Where's the best beach/snorkeling to be had on St. John, USVI?

Hey y’all,

So in about a month, my family and I will be going down to Puerto Rico to visit my brother who lives and works down there. During our trip, we are planning on flying over to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a few days, to hang out and island-hop since the weather can get crappy in P.R. sometimes. We are aiming to stay in a resort near Red Hook on St. Thomas (which has quite decent room rates this time of year…it being the off-season in the tropics), and possibly take the ferry over to St. John at some point, where none of us have yet been.

I’ve been researching the various places to visit the beach and get in some shore-based snorkeling while there, but haven’t really gotten a good impression as to how factors like crowds are in the off-season. There have been a few other factors I’ve been considering, though:

  • easy access. I’m talking no more than a five-minute walk from the nearest (paved) road. This is mainly because my folks don’t want to be dragged over a mile of rocks to get to the beach.
  • restroom facilities, preferably with showers. A few of the beaches do have Park Service facilities.
  • access to decent food would be nice, but if not, then we can wing it or take a cab back to Cruz Bay.

What I still can’t get a bead on are snorkeling and off-season crowd conditions at what look like the best beaches. In particular, Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay look attractive, but I don’t feel like fighting huge crowds (mine is not an early-riser group FWIW), and I also don’t want to sacrifice good water conditions for a beach that has EVERYTHING. Besides, a reef that is in poor health makes me very sad :frowning:

So, if there is any particular beach on St. John that you prefer, I’d really like to hear about it. Are crowds really an issue this time of year? Are there other good beach spots that don’t get mentioned too often in the travel guides? And are there any other recommendations for St. John or the USVI in general? Thanks a lot in advance, and I’d love to hear what you folks think!

I’ve only been to St. John’s once, in 1970. We stayed at Cinnamon Bay, but the snorkeling was better at Trunk Bay.

Can’t tell you how well the reefs have survived the intervening decades.

Hawksnest Bay is my favorite, plus is seems to meet a couple of your needs. It’s close to Cruz Bay so you can get back to food easily or pick some up and it’ll still be warm when you get there. Also, the road is about 10 feet from the beach, so you can’t get any closer without actually driving into the ocean. It looks like a postcard, it’s amazing. If you’re standing on the beach looking at the ocean, the snorkeling is all to your right and starts pretty close to the beach. The reef goes along the rock edge and then around the point and back into the other beach. I’m sure there’s better snorkeling at other beaches, but you can’t beat the combination of location and proximity to the road. Have fun.

I was in the VI in 2002 with some local friends and they took us to Haulover Bay on St. John and it was as this site describes…

I would highly recommend it.

I wouldn’t bother with Trunk Bay–crowded and crappy snorkeling.

I actually just remembered from a magazine that I read that Trunk Bay is the one with the underwater nature trail…while this sounds cool, it probably also lead to crowds. Also, beaches that attract lots of waders and swimmers seem to have lower visibility, even ones that are crystal-clear otherwise.

Thanks so much for the responses so far, everyone! :cool: