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Hiking, Top Trips, Travel, USVI

#TBT: St. John | Salt Pond Bay & Ram Head Trail

I’ve gone on quite a few vacations and hikes that never made it onto the blog. Since our biggest adventures are happening at home these days, I’ve decided to highlight some of those old trips for Throwback Thursday. First up, one of my favorite areas of St. John, USVI – Salt Pond Bay.

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We first read about Salt Pond in St. John Off The Beaten Track by Gerald Singer – the guidebook for St. John – and it quickly became one of our most cherished snorkeling spots. Places like Waterlemon Cay might have more diverse snorkeling, but Salt Pond has a much better beach on which to relax between underwater explorations, and it also accesses what I think is the best hike on the island.

We stayed in Cruz Bay on our first visit to St. John, so it was a bit of a drive to get to Salt Pond Bay, all the way over on the south end. It’s a beautimous drive, though…

Coral Bay

…with potential donkey delay! (And yes, you drive on the left side of the road.)

Traffic jam

It was raining when we first got there, so after walking the short trail (more like an old dirt road) down to the beach, we kept walking to Drunk Bay to wait for the sun to return. There’s a fairly creepy collection of rock people in Drunk Bay, made even creepier by the gloomy weather we had.

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The sun is never gone for long on St. John, so back we went to Salt Pond Bay.

Salt Pond Bay

Gorgeous white beach and endless Caribbean blue. Heaven.

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As beautiful as the beach is, the really good stuff is underwater. We’ve snorkeled in Salt Pond quite a few times now, and our favorite route is a counter-clockwise loop of the bay. Spend lots and lots of time exploring around the rocks that jut up out of the water in the center of the bay, and when you near the end of the loop, cruise through the deeper center of the bay to look for the turtles and rays that like to hang out in the turtle grass and the sandy areas.

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In addition to turtles, we’ve seen beautiful peacock flounders and spotted eagle rays every time we’ve snorkeled Salt Pond. Very cool.

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Peacock Flounder

On our first trip, we were in for a treat – we found this beautiful octopus! We could have watched it forever, but they’re pretty efficient at hiding when they’re done being social (like me!).

Octopus on the move Caribbean Reef Octopus

There’s some beautiful coral out there too, it makes you feel like you’re hiking through underwater trees.

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Mukmuk snorkeled too!

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On our second trip to St. John, JK and I decided to swim all the way out to Booby Rock to see if there was any decent snorkeling to be had. I don’t recommend this at all, because a) it would be much better for divers, the good stuff is down too deep and b) if you’re anything like me, you’ll start vividly picturing sharks all around you and OHMIGOD I’M IN OPEN WATER AND JAWS IS GOING TO EAT ME AND MY FETUS. So just stick to the closer rocks instead.

Longest snorkel evahs

Totally unrelated shark story I just remembered: I watched Jaws when I was way too young, and when I talked to my preschool teacher about it the next day, she told me, in Scottish-accented Norwegian, that it wasn’t an actual shark, it was a robot. For the longest time, I thought someone was rowing a rowboat inside Jaws and that’s how they made the movie. Heh.

Cool coral So fuzzy

After snorkeling, in the insanely dry midday heat, we decided to hike to Ram Head, the southernmost point of the island. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our SLR with us. Or any water to drink. #experiencedhikers

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I think the trail is only a mile or so each way, but man alive, that heat. I was parched. If you’re made of smarter stuff than we are, you’ll hike to Ram Head first, then cool down with a nice snorkel afterwards.

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Still, this hike is gorgeous, with a sad but powerful history. Definitely a must if you visit St. John. Just remember to bring water, I cannot stress this enough.

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Calm seas to the left, rough to the right. (You can see Booby Rock out there on the left, probably circled by menacing fins.)

Wonky panorama

Legend says that if you throw a stone from Ram Head and shout a wish as loud as you can before the stone hits the water, this wish will come true. It didn’t seem to work for us at first…

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…but by our trip the following year, it had definitely come true. Thank you, wishing stone! Unfortunately, morning sickness kept me from hiking in that heat on that trip, but swimming was just what I needed (even though I puked in the water every time I put my snorkel mask on, but, oddly, not when I put in my snorkel).

Since I couldn’t hike it again, that means I never got any SLR photos from Ram Head…which means I’ll simply have to return to St. John. The horror!

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