St Thomas 2020
Day 10: Tuesday, July 28
A trip to St John.... Beaches & Snorkeling...
So this is our last week here and time is wasting. There had been rain off and on most days with intermittent sun here and there. The wind had been increasing and so had the waves. We were running out of time to do all the beaches that I wanted to do and at this point I needed to prioritize where I wanted to go. This trip had not turned out the way I wanted it to or expected it to. Trying to fit in parasailing so many days with it being cancelled because of the wind and weather hindered any plans we "could" have had to hit up some of the many beaches I had planned on going to. Also, there was a storm coming. A TROPICAL STORM! One that they weren't sure if it would turn into a hurricane or not at this point. Oh the excitement! It was calling for rain for the next 3 days after today and that was going to leave us stuck in the condo and not being able to visit all the places I had planned. I wanted to go to Magens Bay, St John, Water Island for sure. Then I also had several beaches in St Thomas still on my list: Morningstar, Hull Bay, Coki Beach. Then several "look out" locations that included: Drake's Seat, Mountain Top, and Paradise Point.
So here it is Tuesday and I needed to figure out what was most important. It was time for eliminations to begin:
*I found out that Paradise Point was actually closed (although I believe you can still drive up there?). So we eliminated that.
*Coki was still high on my priority list but since we've already been there twice in the past, I eliminated that beach...while in tears because I honestly think it's the best snorkeling in St Thomas.
*Hull Bay, I eliminated because I knew it wasn't really a swimming beach, but it was a good snorkeling beach...but the waves could be really bad and with this weather and a Tropical Storm coming, I figured it would be even worse plus I believe there's a walk involved in getting there? Eliminated.
*Morningstar: I had looked at pictures of it and it looked beautiful there, but I don't really recall a lot of people saying "Hey, you just got to go to Morningstar" on the boards. So, I figured I'd eliminate that as well.
So that left me with Magens (which would include Drakes Seat and Mountain Top), St John (I had a full list of beaches there as well) and Water Island.
All this planning made me hungry and I also knew that we needed to cook up all this food we bought. This would be my really weird combo for breakfast this morning. Cinnamon rolls and sausage. I mean who would pass that up?
Once my belly was full, I could think better. ST JOHN IT IS!! Now that IS a place that everyone talks about. I know people dock at St Thomas and catch the ferry over to St John during a port day and they say it's the best snorkeling over there ever. So...I KNEW I HAD to go there! It was a do not miss.
I looked at the ferry schedule to and from St Thomas and back.
I asked Kendra about booking and of course she doesn't do well with schedules and she suggested that we just get ready and drive there and see if we can just get on without actually scheduling. I knew there were at least 2 different barges that went over. I only knew the name of The Big Red Barge. What I didn't realize is that they have different schedules and I wouldn't figure that out until the end of the day. I did know that if you bought a round trip ticket, you would save $$. But, you would be limited to only getting on that barge only and their time schedules.
We all took off and headed to Red Hook (only a few minutes down the road) and stopped at the gate to check in. They said we had time to get on the ferry that was about to leave. It was 9:51am and the barge was to leave at 10:00am. Yikes! We decided that we would just pay the fee for there and back and it was $50, so you save $20 by doing this (normally $35 each way)
It showed the times of the ferry and the very last time was marked off. Darnit. What the heck.
They showed me where I was going on park and the barge was completely loaded at this point. There was a huge blue barrel in the way that they had to move out. Now I'm not very good at backing in small places or parallel parking if there's a lot in the way and I'm panicing at this point.
We managed to squeeze in and they closed the gates. We took off almost as soon as we got on. There was no room for anyone else on there.
I have to say, it's not like any barge I've been on in the past. You couldn't see ANYTHING other than the wall around us and the other cars. Not much for a scenic ride.
Kendra with her pouty lips because they are burned and blistering at this point.
The ride was a lot longer than I had envisioned. We arrived at 10:43am. So, almost 45 minutes!
MapsMe was turned on and off we went. As we were coming out of the little town we headed...into the hills. More hills darnit. I guess I didn't realize it would be hilly like we had experienced the other day during our adventure. We were passing several beaches and some really pretty look out places. We did snap a few pictures and pulled over once for pics but we just kept going. I decided that we would just head to the furthest beach and work our way back. That way we could skip some beaches if we were running late on time.
The beaches I had listed on my maps were Honeymoon, Little Hawknest, Trunk, Cinnamon, and Maho.
So that meant we were headed to Maho Bay Beach, which was first on my list. Now these hills getting to Maho...I no likely them either. There was a few times that the turn was so sharp and steep that the tires on the van were squealing and spinning. I could just never live on these islands. I don't like the hills and especially with me driving! Kendra and Billy were laughing at me of course because they love this type of stuff. They have 4 wheelers, a side by side and a race side by side and they go mudding just about every weekend and the hills there are crazy steep. Only thing they were missing was the mud. Now don't get me wrong, I used to do 4 wheeling back in my younger years but after this leg brake, I'm very conscious about everything I do that could potentially turn into something bad or an injury. I was NOT having fun. I couldn't wait to get there. I almost said "you know what, I think I read somewhere that Cinnamon Beach is better so let's just go there instead". But we kept going.
