A Little Bit Of History on St. John – Annaberg Plantation

A Little Bit Of History on St. John – Annaberg Plantation

For an afternoon spent exploring one of the best preserved plantation ruins on the island, find your way to Annaberg Sugar Plantation.   Annaberg Plantation was a leading producer of sugar, molasses, and rum back in the 1800’s.  When you visit Annaberg, go and see the ruins but stay for the views. The views are nothing short of breathtaking at the Plantation.   Check out this video to see for yourself!

The Windmill at Annaberg is the main focal point at the ruins and the largest windmill in the Virgin Islands. Built between 1810 and 1830, the windmill could produce between 300 and 500 gallons of juice within an hour.  Slaves were used at the plantation to pass the sugarcane through rollers which then made the juice that was caught below and stored until ready for processing.  When there was no wind, a horse mill was used to continue making the sugar.  These remains can still be seen at the plantation today.  There were 16 slave cabins found which have since deteriorated.  Today there are informative plaques describing their location.

Looking out from Annaberg, you can see Leinster Bay, the Sir Frances Drake Channel and a few of the British Virgin Islands.  The plantation is also within walking distance of Waterlemon Cay which is a perfect spot for snorkeling.

Annaberg Plantation St. John

 Annaberg Ruins St. John

Annaberg Ruins St. John

Hike Along the Francis Bay Walking Trail

Hike Along the Francis Bay Walking Trail

The Francis Bay trail is an excellent short hike (about 30 minutes round trip) that starts from the parking area before you start down the road to Francis Beach.  The trail starts right behind a scenic old stone building. It wanders about half a mile, through the forest, past some ruins, around a salt pond, then leads to Francis Bay beach.  Watch this video to experience the diverse flora and fauna along this beautiful trail.

The trail is built and maintained by Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting our National Park. A large portion of this trail is ADA and eco friendly. Almost half of the trail is built as a raised platform to protect the ecosystem of the local salt pond. Here you’ll find many native species of birds and ducks. It is also common to see lots of land crabs, hermit crabs, iguanas, deer, mongoose and, of course, donkeys.  The pond is of the best bird watching spots on the island.   Expect to see lots of Maho trees and Mangroves towards the pond.

francis bay trail st john usvi

Right after you start the trail there are some interesting ruins.

Francis bay trail st john USVI

Enjoy a Sunset Sail on St. John

Enjoy a Sunset Sail on St. John

We usually suggest that our guests go out on a sunset sail during their vacation on St. John.  St John has some amazing sunsets, and even though you get an amazing view from the terrace of St. John Escape, there is nothing quite like being out on the water to experience the sunset.  On a recent visit we decided to go out with Beach Charters VI for their sunset sail featuring a performance by the very talented  Erin Hart. It was a delightful evening and we were treated to a beautiful sunset and great music. Sit back with us and relax aboard this beautiful catamaran as the sun goes down.

Cinnamon Bay-One of St. John’s Best Beaches

Cinnamon Bay-One of St. John’s Best Beaches

Cinnamon Bay is one of our favorite beaches on St. John.  If you haven’t been for awhile, watch this video of our recent visit to see for yourself what an amazing beach it is!

Cinnamon Bay, at about 1 mile, is the National Park’s longest beach.  There is good snorkeling around Cinnamon Bay Cay, a short swim from shore. The clear waters will tempt you to spend your time swimming and snorkeling, while the beautiful turquoise water and sugar white sand will call you to spread your beach blanket and relax.  Don’t forget to check out the hiking trail through the Cinnamon Bay Plantation ruins just across from the beach parking area (see a previous blog post)

A Visit to Trunk Bay

A Visit to Trunk Bay

Welcome to Trunk Bay, widely considered one of the most pristine, best-preserved beaches in the Caribbean. It has perfect blue water, and features a 225-yard long underwater snorkeling trail and .3 miles of a soft white sand beach to walk on.  Trunk Bay is commonly considered one of the best beaches in the world and is certainly one of the most popular on St. John. In fact, in 2013 Travel + Leisure ranked this beach as one of the “Best Beaches on Earth.”  Watch this video to see why a visit to Trunk Bay is a must on your visit to St. John!

On your way from Cruz Bay stop at the Trunk Bay overlook to take photos that will make all your friends back home jealous.

Trunk Bay St. John USVI

Trunk Bay is often mobbed, since it is the most popular stop for organized day trips from St. Thomas and the cruise ships.  To avoid the crowds come early or late, but do come–this is what Caribbean beach dreams are made of.

