An Update on the Beaches

soloman water

Soloman

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.

Soloman

Soloman

Honeymoon

Honeymoon

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.
hawksnest

hawksnest 2

hawksnest water

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.
denis trail

denis far end

denis toward rocks

denis near trail

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.
trunk entrance

new stairs at trunk

trunk shore

trunk brush

trunk water

trunk toward cays

trunk rental hut

trunk rental rates

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.

cinnamon fenced

cinnamon fenced beach

cinnamon building

cinnamon beach building shell

cinnamon water

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.

road at maho

maho pavillion side

maho advisory

maho water road

maho toward campground

maho parking lot

maho 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.

francis 2 francis 3

francis 1

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!

en

salt pond to right

salt pond

salt pond beach

salt pond water

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.
haulover road

haulover manchineel

haulover

haulover water

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. :)
donkey at ladies hansen

picnic table shade hansen

hansen beach

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.)
road at hansen bay

beach at hansen no trespassing

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?

24 comments for “An Update on the Beaches

  1. edward st.jean
    November 29, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Thank you for sharing the pictures of the beaches. I was wondering, has there been any news on the conditions of the reefs since the storms passed through? We have been to St. John 5 times and can’t wait to get back there someday down the road.

    Thanks, Ed (NH)

    • Gail
      November 30, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Thanks for posting the update on the beaches. Some look pretty good considering and others look like they’re really hurting. I looked at the imagery after Irma and I remember looking at Denis Bay. The house on the far end of the beach got hit pretty bad from the hurricane. So Sad.

  2. NancieM
    November 29, 2017 at 8:19 am

    I noticed the sign for the Machineel tree was still up. (Or perhaps someone put it back up?) Did the tree survive or are parts of it scattered all around the area? Either way, I hope the clean up crew, many of whom are not from the island, will be warned about it. Wondering if it’s still caustic even if it’s dead!

  3. November 29, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Jenn, correct me if I am wrong but the NPS cannot close a beach from the standpoint of not allowing anyone on it, correct? We can use any beach at our own risk was my understanding as ALL beaches on STJ are considered public beaches.
    Obviously a beach like Maho should probably be avoided, just from the bacteria count and debris alone.

    • News of St. John
      News of St. John
      November 29, 2017 at 8:33 am

      Yes, all beaches are public. But I do believe that they can close them due to safety issues which is what is occurring here. That being said, none of the beaches are roped off, nor are the parking areas. Rangers are not kicking people off of any beaches. They are pretty much asking people to use common sense.

  4. Carol
    November 29, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Thank you for the beach update. We having been coming to St. John annually for 22 years and are planning to return this spring. When we visit the beach we are focused on the beauty of the water and the enjoyment we get from snorkeling these gorgeous reefs. Yes the island is still healing but if the National Park deems the water safe and the parks ready for tourism we will be there gear in hand. The important thing is that the island is ready to handle visitors. We look forward to making the trip!

  5. Gary Douglas
    November 29, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Hi Jenn. Having read this post and following through all the links concerning Hansen Bay and it’s “ownership” situation along with reading all the related comments, I was very intrigued as to how the situation is currently with Mr. Ashtain?? We have been coming to the island for about 10 years now and never knew of this situation mainly because we mostly stick to the west side of the island, only occasionally going to Coral Bay for Skinny Legs. Has the ownership issue been settled in court? Or is that still an ongoing saga? Thank you again and again for all the updates on the current state of the island. I check News of St. John every single day for updates. Thank you Jenn and keep up the great work.

  6. Sue Moody
    November 29, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I too am very curious to know what the condition of the reefs are and how is the snorkeling now vs before the storms?

  7. Paula Hachmeister
    November 29, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Hi, Have you checked out Reef Bay beach? We alwasys rent a villa near there and I walk the beach every day collecting sea glass when we are there. I know that it is not used by a lot of tourists but it is a beautiful place. I wonder how the trail to get there is? Thank you Jen for letting us know what’s going on it means so much!

  8. Donna Broderick
    November 29, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Thank you Jenn. We will consider what we see in Feb2018 m-i-n-o-r compared to what St. John residents have experienced. Everything takes time to heal………..

  9. Elaine Selipsky
    November 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks so much for the update; we’ve visited St. John frequently with our whole family from Seattle and have been mourning since the hurricanes. Hope to come back one day, at least as a couple, though the tribe is dispersing!

  10. Tom
    November 29, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks Jenn for all your great updates!! We will be returning for our 12th visit to beautiful STJ in April. We are hopeful that even more beaches will be cleaned up by then, but it really doesn’t matter. Just love the island and all of it’s wonderful people!! We also hope that Wharfside is all open by then too. We are amazed by the progress that has already been made.

  11. Stacy
    November 29, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Great update, thanks Jenn! Have you been to Jumbie or Gibney, are they accessible? My two favorites!

  12. Rebecca
    November 29, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Did the archeological museum staff manage to get anything out of it before it was destroyed? That makes me so sad but also glad that I spent over an hour in there last time we went.

  13. Steven Berenson
    November 29, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Thank you so much for your updates. My wife and i have just spent several weeks on the island helping friends clean up.My suggestion would be to let the island breathe and let the recovery continue. Everyone is working hard to get it up and running. To have tourists from cruise boats and curiosity seekers running all over the island would only slow the process. If you are on a cruising sailboat or power boat, that would be a better way to view the island. There are only limited restaurants and stores and most of those are being frequented by companies rebuilding the islands infrastructure.

  14. Harvey Crosby
    November 29, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Anything on the Caneel beachs? I know the hotel is closed. Are the beaches accessible? Thanks so much for these updates.

  15. marc
    November 29, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    would be interested to know if the NPS is going to introduce any native species to the beaches or just let nature do her thing.

  16. Mike
    November 29, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks so much for your daily updates regarding the situation on St John. We read it every night and are amazed how much progress has been made since the two storms.
    We are planning on returning in March and can hardly wait to again visit your beautiful island.Thanks so much for keeping us all posted.

  17. Margy Taylor
    November 29, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Jenn, you rule! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of this information on our beautiful Saint John! We hope to meet you next year!

  18. Pamela
    November 29, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you for posting these pictures and updates. They were so good to see.

  19. Tara
    November 29, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Also curious about the Caneel beaches. I assume they can be accessed by boat even though the resort is closed. Would appreciate information on this. Thank you Jenn.

  20. Fred
    November 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Jen. Thank you so much for your frequent updates. We appreciate knowing how the island is recovering. It’s very upsetting to see how nature damaged this beautiful island. I hope nature will do it’s best to heal it quickly. We hope to return there soon.

  21. Jennifer
    December 1, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks, Jenn! Any word on Waterlemon??

  22. Matthew
    December 3, 2017 at 12:03 am

    This is more of a general comment, and with all due respect to everyone involved with the cleanup and repair as well as those directly effected by the detestation of both these storms.

    These pics look great compared to the immediate aftermath I’ve seen after the storm season concluded. It just shows people like me that there is truely hard work at play here. I look forward to more posts and pictures from this group. My fiancé and I have a honeymoon planned through the VI’s via a 10 day cruise next October and I’m interested in seeing just how much this region can recover. I’m hesitant to keep my trip (which would be my first, and I have been dying to visit for a long, long time) because I don’t know if I will be able to get the same expierence from the region given the fact that I would be visiting on a honeymoon which is a very unique and borderline once in a lifetime occasion.

    Any feedback anyone wishes to provide would be appreciated. I look forward to future readings!

    Cheers and good fortunes,

    Love, Boston

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