The anchorages on St John:
Hawknest Bay is located on the north side of St John island. Together with St Thomas and St Croix, they make up the United States Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, about 50 miles east of Puerto Rico. On the west of the bay, you find Caneel Bay, known for its once luxurious resort that is currently closed. To the east, more lovely coves and beaches await visitors as well as scenic hikes that traverse the length of the whole island. Boaters love this quiet spot for its serene beauty and privacy.
Approach straightforward from the north. The roll from the ferries and winds coming from the N can make it uncomfortable for an overnight stay. Only a dozen or so mooring balls in total so space can be limited. Best to stay close to the E side during the night to avoid the rolling. Yellow buys mark private or reserved bathing areas or watersport activities where anchoring is forbidden.
This mooring spot is not ideal for provisioning.
The beach of Hawknest Bay is a narrow strip of white powdery sand, where visitors come to unwind. The north side of the island is popular with beachgoers, however, there is often a bit of surf and strong currents that can create rolling and make it uncomfortable.
From here you can technically dinghy to Cruz Bay – the main town on the island – and explore the beaches in the region. However, it is more often used for a short day visit where you get to partake in various watersport activities. It is much less crowded than nearby Caneel Bay and Cruz Bay on the western side of the island where frequent ferries and tourists arrive to enjoy the water and scenery. Seagrapes line the waterfront providing some shade. If you want to avoid the tourists, try Oppenheimer and Gibney Beaches further east on the peninsula or Little Hawknest.
Things to Do
There is a shallow reef of Elkhorn corals off the centre of the beach that is popular with visitors. Care should be taken when snorkelling next to the corals as they are very fragile and easily disturbed. If you are lucky you might even spot a couple of turtles and plenty of colourful Caribbean fish.
Hiking the coastline
The bay is located inside the Virgin Islands National Park with plenty of beautiful coastal hikes. The Peace Hill Trail is a short 0.3km walk that takes to Oppenheim Beach and an old windmill.