Once we arrived, there was next to NO parking anywhere. People were parked on the side of the street and all up and down the street. We came to an area that was a parking lot for this beach and I kid you not it felt like there were maybe 20 parking spots for this HUGE beach and everyone was there that day! The parking lot was an L shape and every spot was taken. Then came the task of trying to turn around. Add a car in front of me trying to do the same thing and cars coming in behind me and it made for an interesting adventure in itself. People were parking in the grass, by the dumpster on a hill and I decided to stay in the parking lot right on the corner of the "L". I figured it gave people enough room to go around me and I wasn't parking a mile away and trying to walk. I threw up my handicapped placard (although I have no idea if it's even valid in other states or on the islands, but just because I'm not within my own state doesn't make me not handicapped when I'm traveling right?).
We grabbed our beach bags and chairs and crossed the street onto the beach. The only shade you could find was pretty much taken up so we walked down the beach in search of anything at all. I figured me and the kids would be in the water so the only shade needed would probably end up being for Kendra and Billy and possibly the hubs.
We did end up finding a spot almost to the end, which was fine with me because that's where some of the snorkeling was at. The beach was really long, so I knew there's no way I would be walking to the other side to explore it.
We sat here
Well you know me, I immediately put my things down and said I was headed out. I told Kendra I was going to snorkel along the side and see what this place had to offer and I wasn't going long because I wanted to move on to the next beach so we weren't going to be spending a whole lot of time at each beach. I ask if she wanted to come and she gave me that "look" and said no snorkel is going in her blistered mouth. Hey, I thought I'd at least ask. Then off I went.
This would be the area I snorkeled in:
And you can see how long the beach is and how far away it would be to get to the other side:
So what did I see along the way? A lot of Damsel fish, 4 eyed butterfly fish, a lot of blue tangs/surgeon fish, some coral, Christmas Tree worms, some rather large Bar Jacks, parrot fish, yellow tail snappers, and several little surprises that made my day.
At some point the hubs caught up to me (I didn't even realize he was going to snorkel with me) and we continued along the rocks on the way back.
Then something small caught my eye. I watched for a moment and then realized just what it was...A watchman Goby and his shrimp. I have only seen this one other time when snorkeling (or it might have been during a dive) and they are so neat to watch. I have, however, seen them plenty of times in reef tanks or at the aquarium store.
The relationship between these two odd couples are neat. The shrimp is blind and somehow the Goby pairs up with it. The Goby watches over while the shrimp digs the hole for them to stay safe in and the Goby will feed the shrimp and they both eat and stay safe from predators. A win-win situation. We had a Goby in our tank and he was so fun to watch and they have a funny personality.
We didn't move much further before I spotted something slithering in the water...it was huge and green. It was a green moray eel. I squealed with excitement and I'm sure anyone that had their head above the water must have heard me. I grabbed my hubby's leg and pulled him back and pointed. It was slithering between the rocks and went under another rock and stayed there for a moment until we stopped moving around. Then it eventually came back out and went back in the direction it came from. I only managed to get a video of him popping his head out from under the rocks and then 1 picture of him going back in the other direction but at least it was a decent picture.
Next up...I spotted some somewhat small dark objects fluttering in the water...closer inspection and they were baby squid. The hubby spotted them much later than me and his reaction to trying to get my attention to show me was priceless. Now where are your parents you baby squids?
I'm sure we were not the only one's watching all of the interesting things under the water. The rocks were full of seagulls.
There was also a crane waiting on the sidelines...
I did manage to find 1 clam there. Those zigzag edges are a dead giveaway.
Can anyone tell me why there are so many blue rocks in this area? Like even when the shrimp was digging in the sand, the sand was turning blue as the shrimp used his claws to shovel sand out of the hole.
We headed out away from the rocks and into a more sandy grassy area. Then this was our next spot of the day:
Sakari had caught up to us at this point and I told her to look under the water. The turtle was feasting on strips of seagrass and actually came up for a breath right beside both of us...like super close. I really think they don't feel too threatened by humans because they seem to pay no attention to us at all during this entire trip.
It was game on after that...here she came. Duuude, you saved me and she's back to swimming with mommy again! Sakari would follow him around for awhile and swim and was having such a great time. Just think, we've paid to go swimming with the turtles in Barbados several times and this trip has been amazing with finding them right at the beach. It was just great.
I headed out for snorkeling at 11:20am and it was now 12 noon. I figured it was time to head back and tell the crew it's time to move on.
On the way back, I ran into this and had to show the kids. I'm not sure if KAM had ever seen one.