Month Visited: January
We are a family that enjoys being active and spending time outside, but we also enjoy comfort and luxury at times as well. We look for adventure and activities that are exciting, and we are willing to sacrifice comfort to go off the beaten path and experience out of the way places that are not part of the usual tourist experience. We try to balance educational activities with fun attractions that everyone enjoys and leisure stops where we can all relax. Our children at the time of this itinerary: 6 children-Girl age 15 years, Girl age 15 years, Boy age 15 years, Girl age 10 years, Boy age 7 years, Girl age 3 years.
Description: Leinster Bay Trail leads to Leinester Bay and another St. John beach, and it is a popular spot for visitors in the US Virgin Islands. Part of the trail follows along the shore while it cuts back into wooded areas in other spots. It is possible to see deer and other animals in the wooded spots, and the beach can be rocky in areas along the shore.
Our Experiences: This trail of about .8 miles can be picked up by walking just a minute or so outside the parking lot of the the Annaberg historical site. The adults and younger kids liked this trail a lot, it was almost all shaded and flat and it had nice views of the coast. The older teens did not think it was a bad trail, but compared to other hikes they have been on with more elevation, more challenge, and higher views they thought it was a bit boring. Parents rated it a 4, teens rated it a 2, so the overall score is a 3. It was about a 25 minute leisurely walk to the beach at Leinster Bay.
Description: Leinster Bay includes both Mary Bay and Waterlemon Bay, and it is known for excellent snorkeling opportunities a majority of the time. This St. John beach offers clear turquoise water which is normally calm and tranquil, making Leinster Bay a good place to stop for many people. The amenities are limited to the very basics, which includes pit toilets and a receptacle for trash. Tropical fish, coral, eels, and even octopus can be found in the waters here. Visitors should be aware that there is a current that can be quite strong offshore of Waterlemon Bay.
Our Experiences: We did not like this St John beach at all. It was uncrowded as we had expected but there was not much sand and it was not white. This was not a place that felt relaxing to stay at, and none of the kids liked this beach. This bay is known for great snorkeling but we just were not lucky with the snorkeling today. Our 10 and one of our 15 year olds swam with us to Waterlemon Cay, a small island offshore that takes about 7-12 minutes to swim to. We did see some nice coral there, much nicer than we had seen at other beaches. There was a small area that gave us an idea of how beautiful the coral must have been here in the past. We did see some nice fish but not many. Others who were there said they saw sea turtles and barracuda and sting ray, but we did not see any of these creatures while we were here.
Description: Francis Bay is a nice bay area with an expanse of calm waters and a large white sand beach. This is one of the top spots for a picnic, snorkeling and swimming, or a few hours spent on a St. John beach that is not crowded. There is a swampy area that lays behind the beach where birds can be spotted in large numbers, and the snorkeling in the bay is supposed to be excellent. There are many tropical fish species, a variety of coral, eels, and sometimes even sea turtles that can be found in Francis Bay.
Our Experiences: A short drive away from Leinster Bay is Francis Bay. We would have hiked about a quarter of a mile to the beach but the kids were a little tired from the other hike and snorkel. Instead we took the .2 mile road which was very bumpy, unpaved, and full of pot holes. This road leads directly to the beach, which was beautiful. Not many people, very nice sand, and great views. We saw large schools of really small fish and a few other fish here or there, but there was not much going on for snorkelers. We loved this beach.
Description: Jumbie Beach is a small St John beach that is quite private yet it can be easily reached. The name of this beach comes from the African word djambe, and this refers to an evil spirit. The beach area is extremely secluded and it can not be seen by passing cars or boats, and it is usually not crowded. This St. John beach has no facilities at all, just a trash receptacle for garbage.
Our Experiences: We had heard great things about this beach, and we decided that while we had enough beach for the day we would stop here on the way to Cruz Bay. We took a nice brief trail from the road to get to the beach. It is a nice beach but we thought it was rather small, and there was not enough sand. We preferred Trunk bay just to the east, and Cinnamon Bay a which is a little further east still.
We rented a car (actually 2 cars) for this trip on St. Thomas from Discount Car Rental. We found them to be pleasant to deal with, and their rates were competitive. We chose to rent on St. Thomas, because it was more economical to rent on St. Thomas than St. John (based on prices we were quoted at the time), and if we had to take cabs from the airport in St. Thomas to the ferry or car barge, that also would have cost more money. So all around it made sense for us to rent on St. Thomas. and we were pleased with our choice of Discount Car Rental. I would definitely recommend calling them for a quote. At the time we traveled, they advised us that they do service the cars that go to St. John (not all St. Thomas rental companies do that). Confirm this with anyone that you rent with.