The anchorages on St John:
Round Bay is a wide anchorage on the southeastern side of St John in the United States Virgin Islands. Together with nearby Hurricane Hole, Coral Harbor and a dozen smaller bays, they make up Coral Bay. On the northwest side of the bay, we find the islet of Blinders Rocks that makes for an interesting snorkeling spot. This is a quiet residential area with less than a hundred houses. The western part of the bay is part of the US Virgin Islands Park Service and the E side has lots of private properties that extend down to the water.
Approaching Round Bay from the S, make sure to give Red Point and Moon Points a wide berth due to extensive shoal ground off them. Some guidebooks indicate the northern part of Round Bay, near Elk Bay as a possible anchorage location. This is no longer the case since it is now part of the National Park Service grounds and anchoring is forbidden. All mooring balls present around Pelican Rock are private. Caution: shallow coral surrounds Pelican Rock that should be avoided.
The most popular anchorage point in Round Bay is Hansen Bay Beach which also offers adequate protection from E winds. Most of the bottom of Hansen Bay is seagrass. It is NEVER legal to anchor in seagrass, or even let the rope or anchor chain lie in seagrass. There are no mooring buoys at Hansen Bay so you will have to anchor in sand, which can be difficult to find. Also, keep in mind that local regulations prohibit watersports. Anchoring is not allowed within 500 feet of the shoreline. Avoid anchoring near coral reefs and damaging the seagrass.
Much of the seagrass in Hansen extends farther seaward than the 500-foot distance requirement for anchoring, so even if boaters are obeying the distance requirement, most likely they are still causing damage to seagrass. If they are not sure what they are anchoring on and what their chain will affect, they should dive down and make sure. We still have some of the last native, noninvasive seagrass in Round Bay. This is an endangered turtle habitat. It is also an area of coral reefs and boaters need to be mindful not to anchor within 200 feet of it. It is not enough to “avoid” anchoring in coral or seagrass. It is imperative that there be NO anchoring anywhere that could damage seagrass or coral.
This is a family-friendly destination that is also well suited to snorkeling. You can look forward to plenty of interesting wildlife, including turtles, lobsters, and Caribbean fish. Heading south of Pelican Rock towards Long Bay beach is not recommended due to extensive coral reefs that make anchoring a challenge. Lime Bar, a popular floating taco bar once operated at Round Bay but has since moved its location near Coral Harbor. Other locations around Round Bay are not suitable for overnight stays.