After revisiting the reefs off of St. John’s Hawksnest Beach, my new opinion is that it is, if not the best, Hawksnest is one of the best “off the beach snorkels” on St. John. As I find more and more of what used to be vibrant and alive coral reefs succumbing to disease and high water temperatures, it seem that the elkhorn coral colony of Hawksnest Bay is still doing well. Although there are signs of coral bleaching and damage from high surf, there is what appears to be a forest of bright yellow elkhorns on the shallow reef.
Snorkelers should exercise caution approaching the shallow areas and avoid touching or, worse yet, standing on the reef, something potentially dangerous to both coral and snorkeler.
In addition to the elkhorns there’s also a great deal of life around the reef, such as lobsters, sea urchin, colorful sponges, several species of fish, tube worms, rays and turtles to name a few.