Hiking the Reef Bay Trail – One of St. John’s Best Hikes

Hiking the Reef Bay Trail – One of St. John’s Best Hikes

The Reef Bay Trail in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park holds the secrets of St.John’s tropical forests, sugar mill ruins, and ancient petroglyphs. The two-mile trail explores the depths of the island, featuring a steep rocky terrain, 40 foot waterfall, and a freshwater pond near the trail’s end. When adventuring from your St. John Escape vacation home, pack a light lunch, plenty of water, and a swimsuit to take a dip.

Watch this video to see what this classic St. John hike is like:

You will find off road parking at the Reef Bay trailhead along Centerline Road about halfway between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay.  The rocky trail descends steeply from 900 feet above sea level to the rocky beach at Reef Bay.  Bring plenty of water, bug spray, and wear sturdy walking shoes.

The National Park Service is currently not offering their guided hike option that included a return to Cruz Bay by boat.  This means you will have to hike both down and back up the trail.  The long steep, uphill walk back is far more difficult than the descent. This should not be a problem for those in good physical condition who may even enjoy the challenge. Make sure to pace yourself and bring plenty of water. It may also be a good idea to plan a picnic either at the petroglyphs or at the beach near the sugar factory. A cooling swim at Genti or Little Reef Bay is another pleasant way to prepare for the walk up the valley.

Reef Bay Trail St John

A hike through the tropical forests of St. John wouldn’t be complete without some beautiful water features. Along the Reef Bay trail you will sometimes  find a stunning 40-foot waterfall, with a freshwater pool at the base. Whether or not you see the waterfall depends on how recently it has rained.  Fresh water at the bottom provides a home for a shrimp, frogs, fish, hummingbirds, and dragonflies. This is a great spot to take a rest or have your lunch.

Reef Bay Trail St John USVI

There are some historic elements along the Reef Bay Trail that will catch your attention. The sugar mill ruins along the Reef Bay Trail remind you of a different era on the island and carry a dark shadow of history. Another historic element is visible on the rocks surrounding the freshwater pool near the trail’s end. Here, you will see some mysterious carvings. Archaeologists believe that these carvings are in fact sacred symbols carved by Taino Indians over 1,000 years ago. These petroglyphs are a great historic treat at the end of a great hike.

Reef Bay Trail St John USVI

Awaiting you at the bottom of the trail is lovely Reef Bay beach.

Reef Bay St. John USVI

Day 5 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

Day 5 of Your Perfect Week on St. John

On the fifth day of your perfect week we would suggest you head on over to see the Annaberg ruins and then take the Leinster Bay trail to Waterlemon Cay.  Begin by taking a taxi or park your car near the historical Annaberg sugar plantation ruins where you will see breathtaking views of Mary Point, Leinster Bay, and the BVIs.  By following the signs, you will learn about the island’s sugar cane plantation era while touring through the sugar factory ruins.

Annaberg ruins st john

A short walk down the hill from the Annaberg site, you will find the Leinster Bay trail which follows the old Danish road along the shore.  The trail leads to one of the best snorkel sites on the island, Waterlemon Cay.  Here you will have the best odds for seeing the greatest variety of underwater species, including sea turtles, starfish, spotted eagle rays, all of the colorful reef fish and maybe even a harmless nurse shark.

If you still have some energy left you can head from Watermelon to the Johnny Horn Trail, a hike that leads all the way to Coral Bay.

Here’s a video of some folks taking the Leinster Bay trail to Waterlemon.  When you do snorkel, just don’t touch the sea creatures like they do.

A Visit to Peace Hill

A Visit to Peace Hill

The Peace Hill hike on St. John is a very easy one, but nonetheless very rewarding. It begins at a small parking lot off Northshore Road, about half a mile after Hawksnest.  A 10 minute walk on a well-maintained trail with moderate incline brings you to a breathtaking view over Hawksnest and  Dennis Bay.

There are ruins of an old windmill at the top that originally was powered by the constant trade winds that passed over the top of the hill.

True to its name, Peace Hill is a truly peaceful place, there are rarely any crowds and it is great for a picnic and watching the sunset. It was voted as one of the top 10 romantic places to see while on honeymoon on St. John.

There doesn’t appear to be any damage from Hurricane Irma.  Having just visited one of our favorite spots on St John just a couple of days ago,  we can attest it’s just as great as ever!