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St. John

Hiking trails, coral reefs & white-sand beaches

For several reasons, not the least of which is that more than half of the island is national park, more historical sites, stories and legends have been preserved and nurtured on St. John than any of the other Virgin Islands.

St. John Aerial

St. John is considered one of the most beautiful islands in all of the Caribbean. It is only 19 square miles and inhabited by fewer than 5,000 people.

Thanks to the largesse of American businessman and sailor, Laurence Rockefeller, the natural beauty of the island will be preserved forever. He donated more than 11,000 acres, equal to about half of the island, for management by the National Park Service as the Virgin Islands National Park.

The result is a wonderful natural playground for everyone, with more than 20 miles of forested hiking trails, coral reefs, beautiful bays with white-sand beaches, and an impressive collection of anchorages around the entire island, most with mooring balls costing only $15 per night. For several reasons, not the least of which is that more than half of the island is national park, more historical sites, stories and legends have been preserved and nurtured on St. John than any of the other Virgin Islands.

Annaberg Ruins

Annaberg ruins.

National Park Service Moorings

The Park Service has provided mooring balls in many of the most popular harbors as a convenience for visiting boats and as a means of protecting the coral and preserving the bottom sand. In most bays within the park, anchoring is not allowed at all and moorings must be used. The $15 fee for use of the moorings is paid at honor boxes located at the NPS pier in Cruz Bay. Honor boxes are also located in Caneel, Francis and Leinster Bays. Moorings are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Several places, such as Francis Bay, have an extensive mooring field with room for 50 or more boats.

Boats no larger than 55 feet are allowed to use the moorings. Rafting more than one vessel to a mooring is not allowed nor is anchoring within 20 feet of a mooring. Boats over 125 feet and up to 210 feet may anchor in Francis Bay in depths greater than 50 feet. Boats are limited to 14 nights of moorage per calendar year in park waters. Many beaches are roped off where dinghies are not allowed to land. Dinghy areas are marked with entrance lanes with red and white buoys that designate the dinghy landing area.

St. John—The Island for Hiking

All of the Virgin Islands have hiking trails. But on St. John the trails are not to be missed.

They may take you to a secluded beach, through impressive jungle, or through the ruins of an old plantation. In the interior of the island there are petroglyphs on the trails from the days of the Arawak Indians between 600 and 1500 AD. Around any corner can be something historical or a beautiful vista.

There are more than 20 trails all of different degrees of difficulty, including one under water on the reef at Trunk Bay, all maintained by the Park Service.

For more information, stop by the park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay and the rangers will be happy to help you select which trails to include in your plans while visiting St. John.

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