About VI National Park

Virgin Islands National Park, renowned throughout the world for its breathtaking beauty, covers approximately 3/5 of St. John, and nearly all of Hassel Island in the Charlotte Amalie harbor on St. Thomas. Within its borders lie protected bays of crystal blue-green waters teeming with coral reef life, white sandy beaches shaded by seagrape trees, coconut palms, and tropical forests providing habitat for over 800 species of plants. To these amazing natural resources, add relics from the Pre-Colombian Amerindian Civilization, remains of the Danish Colonial Sugar Plantations, and reminders of African Slavery and the Subsistence Culture that followed during the 100 years after Emancipation - all part of the rich cultural history of the Park and its island home.   Visit the National Park Service Virgin Islands site
The hawksbill turle is common to St John waters

Sea Turtles

Two endangered sea turtles, the hawksbill and the green, are commonly seen in St. John's waters. The hawksbill, shown here, comes ashore on remote St. John beaches to dig its nest and lay eggs. After burying the eggs in the warm sand, the female returns to offshore waters. When the youngsters hatch, they instinctively turn toward the sea. Despite laws protecting them in some countries, they are still hunted in some areas for their shells and meat.
 

 Birds

More than 30 species of tropical birds breed on the island. They include the black, parrot-like smooth billed ani, two species of Caribbean hummingbirds, and the ever present bananaquit. Many warblers and other birds seen in the continental United States in the summer spend their winters in the dense forest. 
 
 
The night blooming Cereus is the largest of the island blossums.

Plantlife

More than 800 species of trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants grow in the different forests of St. John, from the moist sub-tropical forests of the interior mountains to the semi-arid cactus scrublands on south-facing slopes and rocky, wind-swept peninsulas. Inviting park trails wind through forests that today are a mix of native and introduced species.
Largest of island blossoms, the vanilla scented night-blooming cereus is pollinated by bats and moths and may be seen, true to its name, only at night.
 
 
 
 
Hawksnest Beach
 

Beaches

The white sand beaches of the Virgin Islands have a well-deserved reputation for being among the most beautiful in the world. Picture-postcard beaches fringe Hawksnest Bay, Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay, Saltpond Bay, and many of St. John's other sheltered coves.
St. John's beaches are ideal for sunbathing, and the clear turquoise waters are a fantasy come true for swimmers and snorkelers. Trunk Bay facilities include an underwater snorkeling trail, bathhouse, snack bar, beach shop, and snorkel gear rentals. Lifeguards are on duty daily at Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is a Use Fee Area. Daily and annual passes are sold at the entrance to Trunk Bay.
 
 
 
 
 
Charter boats moored at Maho Bay.

Boating and Sailing

The U.S. and British Virgin Islands offer hidden harbours, beaches, and dive spots. Charter operations provide excursions lasting from half day to many weeks, power or sail, crewed or uncrewed "bare-boat." Caneel Bay, Francis Bay, and Maho Bay are popular anchorages for overnight stays. Anchor in sand well away from coral and seagrass beds, or use moorings. Anchoring is not permitted in Salt-pond, Great Lameshur, Little Lameshur and Reef Bays; moorings must be used in these areas. Living aboard a boat in park waters is limited to 14 days in any 12-month period.
 
 
The reefs around St. John are a popular diving destination.

Underwater Exploration

The Virgin Islands rank as one of the Caribbean's premier diving and snorkeling locations. Trunk Bay has a 225-yard, self-guiding snorkeling trail marked by underwater signs that identify coral reef life.
Divers can readily observe the abundant and colorful reef fish. One of the most colorful, the parrotfish, feeds on algae that grows on coral, and ingests some of the hard coral skeletons, later excreting the undigested calcareous matter. One study estimated as much as one ton of sand per acre per year passes through the intestinal tracts of reef fish.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Annaberg ruins at Leinster Bay.

Sugar Plantation Ruins

You can walk through plantation ruins at Annaberg on Leinster Bay Road; at Catherinberg just off Centerline Road; and at Cinnamon Bay. The Annaberg Plantation has culture-bearers showing subsistence era cooking, basket making and other crafts several days each week.  Friends volunteers serve as docents offering information and tours of the site weekdays during the high season.
 
Hiking Reef Bay trail.

Hiking

Trails range from easy walks to difficult climbs, from well-maintained to brushy. Guided park hikes of Reef Bay Valley (5 hours) provide opportunities to visit mysterious-in-origin petroglyphs (rock carvings) and the ruins of St. John's last active sugar mill. During the winter months especially, the Francis Bay Trail is an excellent place to go bird watching for such species as the West Indian whistling-duck, yellow-billed cuckoo, and some of the other more than 160 species known to these islands.
 
   

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