St. John USVI Snorkeling Report – January 2024

By Lisa Schuler

We just returned from a seven day trip in January 2024, and here is our St. John USVI snorkeling report. It was our first time visiting the island, so we have no comparison to pre-hurricane reef conditions.

The following is a brief overview of our snorkeling experience.

Green Sea Turtle over sea grass in St. John USVI

Places We Snorkeled in St. John USVI

  • Maho Beach
  • Salt Pond Bay
  • Waterlemon Bay
  • Rendezvous Bay
  • Tektite Bay
Coral bommie surrounded by sea grass and squirrelfish in St. John USVI

What We Thought of Snorkeling St. John

Out of the five places snorkeled in St. John USVI, we found the best experience and conditions to be at Salt Pond Bay (four snorkel rating). There was a very good quantity and variety of reef fishes, turtles, and octopus. Some healthy coral existed, but evidence of reef damage is extensive.

Octopus hiding in rocks in St. John USVI

A close second was Waterlemon Bay (3-4 snorkel rating). While we did not venture out to Waterlemon Cay, the conditions in the bay were very good with a variety of reef fishes, a very large barracuda, rays, and turtles.  

We snorkeled Rendezvous and Tektite Bays as part of a snorkeling and sailing excursion. The conditions were fair to good in some places, with a variety of reef fishes. We give both a three snorkel rating.

Top view of a Blue Tang in St John USVI

Lastly is Maho Beach. I took the advice from snorkel reports and sought out the far western edge of the beach along some rocks. We did not see any turtles this day, just some reef fishes so overall the snorkeling was marginal. I give it a two snorkel rating.

We enjoyed our experience at Salt Pond Bay so much that we returned twice.


  1. I have snorkeled Maho Bay probably 50 times from 2017-2021 and have never NOT seen a turtle. Has something dramatic happened in the last year or so?

    • Maho’s a party beach now, courtesy of Maho Crossroads (it’s grossly expanded from the original “It’s just going to be a food truck!” plan, it’s a whole complex from the parking lot all the way to the hill). From everything I’ve heard, the turtles have pretty much moved on. It’s never been our favorite snorkel, so our last time there was probably 2020.

  2. Lisa, great report and very timely; we’ll be there in a week. Nice turtle photo: is it from Salt Pond Bay? A couple more questions: at Salt Pond, did you go out to the rocks in the middle of the bay? That’s my favorite spot but it’s a bit of a long pull to do solo! And, at Waterlemon Bay (so named on Google Maps: the easternmost part of Leinster Bay, due south of Waterlemon Cay), were you indeed south of Waterlemon Cay, near the boat moorings? Our favorite spot in that area used to be the mouth of Mary Creek (at the west end of Leinster Bay), but the hurricanes really steamrollered all of the elkhorn coral there.

    • My wife and I have been calling St. John our home away from home for over 20 years. In fact we were on St. John when Irma hit. There are many places that used to be great, like Waterlemon Cay, but no more. There is still great snorkeling if you know where to go but it usually takes some work to get to. The Yawzi Trail hike/snorkel is probably my favorite. It is coming back in great fashion, especially the fan coral.

      If you go back I strongly suggest you take a boat out to snorkel around St. John. The Captain knows all the good spots and because there is no driving or hiking involved you can hit them all in a day. My boat of choice is Island Roots. Jason and his crew grew up there so they know all the good spots.

      I also am amazed you did not see a turtle at Maho. You can usually stand on the shore pretty much anywhere and see their heads pop up for air, then swim out in that direction.

  3. We just arrived on St John; we purchased Galen and Nicole’s eBook.

    Thank you for all these recent posts!

    We are staying near Salt Pond Bay for three nights and then over near Cruz Bay for six nights. Any more suggestions are always appreciated! Thanks.

  4. We just returned from St John. We had a fantastic snorkel in Maho Bay, Francis Bay and saw a scorpion fish, arrow crab, lobster, lion fish, barracuda, Permit, turtles, moray eel, and nurse sharks. It was a fabulous time. Waterlemon, Salt Pond, and Yawzi were also great snorkels with Queen trigger fish, spotted rays and scrawled file fish and scrawled cow fish.

    We are avid snorkelers and looking for someplace that can compare with St John. Love love love this island.


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