The Battery is a short walk from St John Escape at Grande Bay. Once a fort that protected Cruz Bay since the late eighteenth century, the building now serves as government offices. However, the building itself is protected as a National Historic Site, and has a small museum inside. The grounds of the Battery offer great views of Cruz Bay and the harbor.
To reach the Battery you walk out of the Grande Bay garage and head onto the beach. You walk towards the ferry dock along Cruz Bay beach which is always an interesting experience, no matter what time of day.
Once you reach the ferry terminal you continue on the small beach until you reach the Battery grounds entrance. To get some great photos just walk along the perimeter, close to the rocky shore. You’re reward will be some great views!
Walking to Salomon Beach is one of our favorite activities while on St. John. It’s a beautiful, relatively short hike on one of the most flat trails on St. John. We love to start our day with a power walk to Salomon just to get some exercise. The beauty is you just walk out the door of St. John Escape and head on out, no need for a car.
Watch the video to see what it’s like to do the walk to Salomon. We start out looking at the trail from the terrace of St. John Escape. Walking out of the garage at Grande Bay, we immediately get on the beach and begin. We walk through town and arrive at the National Park Visitor center where the Lind Point trail begins. Walking along the trail we see nice views of Cruz Bay and the many Cays in the distance. In less than a half hour we reach the solitude of Salomon Beach.
Another must do while on St. John is the Ram Head Trail. It is a beautiful hike which starts at the very remote East End of St. John at Salt Pond Beach. The views from the top are some of the best on the entire island. Watch this video to see what the hike is like and why we consider it our favorite hike on St. John.
It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon in the West by St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and the full moon rise to the East above Norman Island, British Virgin Islands.
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 up 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!!
On our most recent visit, we hiked the trail out around 5:30 pm, getting to Ram’s head just in time for the St. John sunset. We love to hike this trail on the full moon, as it’s a magnificent spot to see the moon on the ocean and take in the beautiful scenery . If you do this, make sure you’re comfortable hiking and perhaps bring a flashlight or even better, a headlamp!
The trail is 1 mile long each way and leads to a beautiful crest that is 200 feet high and has an absolutely stunning view. One mile does not sound hard, but bear in mind it is hot and the trail is occasionally steep. Still, with proper shoes it can easily be done, also for kids and fit seniors. It takes about an hour. Don’t forget water and sunscreen.
The Leinster Bay Trail is a flat 0.8-mile trail that follows the shoreline of Leinster Bay from the end of the paved road beyond the Annaberg Sugar Mill parking lot Leinster Bay Road to the beach at Waterlemon Bay.
Watch this video to see first hand what it’s like to hike this scenic trail that leads to our favorite view on St. John!
The Leinster Bay Trail runs right along the water’s edge with splendid, unobstructed views of Leinster Bay, the Narrows, Sir Francis Drake Channel, and West End, Tortola. Moreover, it provides land access to one of St. John’s best snorkeling locations, Waterlemon Cay, the small island that lies just offshore of the beautiful little beach at Waterlemon Cay.
The Johnny Horn Trail begins just behind the beach and continues on to Coral Bay. But if you hike only a short stretch you will be rewarded with some great ruins and spectacular views.
Right near the beginning of the Johnny Horn Trail, there is a short spur trail that follows the shoreline of Waterlemon Bay. By walking along this trail, you can get to a point on the shore that is half the distance to Waterlemon Cay than it would bestarting from the beach. This way you can save your energy for the really good snorkeling around the cay.
Further up the trail there is a spur trail that takes you to ruins of an old Danish guard house. This small fortification was built on this strategic location, called Leinster Point, because it overlooked two critical passages, the Fungi Passage, between Whistling Cay and Mary Point, and the Narrows, which separate Great Thatch and St. John. The guardhouse was equipped with cannons and manned by 16 soldiers.
As you proceed up the hill, you will come to several areas that provide excellent views of Leinster Bay and the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Near the top of the hill, the trail forks. The trail to the left is a spur that leads to the ruins of the James Murphy Estate house. The view from up here is our favorite on St. John.
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 is an adventure involving a hike that most active visitors will really enjoy, but you must wear comfortable shoes (no flip flops) and bring along plenty of water. The Reef Bay trailhead begins nearly 5 miles from Cruz Bay on Centerline Road and descends about 2.5 miles down to the south shore beach. Along the shady, damp trail you will find a diversity of plants and the remains of sugar cane estates and abandoned farming communities.
There are usually two options to do the Reef Bay trail hike. The hard core way is to hike down and back up for a total of 5 miles. If you are in decent shape it shouldn’t be too difficult. The other option is to take the guided walk organized by the National Park Service, whereby you walk down with a guide and then take a scenic boat ride back into Cruz Bay.
There is a not to be missed short side trail near the bottom of the hike. About 1.5 miles down the Reef Bay Trail, you can follow signs leading to the petroglyphs–rock carvings attributed to early Taino Indians marked along freshwater pools. If you are lucky enough to do this hike shortly after it rains you will be rewarded with a beautiful waterfall.
When you reach the bottom of the Reef Bay trail you also have the option to wander down the Lameshur Bay trail, which continues another 1.2 miles from the junction with the Reef Bay trail. Once you get to Lameshure Bay you will be treated to a south shore beach with white sand and turquoise waters. There are also some great photo ops of the ruins that you will find there.
If you still want to hike some more there is another spur trail that leads to a salt pond and a coral rubble beach at Europa Bay.
Travel Tip created by Leslie and Peter in association with Vacation Soup
There is more to St. John than just its world famous beaches. St. John is about two thirds national park thanks to generous donations from philanthropist and conservationist Laurence Rockefeller. Because of this there is limited commercial development which allows the island to preserve its delicate ecosystems. This makes St. John a go to destination for nature lovers and is a hikers paradise.
One of the most popular activities on St. John is hiking the trails in the Virgin Island National Park. There are over twenty trails, ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced, meaning the island has the perfect hiking trail for you.
Not only do some of the trails offer amazing vistas, many connect to historical ruins such as sugar mills, plantations, and the petroglyphs which are the unofficial symbol of St. John as well as and the Caneel Bay Resort.
The hiking trails get you up close to St. Johns variety of flora and fauna. The many plants you will see include mango, bamboo, mahogany, cacti, and wild orchids. As far local wildlife, expect to see the much loved wild donkeys, iguanas, mongoose and deer.
In upcoming blog posts we will describe some of our favorite hikes and what you can expect to see along the route. Stay tuned!
Travel Tip created by Leslie and Peter in association with Vacation Soup