MAHO BAY BEACH
Maho Bay beach is a favorite among Islanders and tourists. Not only does it boast beautiful white sand and the shade of towering coconut palms – but it’s convenience makes it the perfect St John beach for families and kids.
HOW TO GET TO MAHO BAY
From Cruz Bay – take Rte 20 ( North Shore Road) approximately 5 miles. There is a small parking area beach side or a larger parking area at the eastern end of the beach. On the western side – you’ll find restrooms, a covered pavilion with picnic tables and grills.
Maho Bay Beach
Voted a “Visitors Favorite Beach”, and it’s no surprise since Maho beach has it all. From its iconic coconut palm fringed white sand beach, light surf, shallow entry and ease of access – Maho deserves it’s fame. The narrow sandy beach has plenty of sun and shade. The sandy bottom extends out about 20 yards – making it a wonderful beach to wade, swim, float and hang out! And the shallow sandy shoreline is a great spot for kids and young children to play and make sand castles. But, popularity comes at a price …and the beach can get crowded especially at high season and on holidays! Upside: this beach has bathrooms!
Snorkeling Maho Bay
Snorkeling Maho Bay is our #1 recommendation for St John beach to see sea turtles and rays that feed in the sea grasses just off the beach. Snorkelers and bathers will find pelicans, young tarpon, rays and schools of bait fish that travel up and down the waters edge. Snorkelers looking for patch reefs, corals and colorful fish and marine creatures should follow the eastern or western shorelines.
The eastern shoreline runs out to the point separating Little Maho from Maho Bay Beach. You’ll be snorkeling in shallow water – between 3′ and 10′ deep. Along the way you’ll discover shallow water rocky outcroppings that are home to a wide variety of corals including gorgonians, purple sea fans, sponges, anemones, and hard corals like Mustard coral, brain corals, Elkhorn and fire coral. Fish – you’ll see many varieties of wrasse, damsel, tangs, parrot fish, angelfish and perhaps, unfortunately, even a Lionfish!
The western shoreline extends out about 400 yards to a point between Maho and Cinnamon Bay. The coral and fish become more plentiful the further you go from the beach. Along the way you’ll be snorkeling in shallow water that’s between 3′ and 12′ deep. The reef along this shoreline is sporadic. But the shallow water makes it easy for even novice snorkelers to enjoy seeing a wide variety of corals and fish. You’ll likely see schools of Atlantic Blue Tangs, several species of wrasse ( a slender colorful fish with a sharp nose), juvenile Grey and French Angelfish, several varieties of Damsel fish including the bi-colored Beau Gregory with its signature blue and yellow coloring. Corals are mostly Mustard corals, gorgonians, fire corals, several varieties of colorful sponges and small sea fans. It’s also a pretty good place to see a Nurse shark ( these slow moving sharks are NOT a threat – but should not be harassed or touched!). Like all of teh other sea life you’ll encounter – look, don’t touch! Many corals and fish are equipped with toxic stingers to defend themselves against predators. Your touch very well may be considered a threat that demands defensive action.
POINTS OF INTEREST
America Hill Great House Ruins – Look high up on the ridge to the west and you can see the ruins of this 19th century Caribbean great house. If you’re looking for a wonderful hike – it can be reached via the Cinnamon Bay Trail > America Hill Trail that starts on the eastern end of the Cinnamon Bay ruins across from the entrance to Cinnamon Bay Beach. The hike is relatively short and fairly steep – requiring hiking shoes. But the view from the America Hill Great House looking back down over Maho Bay / Francis Bay, Mary Point all the way to Tortola is well worth the time and energy.