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How Trunk Bay Got Its Name

The overlook at Trunk Bay

I get asked quite frequently on island tours the origin of the names of neighborhoods, beaches, bays, and the like here on St. John. Well, today I’d like to chat about arguably the most popular spot here on St. John – Trunk Bay.

According to the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay was named after the leatherback sea turtle. Apparently they used to nest there in large numbers back in the day. Now you’re probbaly thinking, what does a turtle have to do with a trunk? Well apparently leatherbacks, when on the ocean surface, look like a steamer trunk, according to the VINP, so the Danes and locals called them trunk turtles. Or so that’s how the legend goes…

Historical fact: Denmark (the Danes) controlled St. John from 1718 until 1917 when the United States purchased St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix for $25 million. 

Unfortunately we do not see leatherbacks in our waters frequently these days. We mainly see Hawksbill and Green turtles. Last year, however, two leatherback sea turtles nests were found here on St. John, and one was found right in the middle of Trunk Bay beach! St. John photographer Steve Simonsen just happened to be strolling the beach with his wife Janet the morning it was found. He captured this beautiful photo below:

A leatherback sea turtle nest was found on Trunk Bay last year. Image credit: Steve Simonsen Photography

We’re currently in the midst of sea turtle nesting season here on St. John, I’ll have more on that soon. In the meantime, have a fantastic day everyone!

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1 Comment

  1. Kym L Craig

    My husband and I enjoy reading you newsletter and updating us on the things we love St John for! We have visited 5 or more times and still have so much to see and learn! We especially like your little tidbits of history! Thank you

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