[ Check Out Our St John Snorkeling Map at the Bottom of the Page ]
St John island is a top snorkeling destination with visitors to the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean – and for good reason. With roughly 2/3rds of the island, approx. 7,000 acres, protected by the Virgin Islands National Park and protection for the island’s coral reefs – St John offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving locations in the US Virgin Islands.
So what makes St John island such a snorkeler’s paradise?
First and foremost is the fact that St John’s reefs and Cays offer some of the finest shallow water snorkeling in all of the Caribbean. Easy access and relative few skills or experience are required to see some amazing marine habitats and sea life! Second, many of the top snorkeling destinations are off sandy beaches – making water entry a breeze for young and old! Third, and perhaps most important is the quality and amazing diversity of the marine life that lives within the protection of the Virgin Islands National Park. Unlike some other locations in the Caribbean, St John’s waters are teaming with colorful fish and incredible coral formations!
Check out which St John’s reefs and Cays offer some of the finest shallow water snorkeling in the Virgin Islands.
#1 Snorkeling destination on St John is Waterlemon Cay.
The Leinster Bay Trail to Waterlemon Cay leaves from the lower parking area of the Annaberg Ruins on St John’s north shore. The short hike takes you along the shoreline of the beautiful aqua-blue waters of Leinster Bay. The best spot to enter the water is along the coral rubble shoreline – nearest the little island or Cay just off shore. Snorkel out to Waterlemon Cay and you’ll likely see lots of huge red and yellow cushion starfish. WARNING: Waterlemon Cay can be subject to strong currents on the far side of the cay. Never exceed your experience and physical abilities – and ALWAYS snorkel with a buddy.
Find out more about snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay >
#2 on our top spots to snorkel on St John is Henley Cay – STAFF PICK
Henley Cay, located off St Johns North Shore and within sight of Caneel Bay Resort is a tiny island with some world-class snorkeling. Although you’ll need to kayak or charter a boat for snorkeling at Henley Cay – it’s well worth the effort! Along the protected western cove of this tiny spit of land is one of the Caribbean’s healthiest reefs. “Forests” of sea fans and gorgonians wave in rhythm to the waves and currents. Schools of blue tangs swim along side colorful parrot fish, wrasses and snappers. WARNING: Henley Cay can be subject to strong currents on the north and south sides of the cay. Never exceed your experience and physical abilities – and ALWAYS snorkel with a buddy.
Find out more about snorkeling at Henley Cay >
#3 on our top spots to snorkel on St John is Haulover North – STAFF PICK
Haulover North, located on St John’s far East End is our number two choice for snorkeling. Because of its location visitors will need to rent a Jeep/car to see this spot. Haulover is a stoney beach – not great for sunbathing …but fantastic for snorkeling! It’s a short walk from the road along a narrow island path to the beach. Entry is best at the very apex of the beach where the sand comes closest to the shore. The best snorkeling is to your left ( west) and is in 5′ to 20′ of water.
More information about snorkeling at Haulover North >
#4 Snorkeling spot on St John is Trunk Bay
St John’s most famous beach and the crown jewel of the VI National Park is a fantastic place to snorkel. With the islands only underwater snorkeling trail – it’s easy access, amenities, lifeguards and abundant marine life make this our number three choice. Trunk Beach is on the North Shore and easily reached by car or taxi. Since it is the most popular beach – crowds are largest during the middle of the day – tapering off into the afternoon.
More information about Trunk Bay and snorkeling >
#5 on our list of Top Spots to Snorkel is Hansen Bay
This is another of the East End spots that require a rental Jeep/car to visit. But trust us, it’s worth it! Located on East End Road, past Coral Bay, you’ll come to a tree that splits the road. Go up over a small hill and the entrance is on the right. There is a nominal fee that covers parking and access to the beach. You’ll find a wonderful south-facing white sand beach with plenty of sun. Snorkeling is best just a short distance from shore and to your left ( east).
St John Snorkeling Map