Photography by Christian Wheatley
Finding a gorgeous beach on St. John is easy – the island’s north shore is lined with one stunning strand after the next. Choosing a favorite beach might prove a bit more challenging. Island resident and photographer Christian Wheatley loves them all, and devotes much of his time to documenting them from land, sea and air. He’s either floating in the water, on a boat, flying overhead in a plane or helicopter or setting up a drone shot, always looking for a different perspective. To see more of his photos of the magnificent beaches of St. John and nearby islands, go tohttp://www.christianwheatley.com/
Crowned by towering palms and washed by blue water, the powder-white sands of Trunk Bay Beach make it the most photographed and famous beach on the island. Snorkelers flock to the spot for its underwater nature trails that lead through coral reefs populated by patrolling parrotfish and stealthy octopus. Sightings of nurse sharks, stingrays and turtles are not uncommon. Run by the National Park Service, it’s the only beach to charge admission. Facilities are plentiful and food is available. Arrive early or late in the afternoon to find some solitude. Photo: Christian Wheatley/iStock
Just down the road from the town of Cruz Bay, the protected waters of Hawksnest Bay are a favorite with locals and families seeking calm conditions for young swimmers. There are actually four individual beaches within the bay. The largest, Hawksnest proper, has picnic tables, grills and restrooms. The beach itself is narrow and punctuated by mangroves, sea grapes and palms that offer up a bit of shade and a place to drift off in the afternoon once the crowds have left. Photo: Christian Wheatley/iStock
It’s the have-it-all beach on St. John. On the longest and widest strand on the island, you’ll get plenty of soft white sands, swaying palms and blue-green waters. But the shore also offers changing facilities, a snack bar, picnic tables with grills and even a camping area. The watersports hut has snorkeling gear, windsurfers and kayaks for rent. The calm inner reaches of the bay and a nearby cay are perfect for paddlers, while sailors can venture a bit farther out to ride the trade winds. There’s a nice reef just offshore, with plenty of overhangs and crevices to explore. Photo: Christian Wheatley/iStock
Amenities are bare bones along the long stretch of sand that fronts Maho Bay, so you need to pack your own food, drink and beach toys. The good news is that you won’t have to carry things far, as the North Shore Road parallels the water, and you can park just yards from your beach towel. Sheltering bluffs to the east create very calm conditions, making this a favorite site for paddle boarders and snorkelers. The reefs aren’t quite as colorful as elsewhere on the island, but the area is a favorite with sea turtles. Photo: Christian Wheatley/iStock
Take your pick of sun spots on this legendary 170-acre eco resort, which was founded by Laurence Rockefeller in 1952. The property provides seven gorgeous beaches for its guests, each one different from the next. Day passes are available for visitors coming to Honeymoon Beach and Caneel Beach, which turns into a full day at the beach with lunch at the Caneel Bay Terrace overlooking the bay. This main beach and its pier are a hub of activities, with boats coming and going throughout the day, and plenty of people to watch and engage in conservation. Photo: Christian Wheatley/iStock
Sign up for insider tips, destination insights and the latest news and travel deals for your favorite tropical destinations.