Snorkeling Around St. John

St. John is a beloved destination in the US Virgin Islands because of its quiet setting and the fact that so much of the island is comprised of a national park.  There is more of this natural beauty to be seen off the coast and under the sea, so don't forget to bring your snorkel along with you for what will surely be the most awe-inspiring activity of your trip.

Most people have taken to snorkeling from the beaches of the island's north coast simply because the beaches are so picturesque that they assume the underwater landscape must mirror it.  They are right!  The constant barrage of people, however, has begun to take its toll on the coral and its inhabitants.  There is still much to be seen here, but for the healthiest coral you'll want to look elsewhere.  Every beach on the island is public to the vegetation line, so you can pick and choose your desired destination without having to worry about whether or nor you're allowed to be there.

The best thing about St. John, however, is that no matter where you choose to snorkel you'll be in for an unbelievable time.  Temperatures are consistently between 79 and 83 degrees Fahrenheit, most beaches have extremely calm conditions and the visibility is always fantastic.  You can expect to encounter various species of coral and mangroves plus rays, turtles, eels, octopus, and hundreds of varieties of fish.  Every site has something new to offer so you can expect a different experience each and every time you snorkel at a new location.

If you're new to snorkeling, you may want to consider starting out at Trunk Bay Underwater Trail.  You'll have to pay $4(USD) to the National Park Service, but there is an underwater trail set up, marking off each important site so you know exactly where to go and what to look for.  Informational plaques also help you learn about the local marine habitat.  You'll find information about other options below.

Snorkeling Sites

If you're ready to explore below the water's surface you should consider a visit to Trunk Bay. This locale is a reef full of signs with information for snorkelers to read and use to guide themselves through a tour around Trunk Bay. These signs will inform snorkelers of some of the many species around the reefs as well as conservation information. This snorkeling site is found in the northwestern part of St. John.

Haulover Bay is another place you might enjoy. Snorkeling here may not be as colorful as some other sites, as the bay is very rocky. However, it is a good spot to catch some of the smaller marine animals that often make their home on or near the rocks.

A third location to consider is Lameshur Bay. Snorkelers who chose to explore this destination will be treated to a sight of sea turtles, tropical fish, stingrays and many other kinds of marine life.

A fourth place to go snorkeling is Maho Bay. Tucked away in a shallow cove, this snorkeling spot is the perfect place for beginners to learn the basic. The calm clear water will let new snorkelers develop a comfort that is needed for rougher and less clear dives. If you want to experience it for yourself, you'll find this site located in the northern part of St. John.

Waterlemon Beach is a fifth site to consider. With its calm, warm waters, this site is the favorite hangoutfor beginning snorkelers -- as well as stingrays and flounder.

The following chart provides some key facts concerning 31 of the best places where you can go snorkeling in this area.

Snorkeling Sites Near St. John
Site Location
Trunk Bay 2.2 mi. Northeast of Central Cruz Bay
Haulover Bay 2.3 mi. Northeast of Central Friis Bay
Lameshur Bay 2.2 mi. South-Southwest of Central Coral Bay
Maho Bay 2.3 mi. West-Northwest of Central Coral Bay
Waterlemon Beach 1.5 mi. North-Northwest of Central Coral Bay
Frank Bay 0.4 mi. West-Southwest of Downtown Cruz Bay
Salomon Point Snorkeling 0.8 mi. North of Downtown Cruz Bay
Honeymoon Bay 0.8 mi. North-Northeast of Downtown Cruz Bay
Caneel Bay 1.0 mi. North-Northeast of Downtown Cruz Bay
Henley Cay 1.5 mi. North of Downtown Cruz Bay
Hansen Bay Beach 2.5 mi. East of Central Coral Bay
Long Bay 2.6 mi. East of Central Coral Bay
Salt Pond Bay 2.7 mi. South of Central Coral Bay
Kiddle Bay 2.6 mi. South of Central Coral Bay
Little Lameshur Bay 2.3 mi. South-Southwest of Central Coral Bay
Limetree Cove 2.3 mi. East of Central Coral Bay
Ram Head 1.7 mi. South of Central Friis Bay
Hawksnest Bay 1.7 mi. Northeast of Downtown Cruz Bay
Cinnamon Bay 2.3 mi. East-Northeast of Central Caneel Bay
Francis Bay Beach 2.4 mi. Northwest of Central Coral Bay
Scott Beach 1.3 mi. North-Northeast of Downtown Cruz Bay
Oppenheimer Beach 1.7 mi. Northeast of Downtown Cruz Bay
Brown Bay 1.2 mi. Northeast of Central Coral Bay
Hurricane Hole 1.3 mi. East of Central Coral Bay
Hansen Bay Beach 2.6 mi. East of Central Coral Bay
Newfound Bay 3.0 mi. East of Central Coral Bay
Johns Folly Bay 2.6 mi. Southeast of Central Coral Bay
Grootpan Bay 2.5 mi. South of Central Coral Bay
Jumbie Beach 2.0 mi. Northeast of Downtown Cruz Bay
Reef Bay Beach 3.3 mi. East of Central downtown Cruz Bay
Princess Bay 1.5 mi. East-Northeast of Central Coral Bay

Snorkeling Boat Trips

Kekoa Sailing Expeditions

For some people, the best snorkeling is accessed away from the shore.

