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

by | Last updated Apr 14, 2024 | Best Snorkeling Caribbean, St. John

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! A day at Trunk Bay is one of our top things to do 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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01- 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.

St. John USVI car ferry

St. John USVI car ferry

02- 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.

03- 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.

04- 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 snorkel mask or fins that do not fit will ruin your experience.

My husband and I are experienced snorkelers and have had a lot of practice testing out snorkeling equipment. Here are our favorite snorkeling masks and travel fins if you are trying to figure out which would be best for you.

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

05- Maybe Skip the Snorkeling

Snorkeling at Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

Snorkeling at Trunk Bay Beach in St. John USVI

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.

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.

06- Grab a Rum Punch at the 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

07- 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.

To find out more about this villa and other amazing boutique properties close to Trunk Bay, don’t miss my curated list below! 

08- Trunk Bay 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 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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Questions about our Trunk Bay St. John experience?

Let me know in the comments below!

  1. Dana Eikenberg

    Do you have some favorite places in Cruz Bay

    • Nichole

      Cruz Bay has a great location due to its proximity to lots of restaurants, bars, and shops. We stay in Coral Bay because it’s closer to our favorite snorkeling spots, but one place I enjoy visiting in Cruz Bay is Mongoose Junction.

      It has lots of cute little shops (art, jewelry, beach decor, souvenirs, clothing, etc.) plus some good places to grab a bite to eat. Our favorite place for delicious sandwiches (they do slow-roasted meats) is the North Shore Deli. If we are snorkeling near Trunk Bay/Cinnamon Bay, we’ll pick up a sandwich or one of the grab-and-go items. There’s also a great homemade ice cream shop called St. John Scoops.

      We haven’t had the chance yet to go but Extra Virgin Bistro is supposed to have some fantastic food and great cocktails. There’s also a highly-rated food truck I’ve been meaning to check out called Little Olive that serves up some great Mediterranean food.

      Enjoy your trip!


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