The anchorages on St. Thomas – South Coast:
St James Bay, also called Bahia de Santiago or Great Saint James, is a part of the US Virgin Islands. The island is privately owned and mostly undeveloped, but the area around is famous for Christmas Cove, located just by it. The cove serves multiple purposes, providing a place for snorkeling, kayaking, and mooring. Unlike a few other popular mooring spots, Christmas Cove is a quiet cove. Only the sounds of birds in their natural habitat fill the night air. The water is pristine and flows with diverse wildlife.
The island is about 0.4 kilometers (0.25 mi) southeast of Saint Thomas, while Christmas Cove is located on the west side of St. James Bay. It belongs under the administration of the East End sub-district of Saint Thomas. Conveniently situated between St. Thomas and St. John, it is accessible from St. Thomas by a 10-minute boat ride. To get to Great St. James Beach, one needs to hire a boat or register for kayak or snorkeling trips to the area.
One of the islands set between St. Thomas and St John, the vegetation on Great St. James is lush and undisturbed. Daily flights from St. Thomas Airport will bring you to St. Thomas, from where you can get a place to stay and food to eat before your trip out to see Great St James or visit Christmas Cove. No trip to the island or its surroundings is complete without choosing at least one water activity. For added benefit, you can get a pizza from Pizza Pi and enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of your favorite drink while you watch out of reef fish.
Where to Anchor
Christmas Cove is protected from the winds on the North, East, and South of the cove. When coming from the West, watch out for breaking rocks that can cause havoc to your boat. If coming from the East, beware of the current. The delicate coral formations on this beautiful Caribbean Island only allow for mooring balls to protect coral areas. There are 22 mooring balls available for use in this anchorage, though not maintained. There is floating signage that explains the rules of usage. There is room to anchor in sand and light grass east of the small island in the middle of the cove (Fish Cay).
History and Culture
The story goes that Christmas Cove is named such because on one Christmas Day long ago, the renowned Christopher Columbus had to anchor his boat there waiting for a storm to pass. For a short while, it was under the ownership of a woman and then transferred to family members of Christian Kjær, the Danish politician in the late 1970s. However, it was bought by Jeffrey Epstein before his death and is currently held by The United States Virgin Island government.
The Great St. James Beach
This island is private property. But under the laws of the Virgin Islands, you can use Great St. James beach up to the tree line. Though it is pebbly and the waters can be choppy because of the passage of boats, it is a quiet beach to relax.
Things to do
Join a scheduled snorkel group
The intensely blue waters of Christmas Cove provide an unforgettable snorkeling experience. One can swim with diverse wildlife like sea turtles, reef fishes, conches, and even spot the occasional dolphin or spotted eagle ray.
Sunset cruise or swim in the cove
Whether you charter a boat for the day or half a day and swim in the beautiful waters of the cove along with the aqua life, or you watch the sun go down while you sip on a glass of wine, this cove always beats every traveler’s imagination.
Places to Eat
Thinking of dining out at sea? Pizza Pi is a 37-foot sailing vessel that is now a floating Pizza joint. This Pizzeria has been here since 2014, serving up New York-style pizza on the Caribbean Sea. If you’re in the area and you smell pizza, they’re the culprits. Boat out to them and tie up, get a slice while you watch reef fish and turtles.
Places to Stay
Bay View Condo
Bay View Condo is located on the beach in St. Thomas. This well-equipped hotel gives tourists everything they need to make their stay unforgettable. They offer BBQ grills, a fitness center, nightclub, an outdoor pool, an outdoor tennis court, and restaurants less than 5 minutes away.
Ritz Carlton Club Condo
The Ritz Carlton Club Condo is a stunning 2 Bedroom residence about a minute away from the Great St James Island. This well-furnished, child-friendly condo has three bathrooms and two rooms. It sits right at the edge of the sea and is four minutes away from Restaurants and The American Yacht Harbor.