NOTES: Northeast of Cruz Bay and northwest of Coral Bay on St Johns, the snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay (aka Watermelon Key) is popular for spotting marine life such as squid, starfish, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, southern stingrays, angelfish, parrot fish, four-eyed butterfly fish and nurse sharks. Waterlemon Cay is a small island located in eastern Leinster Bay about 100 yards offshore. Snorkeling to Waterlemon Cay is only recommended for experienced snorkelers.
While most people refer to this area as Watermelon Key, most maps call this Waterlemon Cay.
To reach the Waterlemon Cay snorkeling from Santa Cruz, head northeast on North Shore Road (Route 20) past Maho Bay. Veer left heading to Leinster Bay on the grounds of the ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Mill plantation. Park on Bay View Lane in the plantations parking lot across from the water. The small parking areas get crowded fast. Then, hike east along rocky shore line on the Leinster Bay Trail for about 20 minutes to the sandy beach. Some people leave gear and non-snorkelers here. Then, continue hiking east along coastline to the closest approach to the offshore island before heading into the water. Overall, it's about a 25 minute hike. If you are approaching by boat, the bay gets very crowded and don't count on there being a free public bouy to moor to.
Once out at Waterlemon Cay, advanced snorkelers will want to snorkel counter clockwise around the entire island. The best sights are off the northern half of the island.
Note: When snorkeling off St Johns USVI, be aware of potentially dangerous marine life including lionfish and sea urchins. Also, the coral reefs are in distress so be careful not to walk on or touch the coral.
Additional printed reading material on Waterlemon Cay snorkeling can be found in Snorkeling Virgin Islands by from Lawson Wood.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Virgin Islands National Park (340) 776-6201; USVI Tourism (800) 372-USVI
BREAKFAST JOINT: Joes Diner; Tree Lizard, Cinnamon Bay