Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

Trunk Bay St John: 8 Things to Know Before You Go

Last updated Jan 23, 2023 | Best Snorkeling Caribbean, St. John

Go for the beach BUT maybe not the underwater snorkeling trail! Do not get me wrong. Trunk Bay St John is absolutely gorgeous. When you think of the perfect beach with super soft white sand in between your toes and incredibly clear turquoise water, Trunk Bay is it!

However, when it comes to snorkeling, I have to give it a pass. Now granted, it may have been amazing prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but now the reef has suffered and the marine life is lacking.

Nonetheless, Trunk Bay STILL deserves a visit and a swim if you are going to be in St John. Read on to discover the 8 things to know before visiting one of the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean.

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How to Get to Trunk Bay St John + Map

Map of how to get to Trunk Bay St John USVI

How to get to Trunk Bay St John USVI

You will need to fly into Cyril E. King Airport in St Thomas USVI and then either take the passenger ferry or car ferry. We rented a Jeep through Amalie Car Rental in St Thomas (love them!). They met us curbside with our Jeep. The transfer process was smooth and seamless.

Then we took the 30-minute car ferry. Trunk Bay is another 10-minute drive from the dock. More details on this process can be found in my article Where to Stay, Play, & Eat in St John USVI. 

St. John USVI car ferry

St. John USVI car ferry

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Parking is Crazy

Trunk Bay St John parking lot

Trunk Bay St John parking lot

Since this is considered the most beautiful beach in the U.S. Virgin Islands, everyone wants to come here and it will be busy! I strongly encourage you to get there early, so you can actually get a parking spot and maybe avoid some of the prime-time crowds. We arrived around 9:30 am, and there were three spots left.

Alternatively, some suggest taking a taxi to the beach since parking spots fill quickly.

Trunk Bay Beach entrance

Trunk Bay Beach entrance

The entrance fee is nominal but just know that you must pay $5 USD to access Trunk Bay.

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Beach is Open Year-Round

The park is open year-round. According to the National Park Service,  facilities are open 8 am to 4 pm. 

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Trunk Bay Beach Lives Up to the Hype

After we paid our entrance fee, we proceeded on the winding sidewalk toward the beach. You will pass a stand on your left offering snorkeling gear rentals and beach chairs. Since we snorkel frequently when we travel to beach locations, I always bring my own snorkeling gear. A mask or fins that do not fit will ruin your experience. 

Trunk Bay St John boardwalk

Trunk Bay St John boardwalk

Trunk Bay St John USVI snorkeling gear and beach chair rental

Beach chairs and snorkeling gear rentals at Trunk Bay St John

Once you arrive at Trunk Bay Beach, you will pass by a lifeguard chair. Now, it is time to set up shop and enjoy that pristine tropical turquoise water. There are a few little pockets of shade but not much. Load up on Elta MD sunscreen or better yet wear a rash guard. I love my Coolibar sun shirts! 

Trunk Bay Beach St John USVI Lifeguard Chair

Trunk Bay Beach lifeguard chair

When we first got there, it was not too crowded, but by the time we left, it was getting busy quickly. I cannot imagine how packed this beach must be when cruise ships are in port. GO EARLY! I cannot emphasize this enough. 

Also, to avoid some of the crowds, space out! Most people bunch up right beside the lifeguard chair. If you walk a little further to the left (as you face the water), it is not as cramped. In addition, try to pick a day to visit when cruise ships are not in port. 

Trunk Bay Beach in St John USVI

Left side (as you face the water) of Trunk Bay Beach St John

Trunk Bay Beach has a gently sloping sandy bottom, so it is the perfect beach to just bob up and down and enjoy your gorgeous surroundings. 

Swimming at Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

Swimming at Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

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Trunk Bay Snorkeling Trail Was a Letdown

My husband and I snorkeled 11 different spots during our 1-week vacation in St John. Waterlemon Cay and Haulover North were some of our favorites. If you love to snorkel, check out my St John Snorkeling Guide for all the details, which includes my rating system of all the sites. 

I was excited to check out the snorkeling at Trunk Bay, but it fell short of expectations. The snorkeling is located along the Cay, which is a short swim from the beach. We did see some tropical fish such as sergeant majors and coral outcroppings, but I would not call this a top-notch snorkeling location. We also went when there was a little wind, which made the water a bit choppy and affected the visibility. 

Where to snorkel at the Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

Where to snorkel at Trunk Bay Beach in St John

Snorkeling at Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

Snorkeling with sergeant majors at Trunk Bay 

The other downside was the underwater snorkeling trail was quite busy with other fellow tourists. Expect a lot of snorkeling fins in your face unless you get there early. 

Certainly enjoy the beach but keep your expectations low for the snorkeling.  I have heard the snorkeling is pretty good on the far left side of the beach (as you face the water). We did not snorkel there but may check it out next time.

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Grab a Rum Punch at the Snack Shack & Beach Bar

Lime N Da coconut and rum punch at Trunk Bay Beach Bar

Lime N Da coconut and rum punch at Trunk Bay Beach Bar

One of the perks of visiting Trunk Bay is it offers some food and drinks that you can enjoy while relaxing on the beach. We did not order any food but enjoyed a refreshing rum punch and Lime-N-Da-Coconut. Drink prices range from $8-$12 USD. You can also make your drink “bigger” for an extra $4 USD.  

Showers and restrooms are available.

Bar at Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

Bar at Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

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Where to Stay Near Trunk Bay St John

Villa rental in Coral Bay in St John

Villa rental in Coral Bay in St John

We stayed at an adorable villa in Coral Bay, which we absolutely loved! Coral Bay in St John has a relaxed, more hippie-vibe with plenty of unique restaurants and amazing snorkeling spots. 

Our villa offered incredible panoramic views overlooking Coral Bay and also had a private pool. It is located about 25 minutes from Trunk Bay.

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Trunk Bay Beach vs Cinnamon Bay Beach

St. John USVI Cinnamon Bay Beach

Cinnamon Bay Beach

If you want to avoid the crowds, have a better snorkeling experience, and still enjoy a beautiful white sand beach and turquoise water, then head to the neighboring Cinnamon Bay Beach. It does not have the amenities of Trunk Bay, but it is a solid alternative choice if Trunk Bay is too crowded or you cannot find parking. 

 Final Thoughts

Trunk Bay Beach is gorgeous and is definitely worth a visit to swim in its crystal-clear turquoise waters! Just realize though it will be BUSY with all the other tourists who want to do the same thing. Arrive early, have a nice swim, enjoy a refreshing cocktail, and skip the snorkeling.   

Need more ideas for planning your St John vacation? Don’t miss my 9-day itinerary below. 

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