There’s certainly no shortage of ruins on St John, and most of our favorite hikes include a ruin or two. One of our favorite ruins can be found by hiking the America Hill spur of the Cinnamon Bay trail. Not only are the ruins attractive, the views of the north shore of St John are stunning. Watch this video to see what you will experience on the great St. John hike.
The trail starts 100 yards past Cinnamon Bay’s entrance on North Shore Road. The trailhead is marked by a sign for “Cinnamon Bay Trail” (there’s another sign along the way for the America Hill spur). It’s adjacent to the Cinnamon Bay Ruins and there is a place for one or two cars to park or you can just park at the Cinnamon Bay beach lot. This is a great hike to take before heading to the beach at Cinnamon Bay.
The hike up is steep at first, and fairly exposed, but as you cross the gut it levels out a bit and becomes shadier & cooler. Once you reach the America Hill Spur, which is not very far up Cinnamon Bay Trail, it’s only about five more minutes to the ruins. The walls of the house are mostly intact, and you can see where the remains of the front steps were.
The ruins were once home to sugar cane plantations and bay rum distilleries, the most prosperous on island. Today, the remnants of the old rum factory are still prominent, and when you reach the top of your hike, you’ll be able to see the ruins and enjoy the stunning views over to Maho Bay, Francis Bay and Tortola. These unforgettable views, with the ruins and forests all around, make this hike one of our favorites and certainly worth the effort.
What’s more romantic than spending your day in paradise at a beach called Honeymoon? Honeymoon contains the magnificent qualities common to all of St. John’s north shore beaches, sugar white sand and clear, turquoise water. Here’s a video of Honeymoon Bay on St. John taken on a recent early morning visit. Enjoy the solitude!
While Honeymoon’s prime location gives you views of the islands and cays in Pillsbury Sound, its remote access keeps the beach more tranquil and private than many of the other North Shore beaches. You can’t drive directly to Honeymoon, but that’s part of its allure. There are currently three ways to get to Honeymoon: hike the Lind Point Trail, arrive by boat, or take the golf cart shuttle at the entrance to Caneel Bay resort.
St John’s Caneel Hill Trail begins in Cruz Bay about twenty yards past the Mongoose Junction parking lot and rises to the summit of Caneel Hill. It’s a great hike that can easily be done starting right from St. John Escape, but it is by no means an easy hike. When you reach the viewing platform at the top of Caneel Hill you will be able to see spectacular views all the way out to St. Croix and Puerto Rico. It is definitely worth the effort.
Check out this video to see what it’s like to go on this excellent hike.
The total distance is 2.4 miles. The trail to the peak of Caneel Hill is a steep and steady incline, gaining 719 feet of elevation in less than one mile. We would recommend wearing proper footwear as this is definitely not a flip flop hike. You probably want to wear sneakers or Keens and bring along a bottle or two of water. So while it is not an easy hike, it is definitely doable.
You will be amply rewarded for your efforts with spectacular views. So if you like a nice little hike with stellar views, add the Caneel Hill trail to your list on your next visit.
According to our favorite book about St John activities, St. John Off The Beaten Track, “If you only have enough time to hike one trail, then the Cinnamon Bay Self-Guiding Trail is the trail for you. Also, because the trail is relatively short, flat and shady, it’s a perfect choice for those who would like to experience a taste of the St. John interior, but who might be put off by the prospect of a long hike on the often hilly and rugged terrain characteristic of the St. John forest.”
Here’s a video we made of what it’s like to visit this magical and mysterious place. Meander through the ruins of the historic Cinnamon Bay Sugar Plantation. Smell the scent of the leaves from the bay rum trees, which were once used to make the famous St John Bay Rum Cologne. The boardwalk and nature loop are located across the road from the entrance to the Cinnamon Bay Campground. The nature loop is an easy 0.5 mile hike.
Represented on the Trail are three important stages of the economy and life on St. John in days gone by, the sugar industry, the emergence of bay rum and the subsistence economy that existed from the end of slavery to the beginning of the present day tourism economy.
The old sugar works are in good condition and you can see the remains of the horsemill where the sugar cane was ground up and juiced and the factory where the juice was boiled down and evaporated to produce the crude sugar and molasses that were stored in the building that once existed where the stone columns are alongside the road.
You can pick up the half-mile trail that leads through the forest crosses the gut and heads back to the ruins. Here you’ll pass through a stand of bay rum trees planted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and walk by an old Danish cemetery.
A common question we hear from people who are considering a vacation to St. John is, “How is the island doing and is it ok to visit?” As they say a picture, or in this case a video, is worth a thousand words. So with this in mind we have prepared this video of our recent trip to St. John so you can see for yourself.
As you will see, St. John is still full of amazing beauty, life, and is definitely ready for visitors. St. John is a special island that’s hard to describe until you actually go for yourself. It’s beautiful in photos, but once you visit is when you truly feel the spirit of the island. If you’ve ever been to St. John, then you understand that it has this magnetic pull on you that’s like nothing else that keeps people coming back year after year.
