Maho Bay is one of the prettiest beaches on St. John, and the most accessible – most beaches require a short walk or a long hike, but Maho is situated right along the North Shore Road.
It’s a great place for kids, with a long, sandy beach, shallow water, shade from the coconut trees, and a quick retreat to the car if needed.
Heaven is what it is is what it is.
(I tried to do one of these jump shots too. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most flattering activity I could be doing with my body while wearing a bikini. Never again.)
Snorkeling in the bay will almost guarantee you lots of stingray, conch, starfish, and turtle sightings (and some reasonably big barracudas), and every time we snorkeled here, it seemed we had enrolled in school. (Get it? Fnar fnar.)
For me, Maho is more of a lounging beach than a snorkeling beach – I mostly go in the water to cool off between long stretches of reading and synthesizing vitamin D – but if you do want to explore, swim along the rocks around the edges of the bay. The marine life gets more and more interesting the farther out you go, and we had a very cool octopus experience in the rocks.
…what even is this sorcery? Man alive, octopuses are amazing creatures. I feel incredibly lucky to have seen several of them on our trips to St. John.
Speaking of lucky, Maho Bay is where we saw our very first shark in the wild. We actually saw it from the beach, because it kept cruising back and forth in the shallows, and then we were finally able to snap a photo of it. Looks pretty scary, no?
No! ‘Twas but a wee baby Lemon Shark, and it was adorable. The next year, however, our friends were snorkeling Maho and met what was presumably the same shark. It was definitely not a baby anymore, and it was decidedly unnerving.
Lemon Sharks are not at all in the habit of attacking humans (and as far as I understand – at least this is what I tell myself – the water around the St. John is too warm to attract the really terrifying sharks), but meeting a biggish shark underwater is enough to get the adrenaline going in most members of the Jaws generation.
If you go to St. John, you MUST go to Maho Bay. Pack a lunch and bring a book (not Jaws*).
Come early, both to get a parking spot and to see the palm trees cast their beautiful shadows over the beach and the water. Stay all day (but if you’re there for sunset, you might get eaten alive by no-see-ums), relax, enjoy, snorkel, soak up the sun, look out over that Caribbean blue and revel in the fact that you’re on St. John, which means you’re one of the luckiest people on earth right now.
*personally, I chose to read Jaws in the safety and comfort of an alpine fire lookout, which housed an impressive collection of shark literature.