Category Archives: St. John Virgin Islands Beaches

St. John Sand

St John Sand
Magnified image of St. John Sand

A magnified view of the tropical beach sand from the Caribbean island of St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands). The grains include porous fragments of brightly-colored corals, minute foraminiferan shells, fragments of sea shells and shiny, star-shaped sponge spicules….

See Also: A Grain Of Sand Video by Dr. Gary Greenburg

Where does our sand come from?
The sand found on St. John’s beaches comes, almost entirely, from the coral reef community. This is the main reason why our sand is so much finer and softer then the sand found on most continental beaches, which comes from terrestrial sources, such as the weathering of rocks.

Most of the sand on St. John’s beaches is produced by the force of waves and currents acting on the coral reef as coral, calcareous algae, (algae with a hard exoskeleton) the shells of various sea creatures and sea urchin spines (which make up those little black grains of sand) are gradually broken down into sand sized grains.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition, reef grazing fish, such as parrotfish, produce a significant amount of the sand found on our beaches. Parrotfish exist on a diet of algae, which they scrape off the surface of coral rock with their fused teeth that look like a parrot’s beak. They then grind this coral and algae mixture to a fine powder. The algae covering the coral are absorbed as food. The remainder of their meal passes through their digestive tracts and is excreted in the form of sand…. read more

St. John Weather

Partly cloudy with rain showers
High of 82 degrees F
Breezy: Winds from the ESE at 15 to 20 mph
Chance of rain 20%
Water temperature (Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas): 87.1 degrees F
Sunset: 6:34 PM AST

St. John Live Music Schedule

Aqua Bistro
Lauren Jones
3:30 – 6:30

Sunday Brunch 10:00 am

Cruz Bay Prime
Mark Wallace
7:00 – 10:00
693 -8000

High Tide
Lemuel Callwood Steel Pan
4:00 – 6:00

Island Blues
Van Gordon Martin
776 – 6800

Miss Lucy’s
10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Ocean Grill
David Laab
6:30 – 9:00

7:00 – 10:00

Shipwreck Landing
Hot Club
7:00 – 10:00

Skinny Legs
Dave Gerard
779 4982

Sun Dog Cafe
David Laab
11:00 am- 2:00 pm

See Weekly Schedule

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Denis Bay

Denis Bay St. John US Virgin Islands
Denis Bay

The old pilings seen in the above image used to support a dock in the days when Denis Bay was home to the Deep Sea Fishing Club.

The club was available to the general public with hotel services and conveniences for $22.00 per week with all meals included. It was described by Desmond Holdbridge in his book Escape to the Tropics, written in 1937 as “a quaint institution, now non-existent, where no fishing was ever done.”

The Deep Sea Fishing Club was owned by a group of St. Thomas businessmen who purchased the approximately 100-acre parcel sold for $1,250 in 1937.

See more Denis Bay photos

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St. John Beaches: Maho Bay Improvements

The Maho Bay improvement project is nearly complete, with newly constructed concrete pathways, an open air-pavilion, picnic tables, barbecues and an outhouse. In addition, the old existing pavilion has been improved with a new roof, a wooden deck and a new paint job.

Maho Bay Pavilion
New Pavilion

St. John Fauna: Seagull

Maho bay pavilion
A wooden deck has been added to the old pavilion

Maho Bay, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)A “Special Use Permit” will be required for use of the existing pavilion, but a permit will not be required for the new open air pavilion, available on a first come, first serve basis..

The project, which will not include running water or electricity, was contracted by an off-island company at a cost of $429,000.

Parking improvements have also been made. On the west end of the beach several head-on parking spaces have been added and on the east end the construction of  a fairly sizable parking lot is underway. Posts have been installed on the north side of the road to prevent parking on the ecologically fragile shoreline.

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St. John Beaches: Caneel Bay

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

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 Sunset at Lind Point Battery Overlook

Sunset at the Lind Point Battery Overlook
Lind Point Battery Overlook

Late in the afternoon yesterday, I took a walk on the Lind Point Trail. It looked like a good day for sunset photos and it was. It has been raining lately so all the trees and plants were green and lush. I walked down to the beach at Salomon and over to the Lind Point Battery Overlook and was able to get some pretty nice photos.

The bad news was the mosquitoes. They were fierce. The day before I battled them at Maho Bay after a late afternoon swim and they were bad, but this was something else. A friendly couple came while I was photographing and offered me some mosquito repellent, which I gladly accepted, but I was afraid to put my camera down for fear that the mosquito dem would carry it off.

Lind Point Trail Photos

Salomon Bay
Salomon Bay

Cruz Bay as seen from the lind Point Battery Overlook
View of Cruz Bay from the overlook

Coconut Flower, Salomon Bay St John US Virgin islands (USVI)
Coconut Flower at Salomon Bay
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Trunk Bay Afternoon

It’s swim practice time so I can (theoretically) compete in the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park “Beach to Beach Power Swim.”

With this aspiration in mind, I drove out to Trunk Bay yesterday afternoon for a the first practice swim.

