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Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Boston, MA
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Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

I am taking my first trip to St. John in a few months and am wondering if anyone can tell me about the beaches. I know there are a lot of reefs and snorkeling in the area. Are there any beaches for people who just like to be "beach bums" or just wade/swim in the ocean? Are the beaches sandy or are shoes necessary for walking on them and in the ocean? I recently saw a post from someone who mentioned bees in the sand. Is walking barefoot a bad idea? If so, can anyone recommend a good brand of water/reef shoes?

Ohio
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1. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Hi there! Most or at least many of the beaches are perfect for beach bums! My hubby likes to spend a good part of his day just sitting with a book. He likes to pull his chair back into the shade, and had no problem at Trunk, Hawksnest, Cinnamon, Francis, Little Lameshur, Salt Pond, and Miss Vie's, to name just a few.

We don't wear reef shoes on St. John, just sandals. I would caution that if you're liming in the shade and want to walk to the water, to put your sandals on, if you're under sea grape trees. They get sharp little spiny things that you can step on and get little cuts. We never saw any bees, but I got some little punctures from the sea grapes.

Bonaire
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for Bonaire
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2. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Hello - I've never worn reef shoes in St. John. I don't find them necessary. The beaches are amazing and plentiful. You will enjoy every minute of your trip.

Regards.

Boston
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3. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Hello from your fellow Bostonian, the lady who got the bee sting back in December. We've been to STJ 6 times and counting and the bee incident was a first for me. Any kind of surf shoe works and is great for climbing rocks in some areas like from Maho Bay to Francis Bay if you like climbing little rock areas. I bought a cheap pair at KMart or some place years ago and still use them on my trips there.All the beaches are white sand but at least one remote beach, Haulover Bay on the NORTH side is all rock. You need to get the Fins and Feathers book (I forget the title but everyone swears by it) which will tell you where the snorkling is "best". You can snorkle anywhere you want but I think its best when there is coral nearby like at Waterlemon Cay, Francis Bay, Maho Bay, Haulover Bay North (the rock beach). Otherwise, you are just snorkling around beach grass which I personally think is boring.

These beaches are NOT Duxbury or like any place on the Cape. They are fairly narrow, no vehicles allowed, at all at the bottom of very steep hills (the whole island is one giant hill) and some require a good bit of walking to access. There are none with cottages or hotels except for the two giant hotels on the island I think.

Reefs? Where did you hear that? The coral communities extend from the shore, so you learn quickly to step from the sand to spots that won't hurt the coral and spread your body out as soon as you can to float above the coral. Its not like the great Barrier Reef in Australia at all. I never saw an off island coral reef but tons of coral communites from STJ and the small cays (islands) that are swimmable distance from the shoreline. You will SO love STJ!

Mt.Laurel,NJ
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823 posts
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4. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

I swear by my Salomon reef shoes.

They're light, comfortable,have a mesh webbing so they dry quickly, and are durable.

Them & flip flops are pretty much all I bring down with me as far as footwear.

Smiles-

MJ

54b
Dallas, TX
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5. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Only been to STJ a couple of times, but my rule of big toe is:

If it's less than 100 yards from the car to the beach, just wear flip-flops and when you reach the sand, go barefoot. This is pretty accurate for all of the North Shore beaches except Salomon, Honeymoon and Dennis (you've got to hike a little ways for those including some pretty decent inclines).

If it's more than 100 yards, go ahead and wear tennis shoes or good, hiking sandals with some ankle support (STJ is one "big hill" as someone mentioned above). Again, when you reach the sand though, lose the shoes.

The trick is getting the sand off your feet before putting your shoes back on to make the march back to the car. But it can be done with a little patience and practice...I like to use my sock to "slap off the sand."

Beaches like Cinnamon, Trunk, and Hawksnest are nice too because they typically have those small foot showers to get rid of the sand.

Last thing...it's my opinion is that the sand on the South and East shore beaches isn't as soft as the North Shore. If you do choose to keep your shoes, sandals, flip-flops, etc. on while walking on the beach, just walk closer to the water beneath the tide line...it's typically flatter and easier to walk on because your foot doesn't sink down as far in the sand.

Have fun.

St. John
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6. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

You don't need shoes on most of the beaches. There are also lots of beaches to just be a bum and float around in the sea. That is what I do most of the time! Also, the sand doesn't get hot like it does in other parts of the world. The sand is made mostly out of coral so it doesn't retain the heat from the sun like sand that is made up mostly of rock (like the sand around the Great Lakes).

St Thomas, VI
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7. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Since St John has a variety of beaches with varying terrains, I think you're much better off with a versatile shoe rather than just flip flops. Tevas or Keens are usually good, because they can take you anywhere - water, rocks, sand, etc. You don't have to worry about keeping your toes enclosed, but it's a good idea to wear something with thick soles to protect your feet should you go to a rocky, as opposed to sandy, beach. They'll also be good for hiking should you decide to do that. Flip flops and hills can be a dangerous combination!

Louisville
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8. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

I'll weigh in here on footwear, since when we went at the end of last summer, I obsessed a bit about this (ever the gearhead). I brought my trusty Oakley flip flops, but also went out and bought a pair of Merrell Waterpro Maipos, which are kind of like vented trail shoes that you can get completely wet. I thought, now I am all set for rock scrambling, trail hiking, etc. Only one problem--never wore 'em. Even hiking Lind Point Trail, Leinster Bay Trail, etc I wore my Oakleys, they were just fine. Now for the more serious Ram Head, Reef Bay Trail kind of stuff, flip flops might be a problem, but I just stuck with those. SO much easier to only have one pair of shoes to wear when you leave the villa for the day...plus I would have saved about $100, which is what the Merrells cost (though I do wear them around here in Kentucky).

Boston, MA
13 posts
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9. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Thank you all for the great responses! It sounds like we don't need to buy anything special for walking on the beaches, but what about going in the water on the beaches itself? One of the women traveling with us was concerned that the pictures she saw of the beaches looked like there were a lot of rocks and weren't really 'swimmable'. She had also seen some warnings about stepping on sea urchins, etc. Is this really a concern or is it just a case of needing to use common sense and keep an eye out for anything unusual, like we would at beaches back home? (She is an older woman and I would like to set her mind at ease as much as possible).

NH
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10. Re: Beaches & Water/Reef Shoes?

Just use common sense. She will have no problems swimming around on the North Shore beachs and she will be able to enter the water with out stepping on sea urchins. As a side note of how to release sand from your feet after a day at the beach. - I keep a small bottle of baby powder in the car then just spinkle it on - off comes the sand with no effort. You will have great trip