from St. John Off The Beaten Track ©
2006 Gerald Singer
Haulover Bay lies three miles past the Coral Bay Moravian Church
going east on the East End Road (Route 10). Park on the right
side of the road alongside the small sand and coral rubble beach.
Haulover is a narrow, flat strip of land separating Coral Bay on
the south from Sir Francis Drake Channel on the north. The name
Haulover came about because it was often easier to just “haul” small
boats over this stretch of land than to make the long sail around
East End, notorious for strong currents, gusty winds and rough
To reach the northern section of Haulover Bay, take the trail on
the other (north) side of the road. It is an easy path about
100 yards long that goes over flat terrain.
This snorkel is recommended for experienced snorkelers only. On
most days, waves break along the shoreline and over the shallow
reef, so try to choose a day when the sea is calm and the water
is not churned up.
You can enter the water at the rock beach at the end of the trail.
The water is shallow at first and the bottom is made up of small
rocks and coral rubble. Watch out for black spiny sea urchins hiding
The reef rises up close to the surface near the shore and then
slopes down to a depth of about thirty feet.
Several varieties of hard coral including star, brain, elkhorn,
staghorn and pillar coral can be found here as well as gorgonians,
such as sea fans, sea plumes and dead man's fingers. Commonly seen
fish on the reef are tang, snapper, grunts, parrotfish and angelfish.
Look under ledges and in holes to see lobsters, eels and small
fish seeking protection in their little hiding places.
Green turtles, stingrays and conch can be seen over the grassy
areas, which make up most of the central portion of the bay.
The eastern end of Haulover Bay can be reached by following the
shoreline east for a little less than a half a mile where you
will find a small sand beach. When entering the shallow water,
take care to avoid sea urchins and living coral.
Snorkel out along the eastern coast toward the point. Close to
the shore are patches of sand and grass with scattered coral heads.
The grass environment attracts rays, green turtles, starfish and
There is a small fringe forest of mangroves along the coast. Just
past these mangroves, you will come to an underwater hillside garden
of coral. This beautiful environment continues out and around the
point. You will see many large, purple sea fans and other gorgonians
as well as hard corals, such as star, elkhorn and brain coral.
In some areas, exquisite corals and sponges of every color imaginable
encrust the underwater rock faces. Fish, such as parrotfish, snappers,
jacks, grunts and schools of blue tang, abound just about everywhere
along the reef as do anemones, feather duster worms and sea cucumbers.
The southern side of Haulover Bay lies just off the side of Route
10. This beautiful bay was featured in the movie Big Blue. The
southern bay is calmer than its counterpart on the north, has
an easier entry, and is more suitable for beginning and intermediate
Snorkel along the western shore toward the point and around the
offshore rocks, called the blinders. Sea cucumbers are particularly
plentiful here. Soft starfish, red sea urchins and bristle worms
can be seen under the rocks in shallow areas.