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St John USVI: Need Recommendations for Beginning Snorkelers . . .

St John USVI: Need Recommendations for Beginning Snorkelers . . .

Dec 18th, 2012, 09:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,963
St John USVI: Need Recommendations for Beginning Snorkelers . . .

Ever since dh & I visited St John in 2003 we have been dreaming of returning with our children (who stayed w/grandparents during our first trip). The kids are now 10 & 12 and we have trip booked for this summer.

Both kids are good swimmers and pretty adventurous, but as we live in Ohio they haven't been snorkeling before. We definitely plan to get them started at Trunk Bay, and I like Brown Bay last time as well since it was very calm. What other beaches on St John would you recommend for beginning snorkelers?

We'd prefer spots closer to Coral Bay since our villa is on that side of the island.

snowrooster is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 09:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 481
Try Little Lameshur....and also the beach at Vies lunch shack.
Bassguy66 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 11:06 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
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If you can find gear, I'd recommend buying masks and purge-type snorkels before you leave so that you will get a good fit. An ill-fitting mask is a disaster.
xkenx is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2012, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Maho, calm with shallow entry. Try the rocks along the right side. Also Hawksnest has a large elkhorn coral forest in the center.
brenandg is offline  
Dec 27th, 2012, 09:53 AM
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Maho is probably the calmest and as mentioned shallow entry, but I've found it hit or miss with regards to visibility. Little Lamshur is nice and usually few people, but road to get there pretty rough. Good snorkeling to the left of the bay.

Not far from Coral Bay try Saltpond Bay. Popular and sometimes hard to park, but a short walk to good snorkeling especially on the right side. Our favorite is Waterlemon Bay and its Cay. After a practice day head there when it’s calm. Variety of fish/coral and lots of sea stars just off the Cay. Short scenic walk from parking area near Annaberg ruins.

100% agree with idea to buy mask and snorkels, rentals are often not the best quality/beat up and can ruin a trip. Fins on the other are tough to pack and easy to rent. There are a couple of decent shops in Cruz Bay you can purchase the mask and snorkel, but why waste valuable time on the island shopping when you can do it ahead of time.
DaveS is offline  
Dec 27th, 2012, 11:53 AM
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So many good beaches for snorkeling with easy entry. Maho is definitely calm but not much to see unless you go pretty far along the right hand side along following the coast. Waterlemon is best but a short hike in and a pretty serious swim out and around the island (go with the current...) Salt Pond is good, again a little hike down the road from the parking area. Little Lamesur is a favorite beach, but the snorkeling there...not as much to see. Surprisingly (or maybe not) Haulover which looks like a pebble beach with nothing much to see proves otherwise once your face is in the water. Haulover is considerably closer to Vie's (if she's open) for a nice conch fritter snack too.
tpatricco is offline  
Dec 27th, 2012, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,355
Snowrooster, I remember you! I can't wait for my little guy to be old enough to snorkel (he's two now)...but DH and I are hoping to make a return trip to STJ this coming Feb for our 10 year anniversary.
tpatricco is offline  
Jan 20th, 2013, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Curious, as to where you are staying? We very much want to stay on St. John. (Been to STT and didn't care for it but loved our day trip to St J.) Prefer condos or villas but can't find any on beach. Westin looks great as it is on a beach. Would rather not have 4 people in 1 room but their Villas are $800/night in low season. Thanks for advice. Want to be beachfront with a bit of space!
january89 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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January89 -
You won't really find much beachfront in St John. The Westin's beach is not one of the island's finest either. You could go to Caneel Bay - they are on lovely beaches - but I don't love the place (I'm in the minority though).

See, the thing with St John that makes it so special is the undeveloped feel of many of the beaches - indeed of the whole island. You have many beaches to explore - not just the one in front of your hotel.

Picture renting a luxurious villa, with your own pool or hot tub, and then taking a jeep to a different, wonderful beach everyday, and returning to the privacy of your own "clothing optional" deck later on. It's really fun, but not a great trip if you're bringing kids.
wliwl is offline  
Jan 26th, 2013, 11:35 AM
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Before our first beach trip, I had my kids take a 2 hr snorkeling class at a local scuba shop. It was inexpensive, fun and they were "pros" when we hit the beach.

I'd also be interested in a review of your villa when you return.
wtm003 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2013, 07:00 AM
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I was going to add my 2 cents, but see all the places I would recommend are listed here. We are heading to Coral Bay in early March for our 3rd visit - cant wait! It's been too long.....
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 07:35 AM
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A great place to snorkel with kids is Vie's / Hansen Bay ( East End). The beach is nice, convenient parking, food and some of the best shallow water snorkeling on the eastern side of St John.

Grassy center of bay is a good spot to see a turtle, rays and conch. Snorkel to your right (west) and there's some nice structure close to shore with plenty of fish and corals.

If you don't pack gear - a great place to buy equipment in Coral Bay is http://crabbyswatersports.com/ . Prices are good, selection is good. He's located next to Aqua Bistro.
onislandtimes is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Just came back from St John. Snorkeling wasn't great this time due to large swells. Maho was so murky you couldn't see your hands in front of you! Waterlemon the same.
Best day was at Haulover Bay on the Coral Bay side of island. It was a very rocky beach that you walked to on a short trail and the snorkeling was quite nice.
steviegene is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Inexperienced snorkelers should, IMO, avoid Haulover North, Waterlemon Cay and Yawzi Point (Lameshur). Depending on wind/weather/tides/current these locations can be challenging even for experienced snorkelers.

Best spots for beginners ... Maho, Hansen/Vie's, Caneel Bay.
onislandtimes is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 11:52 AM
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Thanks for all of the great suggestions!

January89 - Typically we like to be within walking distance to a beach when we travel, but St. John is different. It is fun to explore and go to different beaches, and the views from hillside villas are unbeatable. I've also heard the beach at the Westin is actually man-made, which is somewhat unappealing to me. We are renting a villa named Mayan Sky.

Great suggestion regarding a snorkel class at a local scuba shop prior to the trip - I will look into that.

I will also check out the link for crabbyswatersports. We are bringing gear but will need to rent it for the week.

snowrooster is offline  
Apr 6th, 2013, 08:52 AM
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While the swim out to Waterlemon Cay is a more advanced trek, the rocky shores of Leinster Bay are very easy snorkeling. If your kids are hikers, there is a trail from Coral Bay to Leinster, Johnny Horn Trail.
eastenderusvi is offline  
Apr 15th, 2013, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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Another nice & easy place, especially for kids, is Francis Bay. You can walk toward the right (as you look out to the water) as far as you can before getting in, and just keep to the shoreline. There is a nice little reef close to the shore, very shallow, but with lots of little fish, octopi, etc. to see.
Steamedcrab is offline  
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