St. John has changed a bit since Hurricane Irma and Maria so we thought a video update was in order. While the beaches might look a little bit different now with fewer shade trees, the water and sand are just as amazing as ever. The island is still pure heaven if you’re looking for a destination where you can relax and truly get away from it all. Whether you’ve loved St. John for years or you’ve not yet been, it is absolutely, without question worth the trip. Even more, St. John needs the tourism to continue to rebuild.
So sit back, relax and watch the video to see what it’s like to visit St. John now as we travel to the beautiful beaches, and hike along the amazing the trails!
Here’s a video of our just completed visit to St. John. Tag along as we visit Salomon, Honeymoon, Hawksnest, Maho, Francis, Gibney, Peace Hill and Haulover. There’s also a little detour to Jost for Sunday fun day. It was a 10 day visit and gives you an idea of the many sights you can see. Our next visit soon will cover different parts of the island. St. John continues its amazing recovery and is waiting for your visit!!
As we prepare to celebrate the fourth of July here stateside, we thought we thought it would be fun to write about how it is celebrated on St. John. The great news is that it is still on for this year!!!The biggest annual event in the U.S. Virgin Islands each year is Carnival. It’s held at a different time of year on each island, and they each have their own distinct flavor! The St. Thomas Carnival festivities take place during April-May, St. Croix’s is around Christmas, and St. John’s celebration culminates with the Fourth of July.
St. John Carnival, or St. John Festival is in full swing right now! There are events for a full month leading up to the parade and fireworks on July 4th. Some of the highlights each year include ‘Pan-o-Rama’- a night of live Caribbean steel pan music, the Prince & Princess and Queen selection pageants, and Food Fair- a full day of local food, drinks, crafts, and other goodies. The ‘Festival Village’, a collection of local food and drink booths surrounding a huge stage with various live bands performing each night is a local favorite. If you enjoy adult beverages, we can definitely vouch for the drinks at the Electric Lemonade stand. Definitely gets you in the mood to dance to the music. Thursday night/Friday morning, July 4th at 4am is the start of another fun event- J’ouvert! Revelers gather in Cruz Bay to dance through the streets behind large trucks featuring their favorite bands.
Friday, July 4th is parade day, beginning at 11am. It’s always a fun and lively event, with great music, colorful costumes, festive ‘troupes’ dancing through the streets, Mocko Jumbie stilt walkers, baton twirlers, steel bands, and above all, an energetic and entertaining crowd! Friday night at 9pm the fireworks display will begin over Cruz Bay Harbor. Locals and visitors alike will gather on the shore to watch the beautiful explosions erupt over the ocean! It truly is a magical sight, with the outline of St. Thomas in the background to illuminate the horizon. The very best spot to view the fireworks is definitely right from the balcony of St. John Escape. There will be one last night of live music and revelry in the ‘Festival Village’ to mark the end of another successful Carnival!
Here are some photos I took at Carnival last year.
Sharing a terrific video done by on island photographer Christian Wheatley. It is a great time lapse of a typical day on St. John. The island is ready for your visit and St. John Escape is ready to host you. Watching this certainly enhanced our excitement about our upcoming visit. Enjoy the video!
Anyone that’s been to St. John, knows that snorkeling on St. John offers more great shore snorkel spots than probably any other Caribbean island. From beginners to seasoned snorkelers alike, there is something for everyone. View gorgeous underwater gardens of coral and visit with the residents; turtles, rays, octopuses, moray eels and an abundance of fish large and small.
If you know where to go, you can find a variety of healthy fish populations.. You can also find healthy soft and hard corals, including a great deal of Elkhorn Coral around the island and colorful sea fans around the island. St John also has areas with interesting underwater topography that have cool areas to explore, like caves, big boulders and walls.
While there are many boat tour options on St. John that can be lots of fun, you can access nearly all the best locations for free from shore. And if you are interested in renting a kayak or a dinghy, there are a couple of great areas easily paddled to that are in fairly protected water. And no matter what the wind direction, you can always find some place calm to snorkel.
We have snorkeled just about all of the spots, including those right from the beach, as well as the off shore locations. We will share our favorite spots and how to get the most out of them in future posts. If you know where to go, you can find a variety of fish species and coral. We hope to help you better understand why St. John is such a snorkeling paradise.
Ever wonder what you would see if you hiked the Ram Head trail? Well tag along as we take you on a photo and video journey to the summit of Ram Head, starting out at Salt Pond. We start off hiking along Salt Pond Bay and then head inland, walking across Blue Cobblestone beach, past amazing cactus fields, before reaching the summit of Ram Head. The reward for getting to the top is the amazing panoramic view. On the way back we will pass the actual Salt Pond that the beach is named after, before we get to Drunk Bay and see the rock statues. This is an amazing hike and one of our favorites. Enjoy the views!!