For those interested, late afternoon and early morning are the best times to enjoy Trunk Bay. There’s no fee involved because the National Park people are either not there yet or have gone home already and you’ll find the beach relatively empty, devoid of the taxi van loads of cruise ship people, the way a beautiful Virgin Islands beach should be, according to me.

The only downside is the lack of facilities, which are only available during the day, the only one I miss being the showers or at least the running water to get the sand off your feet. In order to mitigate this relatively minor inconvenience, I bring a bottle of water with me to serve this purpose, the shower stalls, although without running water, providing privacy in which to change into dry clothes.

Anyway, it’s just before sunset and I’m completing my second lap my swim from one end of the beach to another.

They say “one picture is worth a thousand words,” but finding myself without a camera or the talent needed to draw, I’ll have to use the proverbial one thousand words this time.

I’m at the west end of the beach near the rocks and as a pick my head up to take a breath I see what looks like two deer walking along the beach.

I stop swimming and look out at the scene. What appeared to be two deer walking along the beach was, in fact, two deer walking along the beach.

The late afternoon sunlight brought a softness to the vivid colors of the sea, the sandy beach and the palms on the shoreline. At the other end of the beach, a wedding was in progress, beautiful people gathered together watching the bride in her flowing white dress and the groom also dressed in white running down the beach, barefoot, hand in hand.

I stay still for a minute or two taking in the scene before continuing my late afternoon swim.

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St. John Beaches: Trunk Bay Images

Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands (USVI)

Trunk Bay, St. John USVI
Trunk Bay Overlook

Trunk Bay is the jewel of St. John’s Virgin Islands National Park. It’s got it all, incredible beauty, facilities, lifeguards, underwater snorkel trail. And if you would like to experience Trunk Bay, practically deserted and without paying a fee, just arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon. See Trunk Bay – Google Map

Trunk Bay
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Ditleff Point: Photos from the Archives

Watching one of the last of the undeveloped sandy southwestern beaches go the way of the big money seems to have drawn me there lately; getting there while the getting is good, so to speak. Made me think of the archived photos I have of those pre-development days. when a rugged trail lead to the point and the eastern and western beaches.

Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Islands
Ditleff Point

This photo was on the cover of old editions of St. John Off the Beaten Track. To get here walk south along the coast from Ditleff beach.

Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Islands
Tide Pool
Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Ilsands
"the times they are a changing"

Native fishermen used to use Ditleff Beach for picking whelk, diving conch and inshore fishing. Before that the Tainos had established a settlement there.

Ditleff Beach St. John USVI
Ditleff Beach Western Side

Ditleff Beach is a sand and coral rubble beach. Even if land access is closed the beach remains public and can be accessed by boat or by swimming or snorkeling from Klein Bay.

Ditleff Point Fish Bay side
Beach Fish Bay Side
Ditleff point St. John USVI
Rubble beach on the Fish Bay side.
Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Islands
View of the beach from the old trail

The previous owners, Dow Chemical heirs, I’m told, wanted to keep the Point as it was save for bulldozing a dirt track over the old narrow trail. When they passed the new owners decided to develop.

Ditleff point overview

The Point as seen from the Fish Bay Road before development.

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Ditleff Point Morning, St. John US Virgin islands

overview of Ditleff Point from the development road
overview of Ditleff Point from the development road

Ditleff Point
Yesterday I was out early in the morning checking out the south side for some photos and when I came to Ditleff Point I noticed that although the gate controlling the vehicle traffic was closed a walk through gate remained open. Taking advantage of this access were dog walkers and joggers all of whom were familiar to me.

Passing through the open gate, I began to walk down the now bulldozed and paved road, which not long ago was a rugged dirt track. Along the way I met Miles Stair of  Holiday Homes fame. He slowed his pace and waled with me.

a squall blows in from the east
a squall blows in from the east

On our way back to the main road a squall blew in from the east. The mist from the squall produced a beautiful rainbow that arched over the Point from east to west. I’m excited to come back here, shoot some photos, and take a few jogs, before, and hopefully this never happens, that access is closed off to St. John residents and visitors.

Gated Community
Gated Community

About Beach Access
“…While the coastlines and beaches of of the Virgin Islands are public domain the question of access has nor been formalized. In most jurisdictions which have public beach access laws the owners of properties adjacent to beaches are required to provide public access through the land. Here in the Virgin islands developers and landowners have taken the position that access is only necessary via the sea and providing land access is optional. This interpretation is not always so. For example, the Pond Bay Club on Chocolate Hole was required to provide land access to the beach, Ditleff point apparently not as the gate suggests.

“Historically, land access to Ditleff Point goes back to the first inhabitants of indigenous peoples who had a settlement there some two thousand years ago.

Poor whites abnd freed slaves lived there during colonial times. During substance farming days, a family lived in a house whose foundation still exists, lying just inland from the southern end of the beach.

After that Ditleff Beach was used primarily as access to the sea for fishing and the gathering of whelk and conch as well as recreationally for swimming, snorkeling, diving and fishing. Original trails were replaced by a bulldozed road when a group of mainlanders purchased the point declaring that they had no intention of developing it. For many years St. Johnians and visitors used this road as access to the beaches. When the mainlanders passed away and the property passed to their heirs, the land was cut up into parcels, developed and put on the market, with a gate at the entrance to control access.

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