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One Day, Two Beaches...

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Boston...
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One Day, Two Beaches...

I'm staying at St Thomas and will go over to St John via car barge tomorrow. My plan is to hit two beaches...with the focus being fantastic snorkeling. I've done my research, but there are just so many great beaches for snorkeling. I've decided one of them to be Watermelon Cay, but have trouble deciding on the other (Brown, Francis, Solomon, Hawksnest, Leinster, Salt Pond...etc). Notice I didn't consider Maho and Trunk because I expect them to be too crowded and probably too much for beginners (but I could be pursuaded :). I seriously considered Brown (don't mind the hike), but read that some considered it not worth the trip and also it is a drop off for illegals. Also considered Francis Bay because of the Mantas...but I know that was probably a fluke thing. What should my other beach be???

Also, what are the differences between north shore beaches and south shore beaches? Water temp? Waves and winds?

Appreciate any advice!

Waitsfield, Vermont
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1. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

I'm guessing that you realize that Waterlemon (not Watermelon) is a walk of nearly 1 mile each way. Very easy walk, but you'll want to consider the time. Because of that, I'd pick a second beach that might have closer access, so that you don't have to carry your things (snorkel equipment, cooler, backpack, etc.) too far.

My first thought was Maho or Francis. Both are really calm and beautiful and they're very easy to get to and get into. Maho is probably the easiest water to snorkel in; the best for beginners. But, I'm not sure that you'll see the most. It's often a good place to spot turtles though.

Of your list of remaining beaches, Salt Pond offers good snorkeling, but you have to roam a good ways away from the beach, so you'd want to be fairly confident swimmers/snorkelers.

Re: North Shore vs. South Shore. The north shore beaches are the quintessential post card perfect beaches. If this is your only day on STJ, then you may very well want one of your beaches to be a north shore beach. But, if there are any swells on this day, the north shore beaches will have waves, and therefore won't be that great for snorkeling.

Upon re-reading my response, I'm worried that I haven't helped you at all. Not to worry, just drive the North Shore road, and stop at any of the beaches. You really can't go wrong.

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2. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

We just got back from STJ yesterday. Jealous you are there! Highly agree with your choice of Waterlemon (not Watermelon). There is nice snorkeling in the rocks between Solomon and Honeymoon, if going to these go early morning, we got invaded by 3 snorkel charter boats around 10:30 that took the number of snorkelers instantly from 7 to 100+. We also enjoyed Salt Pond if you want to hit the Coral Bay side. Have fun!

Boston...
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3. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

Thank you both for your input! I actually had a conversation about WaterLEMON vs Watermelon with my wife right before I posted...I can't believe I ended up typing Watermelon like a dummy! Yes, I meant Waterlemon. I'm leaning towards Salt Pond now as my second beach. gottaDance, what do you mean by "a good ways away" from the beach?

kod
cherry hill
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4. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

Trunk has great snorkeling esp around the island. There is a lot of fish and coral. But I go at after 3 PM so I have never encountered crowds. Brown is not that good and takes time hiking to get there. There is a lot of seagrass. Waterlemon is nice and I also like Leimeister Bay which is in a little clearing as you hike the mile to Waterlemon. I was in St John this time last year and it was calm everywhere. Maho is great to hang out and swim but the snorkeling is not as good. Francis is better esp if you walk all the way to the right and then snorkel along the rocks.

Miami Beach, Florida
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5. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

I'd say Francis would be good for a second beach. It's close to Waterlemon and quick to get to the beach. Salt Pond is a hike once you park and I think after the hike to Waterlemon, easy beach access may be key for fitting in a second beach. I've had some great snorkels there in years past and it's gotten some great press lately. Plus, it gives you that postcard view.

Ohio
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6. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

My vote will be for Francis. Good snorkel on the right to Mary's Point. Watch for current (soft corals bent over) as it can be more of an effort to return against the current. Bonus points if you get to see the Manta Ray :)

Virginia
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7. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

Hawk's Nest, just past Caneel and no hike so if it doesn't hold your interest you can pack up and still hit Waterlemon and even add one of the others suggested. After the hike and a long swim from the beach at Waterlemon I've usually about had enough so I stop at Trunk or Cinnamon for another snorkel or swim and take a fresh water shower and get into fresh clothes before heading back to town for dinner. Trunk has the nicer showers but they close those at 4, Cinnamon's remain open.

Boston...
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8. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

On my way out to catch the 9am barge! Thanks for all the advice...decided on Salt Pond, but might just do Francis instead based on overwhelming reviews...play it by ear :)

US
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9. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

I really enjoyed the turtles at Maho Bay. I saw one of the manta rays in the late afternoon there. I also saw a small reef shark near the rocks.

Long Valley, New...
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10. Re: One Day, Two Beaches...

Steve, hope you have a great day snorkeling on St John..... jealous for sure! You have made great choices for beaches and can't go wrong with Waterlemon, Francis and Salt Pond - probably our 3 favorite spots (in addition to Gallows Point/Frank Bay). Francis bay towards Mary Point is fantastic (go as far as you can or as currents will allow) - we saw tons conch, some turtles, an octopus, rays, a nurse shark, and great fish and coral this past December. Also did some great snorkeling at Salt Pond Bay. First headed out towards the right and it was good snorkeling. After lunch headed straight out towards the middle of the bay. From the beach, looking straight out all the way to small rocks jutting out of the water way out where it seems too far to swim - that is where you need to go to see incredible coral and lots of fish (I am bad with distance, but probably the same as swimming from the beach on Leinster Bay out and around Waterlemon Cay). Have a blast and let us know where you ended up and what you saw.