A Day in St. John

St. John is one of my favorite islands. Most of the island is protected land, making for an untouched landscape. Just like all the other Virgin Islands, it is brimming with history, lush green mountains, turquoise waters, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Due to the size of the island, it is pretty easy to hit the highlights in a day. Below are some of our favorites.

Snorkel at Waterlemon Cay

The best snorkel spot in St.John, Waterlemon Cay is an island off the North shore of St. John.

In order to get there, you have to put in some work. The Leinster Bay Trail begins near the end of the road to the Annaberg ruins. There is a sign at the start of the trail. It is an easy hike in that follows the shoreline to Waterlemon beach. It is just sandy so you can enter the water anywhere here and make the swim to Waterlemon Cay. The swim from this beach is 3/4 mile.

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Depending on your strength and stamina as a swimmer, you can also walk a bit farther to enter the water closer to the island. If you continue following the trail along the shoreline, the trail comes to a point where you have to do a little rock scramble around to the right where it comes out to another cobblestone beach area. It is harder to get in here due to all the shallow coral life. Make sure not to step on any. The swim from this point is only about 2/5 mile. You have to swim across a deep sand bar on this route, with a strong current, so be weary. My mom and I were watched by 3 huge sharks on this swim back to shore.

If you swim around the Cay counter-clockwise you’ll be moving with the current. The best reef to explore is on the far side of the island, which is also the side exposed  to the elements, making for currents and less than safe conditions. Because of this, I would suggest making the trip early in the day to beat the wind that starts up late morning. Even on a calm morning, there is a substantial current and waves. The far side has healthy reefs, with hard and soft corals, including Staghorn, Elkhorn, and Pillar Corals.

In front of the beach there are grass beds. There are often turtles, rays, and Cushion Sea Stars here.

Just past the rocky point, close to the shore of the Cay, is an area with lots of fish, sponges, and patch head corals.

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Grab lunch at the North Shore Deli at Mongoose Junction. They have the BEST sandwiches, coffee, and pastries. Perfect place to pick up food to bring to the beach.

Go to the beach. I did a post earlier about the best beaches in St. John. You really can’t go wrong.

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Hike the Reef Bay Trail. Cutting through St. John, this trail begins in the center of the island and takes you through the forest featuring old sugar plantations, stone ruins, ancient petroglyphs, and a deserted sugar factory by the water. It’s beautiful, easy, and the beach at the end is a perfect place for a dip. Combine it with Cinnamon Trail that begins at Cinnamon Bay on the top of the island, and you can cut across the entire width of the island in about four hours.

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