OK … yes, believe it or not this is really one of the spectacular ST John Villas views where you can sit back and and enjoy the spectacular Coral Reefs of the Virgin Islands. Right from your Plantation Chair here in front of you is Hurricane Hole – a Federally protected area and part of the Virgin Islands Coral Bay National Monument. Think about it, Mount Rushmore underwater right in front of you as National Parks go.
And, believe me, sitting still and sipping something cold is always an option worth considering. My advice to people coming to the Virgin Islands and to one of our romantic ST John villas the first time is not to “over plan.” Get here first. Relax, the first day. Look around. Smell the atmosphere up here in this pristine area of Coral Bay. Move slowly. Listen to the wind and sea. But, most of all, realize that the best place to visit might very well be the place you are sitting.
But now, after a little while at one of our ST John Villas, your natural instinct to explore will gradually take over the urge to be like a Caribbean couch potato enjoying the incredible ST John vistas from any of our villas. So, after you’ve had enough of the beauty up here in ST John 500 feet above the water, it’s time to go down below a few feet into the water. If you look to the right of this photo just to the right of the post, there is a low spot in the island chain. That is Haulover on the East End of ST John and one of the best snorkeling spots around. On the side closest to you (the right side of the road when you get there) is less challenging snorkeling. Follow the coast either way and enjoy! But, on the Tortola side of this low area where ships used to be actually “Hauled over” from one side to the other, is Haulover North. This more challenging area is great for snorkeling in deeper water. Be sure you go out on a calm day to explore, earlier in the morning is usually better. Slip and swim and dive above and through the myriad of living coral animals below you and see large schools of fish everywhere. Be sure not to miss taking a deep breath and diving down to explore the quite cool below and feel like a fish.
All in all, there, the Virgin Islands has more than 372 miles of coral reefs. And, some of the best you’ll find right here on ST John. Most all of our villas have all the snorkel equipment you need to enjoy the coral reefs below. Yet the reefs are greatly in need of our protection. You can play a key role in preserving these fragile natural treasures, by following these essential guidelines:
Practice safe and responsible diving and snorkeling. Do not touch the reef or anchor your boat on the reef. If you go boating near a coral reef, use mooring buoy systems when they are available. Contact with the coral will damage the delicate coral animals, and anchoring on the reef can kill it, so look for sandy bottom or use moorings if available.
Don’t touch! Keep your fins, gear, and hands away from the coral, as this contact can hurt you and will damage the delicate coral animals. Stay off the bottom because stirred-up sediment can settle on coral and smother it.
Dispose of your trash properly. Don’t leave fishing any kind of litter that pollutes the water and can harm the reef and the fish. If you see trash left by other people, pick it up.
Report dumping or other illegal activities. Environmental enforcement cannot be everywhere, and your involvement can make a big difference.
Don’t start a live rock aquarium. Although this living rock is still harvested legally in some places, its collection is devastating to the reef organisms’ habitat here.
Never feed marine life. Fish feeding has been shown to alter the natural community structure of the reef. Allow the fishes to eat their natural food.
Support conservation organizations. Many of them have coral reef programs, and your much-needed monetary support will make a big difference. A good starting point is The Nature Conservancy.
Thank you for your mindful support of the Virgin Islands’ coral reefs.