St. John Paddleboard Guide
We are working on a comprehensive insider’s guide where to best paddleboard on St. John. Here is a first list of the best paddle spots for beginners, intermediates and experts. Please do not hestitate to contact us with questions on where to paddle or suggestions how to improve this section.
St. John Paddleboarding
SAFETY FIRST: These suggestions are based on prevailing wind directions, they can change during special weather conditions, tropical waves etc.. Before paddling, make sure to check the wind and wave forecast here.
Always paddle with a leash and life vest, the leash will attach the board to your ankle so that you can’t loose it in wind and waves and the life vest will keep you afloat you for some reason be unconsious (heat stroke, dizzyness,…)
When embarking on crossings, downwinders, or longer paddles do let friends and family know when you are leaving and when you expect to arrive. Take your phone and a solar charger in a waterproof bag or rent a VHF Radio from us. For crossings and downwinders it is always safer to book an escort boat.
BEGINNER PADDLEBOARD SPOTS ST. JOHN
Paddleboarding at MAHO (North Shore Road)
A good place to learn to paddleboard on St. John is Maho Beach, it is relatively calm and protected from the wind. You will most likely see sea turtles from your paddleboard which is a great experience.
Also, you can park right across the beach so you don’t have to carry your paddleboard very far. A good day is a day to learn to paddleboard is a day with wind less than 15knots. You are usually protected within the bay and the wind will usually bring you back to shore. Make sure you paddle into the wind first, then you can take the wind to get back. If the wind gets too strong, paddle on your knees, which will make it much easier. If it get’s windy, stay close to the shore. More about paddling Maho beach is here.
Please note it is not possible to give lessons inside the National Park. For our beginner lessons, we have identified some good spots outside the National Park.
INTERMEDIATES & EXPERTS WON’T GET BORDD PADDLEBOARDING AT MAHO either
You can paddle out all the way to Whisling Cay or do a downwinder from Maho to Cruz Bay.
PADDLEBOARDING AT HURRICANE HOLE (East End)
Hurricane Hole in the East End is your best bet on a windy day. This is the place is called hurricane hole not because it is windy, but because boats seek shelter there during a hurricane. You can park at the side of the road (Princess Street)
SUP AT SALT POND (EAST END)
Salt Pond is another great East End choice on windy days, the bay is always calm and you will also have beautiful hiking and snorkeling there. Speaking of hiking, it is quite a long walk (about half a mile) down from the parking, you might want to consider renting our ultralight inflatable paddleboards that come in a very comfortable backback.
PADDLEBOARDING AT FRANCIS BAY (North Shore, one after Maho)
Francis is one of the longest beaches on St. John and the water is very calm. It is great for families with kids but advanced paddlers will not get bored either. The parking situation is not as spacious at Maho, you might have to carry your board a little further, but it is just one beach from Maho, so you can also park at Maho and paddle over to France (which is to the right when you face the ocean)
More on paddling Francis Bay is here.
Caution: Normally the wind will bring you back to shore, but if you paddle close to the rocks, the wind actually makes a turn there and you might face headwind coming in.
INTERMEDIATE PADDLEBOARD SPOTS/TOURS ST.JOHN
Hawksnest Beach (North Shore Road, one after Caneel)
For beaches, I like Hawksnest best, the watercolors are pretty and the palm trees and the reef look amazing and parking right across the beach. It is usually a bit windier vs. Maho. From Hawksnest you can paddle to little Hawksnest or very little Hawksnest where you have your almost private beach, or if you are more adventurous out to Cinamon, Trunk (don’t go on Land or inside swimming zone at Trunk, the lifeguards will yell at you) and Maho. When taking this route, you will usually paddle into the wind and the wind will take you back (except when heading back into Hawksnest where you can have some headwind)
Caution: The reef is shallow. Do not paddle over it, you can go in between the 2 reefs or pass the reef on the right.
Hawksnest to Gibney / Oppenheimer Beach
This is a really easy paddle which also beginners and less athletic paddlers can do, unless it is really windy
Maho or Francis – Whisling Cay
Whisling cay is a small island just North of Maho beach where the prevailing winds do indeed whistle. You can paddle over there, and have some Robinson Crusoe feeling sitting on the island which features ruins of a former Customs house, which The Danes errected, trying to blow the whistle on smuggling between British islands and the Danish West Indies.
It is a relatively short paddle, but the wind can be gruelling. If you cannot make it back to Maho from there try going to Hawksnest, which usually is a downwinder.
Paddle from Cruz Bay to Salomon Beach
A nice paddle for intermediates is the route from Cruz bay to Salomon beach, Honeymoon Beach or Caneel. Salomon (pictured) is a beautiful palm-fringed beach with white sand and turquoise water. A paddle from Cruz Bay to Solomon would take about 10-20 minutes,which is much easier than the hike there by foot. Getting out is mostly upwind, getting back is usually easier. We rent out paddleboards with luggage nets, so you can take your beach blankets and snorkeling gear with you. If the wind is not too bad and you have some experience, you can also paddle into Caneel Bay and have some great Sushi there (bring proper restaurant attire).
Paddle to Denis Bay
Intermediate Paddlers can paddle to their own private Beach without having going all the way to Sandy Cay. You can paddle to Dennis Bay from Hawksnest, Jumbie or Cruz Bay. More on the paddle to Denis Bay is here.
Paddle to Waterlemon Cay
Waterlemon Cay has been repeatedly named the best snorkeling spot on St. John. It is a long hike and swim, but you can also head out there on a paddleboard. Read all the details here.
DOWNWIND PADDLEBORDING ROUTES (ADVANCED PADDLERS)
The Virgin Islands offer some great downwind runs. It is advised to do those with Carbon Raceboards (not allround SUPs).
- Maho / Whisling Cay to Cruz Bay (or Hawksnest), this will take about an hour or 90 minutes
- Mary’s Creek to Cinnamon (or Cruz Bay) is usually a great run
- Reef Bay or Fish Bay to Cruz Bay (but need a boat to get there).
- With a boat, Neckar to Scrub Island is also great
- Nanny Cay to Soper’s Hole on Tortola (boat needed)