St. John Island VI and its Trunk Bay
By the Golden Girl Twinty Karat
Saint John is a beautiful and exotic island and part of the US Virgin Islands territory. It is the smallest of the main US islands, and is located about four miles east of Saint Thomas, the location of the territory’s capital, Charlotte Amalie. It is four miles southwest of Tortola, part of the British Virgin Islands. The island is only 19.61 sq mi in area with a population of 4,170 according to the 2010 census.
St. John has Pristine Beaches
St. John Island prides itself with pristine beaches and unadulterated luscious surroundings. But if there is one spot that you cannot miss while visiting St. John, it would be the world-class white sand beach called Trunk Bay. Although the name Trunk Bay may not seem very fitting, make no mistake, Trunk Bay is one of the world’s top beach paradises. Trunk Bay has consistently been voted one of the “Ten Best Beaches in The World” by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
Because of the beach’s uncanny natural beauty, it has become an iconic landmark, which represents St. John in many photographs seen all over the world. Trunk Bay has also created a reputation among cruise liners. As a result it has become a staple destination to many cruise ship passengers visiting the US. Virgin Islands.
St. John is within the National Parks
The beach was once owned by Laurence S. Rockefeller, but was donated to the National Park Service. Two-thirds of St. John is within the National Park, so most of the island is undeveloped. Today, the quarter-mile long Trunk Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Park. This is good news to future travelers as this breathtaking beach and its offshore coral reefs is guaranteed to be well preserved and protected.
Aside from its powdery white sand, the beach tempts tourists for a swim with its crystal clear water, which generally remains warm and tranquil all year round. Decorating the beach are sea grapes, coconut palms and some tropical vegetation that stretches to a flat valley. Since Trunk Bay is part of the park, there are numerous scenic hiking trails that you can follow. If you are interested in the historical side of St. John, there are nearby sugar plantation ruins and other colonial remnants that you can visit.
The Underwater Trail of Reefs
Another good reason to go out of your way and visit Trunk Bay is the attraction called the Underwater Trail of Reefs. To fully enjoy this attraction, you will need to snorkel a 650 feet-long trail which will lead you to a wide range of vibrant reefs and colorful sea creatures. Along the trail, you see some helpful signs showing information about the coral and marine life thriving in the region. The water and visibility conditions are suitable for inexperienced and even first time snorkelers.
Trunk Bay has Decent Beach Facilities
St. John and its Trunk Bay is quite convenient compared to other exotic beaches since it maintains decent facilities like beach chairs, lifeguards, showers, bathrooms, picnic tables, barbecue grills, snack bars and a covered pavilion; all managed by the National Park Office. Most of these facilities are available from 9 am to 4:30 pm. There is a prescribed fee for entering Trunk Bay, but it is relatively small.
In the event you did not bring snorkeling equipment to the island, you can still enjoy the activity by renting such equipment from the gift shop on the beach. The shop also sells beach essentials and souvenirs like shirts, books, postcards, batteries, towels and sunscreen.
Trunk Bay visited by Cruise Ship Passengers
Because of Trunk Bay’s popularity among honeymooners, cruise ship passengers and even locals, the beach can get crowded. If you want to avoid the hordes of tourists and see the bay completely empty, come early in the morning, before 10 am or late in the afternoon.
You can reach the beach from the island of St. Thomas, by first taking a public bus or taxi to Red Hook, then riding the ferry to Cruz Bay on St. John Island. Cruz Bay is the principal town and largest town on the island. From Cruz Bay, you can easily take a taxi to Trunk Bay.
Cruz Bay is also home to car rental locations, several bars and restaurants, day charters, and shopping areas of which the three main ones are Mongoose Junction, the Marketplace, and Wharfside Village. Coral Bay on the eastern side of the island is a smaller town, offering limited amenities.