Article Overview: Visiting Waterlemon Cay
Waterlemon Cay is one of the most heavily photographed points in Virgin Islands National Park, St John. The iconic island sits in the middle of a spectacular coral reef outlined by sand and brilliant, clear turquoise water. Visitors enjoy hiking the Leinster Bay trail around the bay as well as swimming and snorkeling out to it.
Waterlemon Cay is located near the Annaberg Plantation ruins. The hiking trail that leads visitors to the popular viewpoint shares a parking lot with Annaberg.
In this post we’ll cover everything you need to know about America Hill ruins and the hike to them including:
- Waterlemon Cay Hiking Tips & Things to Know
- Waterlemon Cay Trail Information (Leinster Bay Trail)
- Best time to visit Waterlemon Cay
- Waterlemon Cay Snorkeling
- Getting to Waterlemon Cay
- Waterlemon Cay post-hurricane Maria
- Photos of Waterlemon Cay & Leinster Bay Trail
Please, Wear Sunscreen.
- SUNSCREEN: Many sunscreens have been outlawed in the Virgin Islands due to reef-damaging ingredients. Goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway – wear sunscreen! The Caribbean is unforgiving on unprotected skin. We’ve made that mistake enough times to make lathering up a top priority. We highly recommend this one (which is reef-safe).
Sandals are your friend.
- FOOTWEAR: There’s nothing like the feeling of warm sand between the toes. There’s also nothing quite like the feeling of something sharp and pokey in the toes. The walk to the beach from the parking lot is short but best attempted with something between your feet and the ground, like these sandals that we love. and these sandals which have straps.
Goggles and flippers for the win.
- SNORKEL GEAR: There is an actual underwater trail in Virgin Islands National Park – how cool is that? In order to best experience it along with so many other amazing underwater spots, you need snorkel gear! This is the inexpensive set we used. We also liked this cool American Flag swimming cap
Underwater camera housing… to ruin, or not to ruin.
- UNDERWATER CAMERA HOUSING: So here we must add the caveat that we lost a camera to the depths in Virgin Islands National Park (at Maho Bay). Anytime you get your camera near water, let alone saltwater, you’re taking a risk. With that being said we have used this underwater camera housing in the past and had luck with it.
Rash guards are great for extra UV protection, especially after that inevitable burn.
- RASH GUARD: We were told to be sure and pack rash guards for this trip not so much for the coral etc but for extra UV protection (especially for Will who burns easily). We got these inexpensive ones off amazon and we were sure glad to have them.
Do not touch our dear friend, the sea turtle.
- Sea Turtles: Green Sea Turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Believe it or not it is a felony to touch one. As tempting as it might be, resist the urge and admire from a distance. We’ve all gotten pretty good at social distancing – best to apply these practices to our sea turtle friends as well.
Waterlemon Cay from America Hill | Virgin Islands National Park, USVI
Best Time to Visit Waterlemon Cay
The best time to visit Waterlemon Cay is in the morning around sunrise to capture the light sweeping across the hills and illuminating the water with vibrant blues and greens. Afternoon is to be avoided for photos as the reflection off the water is harsh and makes “snapping the sick pic” pretty tough.
Getting to Waterlemon Cay
Waterlemon Cay is a 20 minute drive from Cruz Bay where the main island ferry lands. To get to Waterlemon Cay visitors should use the Annaberg Sugar Plantation parking lot.
Waterlemon Cay itself can only be accessed by water via swimming or boating. Most folks who visit this area stick to the beach and viewpoint which are accessed via the Leinster Bay trail.
Waterlemon Cay Ruins
Waterlemon Cay Trail Info (Leinster Bay Trail)
The Leinster Bay trail is lovely trail that starts at the Annaberg Ruins and ends at the junction with the Johnny Horn Trail. Hikers should note that the Leinster Bay Trail becomes the Johnny Horn Trail at a junction after .8miles. At this point taking a left turn leads hikers (after another .1miles or so) to the famous viewpoint overlooking Waterlemon Cay and bay.
Leinster Bay Trail Length: .8miles each way
Time Needed: 1.5hours
Waterlemon Cay Snorkeling
Snorkeling Waterlemon Cay
Waterlemon Bay offers warm, crystal clear waters and abundant sea life making for excellent snorkeling opportunities. There are abundant corals here, sea turtles, sharks, fish, rays, and more.
If you’re looking for snorkel gear this is the inexpensive set we used. We also liked this cool American Flag swimming cap!
If you’re looking for an underwater camera rig, we used this underwater camera housing in the past and had luck with it.
Waterlemon Cay | Virgin Islands National Park, St. John USVI
Best Photo Spots Waterlemon Cay
The best spot to photograph Waterlemon Cay is is from the ruins at the end of the Leinster Bay trail (a left turn at the trail’s terminus leads hikers to the ruins after another .1miles or so). This point is one of the most famous next to Trunk Bay in the park.
Waterlemon Cay After Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria had a devastating impact on the Caribbean islands, especially St. John, home to Virgin Islands National Park. Many of the photos of the park you’ll find feature locations that have been totally changed since the hurricane hit the island in 2017.
With that being said, Waterlemon Cay is still stunningly beautiful and well worth the trip!
*all of our photos of the park feature it in its current condition, post-2017 hurricane Maria damage
Nearby Waterlemon Cay
There are many amazing spots near Francis Bay including: America Hill Ruins, Maho Bay, Annaberg Ruins, Cinnamon Bay, and Francis Bay.
Watch the Award-Winning Virgin Islands Video
We created a video featuring Trunk Bay along with many other stunning destinations from the park. If you’re planning to visit we recommend you take 3 minutes to give it a watch!
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