St. John USVI Beaches: Salomon Bay
If you're a free spirit without a rental car, would rather not depend on a taxi, and are not put off by the prospect of a mile-long hike, then Salomon(sometimes misspelled "Solomon) is the beach for you. The beach at Salomon Bay is typical of the St. John north shore National Park Beaches except for two things, its access and its reputation.
See Satellite View of Salomon Bay
Although Salomon (often misspelled Solomon) is every bit as beautiful as any of St. John’s incomparable north shore beaches, this unconventional access, keeps the number of visitors down and insures a more intimate beach experience. Additionally, if you’ve come by ferry from St. Thomas for the day or are staying in Cruz Bay, you won’t need to rent a car or hire a taxi to get to the beach.
Hike from Town
Take the Lind Point Trail, which begins at the National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay. From there, it will be a little less than one mile to the beach at Salomon Bay. When you get to the fork in the trail, you can go either way.
The lower trail is slightly shorter and less hilly. On the other hand, the upper trail is often better maintained and more scenic, passing by the beautiful Lind Point Overlook.
From either the upper or lower trails, take the spur trail to Salomon Bay, which will be on your left and leads downhill.
Combining a Drive and a Walk
For a shorter walk (a little over a half mile, but with a descent of 250 feet and the consequential ascent later on) to Salomon Beach, take Route 20 (the North Shore Road) past Mongoose Junction and up the hill. Turn left at the top of the hill where there is a blue Virgin Islands National Park sign.
Immediately on the right hand side, is a parking area for approximately four vehicles. Park here if you drove. The Caneel Hill Spur Trail intersects Route 20 and is clearly marked with a sign. Take this trail north and downhill to the upper Lind Point Trail and turn right. At the next trail intersection turn left onto the lower Lind Point Trail. At the next intersection turn right onto the Salomon Beach Trail and head down to the beach.
Alternatively, you can turn left where the Caneel Hill Spur Trail connects with the upper Lind Point Trail and take the first spur trail to the right, which goes down the hill to Salomon Beach.
Salomon at one time had the reputation of being a clothing optional beach, but enforcement of Virgin Islands anti-nudity laws has been effective in discouraging would be nudists.
Salomon Bay was named after the brothers Jannis and Isack Salomon, The Salomon brothers, were Dutchmen from a prestigious family, who came to the Danish West Indies from Statia in the early 18th century. They dedicated the Salomon Bay property to the production of cotton.
From both Salomon Bay and Honeymoon Bays you can see most of the islands that define Pillsbury Sound. Looking from the west to the east you will see St. Thomas, Thatch, Grass, Mingo, Lovango, Ramgoat and Henley Cays and Jost Van Dyke, one of the British Virgin Islands. (The word “cay is pronounced “key” in the Virgin Islands.)
There is a popular but untrue rumor concerning how Lovango Cay got its name. According to the story, there was once a brothel on the island and sailors would “love and go”. Actually the names Mingo and Lovango (and Congo which is behind Lovango and cannot be seen from Salomon Bay) were named after sections of Africa from which slaves were brought to the islands. The three small cays in the middle of the channel between St. John and Lovango, Henley Ram Goat and Rata Cays collectively are called the Durloe Cays after Pieter Durloe the founder of the Klein Caneel Bay Plantation (today called Caneel Bay).
Henley Cay was once known as Women's Cay because during the slave revolt of 1733, surviving white women and children were placed there to await rescue and transportation to St. Thomas. The surviving white men made Durloe's plantation at Caneel Bay their stronghold, which they succeeded in defending against the rebels.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Henley, Ramgoat and Rata Cays (The Durloe Cays) were owned by Roger Humphrey, the Marine commandant of the Virgin Islands during World War II. He built the concrete storehouse whose ruins are presently found on Henley Cay. In 1947 Humprey's son, a navy pilot, flew his aircraft over Henley Cay. He apparently was executing some air acrobatics, which he miscalculated, flew too low, crashed into the cay and died. This was the first time a plane had crashed anywhere near St. John. The wreckage of the plane can still be seen on top of the island.
After his son's death Humphrey lost interest in further development of Henley and rarely returned there. In 1948, he rented Henley Cay to Robert and Nancy Gibney, the parents of the present owners of Gibney Beach, who lived there for about three years before building their permanent home at Hawksnest.
Humphrey sold the cay to Rockefeller and Rockefeller turned it over to the VINP when he sold Caneel, but there were people living there into the 60s. In the early to mid 60s the house was taken down except for the foundation and the cistern.
Some of the finest snorkeling on the north shore can be found in the area of the fringing reef that lies around the point separating Salomon and Honeymoon Bays on the northeast corner of Salomon beach.
Most of the reef lies in calm, shallow water with some sections even rising above the surface at times of extreme low tides. Thus, snorkelers should make an extra effort to avoid situations where the water is too shallow for them.
The condition of the reef is good, although there has been some damage to the coral caused by irresponsible boating, careless snorkelers, and by natural phenomena, such as heavy ground seas and hurricanes.
The coral reef community here is colorful and diverse. The fish are plentiful and there is a great deal to see. This is the best-protected and most easily accessible shallow water snorkel in St. John, and it can be thoroughly enjoyed by snorkelers of all experience levels.
Snorkeling in the center of the bay between the fringing reefs can also be a worthwhile experience. Snorkel in areas protected by swim buoys to minimize danger from boat traffic in the area.
The sea bottom between the reefs is sand and coral rubble.
You will have to look more carefully to find interesting activity,
but there really is a great deal of life here. The hills and
holes on the sea floor are formed by eels, worms, shrimp, clams
and crabs that make their homes on this underwater beach. Meanwhile,
you may notice several different varieties of fish swimming about,
which are constantly on the lookout for these tasty bottom dwellers.
Snorkeling over the sandy bottom is also a good way for beginners to get practice before attempting to snorkel over reef where there is a possibility of danger to both the snorkeler and to the reef from accidental contact.