UPDATE: The tire swing has been taken down as it was pulling to hard on the tree but you can still paddle over to Oppenheimer/Gibney and Mermaid’s Chair
Today’s paddleboarding suggestion is a relatively easy paddle that is good for beginners (if it is not too windy) and intermediates. Start of the paddle is at Hawksnest Beach (one bay after Caneel on the North Shore Road) and from there you can paddle to Oppenheimer Beach where the infamous tire swing is and then a little further to Mermaid’s chair. Take the North Shore road to Hawksnest and park at the end of the parking lot if possible, from there the walk with the boards is shortest.
Looking out to the ocean you will see 2 beaches to your right, the first one is Gibney, the second one is Oppenheimer (they are adjacent to each other), at the Eastern End of Oppenheimer is the infamous tire swing. Take your waterproof camera (or rent a gopro from us) to take your amazing tire swing photo. As you look out to the ocean you will see 2 reefs, you want to stay clear of those, you can either paddle out in between the 2 or stay really close to the shore and paddle along the rocks on the right hand side (which also have great snorkeling) as you approach the sandy beach with palm trees, keep to the left, the tire swing is in front of the yellow building.
A bit of Oppenheimer Beach history:
Robert Oppenheimer, the “Father of the atomic bomb” had purchased a small parcel of land from the Gibney and built himself, his wife and daughter a small home that still stands. After their death, the Oppenheimers left the land to their daughter, Toni. Toni died in 1976 and left the property to “the people of St. John”. The land is now a public park. The “people of St. John” did not attend to the responsibilities left by this gift, and the house was vandalized and covered with graffiti. It soon fell into disrepair. Finally, the United States Virgin Island government took over the property, and created a Community Center on the property. Now, the center can be rented out by paying a small fee for such events as senior citizen outings, Boy Scouts meetings, local reggae and calypso bands, picnics, weddings, and birthday parties
After taking your celebrity tire-swing photo, continue paddling out along the shore (to the left on the above photo there are 3 tiny bays and the last one is Mermaid’s Chair. It takes it’s name from the rock in the middle that looks like a chair. There is a tiny tiny sandy spot (depending on tide level) where if you are lucky is enough space to put down your paddleboard or a beach towel. Be mindful of waves, this is not a good place to paddle into if there is a swell, the waves might crash you against the rocks. On a calm day like in these photos, the place is truly magical and there is great snorkeling all around too.
St. John Tire Swing / Oppenheimer Beach / Mermaid’s Chair Photogallery
below are some more photos from our paddle to the tire swing and mermaid’s chair on a beautiful September day. Before paddling always check the wind and weather forcast here.