St John is the most outdoor-friendly island in all of the U.S Virgin Islands. It’s not surprising considering that almost two-thirds of its territory is regarded as a US National Park.
The beaches in St John are some of the most beautiful and pristine areas in all of the Caribbean. The island provides a wilderness filled with natural beauty, especially on its Northshore coast. Most of them are within a 10-20 minute drive from the ferry entrance in Great Cruz Bay. With plenty of fun water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and kayaking, you won’t run out of fun things to do at these idyllic beaches.
Here is a St John beach guide covering the best beaches in Saint John, with information on what there is to do and what you can expect when you visit them.
1. Maho Bay Beach
Maho Bay Beach is the best beach for snorkeling in St John due to the abundance of sea turtles in its calm waters. I’ve been lucky enough to see and swim with these beautiful creatures both times I've gone.
Apart from being filled with turtles, it's home to other diverse life like stingrays, nurse sharks, pelicans, and tropical fish. I’d recommend going towards the eastern end of the beach for snorkeling, and you can easily spot turtles if you see any feeder fish on top of a large brown round shape. Its tranquil waters make it an excellent spot for families and inexperienced swimmers.
Across the street from the beach, there are food trucks and beverage stands for a tasty lunch or snack. The white sand beach also has convenient bathroom facilities, where you can change. You will need to drive out a bit farther than other close beaches to Great Cruz Bay, but it’s well worth it. It is only around 10-15 minutes from Coral Bay if you’re staying within that area.
A nearby attraction worth checking out is the America Hill Great House Ruins, which offers a beautiful view of Maho Beach. You can also go on a hike at the Cinnamon Bay Trail if you bring along some hiking shoes.
While you can find sea turtles in other US Virgin Island beaches like St Croix, the best chance to find them is here in St John.
2. Honeymoon Bay Beach
Honeymoon Bay Beach has crystal clear water that makes it easy to see the marine life when you’re close to shore. Overall, it’s a small beach near the Northshore coastline that offers plenty of scenic views. If you're looking for somewhere romantic to bring your significant other on your beach trip, stop at Honeymoon Bay Beach.
This St John beach is a popular destination for snorkeling and kayaking as the water is relatively calm, making it ideal for swimming. You can rent snorkeling gear on the beach, and it’s also a common spot for tours. Sign up for the if you want expert guides that take you to different beaches and to observe wildlife all around St. John.
A popular hike is the Lind Point Trail, which takes you through some magnificent views and passes Salomon Beach. You can rent beach chairs to lounge around and enjoy a fantastic view of the Caribbean sea while taking in some sun. If you come with a group of friends, you can also rent a cabana for some shade.
There is no need to bring food or drinks as Honeymoon beach has a restaurant and bars on its premises for your enjoyment. It’s not uncommon to see quite a lot of boats anchored out in the sea.
3. Cinnamon Bay Beach
Cinnamon Beach is a bit farther out than most North Shore beaches, located near the middle of the north coast. This picturesque beach offers a long shoreline with soft white sand to walk on.
Watersports are popular, with sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving being some of the top options. There is a reef a bit far into the water towards the eastern side, which makes for a great snorkeling spot.
If you’re lucky, you might see a green sea turtle or stingray, but there is always plenty of fish life. You may not need to go out into the water to see wildlife either, since wild donkeys and deer also frequent the area.
The Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground is one of the most popular places to stay in St John, offering guests a beautiful beachfront stay inside the U.S Virgin Islands National park in the U.S Virgin Islands. Depending on the number of people you're traveling with, you can choose from cottages, small tents, to group tents.
You’ll find all the facilities you need, including showers, restrooms, restaurants, bars, local shops, and more. If you need to drive to the area, the large parking lot makes it easy to find an open space.
4. Trunk Bay Beach
Trunk Bay Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Saint John. This gorgeous beach in the U.S Virgin Islands National Park has crystal clear waters, soft white sand, and spectacular views. Its famous landmark is an underwater snorkeling trail that details information about the coral and sea life in its waters.
The water is pretty calm, so you don’t have to worry about strong currents or large waves. But just in case, there are lifeguards on duty to watch over swimmers. There is a small entrance fee (the only beach in all of St. John to charge one) which goes towards taking care of the beach and its surroundings.
With its immense popularity, you’ll find any kind of amenities and facilities to make your visit more enjoyable. There are restaurants, bars, showers, washrooms, local shops, beach chair rentals, and gear shops.
If you sign up for any kayaking or snorkeling tours in Saint John, there is a good chance they will all make a stop in Trunk Bay. If you decide to go snorkeling by yourself, you can find plenty of fish and corral to sightsee on the eastern side.
Arrive early to the beach so you don’t have issues finding a parking spot and reserve a spot with shade. There is enough to do on the beach to spend an entire day just relaxing and enjoying the sun. With its location on St John's north shore, it's popular with tourists staying in both Cruz Bay and Coral Bay.
5. Hawksnest Bay Beach
Hawksnest Beach is easily recognized for the numerous sea grape trees on its fine sandy shores. You won’t have trouble finding shade under the trees, and parking is easy to find. It’s also a much quieter area than other places, making it ideal for a more private and romantic time with a significant other.
While there are two large reef areas to explore, the water conditions aren’t the best for snorkeling as there isn't too much sea life compared to other local beaches. Since water can be rough at times, it’s not recommended for children to swim.
