Ahh, another secret of St. John revealed: Frances Bay.
Technically still part of the larger Maho Bay sits a hidden gem of a beach, just north of the beach labeled on maps as Maho Bay. Out of the way near the Annaberg ruins, Frances Bay has much to offer. While it doesn’t offer the convenient food vending and showers, the beach itself is wide and provides both sun and shade wherever you choose to plant yourself. You can also get AT&T cell phone reception at every part of Francis Bay beach, which cannot be said for its sister, Maho Bay beach.
While Francis Bay beach may not be steps from your car, it does have a porta-potty, and a truly unforgettable walking trail around a picturesque salt pond with peaceful benches for you to sit and absorb the environment around you. You’ll need 4-wheel drive to drive close to the beach, or you can park in the paved lot and walk the remaining 1/8 mile.
Frances Bay beach has a few convenient picnic benches and grills along the beach you can use, just arrive early to claim one and follow VI National Park rules for grilling and trash removal.
Snorkeling at Francis is as good as, if not better, than Maho Bay beach. To the left (south) is a small rock formation with healthy brain coral, blue tang, yellow and black striped sergeant majors, angel fish, turtles and more. To the far right (north) you’ll find sea grasses, colorful sea fans, and Elkhorn coral along the shoreline that attracts both green and hawksbill turtles, veteran tarpon, and schools of colorful tropical fish. Pelicans flying overhead, or floating nearby, just complete the picture and make Frances Bay beach.