The beach at Hart Bay consists of a long strand of sand and coral rubble fringed by sea grape, beach Maho, and mangrove trees. There is often breaking surf and strong breezes. The water near shore is shallow, with grass and algae growing over the sand.
Hart Bay Beach is a great picnic beach. It’s not crowded and offers a cool and breezy atmosphere. The view is spectacular, the sound of the surf inspiring, and the freshness of the air invigorating.
How To Get To Hart Bay
Take Route 104 east from the roundabout in Cruz Bay for 1.1 miles. Turn right onto Chocolate Hole East Road.
There are two trails to Hart Bay, both are relatively easy walks, and both go to the same beach, although one leads to the southern and the other to the northern ends of Hart Bay. The trails are the property of the Chocolate Hole Owner’s Association. The association, however, is not presently restricting land access to the beach.
To pick up the trail to the southern end of the beach, drive a quarter mile from the intersection of Chocolate Hole East Road and Route 104 and then turn left onto Bovocoap Point Road.
Drive about 0.3 miles to the intersection of Bovocoap Point Road and Hart Bay Overlook. Park on the side of the road at the Hart Bay Overlook. The trail goes behind the house named Poinciana and leads down to the beach.
To get here, get to the northern extreme of the beach and take the first left turn on Tamarind Road. You come to it shortly after the intersection of Chocolate Hole East Road and South Shore Road. Go 0.2 miles and then bear right on to Cactus Road and proceed 0.1 mile. The trail will be on your right and is marked by a sign reading “Hart Bay Trail”.
The path to the beach provides a pleasant walk through a typical dry forest environment passing by the edge of a picturesque salt pond, a beautiful location for bird watching in the early morning. From the pond, the track leads through the mangroves and ends at the beach.
Snorkeling At Hart Bay
Hart Bay is not an easy environment to snorkle in and is usually too rough for snorkeling at all. On the rare days that the beach is calm, intermediate and advanced snorkelers can find quite a lot here. The water near the beach is shallow, and there are sea urchins even in the grassy areas close to shore, so watch your step.
It’s best to put your gear on and snorkel over the shallow area rather than try to walk out to where it’s deeper. Hart Bay is a high-energy bay exposed to the force of the easterly trades, and you will encounter a great deal of old broken coral.
In the center of the bay are some rocks that rise up above the surface. Just north of these rocks is an area of coral ledges. Colorful small corals and encrusting sponges line the lower edge of the shelves.
These shelves provide protection for small fish and other sea creatures, so there is a lot to see under the ledges, around and in the holes, cracks, and crevices of the reef.
Remember, only attempt this snorkel on calm days, and beware of sea urchins when you enter and exit the water.