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!
I am heading out today to the beaches (which are open again!) and take some photos and see what might be happening on the island. I’m back at my computer so more posts are on their way with plenty of shots of the water! Wishing everyone a fantastic weekend!
Need a Beach Break? Let’s visit Oppenheimer Beach!
I know many people on the East Coast are dealing with the aftermath of strong storms the last day or two, so I thought I would offer a view of a much calmer and warmer place just waiting for your return!
One of my favorite beaches to visit when I stayed at Maho Bay Camp and also while I have lived here is Oppenheimer Beach. The sand here has eroded to almost nothing but the beach itself is still beautiful and lined with coconut palm trees. The water is the most incredible turquoise blue, especially in the summer when the angle of the sun shifts and the beach is not put into the shade as quickly as it is in the winter months.
My favorite memory of this beach was back in July of 2000 when Inner Visions, a local reggae band, was playing next to the house on Oppenheimer Beach, and food and drinks were for sale as a fundraising for a local organization. After a 10 minute downpour of liquid sunshine, as we call a sunny rain shower, we headed down to the water with our drinks and listened to reggae while dancing in the bay! It was my quintessential Caribbean beach day!
Often referred to as Gibney beach, Oppenheimer Beach is the same stretch of sand. Gibney is about 3/4th of the beach that is closer to Hawksnest Beach, while Oppeheimer is the the small beach on the opposite side with a small building and now a tire swing! Robert Oppenheimer, “the father of the Atomic Bomb” used to own this small piece of land, which was later inherited by his daughter. When his daughter died she donated it to “The Children of St. John”.
In light of the fact that the Government Shutdown has closed all public access to the beaches, bays and hiking trails of the National Park here on St. John, as well as stopped any personal or charter boats from mooring in the bays, I am inclined to want the new owners of the Maho land to make any donation to the VI Government or to St. John in some way. Locally we enforce public access to all beaches up to the high tide or tree line. When you consider the beaches and bays incorporated into the VI National Park, it is almost all of the beautiful North Shore beaches that visitors come her for and locals go to on their days off. The idea of arresting someone for going for a swim in the ocean is absurd and requires more manpower than is ever put forth when the government is not shutdown.
Some specifics of my above paragraph could probably be nitpicked for the more technically accurate information, but I am more interested in two ideas to consider:
Maybe there is an alternative way to donate land for public use on St. John than the VI National Park, since any mandate that our tax dollars go to keeping these areas open to the public seems to be in question. Really, who closes the Ocean?!
Living on the island already means you are working with limited resources – of income, food, entertainment, etc. Many are happy with that, of course, but when you close access to 65 or 75% of the entire island, it hurts everyone in one way or another – vacationers who saved all year to come visit our beaches, those who charter boats for snorkeling and sailing to the bays, locals needing to cool off in an afternoon swim in the hottest month of the year or looking for some exercise by going on a hike…
In memory of the much loved eco-resort Maho Bay Camp on St. John, US Virgin Islands.