Crescent-shaped Francis Bay on the western side of Mary Point is a great place for a peaceful swim and home to the best bird-watching on St. John . The water at Francis Bay Beach is invariably calm—most days it is like a pond. For this reason it is a favored anchorage for sailboats and a good place for children. Its western outlook makes it a popular venue for sunset weddings. Because it’s a ways off the beaten track, Francis Bay is also almost always quiet. There are picnic tables and pit toilets.
A small area of coral reef at the western end (nearest Maho ) is good for beginning snorkelers. Strong swimmers can snorkel out from the eastern end of the beach, where a narrow reef begins about halfway to the point. You can also launch here for a kayak trip to Whistling Cay, but be sure to keep clear of ferry traffic.
Francis Bay Pond is a salt pond and mangrove area behind the beach, and a great place for bird-watching. The Francis Bay Trail passes through a crumbling great house “ruin” (which was clearly used in modern times as well) before reaching an overlook with benches and a view of the pond. Sit here with binoculars (and insect repellent) to watch the birds. The path continues around the pond on sandy earth to the north end of Francis Bay Beach.
Park Service rangers host a weekly bird-watching walk at Francis Bay on Sunday mornings 7:30–9 a.m. It meets at the Francis Bay trailhead; call the Cruz Bay Visitor Center (tel. 340/776-6201) to confirm and to arrange taxi service if necessary.