We want to visit Trunk Bay on St. John and do a little snorkeling. Would we be better off going on our own or doing the ship excursion? If we go with the ship we only have about an hour for the beach. We've heard the snorkeling here is great. Is that still true?
My brother and I did Trunk Bay on our own last May. We were on the Carnival Pride. As Opus X said, it is easy to do on your own, but watch your time. We had a bit of a problem with the taxi from Trunk Bay to Cruz Bay on St John. The cabbie wanted to wait until he had a full load. Then there is the time for the ferry ride back to St Thomas and the cab from Red Hook back to the ship.
We found that the cost of doing it ourselves wasn't much less than taking the ship excursion. The ship has a boat pick you up at the ship and deliver you back. You snorkel from the boat so you avoid a pretty good swim from the beach to the reef. If you're not a good swimmer, rent a bouyancy vest. After seeing the rental equipment available at Trunk Bay, I was glad I had my own snorkel and mask!!! The Pride sold snorkels brand new for $5.00. I had gotten my mask and snorkel and fins at a local sporting goods store for about $35.
Knowing what I know now, I would take the ship excursion and spend the $5 on the snorkel. The excursion includes fins and vest if you want them so I wouldn't pack them. Trunk Bay does have decent showers, locker rentals and restrooms as well as a small concession area. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.
From what investigating Ive done on a side trip to St John, you are limited mostly by the arrival and departure times of the boats crossing to and from St Thomas. Did you find this to be a problem? I want to go right away as we get off the ship at the dock, but I wonder if we can get from the port to the ferry in that amount of time? (Arrive in port at 8am and the first ferry leaves at 9am)? Otherwise you can't leave again till 11am - have I received the correct information on this? HELP!!!
The ferry from Charlotte Amalie leaves at 9 and 11 as you stated. However, you can get a cab to take you to Red Hook on the other side of St Thomas and catch the ferry that runs every hour on the hour from 8 am on. It's like a bus service between the islands. It's also a shorter boat ride. In Red Hook, don't panic when you get there. It is definitely not the tourist side of the island. However, it is perfectly safe. It's just a much different look than Cahrlotte Amalie. Each ferry run has it's own shanty. Just go down to the dock and look for the one that has a sign for Cruz Bay St Johns. The ticket agents are in no hurry there so there may not be anyone in the shanty until about 20 minutes prior to sailing. When you get to Cruz Bay on St Johns, just grab a cab to Trunk Bay. On the way to Trunk Bay there are some amazing overlooks that the cabbie will stop at if you ask. Entry to Trunk Bay is $4 each. As you probably know, it is a US National Park and is absolutely beautiful. Photos can't do it justice. Definitely do not miss the opportunity to go there. My wife is even going to bag the shopping spree in St Thomas to go next May.
If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.
Sounds wonderful Ron - thanks so much for the information. I would love to email you, but either Im not looking in the right place, or your email addy isnt available? Please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org . I'll be looking forward to your email.
As others have said, it's pretty easy but requires some planning - not the day to sleep in on the ship because if you miss the 9 a.m. ferry at Red Hook you will have to wait until 10, which will limit your beach time. Also, consider Cinnamon instead of Trunk. An equally beautiful beach (IMHO), all the facilities but no admission charge and usually about 1/4 the number of people as you'll find at Trunk. Snorkeling is great around the little island just off the beach or walk down the beach to the far right end and work your way along the rocks - just fantastic. One thing to keep in mind - if the weather has been bad or its been very windy, the water on that side of St. John will have poor visibility and you may do better snorkeling-wise by staying on St. Thomas and going to Sapphire or Coki. Counting down till our 4th visit to Cinnamon, off the Golden Princess in Feb.!!!!!! Gene
We did Trunk Bay on our own in August. We took a taxi to Red Hook, got on the 0900 ferry, jumped in a cab in Cruz Bay and were at Trunk Bay by about 10:00AM We were the first ones on the beach! I had to laugh since we rented the only TWO chairs available at the concession and had to put down a $25.00 deposit on each of the old ratty things! Anyone who came after us sat in the sand! Trunk Bay is postcard beautiful. I snorkled and found it somewhat lacking. The underwater snorkel trail is WAY overrated. The shower facilities were good after swimming. We had a surprise at the taxi stand for our return trip to Cruz Bay. The $6.00 fare to get to Trunk Bay became a $9.00 fare to return! My next unpleasant surprise was a store clerk at Mongoose junction who wouldn't accept traveller's checks. And the writer who said the water taxi ticket counter personnel operated on their own agendas nailed it. They just stare at you if you ask to buy a ticket more than 10 minutes prior to departure time. Trunk Bay was beautiful, but for the hassle, I'd stay at Coki on St. Thomas next time out.
