Caribbean Christmas

 

Sunset from Maho Bay Camp in April 2013.

Sunset from Maho Bay Camp in April 2013.

I am spending the Christmas holiday at home with family this year, and it was just last year that I had a Caribbean Christmas.  This is typically the first week of the busy season that Maho Bay Camp was at full capacity, so this year means many people are onto new traditions or adventures. For guests coming down to stay for a short visit, part of the beauty was sitting out in an open air pavilion in summer clothes to eat meals and enjoy the sunset. I wanted to share a Maho Sunset for those missing it! These were taken from the Maho Store and near the Activities Desk (in April and therefore closer to Whistling Cay.)

I am curious what the regular (and occasional!) Christmas visitors to Maho are doing this year..?

view of sunset from the store at Maho Bay Camp in April 2013.

view of sunset from the store at Maho Bay Camp in April 2013.

Maho Bay’s Historical Coconut Palms

Maho Sunset with boat

The coconut palms lining North Shore Road as you pass by Big Maho Bay have always been my favorite.  And the closeness of the road to the beach and sea always tempts me to slow down to take in the view.  I recently finished reading a local history book, The Night of the Silent Drums,  by John L. Andersen, detailing the history of St. John and the slave rebellion that occurred here in the 1700’s.  In it I learned that the plantation at Big Maho Bay planted and harvested the coconut palms that you see there today!  My hope is the VI National Park will work on sharing the history of that area now that it is part of the park.  You can still literally walk through much of St. John’s history since development has been limited. It is not necessary to visit only the ruins to see the history of St. John. It can be seen everywhere once you learn about the island’s past. If you want to walk through the coconut palms, I recommend bring a hard had since the coconuts do not give warnings before falling from the trees!

The Night of the Silent Drums is out of print, so if you want to read it you have to find an old copy. Thankfully, locals and visitors have traded in old copies to the Coffeeshop / Used Bookstore called Papaya Cafe at the Marketplace. I don’t know if they ship or not, but the book run about $40 or so, many hardback editions.  You may also find a copy online. A great island read if you are visiting St. John!

Snorkeling Cinnamon Bay Cay

The beaches and snorkeling on St. John are fantastic! But I will admit to becoming a “beach and snorkel snob” since living here. While I don’t have a ‘favorite’ place for beach or snorkeling, I tend to eliminate some destinations automatically.  For instance, I often eliminate Jumbie as a beach to visit due to the shade and rough waves. It is not bad, but there are others I like better. Snorkeling is the same too. I snorkeled Cinnamon during vacations, and since living here found other reefs that I prefer. I have not returned to snorkel Cinnamon in years.

So I was long past due for a snorkel at Cinnamon and decided the calm seas and warm water of the summertime were the perfect time to swim around the entire cay off of Cinnamon Beach.  I wasn’t fighting against a current and was able to take my time looking, and since the water was calm, it was also very clear with no sediment kicked up!  The park beach was open but Cinnamon Bay services and campground were closed due to the government shutdown, so it was quiet and uncrowded, with everything green from the summer rains.

This visit was a good reminder that the snorkeling on St. John is good everywhere! It just depends on factors such as what you want to see, the type of beach you want to go to, and the weather and water conditions at the place you have chosen, which have a big impact on the quality of your snorkel!

I have come to prefer snorkeling here in the summer because we have just enough of a longer day to have more time for good visibility when snorkeling, and with the chill taken out of the water I will easily snorkel for one or two hours. The winter water usually chills me and chases me out much earlier.  Also the Parrotfish have got their summer pastel colors, which I love to see. It is like visiting another world!

P.S. If anyone knows the name of the coral in the 3rd image, please let me know!

beach path

beach shop

I am not sure what this coral is. I think Boulder Star Coral but if someone knows, I would love a confirmation or clarification!

I am not sure what this coral is. I think Boulder Star Coral but if someone knows, I would love a confirmation or clarification!

Colorful sponge and soft coral seen around the cay at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Colorful sponge and soft coral seen around the cay at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Flamingo tongue snail (a sea snail) leaves its trail on a sea fan in Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Flamingo tongue snail (a sea snail) leaves its trail on a sea fan in Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Love the color on these Christmas Tree Worms seen at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Love the color on these Christmas Tree Worms seen at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Blue tang, Grunt and Squirrel Fish gliding in the coral reef at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Blue tang, Grunt and Squirrel Fish gliding in the coral reef at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

A peach colored flamingo tongue snail perched on a sea fan in Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

A peach colored flamingo tongue snail perched on a sea fan in Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Finger coral with the polyps out during the daytime! Seen at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Finger coral with the polyps out during the daytime! Seen at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

School of Blue Tang, along with Bar Jack and Surgeon Fish, eating on the coral reef at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

School of Blue Tang, along with Bar Jack and Surgeon Fish, eating on the coral reef at Cinnamon Bay, St. John.

Large and healthy Brain Coral seen while snorkeling around Cinnamon Bay Cay this summer.

Large and healthy Brain Coral seen while snorkeling around Cinnamon Bay Cay this summer.

Cinnamon Bay Beach, St. John: The water feels as good as it looks!

Cinnamon Bay Beach, St. John: The water feels as good as it looks!

 

In memory of the much loved eco-resort Maho Bay Camp on St. John, US Virgin Islands.