Virgin Islands National Park: Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay

Late afternoon on Monday, March 21 [2022], we finally swam at Trunk Bay. When Sean and I had been to Virgin Islands National Park nine years earlier, the day we’d reserved for visiting Trunk Bay turned out to be windy on the north side of St. John, so Trunk Bay was closed for swimming because of dangerous surf. But on this trip, we got to enjoy a late afternoon swim and sunset at one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.

Caribbean Reef Squid

After departing the Waterlemon Cay area, we had a little time to kill before Trunk Bay. We wanted to get there after 4:30pm, when they stopped charging admission. Our hope was that it would be quieter at the very popular beach in the late afternoon/early evening.

Since there was parking at Maho Bay as we drove past, we stopped there so that the boys could wet their whistles.

While we were there, we spotted a trash mongoose. A trash mongoose is a mongoose nosing around by the trash. But I didn’t manage to get a photo before it vanished.

Sean and I also found a thank you gift for Juan, who was watching Elsa.

Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Sean M. Santos

Image: Josh Coles

We continued on to Trunk Bay, where we easily parked in the small lot and carried our things out to the fast-emptying beach.

Sea Grapes

The guys were gobsmacked at how beautiful it was. Very excited, they ran into the water.

Sea Grapes

Trunk Cay

The light had grown gentle, so I snapped a few photos with the 7D before snorkeling. Two girls, Sarah and Parker, clocked me as being at least somewhat capable with a camera and asked me to take their photo. Then they asked if I wanted them to take one of me with my husband, which was very sweet.

Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

The guys were having fun throwing the frisbee around in the shallow, sandy area near shore. I stowed the big camera, pulled on my snorkel, fins, and mask, and swam out to the underwater trail near Trunk Cay.

Yes, Trunk Bay boasts an underwater National Park Service trail. Essentially it’s informational signs (just like on the surface!) on cement blocks placed on the sea floor. Each is attached to a buoy so visitors can swim along and read them.

It’s a neat concept because it helps orient new snorkelers to looking for interesting things in the water and then paying attention long enough to read the signs.

Trunk Cay

Despite the charm of the underwater trail signage, I turned away and toward Trunk Cay to see what there was to see.

Beaugregory and Mustard Hill Coral

Sergeant Majors, Bar Jacks, Palometa Jack, and Sea Urchins

Brain Coral, Coney, Sea Urchins, Mustard Hill Coral, and Scattered Pore Sponges

Sea Urchins, Mustard Hill Coral, and Scattered Pore Sponges

Sea Rod

Redfin Parrotfish and Bar Jack

Bluehead (and other fish unidentifiable because I was looking at them from above, but maybe a Bar Jack and some sort of Parrotfish)

Elkhorn Coral, Brain Coral, Beaugregory, and Blue Bell Tunicates(?)

Elkhorn Coral and Blue Tang

Elkhorn Coral, Brain Coral, and Sergeant Majors

Stoplight Parrotfish and Caribbean Reef Squid

Then over quite close to the cay, I spotted two incredibly cool Caribbean Reef Squid, the only native squid of the Virgin Islands. They were maybe ten inches long, dappled, with translucent frills. (They’re in the video above too.)

Caribbean Reef Squid

I pointed them out to a pair of snorkelers who were making their way along the cay.

Elkhorn Coral

Sea Urchins, Corky Sea Fingers, and Mustard Hill Coral

I rejoined the others. Sean, Josh, and Nick were busy taking turns throwing each other into the air splashing down into the water. Shrieking.

Their shrieking laughter caught the attention of two handsome men who were swimming nearby. They came over to say hello, attracted to the boys’ shrieks like gay moths to flames.

They were Jimmy and Reggie from Atlanta. They were vacationing in St. Thomas and were on a daylong excursion to St. John. Throughout the trip, Josh and Nick had talked about being “St. John tens,” but they admitted that Reggie and Jimmy were real St. John tens. The guys were then debating whether they were St. John sixes or fours… USVIVI or USVIIV?

Mustard Hill Coral

Mustard Hill Coral

While the six guys chatted and swam and enjoyed the water, I shot some photos of the sunset.

Jost Van Dyke

Image: Sean M. Santos

After the sunset, it was time to go. While we were putting our stuff in the car, we saw Reggie and Jimmy running for the final island bus to get back to Cruz Bay and then onto the ferry to St. Thomas. They made it, and we waved goodbye!

On the way back to Coral Bay, I we listened to Kim Petras’ “Coconuts” and Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” in honor of our very fun day.

On our first evening on the island, we’d noticed a drag queen at one of the Coral Bay bars. Josh and Nick wanted to check it out and see if the place had a gay vibe.

Jimmy, Sean, and I dropped them off and headed over to Calabash Market. Sean wanted to see his friend. He was trying to decide whether he should say, “I look forward to seeing you everyday” or “You’re my North Star.” As we pulled up, he was smoking a hookah in front of the store. That plus some white WASPy tourists who pulled up flustered Sean. So he just bought some coconut cream.

We circled back, parked, and gathered Josh and Nick. We decided to get Wok on the Beach again. This time we ordered take out, and our wonderful server had to help us with the ordering.

We took our food back to our eco-tent at Concordia. The restaurant there, although closed, was hopping with dudebros making frozen drinks. We surmised that the group had maybe arranged to be able to use the supplies in the bar. They seemed to be either a bachelor party or maybe a frat house getaway.

We ate our food, chilled out, and went to bed fairly early. Tomorrow would be our last full day on St. John.

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