Trunk Bay’s white-sand beach and tranquil waters have the Rockefellers to thank for protecting them. Inhabited centuries before its discovery by Europe, Denmark claimed the island of St. John in the 17th century and sold it to the United States in 1917. As Americans began to vacation at Trunk Bay and the rest of the island, Laurance S. Rockefeller fell in love with the picturesque beach and its warm, calm waters. Determined to protect the beach and its surroundings, Rockefeller funds (mostly from Laurance) purchased more than 5,000 acres and donated the land to create what is now Virgin Islands National Park.
The larger park, which covers nearly two-thirds of the island plus more than 5,000 acres of the adjacent Caribbean Sea, was temporarily closed after the double hit of hurricanes Maria and Irma in September 2017.
Trunk Bay is home to a 0.3-mile crescent of powdery sand and a world-renowned underwater snorkeling trail, which was affected but not destroyed by the storms. Visitors should also be aware of cleanup efforts while exploring the ruins of Danish colonial sugar cane plantations at this unique national park.