and there is an abundance of small and medium size fish. Look for parrotfish, angelfish, squirrelfish, trunkfish and trumpetfish. Also, observe the predators such as yellowtail snapper and blue runners prowling the reef edges on the lookout for fry and other small prey.

More experienced snorkelers can continue along this eastern coast to the point and around to Perkins Cay and Denis Bay. Along the way is a small beach where you can stop and rest. Just before you come to this pocket beach you may see the remains of a sunken sailboat. As you progress northward along the coast you will encounter scattered areas of colorful coral, sponges, fish and other marine life in depths of about six to ten feet. Snorkeling here is best in the summer when there are no ground seas to churn up the water.