The Virgin Islands Are Back Open
Updated: Jun 13, 2020
On June 1st, the U.S. Virgin Islands opened back up. Unfortunately, the British Virgin Islands will not open till September or October, and the Spanish Virgin Islands have not set a date, at this time. Don't let that deter you from booking your Sailing Vacation. There hasn't been a better time to visit, the planes are cleaner than they have ever been. St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix are still beautiful, and you can almost have them to yourself. Sailing the Islands is the original quarantine. Here is our 7 Day Itinerary. We always have the best intentions of making it to the Northshore of St. Thomas to see Megan's Bay, but believe it or not, it usually takes us seven days to make it around St. John, maybe next trip.
First head out south of Charlotte Amalie and make your first stop at Buck Island. Pick up a mooring ball, and snorkel the South side of the Island. There are Blue Tangs, Sting Rays, Turtles, Parrot Fish, Trunk Fish, and some Barracuda's.
Next, head out North East toward Little St. James Island. If you're lucky, pick up a public mooring ball, or anchor. The Bay here is called Christmas Cove, and is home to the Famous Pizza Pie VI. They have a boat that they made into a pizza kitchen, and they sell NY style pizza's. There is also good snorkeling over the reef, that splits the 2 bays. You can decide to spend the night here, or make the 30 minute run up to St. John.
The first stop into St. John is Cruz Bay. Cruz Bay is not conducive to bring sailboats into the bay, but there is a mooring field right outside, that has beautiful beaches. The first beach is Honeymoon Beach, it has a small stretch of sand, and is post card worthy. There is a small beach hut, Bikini's on the Beach. They serve Flat Breads, Mahi-Mahi Sandwiches, Burgers, and Hot Dogs, and your typical beach cocktails. There is only 2 ways to get to the beach, boat or hike. If you're the adventurous type, the hike has some beautiful views over Lind Point, and takes you into Cruz Bay. Honeymoon is only a 5 minute dinghy ride into Cruz Bay. The 2nd beach is Caneel Bay, this is the Famous Resort. The company has been in negotiations with the Virgin Islands to extend their lease, since the Irma/ Maria Hurricanes, and they have been at an impasse. The resort looks as it did after the Hurricanes, but the beaches are 2nd to none.
Cruz Bay has many restaurants and shops, and we find we spend 2-3 days just at this stop. Our favorite restaurants are Longboard, Lime Inn, and the Terrace, but there are so many we haven't tried, up next Morgan's Mango and Lovango Rum Bar. There is multiple shops at the dinghy dock, and a short walk to Mongoose Junction.
The next decision to be made is which of the North Shore beaches you're going to hit next, or all 3. Of course during the summer months, you don't have to worry about the North Swells, so these bays are not as rocky as the winter months. The first is Hawksnest Beach. There are 6 mooring balls in this bay, and is easily reached from Caneel Bay by Dinghy, if you don't feel like moving the boat. There is some good snorkeling on the reef, with some large Elk Horn, Brain Coral, and Sea Fans, that are coming back beautifully since the Storms.
The next stop is Trunk Bay, 1 of the most photogenic beaches on St. John. There is 3-4 mooring balls near Trunk Cay, this is a good day stop on your way to Maho/ Francis Bay. You can land the dinghy on the beach on a good day, but my best advice is tie up to the dinghy moorings, and swim in. There is a snorkel trail that goes on both sides of Trunk Cay, and has plaques on the bottom of the ocean directing your attention to certain corals and fish.
The last stop is Cinnamon Bay, made famous in a Kenny Chesney song. There is 7-8 mooring balls tucked in on the closest side of Cinnamon Cay, and this beach can be reached by dinghy from Maho, as well. There are beautiful homes that are perched on the hill for a beautiful back drop.
We like to overnight in Maho Bay, it is very quiet, with plenty of mooring balls. I try to take the mooring ball closest to the swim area, and all the way to the right, closest to Maho Crossroads. Phone service on this side of St. John is come and go. You are very close to the BVI, and cellular service may connect to their cell towers, which can charge you for International Rates. Either add the $10/ per day international calling to your Cell Service, if you need service, or turn your phone off, you're on vacation. Plus, if you manage to get my favorite mooring ball, you can use the Paddle In Tiki Bar's WIFI for free. They have cocktails and food on the beach, and are allowed to have music again, check their website for artist.
All of St. John is full of Turtle's, but Maho is your best chance to get up close with them. They eat the seagrass in the shallows, and are only 8-10' deep. There is also Spotted Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, and 2 cute Lemon Sharks, that patrol the shore line, don't worry, they won't mess with you.
The next day head out the Fungi Passage to WaterLemon Cay. There is snorkeling around the cay, and the last time we were in this bay, there was a momma and baby dolphin fishing. There are 2 old sugar mill ruins, that are a short hike, Anneburg Plantation Ruins and the Windy Hill Ruins.
From WaterLemon it is a 7 mile sail into Coral Bay for the night. You can anchor in Round Bay around Pelican Rock. Inside Coral Bay is the new home of the Lime Out Taco Stand, it is a short dinghy ride from the mooring balls of Hurricane Hole or Round Bay. Lime Out is a floating taco stand, with some of the best drinks and tacos. They have built -in the water bar stools or floats to sit at while you wait. This place is not to be missed, their tacos are some of the best, it's not just the idea of being on the water, they are that good.
If you can pull yourself away from Lime Out's drinks, the South Shore of St. John is calling. The first bay from Coral Bay, as you round Ram's Head, is Salt Pond. There is approx. 8 mooring balls inside, from what I've read is great, honestly, I always run out of time from spending too much time on the North Shore, but it is your first bay. If you still have time in the day, you can make it to Great Lameshur Bay and Little Lameshur. Great Lameshur has about 12 mooring balls and Little has about 4. The last time we were in Little Lameshur my girls snorkeled and found 17 sand dollars, and assorted shells. You can take the Reef Bay Trail to the petroglyphs carvings that date back to 900 A.D. The South Shore of St. John is very quiet and allows views of the stars at night.
Depending on how much time you have left, you can head back to Honeymoon Beach for a last night before you head back to CYOA, or if you still have time, you can make your way for the North Shore of St. Thomas, and see Magen's Bay. Let us know how it is, I promise we will make it up there next time. Hope to see you all out there.