Where to Paddleboard
around St. John
Maho Bay and Francis Bay
This is probably our all-time favorite paddle boarding spot. It’s ideal because it’s so protected from the wind and waves. You can park your car at Big Maho and paddle all the way to Francis Bay and then to Mary Point and, if the sea conditions are favorable, you can paddle out to Whistling Cay and back.
Designated a National Monument in 2000, this area is completely protected from the wind and seas. It’s called Hurricane Hole because it’s where people have traditionally anchored their boats during a hurricane. Park on the side of the road at Princess Bay and paddle South, exploring Otter Creek, Water Creek and Turner Point. Stop at Otter Creek for some great snorkeling in the mangroves – you’ll see schools of juvenile snappers, barracuda, starfish, colorful sea anemone and more!
Round Bay/Hansen Bay
Another great place to paddle because it is usually protected from the prevailing winds. Park at Haulover Bay and paddle East, into Limetree Cove, Hansen Bay and Long Bay. If you get hungry from all this paddling, take a break at Ms. Vie’s Snack Shack for a chicken leg or her famouus conch fritters and a cold drink!
Little Lameshur/Great Lameshur
When the wind is out of the North or Northeast, this side of the island is usually very calm and protected. It’s a long drive on a bumpy raod to the beach at Little Lameshur, where you can launch your board and then paddle over to Great Lameshur and even over to Grootpan, Kiddel and Saltpond Bays. The rocky peninsula known as Ram Head should protect you from any wind and waves. This side of the island is completely unspoiled and rugged!
Left: First time paddleboarder Dakota at Maho Bay.
Below-Left: Arawak guide Thomas Hanna, right, and Sarah Swan paddle in
Hurricane Hole for a NY Times photo shoot.
Our Favorite Paddle Surf Spots
Around St. John
Yes, we do have waves here at certain times of the year, and we love to paddle surf. Here’s a few of our favorite spots:
In the summer and fall, when the prevailing winds are from the Southeast, we get short period waves at Reef Bay. It’s a favorite spot for local kids, as well as “surf moms.” When the waves are good, it can often be crowded. If you want to paddle surf here, please be sure to stay away from the regular surfers. You can paddle off to the east, and ride the lefts, where there are fewer regular surfers.
A good place for beginners and kids. It’s a small wave that breaks only when we get North or Northwest swell. You can even rent surf boards and paddle boards from the beach shack there. It has a very small take off spot, so if you want to paddle surf here, please stay away from the regular surfers!
Noah and Evan catch a party wave at Cinnamon
Fish Bay is not as crowded or as popular a surf spot as Reef, and when there’s a south swell, Fish Bay often has nice, small waves that roll into the bay on the eastern side of the bay, near Cocoloba Point. The other side of the bay, near Ditleff Point, also has waves.
In the winter months, when we get long period swell from the North, Johnson’s will break. It’s about a half mile paddle from Jumby Beach out to Johnson’s. The problem with Johnson’s is that it’s far enough from shore that it usually has a lot of wind on it. Ideal conditions for Johnson’s are a North or Northwest swell and light winds, preferably from the South.
Gary drops into a nice one at Johnson’s
This spot gets mainly Eastern swell, which is usually short period wind swell. You drive out to Estate Concordia and keep going, until the road ends. It’s a long drive from the other side of the island and it’s very exposed to the prevailing winds, but, at times, this can be a great place to surf.