Snorkeling the Virgin Islands National Park

St John is stunning and special for many reasons, but the Virgin Islands National Park is probably one of the most important.  The Virgin Islands National Park encompasses nearly 70% of St John by land.  Being the largest land holder on St John has a profound affect on the island, it’s politics, it’s culture and it’s jaw dropping natural beauty.  The National Park’s protection of St John’s tremendous natural resources and scenery is why our beaches are so pristine, and why the demand for St John as a tourist destination remains so high.  Not to mention the undeniable fact that the VINP not only maintains property values, but drives continued appreciation of the Real Estate Market on St John. 

Just a small piece of the Land and Water's Protected by the  Virgin Islands National Park  and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

Just a small piece of the Land and Water's Protected by the Virgin Islands National Park and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

What you might not know about the park, is that it also includes over 5650 acres of submerged lands which protect the Coral Reefs and diverse collection of animal species that inhabit our shores.  In addition to the huge acreage held by the park, The Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument adds another 12,700 acres to that! 

This protection makes St John an amazing destination for Snorkeling and Diving.  Don’t like to snorkel, no worries, you can easily enjoy the marine life that lives the slow life here in the tropics from the beach or from the boat.  For those that do want to snorkel, we are always asked where is the best. 

We have put together our favorite 8 snorkel spots in no particular order below.  Check these out and tell us yours!

Photo by Leah Randall - Co Owner of Flyaway Charters out of Coral Bay

1. Waterlemon Cay – Park at Annaberg ruins and hike 1 flat mile toward the cay.  Snorkel around the entire island if you are a strong swimmer or just float and enjoy some amazing Coral and tons of Fish.  There can be a current some days on the back side

2. Haulover Bay – Park at Haulover beach and enjoy the southside easily without a walk, or more advanced walk to the Northside and snorkel to the east for Stunning Coral.

3.  Salt Pond – Hike down to Salt pond beach is about 1/4 mile.  Turtles, Rays and some great Coral out deeper. 

4. Maho Bay – Park in the parking lot at the east end of the beach, Right across the street swim straight out toward the dinghy channel markers (red and green).  Look for large turtles feasting on sea grass with Ramoras on their backs and Rays swimming underneath.

Below Photo's except Turtle, by Leah Randall

5.  Flanagan Island and New Found Bay – Getting out on the water in a boat is a must do for any Virgin Islands Vacation.  These two stunning snorkel spots are only accessible by boat.  We recommend Flyaway Charters.  Captain Colin and I spent years taking tourists to these spots and awing our customers with the deep clear water and amazing Coral Structures.   Colin is still doing it and this is a trip that should not be missed!

6.  Hurricane Hole – This is another spot best reached by boat, contact Flyaway charters for the best guided snorkel of this area.  It can also be reached by shore.  Park along the mangroves at areas where people have clearly parked before.  Climb through the mangroves and get into the water.  Snorkel close to the root systems and be careful not to stir up the water.  Look into the roots for tiny versions of the large reef fish you know and tons of other interesting things like anemones, crabs, shrimp, seahorses and starfish

7.  Windswept point – Snorkel out of trunk bay to the east around the point– life guards may try to stop you, but if you are a good swimmer and the North Swell is not up, this can be amazing.  

8.  Gibney Beach – Park along road at Oppenheimer beach gate.  Walk down the driveway. Tons of great reef and then snorkel to the east along the coast for some private pocket beach stops