St. John Virgin Islands  
Haulover Bay, St. John  
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Haulover Bay, St. John Virgin Islands
Haulover Bay north side

St John Off the Beaten Track

Excerpted from St. John Off The Beaten Track © 2006 Gerald Singer

Getting There
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.

The Name
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 seas.

The Northwestern Side
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 here.

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.

Northeastern Side
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 conch.

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.

Southern Side
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 snorkelers.

Haulover Bay south side

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.

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