Maho Beach on St. John’s Northshore is another good spot to paddleboard. The water is usually calm and it is nicely protected from the wind. It is usually the calmest spot on the North Shore and a great spot for beginners and families with kids. When you stay close to shore, inside the bay, you will be safe even if the wind is howling. The beach is very long so there is plenty of space and you will find a place with no snorklers / swimmers in the way. There is parking right across the beach, so you will not have to carry your board too far.
While Maho is great for beginners, experienced paddlers also won’t get bored, they can paddle out to the old customs house on Whisling Cay (check the forecast, depending on the wind the paddle back can be really tough) or do a downwinder from Whisling Cay all the way back to Cruz Bay (takes me about an hour)
Sea Turtles at Maho
Maho is the best place to see sea turtles on St. John and from a SUP you will be able to spot them all due to the elevated view.
Maho SUP Wind and Forecast
Inside the bay the wind & swell will usually bring you back to the shore. Once you leave the Bay, the wind is usually is blowing from North East. So if you paddle towards Whisling Cay and then make a left, (aiming for Hawksnest rocks) you have a nice downwinder all the way back into Cruz Bay.
You can check the Whisling Cay Forecast here, we created a custom spot on Windguru. For a downwinder you would be looking for more than 20knots and more than 3ft swell, ideally from the same direction (NE) and a long period.
Maho SUP – Beach Facilities
there are no facilities at Maho, bring food and drinks and some fresh water to rinse off.
How to get to Maho Beach
Follow North Shore road from Mongoose Junction up the hill, you will be passing Caneel, Hawksnest, Cinamon, Trunk and after another crazy hill you will reach Maho. It is only about 5 miles from Mongoose Junction but it will feel longer.
Maho Beach Trivia
Where does the name Maho Beach come from?
Maho Bay was named after the Hibiscus tilaceus also called beach hibiscus, sea hibiscus or , a flower tree of the mallow family commonly found on St. John. The flowers of H. tiliaceus are bright yellow with a deep red centre upon opening. Over the course of the day, the flowers deepen to orange and finally red before they fall. The wood of H. tiliaceus has a specific gravity of 0.6. It has been used in a variety of applications, such as seacraft construction, firewood, and wood carvings. It’s tough bark can be made into durable rope and used for sealing cracks in boats. The bark and roots may be boiled to make a cooling tea to cool fevers, and its young leafy shoots may be eaten as vegetables
Source & more info on Hibiscus tilaceaus
How did Maho Beach get so narrow?
The beach that is quite narrow today used to be really wide, so wide that horse races were conducted there. Sand was however removed by the government for construction of Cruz Bay roads and a school, that was during a time where there was little awareness for the long-term effects of such actions.
Which fruits grow in Maho Bay?
You will find genip trees at Maho, these are little fruits that look a bit like grapes and are edible. After cracking the outer shell with your teeth, you can suck the pulp out. Watch out for stains, you will not be able to get them out. According to Caribbean folk wisdom, girls learn the art of kissing by eating the sweet flesh of this fruit.
Source & more info on eating Genips.