Henley Cay, St. John
Located off St Johns North Shore and within sight of Caneel Bay Resort lies a tiny island with some world-class snorkeling.
Most of St Johns top snorkeling spots are convenient to beaches, parking and trails. Unlike Waterlemon Cay or the little cay off of Trunk Bay Beach or Cinnamon Bay Beach …Henley Cay requires a boat or kayak. Many of the charters will stop at Henley; but we chose VI Ecotours 5 hr Henley Cay kayak, hike and snorkel adventure out of Honeymoon Bay and the Honeymoon Beach Watersports “shack” that they manage.
The 30 minute paddle over to Henley Cay delivers a bit of adventure and some tremendous views of St John’s North Shore beaches, Lovango Cay and the East End of St Thomas. Once there you’ll go ashore on a tiny crescent of sand and pebble beach in the protected western cove of Henley.
Henley Cay Underwater 360 | VR Image
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Snorkeling Henley Cay
The snorkeling is shallow water …typical of most of St John’s snorkeling destinations. Much of the reef is in 3′ to 15′ of water – providing excellent visibility. Heading along the beach toward Caneel you’ll see plenty of sea fans, gorgonians and colorful reef fish. Just past a short concrete and stone jetty, as you near a rocky outcropping, the number and variety of corals and fish will rapidly increase as will the current. This marks the “edge” of the protected cove. Stay just out of the current and circling back about 60m off the beach you’ll follow a patch reef and coral outcroppings heading toward the north western end of the cay. As you near the rocks at this end of the beach there’s a marked increase in the variety, density and color of hard and soft corals, sea fans, gorgonians and colorful Caribbean reef fish. The health of the reef here is stunning. Everywhere you look Atlantic Blue Tangs, Surgeonfish, parrotfish, Angelfish and wrasses swim! And beneath you is a “forest” of rhythmically waving sea fans, gorgonians and soft corals. Dotting the underwater terrain are well developed brain corals in mystical shades of greens. Tangles of Look closer and you find a wide range of tunicates …from the simply colorful to the down right bizarre! And every nook and cranny is home to colorful sponges and encrusting corals. As we said, the sheer variety and apparent health of this location is just amazing!
The same currents that deliver food to the corals, sea fans and fish that make this location so special – also make it a challenging location to snorkel. Know your physical limitations, snorkeling experience level and always snorkel with a buddy or guide.