Sunday, August 09, 2009

Honeymoon Chapter 3: Beaches

"Isn't there meant to be a beach around here somewhere?"

The Island of St John has more beaches, bays and coves that I care to count. With such a wide range to choose from we felt duty-bound to sample as many beaches as we could. Thus we dedicated the majority of our vacation time to simple sitting on the white sands and swimming in the clear waters.

I'll try to cover the locations we visited in more-or-less chronological order. Be sure to check out my flickr photostream for photos tagged "beaches".

On our first day we headed out to our nearest beach on the South-East shore of St John. Salt Pond Bay involved a short hike down from the parking area. Even early in the morning the sun beats down hot and relentless. I was desperate to finally get to the ocean.
"Isn't there meant to be a beach around here somewhere?" I grumbled. At that exact moment we rounded a corner to find the most pristine cove you can imagine! We both gasped in amazement of the sheer beauty we were faced with. I was definitely worth the hike.

The Bay is so name because there is a shallow pond there separated by a thin spit of land. Obviously it's proximity to the sea means the pond is very salty, and is a unique habitat within the confines of he Virgin Islands National Park. There was a flock of Least Terns nesting on the shore of the pond.

Our favorite beach of the trip was probably Maho Bay. It's the last beach you get to on the North Shore Road from Cruz Bay. The road runs right next to the beach so you literally step out of the jeep and you're there! Despite it's convenience it was never crowded.

We only visited one other beach on the North Shore, which was Cinnamon Bay. These beaches are basically full of all the tourists who ride taxis out from Cruz Bay. For some reason it was too hot, too windy and we lasted about 15 minutes before going back to Maho!

On Thursday we rode out to the East End and stopped at Haulover Bay. This was a rocky beach, so boasted some of the best snorkeling of the trip.

Friday saw us visiting Lameshur Bay. As soon as we got there it started raining, so we retreated to the VIERS site to visit the exhibition about the Tektite project that took place right in Lameshur Bay. By the time we came out the weather had cleared up. We were relaxing on the beach when a large shadowy object appeared under the waves. It was a nurse shark swimming right in the shallow water! I followed it as it swam the length of the beach. There was a rocky outcrop at the East end of the beach so I climb up on the rocks about ten feet above the water. I was looking down into a deeper pool below the rocks as the shark glided in and I got a great view of it lazily swimming around in the crystal clear water.

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