Trunk Bay St. John USVI

Escape to Peace Hill on St. John

Escape to Peace Hill on St. John

One of the shortest and easiest hikes on St. John (about 100 yards) is the Peace Hill trail.  The  short hike  up the trail from the parking area takes you up to the aptly named Peace Hill.  At the top of the grassy knoll is a wonderful early plantation windmill ruin. Peace Hill looks over Hawksnest Bay to the West and Denis Bay and Trunk Bay to the East. From the top you can also see Cinnamon, Great Thatch, Tortola and Jost van Dyke.  The views are worth the walk … so don’t miss this one!  Watch this video to see the views for yourself  and make sure to visit Peace Hill on your next trip.

 
Peace Hill St John USVI

An Escape to Cinnamon Bay

An Escape to Cinnamon Bay

Cinnamon Bay  is the National Park’s longest beach. This great beach offers snorkeling, swimming, and a long, wide beach. . There is good snorkeling around Cinnamon Bay Cay, a short swim from shore. The clear waters will tempt you to spend your time swimming and snorkeling, while the beach will call you to spread your beach blanket and relax. Across from the beach and campground entrance/parking area is a hiking trail through the Cinnamon Bay Plantation ruins.  Check out this video to see what a visit to Cinnamon Bay has in store for you.

Hurricane Irma destroyed the small archeological museum.  This is what remains.

Cinnamon Bay st john USVI

Here’s another view of the picture perfect beach.  Plan to stay a while!

Cinnamon Bay st john USVI

Take A Walk Along Hawksnest Beach

Take A Walk Along Hawksnest Beach

Hawksnest Beach is a favorite beach for both St. John locals and visitors alike, and a preferred beach for families with children.  The reason for this is that Hawksnest is not only one of the most beautiful beaches on St. John, it is also the most convenient.  It’s the closest beach you can drive to from Cruz Bay and the parking lot is close to the beach.  Here’s a video of what it’s like to walk along Hawksnest Beach.

Hawksnest Beach also offers the closest reef to shore, coming right up to the sand.  The snorkeling is easy and there is some great elk horn coral here. You do need to pay attention to how close you get the reef with your body and fins because the water gets pretty shallow in spots.  It is best to snorkel Hawksnest when the bay is calm and there are no north shore swells.

Hawksnest Beach St John USVI

Day Trip From St. John to Anegada

Day Trip From St. John to Anegada

For those considering a day trip to Anegada from St. John, you can easily do so.  If you happen to be on St. John the first Sunday of the month, InterIsland Ferry Company has a reasonably priced day trip.  Yes, it’s a long day but the change in scenery and the incredible beaches make it worthwhile.  We did the trip ourselves in June and here’s a video of what it’s like to visit this paradise.

Anegada is the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands. It lies approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of Virgin Gorda and is about 55 miles from St. John. Anegada is formed from coral and limestone, rather than being of volcanic origin. While the other islands are mountainous, Anegada is flat and low. It is the only all-coral atoll in the VI and a mere 28 feet above sea level. Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 18-mile (29 km)-long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean.  Aside from the Lobster for which Anegada is mostly known,  it is also great for surfing, it is the Virgin Island that is most exposed to the swell.

Day trip from St. John to Anegada, BVI

The sand is even whiter and pinker than on St. John (since it is of coral and limestone) and that gives the water an absolutely amazing turquoise color. The island is very laid back and relaxed.  It is amazing how chill  you will feel during your time here.  

We rented a Mini-Moke for the day (as seen in the video above) and it was an absolute blast exploring the island on this dune buggy like vehicle.   You can easily see the whole island in a day if you want to.  We would recommend checking out Cow Wreck Beach to truly have lobster in paradise!  The Anegada Beach Club was also a great place to hang out.

Day trip from St. John USVI to Anegada, BVI

Day trip from St. John USVI to Anegada, BVI

A Visit to Jumbie Bay on St. John

A Visit to Jumbie Bay on St. John

Located along North Shore Road, between Hawksnest Bay and Trunk Bay, is Jumbie Beach. Because Jumbie is often overlooked for more popular beaches like Trunk bay and parking is fairly limited – Jumbie Beach is a great spot to enjoy a quiet stretch of St John beach. Check out this video to see what it’s like to visit this gem!

Jumbie is a small beach, only about 60 yards long. There’s parking for about 6 vehicles in the designated parking across the road. Then it’s just a short walk along a narrow path.

Jumbie Beach St John USVI

There you’ll find a crescent shaped beach of white sand. Sea Grapes offer some shade especially in the late afternoon. Entry is shallow. Waves and surf are usually calm to moderate. But due to it’s orientation, wind and weather Jumbie can have high surf at times!

Jumbie Bay St John USVI

Jumbie Bay is more exposed to the trade winds than most of the neighboring north shore beaches and the water can get choppy on windy days. On the positive side, the breeze can be refreshing and the rough water is very dramatic!

Jumbie Bay St John USVI
Jumbie Bay

From the beach at Jumbie Bay you can see Trunk Bay and the islands of Jost Van Dyke, Green Cay, Whistling Cay, Trunk Cay and Great Thatch.