CAMPING

Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground is set on St. John’s longest beach, framed by coconut palms and sea grape trees. Reservations are required to stay at the campground, with three types of lodging available. Eco-tents are outfitted with queen-size beds, lights, a cooking kit, bath towels and a picnic table. Concrete cottages come complete with a ceiling fan, queen bed, mini refrigerator and outdoor grill. Bare sites provide a platform with a rain cover, with the option to rent a tent and supplies. Besides direct beach access, Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground offers conveniences like a general store that stocks groceries and kitchen items, to-go foods and ice cream. At the Rain Tree Cafe, guests can enjoy breakfast and dinner on the patio. A food truck delivers lunch options like burgers, tacos and hot dogs.

Campers can rent equipment for snorkeling, kayaking and paddleboarding. Or opt for a guided hike or birdwatching walk, as well as yoga, art and watersports classes. There are also board and card games to check out at the front desk for low-key fun. 

Soak up nature by strolling in the sand or snorkeling in the turquoise water that’s home to jewel-toned fish and a submerged historic village. Hike the Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop and take in the spicy scent of bay rum trees while inspecting the ruins of the Cinnamon Bay sugar plantation. Be sure to catch a free, informative Cinnamon Bay Campground Chat, which covers fascinating topics like archaeology, coral reef protection and the night sky. 

WATER EXCURSIONS 

USVI is famous for the beauty of its beaches, but 40% of Virgin Islands National Park is actually located underwater. Spend a day floating in crystalline waves and viewing the underwater world while snorkeling at one of the park’s pristine beaches. Discover the delicate allure of several species of coral, including the wavy form of lettuce leaf coral or the upright branches of elkhorn coral, at Salomon/Honeymoon Bay. Swim with gentle sea turtles in Maho Bay. And be on the lookout for vividly colored fish like the cobalt-and-yellow beaugregory and the azure honeycombed cowfish.

For an above-water excursion, charter a sailboat or motorboat in Cruz Bay, a picturesque cove tucked into the west coast of St. John. Then, go sightseeing along the shore or fishing in park waters. Caribbean spiny lobster and silk snapper are popular catches. Sail to the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument and prepare to be amazed. The branches of shoreline mangrove forests snake over the water, with their intricate root systems supplying shelter for marine life. Some 12,708 acres of submerged marine habitats house marine creatures like sea urchins, stingrays and dozens of coral species. Snorkel Hurricane Hole for an unusual mangrove experience, exploring the tangled root system that provides shelter for sea cucumbers, sponges and starfish.

ON-LAND ADVENTURES

Landlubbers can hike some of the park’s 22 trails. The seven-mile Tektite Trail takes hikers through dry forest terrain and over hills overlooking coastal cliffs. The climb ends at Cabritte Horn Point, which rewards with spectacular views of the coast of St. John and cooling winds scented with fragrant frangipani. Yawzi Point Trail unfolds over an easy .3 miles, with stone ruins from the Danish colonial period lining the path.

Much of USVI history is connected to sugar plantations, and visitors can get an up-close view of this legacy by exploring various plantation ruins. Annaberg Sugar Plantation is one of the most accessible historic plantation sites. The remains of enslaved people’s quarters, a windmill, a sugar factory and an animal mill reflect a history of slavery and colonialism. Cinnamon Bay is a smaller site that was once part of a large plantation. Catherineberg Plantation requires a short hike or rocky drive to see the well-preserved Danish colonial period ruins. 

A demanding hike on the backcountry Reef Bay Trail unveils ancient rock carvings from the indigenous pre-Colombian Taino people. During the rainy season, a small waterfall cascades around the carvings. The trunks of some of the island’s oldest and tallest trees tower over the trail, and stacked stone walls that penned cattle dot parts of the trail. Reef Bay Trail also features sugar plantation ruins, including a steam engine.

Go birdwatching and spy a variety of feathered friends from viewing decks at key trail spots. Some 144 species of birds inhabit USVI and can be spotted year round. Forest birds, sea birds and shore birds all flock to the region and play an important role in the island ecosystem. The yellow-breasted bananaquit is the official bird of USVI, and can be seen flitting around forest borders and shrubbery. The striking green-throated carib is a large, iridescent green hummingbird that frequents forests and gardens. Brown pelicans can be spotted swooping down on beaches. And the gray-and-white spotted sandpiper is commonly sighted around salt ponds.

The land and sea aren’t the only places that showcase USVI’s natural beauty — the night sky sparkles with starry panoramas. Join a ranger-led stargazing session during Astronomy in the Park. Head to Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground for a celestial tour of the night sky. View planets and galaxies through the park’s 10-inch reflecting telescope and learn about the effects of light pollution on Virgin Islands National Park. The tours take place on Wednesdays, from November through August, at 8:15 p.m.

Explore more USVI national parks.

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