Cruising Guideexplore the beautiful waters of the virgin islands
Prerequisite: just have fun
Cruising the Islands
There are many incredibly beautiful bays and coves within a two hour sail of STSC where you can anchor or moor, picnic, snorkel or swim to a secluded beach. Biminis are available to provide shade while moored which makes hanging out on an IC-24 for several hours very pleasant.
Most of your navigation on the IC-24 is line of sight. Many of the bays and coves you will be visiting have mooring balls you can pick up. In the National Parks anchoring is prohibited in order to protect coral and other underwater sea life. Outside the parks you may anchor, but even then, be careful to anchor only in sand.
As you sail out of Cowpet Bay towards the South, be mindful of the large Cow and Calf rocks just southeast of the bay. There is plenty of water around them but none between them.
One of the closest destinations to sail to is Christmas Cove. You can either moor or anchor. Less than a mile from STYC, Christmas Cove is a nice place to snorkel. if you’re lucky you might get to see a turtle or a spotted eagle ray. You can pack your own lunch, have the Galley pack a lunch for you or order a delicious pizza from Pizza Pi VI. You can swim over, place your order and they will deliver it to your boat in their pizza delivery dinghy!
The beach bar closed but it is still a very nice beach. On the South coast of St Thomas, Frenchman Bay is just a 6 nm sail. Leave Green Cay on your Starboard. The Bay is open to the South, so if there is any weather to the South the anchorage can be a bit rolly. Anchor in sand for better holding.
Buck Island is less than 4 nm South of Cowpet Bay. The West side of Buck Island offers a protective cove with with excellent snorkeling and turtles.
Lovango is a small cay to the North. Once you get through Current Cut, Lovango is just over 3 nm. Although the bottom is mostly sandy, there are multiple coral heads that can be damaged by anchoring. There is also a very nice restaurant called Lovango Resort and Beach Club that manages the moorings and will pick you up in their launch if you make a reservation in advance for a mooring and meal. There is also excellent snorkeling here in about 10 – 15 ft of water. The marine life is active, you’ll see schools of yellow tail snapper, sergeant major, bar jack and parrot fish.
St. John offers many beautiful bays and beaches just a short sail from the St Thomas Yacht Club. Roughly two-thirds of St John is National Park and anchoring is prohibited. Mooring balls are available for day use.
Beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands are public. However, you cannot go beyond the beach onto private property.
The south shore of St. John offers a number of very worthwhile places to explore, snorkel and swim to a beach. In strong easterly winds it can be a slog to windward to get there so when that’s the case you may want to consider the north shore instead.
Salt Pond Bay
Salt Pond Bay has one of the nicest beaches in the Virgin Islands and the snorkeling is excellent. The bay is protected from every direction, and is within the National Park so no anchoring. About 6 moorings are available. Just 8 nm from Cowpet Bay on the South Shore of St John the entrance is just before Booby Rock. There are rocks that are visible at all times at the entrance but shouldn’t offer any problems, you can pass on either side of them.
Little Lameshure and Great Lameshure
Little Lameshure and Great Lameshure bays are just west of Salt Pond. Both are well protected except in a strong Southerly breeze. Moorings are available here and the snorkeling is excellent. Mind the rock between the two bays.
St. John – North Shore
Solomon Bay, Caneel, Hawksnest, Trunk, Cinnamon, Maho and Francis bays along the north shore of St. John are some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere. Be wary of Johnson’s Reef, which is surrounded by yellow buoys and is clearly marked on the charts.