The Brilliant Caribbean Blues of St. John’s Bays and Beaches

by julie swanson

Overlook on St. Francis and Maho Bays

Overlook above Francis and Maho Bays

St. John is a small bumpy-edged island with tons of little bays and beaches and smaller islands or cays not far from its shores. We explored many of these beaches. The island also has incredibly winding roads snaking up and down and around steep inclines (with hairpin turns and no shoulders, ‘feral’ donkeys and goats and chickens sharing the road with you; it doesn’t help that while dealing with all that, you’re also driving on the left side of the road in a jeep with the steering wheel on the same side as we’re used to). When they can be squeezed into the tight vertical landscape, there are scenic turnoffs so you can catch the panoramic overlook views. Here is some of what we saw in the beach-and-water category, although you really need a panoramic camera to capture the true feel of being there (from the highest point of the Concordia Eco-resort where you park your car to go to your eco-ten, you have about a 300-degree view of the Caribbean!)…

This little boy on Trunk Bay beach really caught my eye, the red-and-yellow of him contrasting with the complimentary colors of the water.

This little boy on Trunk Bay beach really caught my eye, the red-and-yellow of him contrasting with the complimentary colors of the water. And look at that sand. It wasn’t like this everywhere, but it was at several other beaches we visited, including Solomon Bay and Honeymoon Bay.

St. Francis Bay and Maho Bay again.

Francis Bay and Maho Bay again, this time showing Maho Bay beach as well.

How about those blues! Before, when I'd seen them on websites or promotional brochures, I thought they'd been photoshopped perhaps to make the colors pop. But, no, it's real.How about those blues! Before, when I’d seen pictures of the Caribbean islands and their beaches on websites or promotional brochures or on TV, I thought it they’d been enhanced by Hollywood or photoshopped perhaps to make the colors pop. But, no, it’s real.

Everywhere you go on the island, there it is when you look out at the water, those blues, turquoise and sapphire.

Everywhere we went on the island, there it was when we looked out, those blue-greens, shades of turquoise and sapphire.

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The dark spots and patches are coral reef, where you can find amazing things snorkeling, which we did everyday and really enjoyed–saw sea turtles and sting rays and lobsters, many bright-colored fish, including my favorite, the parrotfish. Steve even saw a 5-6 ft. nurse shark one day).

Cannel Bay, one of the more 'civilized' beaches, but still beautiful. And not just 'still' beautiful, but really beautiful.

Cannel Bay, one of the more ‘civilized’ beaches (Caneel Bay resort  is here, where you can stay in units right on the water; though pricey, not glitzy or overdeveloped), but still beautiful. And not just ‘still’ beautiful, but really beautiful. Over half of St. John is National Park, so except for the homes of  the local people who live there (someone who lives there told us there are only 5,000 fulltime residents on the island. The kids who attend public schools have to take the ferry to St. Thomas everyday to go to school. There are only two public schools on the island for kids younger than that.) and the villas of those fortunate to be able to second homes there, there only significant civilization you see are the small towns of Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, the Westin hotel complex, and  Caneel Bay Resort. Concordia Eco-Resort doesn’t even seem to count since it blends into the landscape and is so hidden on the south side of the island, a good half hour or more drive from where most come onto the island by ferry at Cruz Bay.

Looking down from atop Ram's Head. You can't appreciate how far down from this picture--scary, dizzy down.

Looking down (and west) from atop Ram’s Head. You can’t appreciate how far down from this picture–scary, dizzy down. Ram’s head is a hike you can easily take in an hour or so from Concordia, less than that if you start from Salt Pond Bay.

Steve, and my thumb, on Solomon Bay beach.

Steve, and my thumb, on Solomon Bay beach.

I could show you many more, but these are my favorites.

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