Hello everyone and happy Wednesday!! We have been getting a ton of emails and inbox messages over on our Facebook page asking us about tourism and when you all should come back. I have spoken to a lot of people about this, and all have varying opinions. Some people say it’s ok to come today while others say wait a month, two months, etc. The one thing everyone does agree on, however, is that the people who choose to visit our island (or who are in the process of deciding whether they should visit) should do so knowing as much as about the island’s current state – the status of power, the roads, the beaches, the restaurants, etc.
So over the next several days, we plan to update you on as many topics relating to the current state of the island as we can. That way you can make your own informed decision. (I will let you all know my thoughts soon.) Today we’re going to start with the beaches…
As you know, St. John was hit by two category five hurricanes within a two-week timeframe back in September. That caused a considerable amount of damage to the island, including our beaches. The National Park Service subsequently announced that the Virgin Islands National Park – which makes up two-thirds of the island – was officially closed.
Fortunately since then, park rangers from across the country have descended on St. John and have been working tirelessly alongside the VI National Park rangers in an effort to clean up the beaches and make them safe for guests. As of today. Honeymoon, Hawksnest and Trunk Bay have all been reopened and deemed safe. Yahoo!
The majority of the island’s popular, picturesque beaches are within the National Park boundaries, so technically that means they are closed. The park rangers, however, are being very lenient and are allowing us to use most of these beaches at our own risk.
Here is a quick rundown on what’s happening at some of your favorite beaches. And please know that we did not alter any of the colors in the images use, nor do we ever. The colors are that beautiful here. (All pics taken with my iPhone)
Soloman and Honeymoon: We provided an update on these two beaches earlier this month. Please click here to read that story and to see lots of pictures.
Hawksnest: This is one of the beaches that is officially open, and it looks amazing! The beach appears to be wider than before the storms, and the drop-off is more gradual than it was before. This is a great beach to visit.
Denis: This beach is officially closed, but it looks great . The path to it, which is off to the right when hiking up toward Peace Hill, has been cleared thanks to some hard-working St. John residents. The beach is also wider than before and appears to have less rocks. Some of the trees are damaged, although the damage does not look too severe. There is a private home at the far end of the beach, so please do not mistakenly go on her property.
Trunk: Trunk Bay is also officially open – great news!! But we have mixed feelings on this beach. The positives – it is very apparent that a ton of work has been done here in order to reopen it, so a huge thank you to the park rangers for that. The facilities are currently closed with the exception of the rental hut, which is open. That’s great. There is no charge to get into Trunk Bay – also great.
If you are looking toward the water, Trunk looks mesmerizing. If you turn around, however, there is still more healing that needs to happen. Portions of the roofs at the two pavilions near the beach are still missing and need to be repaired. You can now see the damaged homes in Upper Peter Bay from the beach, which is strange to see.
So again, if you are looking toward the water, Trunk looks great. The beautiful white sand beach looks beautiful. The interior where the buildings are look great. I am so very thankful for all of the work that has happened here. It was certainly no easy task. Just again, the shoreline itself needs some more time to heal in my opinion.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon sustained a considerable amount of damage during Irma, and it remains closed. The campground is closed for the 2017-2018 season. As of Monday, no work has been done within the campground area. Orange fencing lines the sidewalk area from the parking lot down to the beach. (We’ve reached out to them for information on the campground’s future and are waiting to hear back.)
And while Cinnamon remains technically closed, the park rangers have been gracious in allowing people to use the beach at their own risk.
Maho: The condition of Maho breaks my heart. It will be a long time before this area is restored unfortunately. Not only is Maho currently closed, it has also been deemed unsafe due to a large amount of debris and a high bacteria count. Signs advising people against using Maho have recently been posted at both ends of the beach.
The pavilions and bathrooms at the western end of the beach are destroyed. Sections of the roadway buckled during Irma and have yet to be repaired. Runoff from the hillside continues to stream over the roadway on the eastern end of the beach, spilling out onto the beach.
On the bright side, it still looks beautiful when gazing out to the water.
Francis: The road to Francis is cleared, although there is not much parking at the end near the beach due to storms. The beach itself looks beautiful. The shoreline is a different story. There are still a considerable amount of downed and dead trees. There is little to no shade here, so please bring an umbrella or shade cover. Francis is technically closed.
Salt Pond: The path to Salt Pond has been cleared. The entire trail to Ram Head has been cleared as well. The beach itself looks pretty good, although there is visible damage to the trees. That means that there is very little shade. The water, however, still looks great!
Haulover: I have to admit, I miss the days of bringing my island tour guests over to Haulover to visit Captain Pete and Angel’s Rest. Haulover south looks good. It has always been a rockier beach and it remains a rockier beach. There is some household debris on the roadway, but it still has a decent amount of parking. This beach is within the National Park, so it too is technically closed.
Hansen Bay (parcel owned by Thalia and Dunia): I was greeted by several donkeys when I visited Hansen Monday afternoon! Thalia and Dunia have done a great job of cleaning up their beach. There are portable restrooms on site, as well as lots of chairs and a shade tent. The beach itself looked great as always!
Thalia and Dunia requested a $2.50 donation per person prior to the storms (to park on their land). They were not at the beach Monday when I stopped by, so I am not certain the status of donations. If you do plan to visit here, I would suggest leaving a donation to thank them regardless.
Hansen Bay (parcel owned by Mr. Ashtain): There is still a good amount of sand and rock on the roadway across from this section of Hansen Bay, however this area still looks as beautiful as ever.
(For those of you who are longtime News of St. John readers, you may recall that there was a bit of controversy surrounding this parcel of land. Click here to read all about it.)
So there you have it folks. I know we weren’t able to update you on every single beach, but we felt this is a good start. Now I’m curious, what are your thoughts on the beaches?