The easiest way to do it is just grab a cab from the ship. They'll be tons of them waiting. I'm not sure of the cost but it's not much. The cost for any cab ride on St Thomas is regulated by the local government. There is a set fee going from Charlotte Amalie to any point on the island. The last time we did it, I tipped the cabbie a couple of extra bucks and had him pick us up for the return trip at a specific time and place. It worked out well.
Ron - I'll be on St John in March and want to go to Trunk Bay and have been reading a lot of threads on this topic. You said something nobody else ever said here, but I have been thinking: that doing the ship excursion or doing it on you own adds up to a similar $$ amount. It seems that going on your own needs to 2 cab rides, 1 water taxi, all that both ways, and the park entrance. It just adds up. And then if you miss the ferry, you may have to wait 1 hr till the next one.
But how long does the ship excursion stay on St. John? That's my concern, that after 2 hours it will be time to go.
I was in St. Thomas last March on a cruise and I booked the St. John's Beach ship shore excursion. It cost $59. I really enjoyed the excursion. We stopped at Trunk Bay. The problem was that we didn't have much time at the beach. Maybe 1 1/2 hours. The excursion didn't leave until the afternoon. I will be in St. Thomas again in January but this time I will go over to St. John's on my own. I don't know what the cost will be but at least I will be able to spend much more time at the beach. I love the beach. I'll probably head over right after we get off of the ship.
That's exactly how I felt. St. John's is very beautiful and the excursion was nice, but just not enough time at the beach. If that's what you are looking for. I was. It sounds like it is pretty easy to get over there on your own. That's what I'm going to do.
Is it really worth two cabs and a ferry each way as far as snorkelling goes? Is it much better than Coki? I've heard the snorkelling is great there and it seems like you could save a lot of time and money by just staying on St. Thomas. I am speaking as someone who has never been to St. Thomas or St John so I wanna take in as much as possible. It just seems that if you try to go to St. John, it will kill half of your day. Which brings me to my next point. It seems that many people myself included, complain of not having enough time at ports. I would MUCH prefer to skip nassau altogether and get 2 days at St. Thomas. Wouldn't you all agree?
Aack! I am having the same dilemma. My friend and I had a "girls cruise" last March and did the whole taxi-ferry-taxi thing. We didn't pay attention to the Red Hook schedule, though it was easily available, and we watched the 9:00 am ferry sail away as we pulled up in our cab. Oh well, we sat on the shabby but cozy pier for 45 minutes catching the rays. The ferry ride was amazing in a wet and wild way (after 2 pampered days on the ship). The cabbie who took us to Trunk Bay was wonderful and stopped for us to take pictures of "the money shot" - you know the view I'm talking about if you've been there. Trunk Bay was AMAZING too - beautiful, my first Caribbean beach, and it was like your fantasy Caribbean beach. My friend and I snorkeled for the first time there (we didn't obsess about the rental equipment, what did we know?) and we appreciated the off-duty lifeguard who told us what to do (could such a gorgeous brown guy really be flirting with a 42 year old and a 51 year old pair of suburban mothers?), and the snorkeling so many others on this forum say "eh" to, was thrilling to us. We ate outside at a picnic table, wonderful grilled hamburgers and fries - and beers! - served by the Park Service concession. Everybody, all around us, was happy.
I hardly remember the cab ride back, the ferry ride back, and the OTHER cab ride back, I was so blissed out. I could hardly shop. (NOT!)
Now ... I've convinced my husband to cruise this Spring with me, our son, and my son's best friend (girlfriend's kid). I CANNOT decide whether to "put them through" the trip to St. John, hoping it will be magical and interesting and THOROUGH in a travelling sort of way ... or will it be a big hassle and we'll all be glad to be back on the ship?!
It does make for a long day and really cuts down on time for anything else. But it is a beautiful beach. Get there early. Last March we decided to charter a 25' dive boat right at the red hook dock and he took us over to several snorkling areas at St John and we were back at the ship by noon. The cost was split between 4 of us and was about $400. A little steep but when you factor everything else in it was worth it to us. We were at St John in 15-20 minutes.