from St. John Off The Beaten Track ©
2006 Gerald Singer
a half-crescent of beach, small
but perfect with lush green hills rising beyond it,"-Ethel
Little Maho is a miniature version of Cinnamon Bay, having most
of the same facilities and things to do. It is smaller, more
intimate and calmer than Cinnanmon, which may make it easier
for beginning windsurfers and water sports enthusiasts
Continuing on from (Big) Maho Bay about 1.5 miles from where the
road leaves the beach and curves to the right, you will come
to an intersection; turn left along the water's edge. Proceed
to the stone building on the right at the intersection of the
Francis Bay and Little Maho Bay Campground roads. Turn left and
go up the hill to the parking area. Park and make your way down
the 224 wooden stairs to the beach.
Little Maho can also be approached via the Maho Bay Goat Trail,
which connects Big and Little Maho Bays. It begins near the northern
portion of the beach at (Big) Maho Bay where the road turns sharply
to the right and inland. It is about a 15-minute uphill walk from
Maho Bay to the campground. On the upper portions of the trail,
you will be treated to excellent views of Maho Bay Beach and the
north shore of St. John. Two tamarind trees at the summit provide
a shady place to sit and rest on the exposed roots between the
The trail ends below the general store at Maho Bay Camps. From
here the beach at Little Maho can be reached by descending the
wooden stairs. (The general store being at a lower elevation than
the parking lot only requires a descent of 182 steps to reach the
Day visitors may use most of the facilities at the campground including
the activities desk, restaurant, general store, telephones and
Windsurfers, kayaks, sunfish and snorkeling equipment can be rented
at Maho Bay Watersports located near the beach. Also available
at the water sports shop are SCUBA dive packages, lessons and certification
and night snorkeling expeditions.
On Sunday afternoons pick up volleyball is played from about 3:00
For a bit more seclusion, check out the quiet little pocket beach
between the Campground and Francis Bay, which is just a short swim
or rock scramble to the north.
From the beach the best snorkeling is along the rocks on either
side of the bay.
Ethel McCully, author and St. John personality, lived at Little
Maho Bay before it became the campground. In those days the North
Shore Road was only a rough dirt track. And the goat trail was
the only access to the property from the road.
Island rumor has it that Ethel McCully discovered Little Maho
Bay while traveling to the British Virgin Islands on a small Tortola
sloop. Obviously impressed by the beauty, she jumped off the sailboat
and swam ashore.
Ms. McCully later bought the property and built a house on the
bluff above the bay. She did this with the help of six donkeys
and two laborers. Ethel wrote a book about the experience, which
was to be titled, I Did It With Donkeys. Her publisher said "no" to
this idea, and the book was published in 1954 with the title, Grandma
Raised the Roof. The roof to her guesthouse, which she called Island
Fancy, was actually raised in 1953.
Before her literary success with Grandma Raised the Roof, Ethel
McCully was a mystery writer and an ambulance driver during World
In the 1960s, Ms. McCully, along with other many other notable
and prominent St. Johnians took a strong against an attempt by
the National Park to obtain privately held St. John land by condemnation.
In the early 1950s, Laurance Rockefeller founded the Jackson Hole
Preserve Corporation. He purchased over 6000 acres of land on St.
John and subsequently donated most of this land (with the notable
exception of Caneel Bay) to the federal government for the creation
of a National Park.
In 1957, shortly after the Park came into being, the Park proposed
a plan to condemn all the land in St. John and to resettle the
inhabitants on property on the south shore referred to as "Green
Valley". Cruz Bay was to be made into an exhibition featuring
a typical native-style village with costumed employees demonstrating
old-time arts and crafts. The Battery in Cruz Bay was to become
the National Park headquarters.
The Park dropped the idea after meeting a fierce storm of resistance
from St. Johnians. But in 1962 the Department of the Interior and
the National Park made another, more serious, attempt to acquire
the privately owned land within the Park by condemnation.
One of these prominent St. Johnians was VI Senator Theovald Moorehead,
known affectionately as Mooie. He was circulating a petition to
be sent to President Kennedy. It read: "For generations, since
the abolition of slavery under the Danes, these lands have been
owned and lived on by these families and it is our heritage..."
Ethel McCully along with the late Virgin Islands Senator Theovald
Moorehead (better known as Mooie) went to Washington in an effort
to persuade Congress to defeat the proposed amendment.
Mooie talked to congressmen and senators and placed an ad in the
Washington Post. Ms. McCully spoke at a meeting of the United States
House of Representatives where she strongly expressed her ideas
about the condemnation amendment.
On September 9, 1962 the New York Times published the following
article written by J. Anthony Lukas pertaining to Ms. McCully's
speech under the headline "A Grandmother Fights Congress,
Will 'Raise Hell' in Threat to Her Virgin Island Haven:"
View Article Click Here
A biography of Ethyl McCully appears in St.
Another prominent St. Johnian who once lived at Little Maho was
Erva Boulon, the former owner of Trunk Bay and author of My Island
Ms. Boulon built and ran a guesthouse called Lille Maho. Andy
Rutnik, now Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs,
and his wife, Janet Cook Rutnik, now an internationally recognized
artist, used to be the caretakers of the property.