"St. John Beach Guide" a guide to St. John's world class National Park beaches
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Archive for January, 2011

Caneel Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands

Caneel Bay

Caneel Bay Overlook, Caneel Bay St. John US Virgin Islands, USVI

Overlook

A beach option often missed by visitors to St. John, is beautiful Caneel Bay Beach. There’s a parking fee that can be used towards food and beverage purchases and you should register at the desk if you want to explore the trails, but all well worth it.

There’s a very scenic and fairly easy trail (The Turtle Point also known as Mary’s Trail) on the property that could be an enjoyable change of scene from the beach.

The Caneel Bay Beach Terrace is a great place to sit and enjoy lunch right at seaside. There’s a new menu and the food is good.

Caneel Bay RuinsAnother cool thing to do while you’re at Caneel Bay is to explore the sugar factory ruins which are some of the best preserved on St. John.

Dinner at the Canel Bay ruins

Dinner served within the old sugar factory

You can even arrange to have dinner served to you within the ruins, a really unique experience.

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St. John Trails: White Cliffs

View of White Cliffs from the trail

St. John Trail Map: White Cliffs

White Cliffs Trail

Yesterday I hiked one of my all time favorite trails, the White Cliffs. As this is an unofficial trail within the National Park, it is not maintained by park personnel. This is a beautiful trail with outstanding views and provides an interesting alternative route to Reef Bay as well as really cool and challenging loop using the Lameshur Bay Trail for your return to the trailhead .

I wanted to see the condition of the trail after last summer’s collection of severe weather events. The trail was still in fairly good condition and in most parts easily followed. Of course a Trail Bandit map or even better a Trail Bandit map loaded GPS will always be a good friend.

It looks like as log as some hikers continue to use the trail on a somewhat regular basis, it will remain open, even better if you were to bring along a small clippers to cut back the unfriendly catch and keep, which appears from time to time along the trail.

The Route
The White Cliffs Trail begins at the Lameshur Bay Trail. Walk along the flats past the big old tamarind tree that looks like it was split in half by lightning some many years ago. You’ll pass the entrance to the Europa Point Trail, which to my pleasant surprise is now marked by a trail sign. Shortly after the Lameshur Bay Trail begins to rise, you’ll come to the Europa Bay Trail, which you’ll follow past a beautiful salt pond and on to the Europa Bay Beach.

Walk along the beach almost to the point at the end where you’ll find a narrow trail leading into the bush. This steep trail will take you to the ridge top from where there are some excellent views down into the Europa Bay Salt Pond, the Europa Bay Beach and onward to the east and south.

From the ridge, you can also walk out to the eastern point for views of the southern coastline of St. John out to Ram Head Point.

The trail leads through the forest on the ridge top eventually taking you through a guinea grass covered passage through some large rocks. After passing this the trail runs right along the edge of ridge with constant dramatic views of the coastline below.

The trail descends into the eastern portion of the rocky beach at Reef Bay.

To get to the Lameshur Bay Trail from here, walk west on the beach for as far as you can. At some point you’ll need to either get wet or head into the lowlands and make your way through the mangroves either back to the beach from where you can easily access the short trail to the Reef bay Sugar Factory ruins or inland to the Horsemill area of the ruins,

Then its a 1.1 mile easy going hike up the relatively flat section of the Reef Bay Trail to the more difficult 1.8 mile Lameshur Bay Trail, with it initial hill climb back to the starting point.

Challenging, but lots of fun. Let’s keep this trail open…

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Like many of my fellow St. Johnians I took a break from just about all my normal activities and left the island to spend time with family and friends in the cold northeast. I hope to get back in the blogging groove again starting today (along with several other well meaning New years resolutions.

After more than three weeks in New York and New England, I certainly was ready to get that chill out of my bones and warm up in some nice Caribbean sunshine. But I didn’t count on how much I’ve become accustomed to living on St. John and when I stepped off the American Airlines jet at the Cyril King Airport on St. Thomas I was greeted with what I perceived to be a rather chilly breeze.

It’s cold Brrrr
For example, today’s forecast is for a brisk high of only 85 degrees on the coast, down to a downright bone chilling 79 degrees in the mountains. Tradewinds blowing 15 to 20 mph might even resulting in a “wind chill factor.”

Could Be Worse
The record low for cold weather on St. John was 55 degrees in March of  1991. On St. Thomas the record low came in November 1999 and was a scant 52 degrees. St. Croix’s low was 57 degrees on April 1997.

The Good Part
What a perfect day for a nice long hike in the National Park - I’ll post photos…

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Brought to you by Gerald Singer, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)