More than half the island of St. John is part of Virgin Islands National Park, a Caribbean paradise known for its white sand beaches and crystal waters. The National Park also includes 95% of Hassel Island, which was once a peninsula connected to St. Thomas. The region is still recovering after Hurricanes Irma and Maria did extensive damage in 2017, but did not seem to affect the sugar mill ruins that have been standing since the 1720s.
Trunk Bay, Maho Bay, Annaberg Sugar Mill, Petroglyph Trail, Saltpond Bay
Snorkeling is the number one reason to visit St. John, which is surrounded by coral reefs. The Underwater Trail in popular Trunk Bay is a good place to start, but our favorite spot to snorkel was from the beautiful beach at Saltpond Bay where we saw sea turtles, reef squids, and countless other species. From the beach a trail leads 1.8 miles roundtrip to the 200-foot high cliffs at Ram Head.
Reef Bay Trail starts near the island’s high point at 900 feet in elevation, then descends 1.5 miles to the split for Petroglyph Trail where the rocks around a seasonal waterfall have several Taino carvings. Reef Bay Trail continues another mile to the ruins of a sugar mill where ranger-led hikes (fee) are met by a boat.
A small, paved pulloff at the top of a hill on North Shore Road looks east towards the white sand beaches of Trunk Bay, an image used in almost every promotional publication for St. John.
None, except when lifeguards are on duty at Trunk Bay.
Two narrow, winding, paved routes (North Shore and Centerline Roads) leave from Cruz Bay where the ferries arrive. Several dirt roads require four-wheel-drive, including Catherineberg Road. Note: you drive on the left side of the road in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but in standard American left-side driver seat vehicles.
None on the island of St. John until the NPS reopens Cinnamon Bay Campground, which closed following the 2017 hurricanes.
Explore More – How long did the violent slave revolt in 1733 last before French troops arrived on St. John to return slaves to the sugarcane plantations?
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