1/10 Trunk Bay
This white, sparkling beach, part of the National Park, offers a unique underwater trail with signs guiding snorkelers underwater identifying the various colourful fish and coral. Trunk Bay is a hot spot for tourists and cruise ships, but great for children. Kids as young as six can snorkel and snorkel gear can be rented on the spot. There are also toilets, a snack bar and lifeguards. Trunk Bay also offers snuba, which is snorkelling with an air hose. It’s suitable for kids as young as eight.
Entrance to Trunk Bay costs around £2.50 per person.
Photo by David Brimm
2/10 Cruz Bay watersports
Why go? Cruz Bay Watersports has activities for the whole family including trips to Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke, The Baths on Virgin Gorda, sunset sails, snorkel trips, diving, parasailing, dinghy rentals and wave runner tours. St. John is meant to be explored and what better way then by the water! Sign up for a family adventure with the leading watersports company in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
More information: divestjohn.com
Photo by Ramunas Bruzas
3/10 Arawak Expeditions
Half day rentals start at around £30 and full day rentals start around £46. Soft racks are also included with the rentals for a car, to take the boards anywhere visitors wish.
More information: arawakexp.com
Arawak Expeditions offers adventure tours in the Virgin Islands. They also have SUP rentals otherwise known as stand up paddle boarding. Arawak is located in the Mongoose Junction Shopping Center so after renting your equipment, shop around the Caribbean stores such as Bamboula, Big Planet, Island Fancy and Made in St. John.
4/10 Sail aboard the island spirit
Set sail on the Island Spirit, a 60 foot U.S. Coast Guard inspected catamaran. The catamaran features two swim ladders, a fresh water shower and a fun waterslide for kids of all ages. There are also restrooms on board. Book the Snorkel Sail and enjoy the beautiful blue Caribbean waters. The snorkel said includes non-alcoholic beverages, snorkel gear and floats. There is an open bar that opens after the snorkelling stop. Check in begins at the Westin Resort at 12:45pm and the boat will return by 4:00pm.
The half day snorkel trip aboard the Island Spirit starts at around £37 for adults and about £18 for kids 12 and under.
More information: divestjohn.com
5/10 St. Thomas, Unite States Virgin Islands
Take a short ferry ride from Cruz Bay to downtown Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, for a mix of local and luxury shops as well as family-friendly beaches. Visit St. Thomas’s most popular beach, Magens Bay with its calm water and heart-shaped bay. Beach chairs and floats are available for rent and the snack bar has burgers, pizzas and other snacks for when the kids come out of the water. There are lifeguards on duty every day. Why not also check out the Butterfly Garden located at the WICO cruise ship dock in Havensight Mall. The farm has butterflies of all colours from all around the world.
How to get there
The ferry between Charlotte Amalie and Cruz Bay takes 45 minutes and runs three times a day. Prices start at about $26 return for adults and $7 return for kids ages two to 11.
More information: visitusvi.com
6/10 Cinnamon Bay
Cinnamon Bay offers miles of white sand and clear, calm water great for swimming. There are a lot of facilities including restrooms, an outdoor shower and a small gift shop. Enjoy watersports such as paddle boarding, windsurfing, sailing and kayaking or simply relax and let the ocean carry you on a float. There are also boogie boards available, great for the kids, and of course snorkelling is always an option in the warm Caribbean water. After a day of sun and surf, continue the fun at Cinnamon Bay and have dinner at T’ree Lizards Restaurant.
What to eat
Highlights from this Caribbean/American Bar and Grill include Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Angus NY Strip Steak and a Smoked Turkey Wrap.
More information: cinnamonbay.com
7/10 Waterlemon Cay
Hike the Leinster Bay Trail which runs right along the water’s edge and end up at Waterlemon Cay, one of St. John’s best snorkelling locations. Waterlemon is a small island just offshore of the little beach at Waterlemon Bay. There are no lifeguards at this beach, so it’s best to only bring your strongest swimmers, but this is an experience not to miss. At the end of the Leinster Bay Trail is Waterlemon Beach or Leinster Bay Beach. The beach is an official turtle nesting area. When snorkelling the .32 km length to Waterlemon watch out for live coral and sea urchins.
Bring an underwater camera and seek out eels, octopus, sea turtles, sea cucumbers, stingrays and beautiful starfish.
8/10 The Lime Inn
For the first family meal on the island, head to The Lime Inn, just one block away from the ferry dock in Cruz Bay. Open for both lunch and dinner, The Lime Inn is a family favourite with amazing homemade desserts, including a frozen Key Lime Pie, and handpicked wines.
Popular among both tourists and locals, this restaurant is a can’t miss with its casual open air atmosphere. It’s one of St. John’s longest continually running restaurants.
What to eat
Try the fresh grilled Caribbean lobster or the shrimp and scallop scampi for some fresh Caribbean fish.
More information: thelimeinn.com
9/10 The Westin St. John Resort and Villas
The Westin offers a wide range of accommodations ranging from a Traditional Garden View room to a three bedroom Bay Vista Villa. The Westin is located along the shores of Great Cruz Bay and home to tranquil waters perfect for children of all ages. There are floating trampolines in the bay, rafts, watersports and more along the shore. There is also a pool, sand art and even hair braiding all at the resort. Other than water activities, there are also tennis courts, a playground and yoga for those seeking tranquility.
The Westin Kids Club has supervised activities for kids from three to 12 years old and there are hourly, half-day, full-day and evening sessions offered. Kids can enjoy arts and crafts, sandcastle contests, foosball, swimming and movies. The new Teen Arcade Center allows teens to make new friends and listen to music on the jukebox, play Pinball, Air Hockey and Dance Dance Revolution.
Book: Stay in a Virgin Grand Villa with a full kitchen, two full baths, a washer and dryer and a king size bed with a double sofa bed for the kids from £423 per night in the off season. For more accommodation options visit westinresortstjohn.com
10/10 Caneel Bay
Relax on one of Caneel Bay’s seven beaches, each with it’s own individual charm. Watch the turtles munch on sea grass on Scott beach, snorkel at Turtle Bay beach, kayak or paddle board at Caneel Bay beach or go to Paradise beach for moments of serenity.
Turtle Town is ideal for children ages three to 12 where they can explore the island, identify plants and animals and study the ecosystem of Caneel Bay. Kids can enjoy a full-day or a half-day of various activities both on and off land. There are also tennis courts for a fun family pick-up game of doubles or singles.