Virgin Island National Park ranger with Lysa Allman-Baldwin and friend

Virgin Island National Park ranger with Lysa Allman-Baldwin and friend; (c) Soul Of America

St. John Eco-Travel

Most trails are easily accessed by road or trail. If you snorkel, please use Reef-Safe Sunscreen. Here is a link to the National Park Service guide that identifies most fish that you’ll see https://www.nps.gov/viis/learn/nature/fish.htm

Virgin Islands National Park
St. John Eco-Travel spreads its wings in Virgin Islands National Park (VINP), which covers 2/3rds of the island. There are endless opportunities to explore flora & fauna, waterfalls, volcanic rocks, lagoons, mangroves, blowholes, craggy beaches, then complete a tour by kayaking or snorkeling. There’s more to VINP thats first meets the eye — over 40% of it is underwater. That tropical land & sea combination produces mangrove shorelines, seagrass beds, fringing and reefs offer a diverse array of snorkeling opportunities. This undeveloped verdant area became a National Park in 1956, when Laurence Rockefeller donated the land surrounding his resort on Caneel Bay. VINP has largely recovered from the big hurricanes in 2017, it remains one of the most undisturbed regions in the Caribbean.

Honeymoon Bay
These two white-sand beaches, can be accessed by a short hike from the VINP sign off North Shore Road, Caneel Bay or by boat. A narrow reef follows the shoreline east of Honeymoon to Caneel Bay. In the clear water off the rocky point in between the two beaches, you will find several species of coral (brain, lettuce leaf, elkhorn, mustard hill, and pillar corals). Many colonies of finger coral can be found on the fringing reef west of Salomon. These reef areas provide shelter for a wide variety of colorful fish and other marine creatures.

Maho Bay
The seagrass beds in this shallow bay provide habitat for the green sea turtles that are mostly seen early morning or late afternoon. There’s coral and fish along the western waters of this long beach, they are more abundant the closer you get to the point between Maho and Cinnamon. To the north east, the rocks and reef supports abundant fish populations, including angel fish. If you are lucky when snorkeling, you’ll spot an octopus in the coral crevices.

Waterlemon Cay
Access it by taking the Leinster Bay Trail. A 10-minute walk from Annaberg parking lot brings you to a narrow stretch of sand where entry is gained to a shallow reef of coral heads sitting on a sandy bottom that is habitat for all kinds of fish and other creatures. Swim a little farther out to find a steep drop off, where Blue Chromis, sea turtles and gorgonians are seen. A 10-minutes hike farther down the trail brings you to the main beach of Leinster Bay. From here snorkel over the seagrass bed or hug the eastern shore to snorkel out to the Cay but beware of the long-spine urchins and rocks as you enter the water. For a shorter swim continue down the hiking trail and enter the water closer to the cay. You will find a variety of fish, corals and gorgonians on your way and more encircling the cay. A strong current runs on the Tortola (north) side of the cay. For SAFETY, it is best if you stay on the southern side. A sandy spit of beach on the cay’s southern tip offers a place to rest. Remember stand only in sand! Waterlemon is one of the few places on St. John that is home to the large cushion sea stars.

Guided Eco-Tours

Solo or duo tours of a vast national park are not for everyone. Highly-rated, professional Virgin Island EcoTours offers a wide selection of options and equipment rentals for travelers that prefer and eco-travel guide. Here is sample of their eco-tours, but call to to ensure you understand their services in advance:

Virgin Island EcoTours
ADDRESS: Honeymoon Beach at Caneel Bay, St. John
DAYS & HOURS: Daily 8a-10p
PHONE: +1 340-779-2155
WEBSITE: https://viecotours.com

Best of Caneel Bay & Henley Cay
Experience adventures in Kayaking, Hiking & Snorkeling
5 hours with lunch
Departs from the VINP Visitor Center in Cruz Bay
Kayak over the turquoise waters of Caneel Bay
Two different snorkel spots at Henley Cay’s reef and Scott Beach
Hike and explore the Caneel Peninsula
Enjoy a picnic lunch

Caneel Bay: Kayak, Hike & Snorkel Adventure
3 hours
Departs from the VINP Visitor Center in Cruz Bay
Kayak in beautiful Caneel Bay
Snorkel with sea turtles at Scott Beach
Hike and explore the Caneel Bay Peninsula

Henley Cay: Kayak & Snorkel Adventure
3 hours
Take the taxi shuttle from Cruz Bay, the golf cart shuttle from Caneel Bay, or hike along the Lind Point Trail to Honeymoon Beach, St. John.
Kayak to Henley Cay from Honeymoon Beach, St. John
Explore the uninhabited Henley Cay
Snorkel in protected beach waters around a coral reef

St. John: Eco Hike & Snorkel Adventure
3 hours
departs from the VI National Park Visitor Center, Cruz Bay, St. John
Hike the Lind Point Trail.
Snorkel around the coral reefs at Honeymoon Beach.

Return to ST JOHN, USVI

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