Trunk Bay: St. John’s Most Magnificent Beach

Trunk Bay is St. John’s most magnificent beach and its most popular. The bay is a vision of fluffy white sand, sea grape trees, and coconut palms. Trunk Cay, just offshore, is a tiny island of rocky cliffs, tufted by hardy palm trees. It takes about half an hour to traverse the National Park Service’s underwater snorkel trail, which lies alongside the cay and is good for beginners. In 2008 the beach was immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp and it’s not hard to see why. On your way from Cruz Bay stop at the Trunk Bay overlook to take photos that will make all your friends back home jealous.

Trunk Bay is the most exquisite beach on St. John. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Trunk Bay is the most exquisite beach on St. John. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

It takes about half an hour to traverse the National Park Service’s underwater snorkel trail, which lies alongside the cay and is good for beginners.Trunk Bay is named for the leatherback turtles, locally called trunks, which nest here. It is a long beach—over a quarter mile—and even at its most crowded you will usually find a semblance of quiet at either extreme end. Facilities (7:30am-4:30pm) include lifeguards, restrooms and showers, a snack bar ($4-12) where you can get burgers, hot dogs, fries, sandwich, or ice cream, and a gift shop where you can pick up sunscreen, a new bathing suit, and beach toys. Rent chairs ($7), snorkel gear ($5), and an umbrella ($5) from the counter adjacent to the gift shop for a perfectly provisioned day at the beach. All equipment requires a deposit, so don’t forget your credit card. Rental equipment must be returned by 3pm.

Trunk Bay is the only beach on St. John that you must pay to enter. The NPS collects $4 per person (under 17 free) from a fee booth near the parking lot between 7:30am-4:30pm daily; annual passes are also available for $10 per person or $15 per family.

Trunk Bay is often mobbed, since it is the most popular stop for organized day trips from St. Thomas and the cruise ships. Parking is also limited. To avoid the crowds come early or late, but do come—this is what Caribbean beach dreams are made of.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon U.S. & British Virgin Islands.

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