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The Insider's Guide to Trunk Bay

It’s one of the gems of the Virgin Islands - a beach so pristine that it became the centerpiece of a national park. Trunk Bay is one of our favorite places and a must-see for any visitor to the U.S.V.I. Read below for our tips on how to get to Trunk Bay and make the most of your beach day. If you have any questions, leave us a comment or contact us directly. We can’t wait for you to experience this piece of heaven on earth for yourself!

Why Trunk Bay?

With so many gorgeous beaches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it can be tough to decide which to visit. Trunk Bay has four major draws that make it one of the most popular destinations on St. John:

  1. Stunning scenery. The white-sand beach is bordered on one side by turquoise blue water and the other by the lush forest of the Virgin Islands National Park. If you’re looking for a tropical paradise that feels removed from the hustle and bustle of modern life, you’ve found your happy place.

  2. Fantastic snorkeling. Trunk Bay is home to a snorkeling trail and a wide variety of marine wildlife. Check out our paragraph below for tips on exploring this one-of-a-kind attraction.

  3. Easy access. Trunk Bay may feel like another world, but it’s just a short taxi ride from Cruz Bay and can be easily reached from any of our St. Thomas villas and condos.

  4. Proximity to other beautiful north side beaches. After you’ve explored Trunk Bay, it’s easy to check out nearby Denis Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Maho Bay and more.

Getting There

If you’re starting your trip on St. Thomas, getting to Trunk Bay is relatively simple. First, you’ll want to drive or take a taxi to Red Hook on the island’s east side. If you need help arranging transportation, just let our concierge service know - concierge assistance is always complimentary for Island Luxury guests! At Red Hook, you’ll want to take the ferry to Cruz Bay. The ferry ride only takes 15 minutes and costs just over $8 per person for a one-way trip. It travels between the islands hourly, with the first trip starting at 5:30 a.m. and the last ferry leaving St. John at 11 p.m. (See the full schedule here.) After you arrive in Cruz Bay, you can take an open-air safari bus right to the beach! The ride takes approximately 15 minutes.

What to Bring

Trunk Bay has a snack shack and beach gear rentals, so you can pack relatively light and take advantage of the amenities when you arrive. Here’s what we like to include in our beach bag:

  • Beachwear, a towel and a bottle of water (you can also purchase food and drinks at the beach). Follow island etiquette by wearing clothing over your swimsuit on your way to and from the beach.

  • Cash in small denominations and a credit card. You’ll need to purchase ferry tickets and pay for the $5-per-person beach admission. Although most facilities take credit cards, we like to bring enough cash to cover taxi rides and any other cash-only incidentals.

  • Reef-safe sunscreen and a rash guard. It’s surprisingly easy to get sunburned while snorkeling, so double up on your sun protection by bringing sunscreen and a water-friendly coverup.

  • Snorkel gear. You can rent equipment at Trunk Bay, but you may have more fun snorkeling in a mask and fins that you’re familiar with and that fit you perfectly. If a leaky mask will put a literal damper on your experience, you might want to bring your own!

When to Visit

Trunk Bay is a popular stop for cruise ship guests, but staying on St. Thomas gives you the flexibility to avoid the crowds. We like to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon after the cruise ship crowds depart. The beach’s showers and restrooms open at 8 a.m., and the snack shack opens at 10 a.m. Both close at 4 p.m.

Exploring the Underwater Snorkeling Trail

One of Trunk Bay’s most unique features is its underwater snorkeling trail. As you navigate the 30-minute route, you’ll encounter signs along the seafloor with information about the marine life around you. The waves are gentle and the water is clear and shallow, making this a fantastic way for beginning snorkelers to explore the ocean. You’ll see coral, parrotfish, angelfish and if you’re lucky, a sea turtle or two! In fact, Trunk Bay gets its name from the leatherback sea turtle, sometimes called the “trunk turtle” in the islands.

We’re Here to Help

We hope our tips help make your visit to Trunk Bay one you’ll never forget. If you need help with accommodations, transportation or have any questions about visiting St. Thomas and St. John, please reach out. We’re passionate about sharing our love of the Virgin Islands and decades of locals-only knowledge with our guests. See you on the beach!

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