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Little Maho Bay

Excerpted 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 McCully.

Why Little Maho?
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

Getting There:
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 two trees.

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 bay.)

Day visitors may use most of the facilities at the campground including the activities desk, restaurant, general store, telephones and rest rooms.

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 to 5:00.

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
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 War One.

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:"

To View Article Click Here

A biography of Ethyl McCully appears in St. John People

Erva Boulon

Another prominent St. Johnian who once lived at Little Maho was Erva Boulon, the former owner of Trunk Bay and author of My Island Kitchen.

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.