More trails and snorkeling adventures
12.02.2011 - 12.02.2011 82 °F
Today started much like the previous day awakened early by the rumble of ferry boats and other signs of activity on Cruz Bay. I whipped up eggs, over easy, maple breakfast sausage links and some rolls ... add in a hot cup of coffee and you have breakfast fit for a St John traveler.
After breakfast I got a little too deep into blogging and forgot that there was a beautiful island to be explored. Michelle picked up the laptop and cracked me over the head with it as a reminder ... so off we went at about 10:30. Always unable to resist an empty pullout along a scenic road, we grabbed and empty parking spot a Hawksnest Beach, which had been very full every other time we passed. It is a very pretty beach and Gibney Beach is just passed the rocks at the far right end.
Here I am wishing I could stay a little longer because it is so awesome.
And this is the view off to the left of Caneel-Hawknest where the folks are burning up the serious cash to sit on that beach.
After leaving Hawksnest we made it all the way to the Leinster Bay Trail, which is at the end of the Northshore Road without any additional stops. It was only 11:50 and there was even a little parking spot that had been reserved for us. Here is the start of the 0.8 mile one-way trail. This trail has a high scenic value as it follows the pristine bay the entire route. The trail is level and easy.
These dudes pulled up in the parking lot at the same time as us. They appeared to be experienced locals because they had so much packed into their jeep and kayaks. They put in and began the paddle to Waterlemon Cay.
At about the midway point of the trail this outrageously massive sailboat came into view and I spit out my famous catchphrase ... how can these people afford this stuff.
We got over the fact that some people just got it going on and continued down the trail until we reached Leinster Beach ... another small but very lovely beach with gin-clear waters and no wave action whatsoever and the great little sea grape trees for the shade seekers.
You have to continue beyond the beach and scramble along some rocks for another 0.2 miles to get to the best put-in spot for the shortest snorkel out to Water Lemon Cay. Being almost at pro status snorkelers, we had the gear on in a flash and we were kicking our way toward the cay 500 feet away. It took no time before the underwater world presented itself in all it's glory.
We neared the close end of Waterlemon and began our counterclockwise swim around the cay. The reef really shallows out at this point and the variety of coral formations, undersea vegetation and fish is terrific.
We rounded the cay and began the swim back to shore pausing to look at Waterlemon from the sea.
Continuing the route back to shore we saw a big, brightly colored starfish
A really big fish hiding close to some coral and a really nice looking yellowtail snapper swimming through an undersea garden.
Next was a snapper that was probably 10-15 pounds only a few feet from us showing no fear at all.
There are plenty parrotfish of all sizes and color schemes on the reefs here in Coral Bay, but this was one of the best & biggest that we saw.
We also spotted several barracuda, but this fella was the biggest ... maybe 3 feet long.
We made it back to shore and decided that this Snorkeling expedition was just ever so slightly better than yesterday's route over the fringe reef between Solomon and Honeymoon. We packed our gear and began to head back the scenic trail to the jeep when someone pulled up driving my next boat.
We made it back to the jeep without drooling about any other boats and took the short walk to the ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation. Don't underestimate early real estate developers ... check out the view these folks had.
Danish settlers built this place about 300 years ago and operated it to make sugar and rum using slave labor for about 150 years. Here what the place looked like, complete with windmill on top of the hill to generate power, the boiling room with a huge cast iron cistern.
The last stop of the days began about 4:30 at the Francis Beach Walking Trail where more ruins are at the start of the 0.3 mile walk.
Check this thing out ... you see these all over the island from 1 foot round to 6 foot or more. This one is about 3-4 feet 'round. It is a termite nest.
We made it to Francis Beach and put the snorkeling gear on just as another rainstorm arrived. The snorkeling over the grass beds was a little murky and we did not see any turtles. There was some large jacks or mackeral and some snapper. The excellent snorkeling is over the rocky shore at the far right end of Francis Beach where we plenty small colorful fish. Not many pictures of this because the camera battery used up all of it's life already.
Once again we arrived back at Gallows around 6:15. There was only one choice for dinner: filet. Ain't that rough. Thinking I only had minutes of daylight left, I rushed to the grilling area with a flashlight and preheated one of the brand new looking Weber Grills complete with grilling tools, picnic benches and all. Once it got dark, I found that there was a secret switch for flood lights ... you just can't beat this place. The steaks were the best meal yet.
To be continued ....