However, there is a large coral reef you can check out, and there might be some tropical fish to observe near there.
Hawksnest Beach itself is pretty narrow, making it difficult if you’re trying to work on your tan. In terms of amenities, you can find a restroom for changing, but it doesn’t have any fountains to wash the sand off your feet or body. Other nearby beaches include Caneel Bay Beach (although the Caneel Bay Resort is closed right now) and Gibney Beach.
6. Denis Bay Beach
You can get to Denis Bay Beach by boat, kayaking, paddle boarding, or hiking. It’s a quiet beach that sees very little traffic due to the difficulty in reaching. Reach it by taking the downhill and narrow Peace Hill trail down to the west end beach entrance, which takes around 10-15 minutes.
It doesn’t have any restaurants, showers, or bathrooms like other places, so be prepared with your own snacks and water. While it may not be one of the most popular beaches in St John, it offers a peaceful atmosphere instead.
You’ll find plenty of trees that provide shade below you. The water can be rough on certain days and shallow in certain places, so be cautious when swimming.
Denis Bay is an excellent place to visit if you’re looking to explore something quiet and off the beaten path. It’s not the largest beach in Saint John, but it is unfrequented if you want to get away from other tourists. If you’re renting a car in St John, you can park in the Peace Hill Parking Area.
7. Waterlemon Cay Beach
Waterlemon Cay is considered by many to be one of the best snorkeling spots in all of Saint John. It easily rivals other places in the USVI like St Thomas. You can find anything between green sea turtles, nurse sharks, colorful fish, stingrays, and more!
The water is initially shallow but becomes deep quickly. There are also sea urchins that live near the shoreline, which can be rocky, so consider bringing some water shoes for your adventure.
It’s not easy to get to the beach as you need to hike over a rocky trail starting in Leinster Bay that can take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes. It’s a good idea to bring covered hiking shoes for the initial walk.
Keep in mind that this also means carrying all your snorkel gear with you since the area is more secluded and there aren’t local shops to rent from. Due to the deep water and long hike, families are better off avoiding it and visiting another more child-friendly beach.
But for those who get through the hike, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most beautiful St John beaches away from all the tourist crowds and offers an abundance of sea life. A must-stop attraction to check out before or after your beach trip are the nearby Annaberg Plantation ruins, which are pretty well preserved to this day.
8. Salomon Bay Beach
Tourists looking for a secluded beach will find Salomon Beach a perfect haven. To get to the beach, you need to hike from the Lind Point Trail and then make a left on the side trail to get to the beach.
This pristine clear water beach is pretty undisturbed, it provides a decent snorkeling opportunities with coral reefs and tropical fish in the area. Just bring your gear with you since there aren’t any facilities or buildings nearby. However, you might not see any sea turtles or many stingrays.
If you’re looking to enjoy some alone time or solitude with someone else, it’s the perfect place to sit on a chair under an umbrella and enjoy watching the waves crash onto the shore. This tranquil beach in Salomon Bay is one of the U.S Virgin Islands hidden gem, especially with if you take the Lind Point Trail scenic hike.
If you find Honeymoon Beach too crowded, make a 20-25 minute walk to come down to Salomon Beach. There are paddleboard and kayak rentals at the gear shop in Honeymoon Beach to make your way over here through the water.
9. Francis Bay Beach
Francis Bay Beach is a bit farther out than Maho Bay Beach and very close to Waterlemon Cay Beach. The pristine white sand beach is less well-known than others, so it’s a great spot for some low-key relaxation.
The water is quite peaceful, so it’s good for snorkeling and swimming, ideal for families with kids. Bird watchers or hikes can take the short Francis Bay Trail from the parking area to get to the beach.
You don’t need to worry about large or loud crowds and can just sit back and soak in some sun. There are parking spots in the area if you’re not taking a taxi from Cruz Bay or Coral Bay and driving instead.
Both ends of the beach offer plenty of things to see. The west side of the bay is home to many corrals, while the east end of the beach also features corrals with tropical fish and squid if you’re lucky to see them. You can find turtles and stingrays towards the middle.
It’s within the Virgin Islands National Park area, and there are picnic tables if you get there early enough but no changing facilities.
Close-by landmarks you should consider checking out after visiting the beach are the America Hill Ruins and Annaberg Sugar Plantation. It’s a great way to learn about the history of Saint John.
10. Jumbie Bay Beach
Jumbie Bay Beach is one of St. John’s hidden gems. It’s on the smaller side and is found near Trunk Bay Beach, which takes most of the tourists away from it.
The water is a bit rougher since it can get quite choppy with high currents and waves since the winds around the area are strong. Unless you’re an experienced swimmer, you may not want to get into the water due to its conditions.
Snorkeling can be a bit of a hit or a miss. On good days, you can find plenty of marine life, including angelfish and groupers in deeper water, but on other days, not so much. However, there are many corrals to see, and the strong waves make the area an ideal place for surfing.
It’s the perfect place for a more private setting, as it’s not as crowded as other beaches since it’s less well known. One of the downsides is that parking is limited, so it might be a challenge to find open spots unless there are few people here.
You won’t find any nearby accommodations or amenities since it’s more remote, but it simply adds to its aurora. Bring a snack and water to last while you’re here, and don’t forget to rent gear near the ferry entrance since you won’t find any shops around.