If you're ready to snorkel during a boat trip, you should consider Boat Day V.I.. Some recommended excursions include exploration of St. John's many beaches, or trips to Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Peter Island and the many popular beaches, bays and bars they are known for. Both boats include snorkel gear, a variety of liquid refreshments including world famous painkiller cocktails, a private restroom, flotation devices and a Bluetooth sound system.

Another option worth investigating is Kekoa Sailing Expeditions. Excursions to Jost Van Dyke, full and half day charters to St. John, Sunset Sails, and Sunset Excursions are offered by Kekoa Sailing Expeditions. Private charters may also be reserved for larger events, including weddings, family reunions, and corporate groups. They're located in downtown Cruz Bay.

A third option is Cloud 9 Sailing Adventures. Cloud 9 offers half and full day sails, sunset sails, excursions to Jost Van Dyke, private charters, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Guided scuba lessons and PADI courses are available to those who wish to extend their scuba knowledge.

A few details regarding boat trip providers that provide snorkeling are provided here:

Day Sails and Boat Trips On St. John
Name Phone Location
Boat Day V.I. (855) 262-8329 Downtown Cruz Bay
Born to Rhumb Charters (908) 528-0203 Downtown Cruz Bay
Cloud 9 Sailing Adventures (340) 998-1940 Downtown Cruz Bay
Copeland Boat Charters (340) 690-9988 Downtown Cruz Bay
Island Roots (340) 643-5000 Downtown Cruz Bay
Kekoa Sailing Expeditions (340) 244-7245 Downtown Cruz Bay
Lion In Da Sun (340) 626-4783 Downtown Cruz Bay
Palm Tree Charters (340) 643-4239 Downtown Cruz Bay
Sadie Sea Charters (340) 514-0778 Downtown Cruz Bay
Sail Safaris (340) 626-8181 Downtown Cruz Bay
Salty Dog Day Sails (340) 244-7290 Central St. John
Singing Dog Sailing Day Tours (717) 602-3536 Downtown Cruz Bay
Southern Hospitality (340) 998-4399 Downtown Cruz Bay
Wayward Sailor (340) 473-9705 Downtown Cruz Bay
Wish Upon a Star Charters (631) 946-9292 Central St. John

Snorkeling Services

If you looking for a business offering snorkeling gear, excursions or similar services, you can check with Arawak Expeditions. They offer a full say kayak and snorkel tour that explores the Coral Reef National Monument and the Hurricane Hole. They are located in downtown Cruz Bay.

Another place worth knowing about is Low Key Waterports. There are several different options for their full day sailing and snorkeling tours, but they usually include snorkeling at several different cays and reefs, lunch, and an open bar. Half day excursions include on stop for snorkeling, an open bar, and snacks.

A third option is Patagon Dive Center. Known as the local "snorkeling authority," this shop works to assist their guests with all of their snorkeling needs, whether it be learning about the educational benefits or teaching you the best way to participate in the sport. They're located in East End, West of St. John.

Review the chart below to find out more with regard to 7 companies that offer snorkeling related services.

Snorkeling Services On And Around St. John
Name Type Phone Location Island
Arawak Expeditions Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 693-8312 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Blue Water Divers Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (284) 495-1200 2.9 mi. North-Northeast of Central Coral Bay Frenchman's Cay
Crabby's Watersports Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 714-2415 Central St. John St. John
Just BEach! Snorkeling Equipment Rental Service (340) 776-6256 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Low Key Waterports Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 693-8999 Downtown Cruz Bay St. John
Patagon Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 775-3333 0.7 mi. East-Southeast of Central Red Hook St. Thomas
Red Hook Dive Center Snorkeling Tour Operator (340) 777-3483 1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town St. Thomas

To learn more concerning snorkeling, including helpful suggestions and tips for both "old pros" and beginners, read this exhaustive guide to snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Whether you've been snorkeling for years or your trip to St. John will be the first time you try, this island really does have the perfect spot for everyone.  


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