Hike to Jack and Isaac Bays
Jack and Isaac Bays are the living embodiment of what you imagine a quintessential Caribbean beach to be, but there is a bit of hike required to get to them. Once you do get there, you will find picturesque beaches of soft, white sand, surrounded by the turquoise Caribbean Sea and a barrier reef teeming with marine life. Even better, the remote nature of these bays provides seclusion which can make you feel like you have the entire beach to yourself.
Located on the very East End side of St. Croix, near Point Udall, Jack and Isaac Bays are comprised of 301 acres of white sand beaches and upland forests, surrounded by a pristine offshore barrier reef. These bays adjoin with a 300 acre government-owned natural area, the combined effort of which protects the entire eastern tip of St. Croix, including nearly four miles of coastline adjacent to the East End Marine Park, the offshore barrier reef, and other marine systems. Jack Bay and Isaac Bay are accessible only by foot, but the hike is scenic and the beaches are worth the effort.
The hike to Jack and Isaac Bays starts at the trailhead near Point Udall, where you will find a small parking lot on your right as you are heading up towards the Millennium Monument. You can park there, but please do not leave valuables in your car. The trailhead starts at the parking lot and leads down towards the water. The first beach you reach along the trail is actually at East End Bay. At that point, turn right and head to the west end of East Bay and take the connecting trail west to the beach at Isaac Bay. Once you are at Isaac Bay, you can head to the west end of that beach and take the connecting trail heading west again. After a few minutes of heading west on the trail you will turn left on a side trail to the beach at Jack Bay. There will be a few signs along the way to point you in the right direction. The terrain along this hike is considered easy to moderate, and is comprised mostly upland forest, scrub brush, and beaches. The trails are usually clear, and short pants should be okay. Please be aware that there is little to no shade on this hike, so wear sun protection and bring plenty of water.
Once you reach Jack and Isaac Bays, I highly recommend doing some snorkeling. The coral reefs in these bays, comprised mainly of elkhorn, staghorn and brain corals, are home to at least 400 species of fish, including parrot fish, blue tangs, four-eyed butterfly fish, trumpetfish, and sergeant majors. Starfish, turtles, nurse sharks, urchins, conch, and a variety of other marine species can be found among the coral and in the surrounding sea grass. While both of these beaches are excellent for swimming and snorkeling, Isaac’s Bay Beach has less seaweed and rocks, and deeper water, so it is a more popular snorkeling spot. The water is typically calm, but can be a little choppy sometimes. There can sometimes be some current as well, so be aware of the conditions and your abilities because there are no lifeguards out there.
Jack and Isaac Bays beaches are typically a great spot if you’re looking to escape and enjoy some privacy. The sand on these beaches is powdery soft, and offers a perfect spot to simply spread out your beach towel and enjoy the Caribbean. These beaches, along with the adjoining East End Bay beach, are also home to the largest nesting populations of green and hawksbill turtles on St. Croix. So, keep an eye out for nesting sea turtles, and the turtle nests themselves, and please be careful not to disturb them.
When preparing to hike down to, and spend time at Jack and Isaac Bays please remember to be prepared. There are no amenities on either beach, so bring your own towels, snorkel gear, sun protection. and plenty of water. Just keep in mind that you do have to hike in, so make sure you can comfortably carry whatever you choose to take with you. Take your time and enjoy the hike down to Jack and Isaac Bays, the rolling hills and scenic views are breathtaking. Cool off in the Caribbean Sea when you reach the beaches and take in the natural beauty that St. Croix has to offer.
– Jennie Ogden, Editor