Crystal blue waters, white-sand beaches, and glorious palm trees bathed on year-round sunshine; Virgin Islands National Park is the quintessential epitome of paradise.
And in this article, we are going to look at history of Virgin Islands National Park, things you can do here, best places to visit, etc.
|Park||Virgin Islands National Park|
|Things to do in||Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, and many more|
|Hotels near Virgin Islands National Park||St John Inn, Grande Bay Resort, and many more|
|Entry Fee||No Entry Fee|
|Camping Locations||Multiple Locations|
Where Is Virgin Islands National Park?
This Park is a lush tropical paradise located along the outskirts of the Caribbean Ocean in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The island covers two third which is 7,000 acres of land of St. John which makes it rich in culture and history. In order to reach Virgin Islands National Park, you have to take a flight to Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas from there you can take a cab to reach the ferry terminal situated in Redhook.
About Virgin Islands National Park
Covering 2/3rd of the island of St. John and all of Hassel Island, the park includes stunning beaches, mangrove swamps, protected bays, petroglyphs, historic ruins, and miles of hiking trails.
Due to its incredible marine environment, this Park is considered one of the best scuba diving and snorkeling destinations.
More than 30 species of tropical birds and 800 species are present in the park.
In 2017, two categories- five hurricanes wreaked havoc on the Virgin Islands and changed the entire landscape of the park forever.
Though most palm trees are gone forever, the park is still a bucket list destination for many national park fans.
History Of Virgin Islands National Park
Back in the 1950s, Laurence Spelman Rockefeller took a decided liking to the island of St. John and donated its extensive lands to the islands to National Park Service on the condition that it would be protected from future development.
In 1945, this Park and resort got opened on the same day. The park included 75% of the island, and the rest comprised shops, homes, and private lands within the park boundaries.
In 2001, the protection was expanded to include an additional 12,708 acres of submerged lands of the island, and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument was created.
In 2012, National Park Service added additional 58 acres to the park flowed by 72 acres in 2013, the most significant addition to date.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma and Maria struck the island leading to catastrophic damage. The park was reopened in December 2017, but the effects of the storms are still obvious.
Things To Do In The Park
This Park offers an incredible variety of things to do like snorkeling, swimming, marine life viewing, kayaking, and much more. Here are the top five must-do things in the park:
Visit The Trunk Bay
Often referred to as a mecca of beaches, Trunk Bay is one of the main attractions in the Park.
Known for its silky sand, clear waters, leaning palm trees, and excellent facilities, the beach provides great snorkeling opportunities.
Visitors can rent snorkeling gear and follow the underwater trail to see a wide variety of corals and fish.
Relax At The Maho Bay
Voted as a Visitors favorite Beach, Maho Beach is a great spot to swim, float, and wade.
Its shallow shoreline, light surf, iconic coconut palm fringed beach, and accessibility made it an ideal destination for families with kids.
However, it can get extremely crowded on holidays and weekends.
Explore The Honeymoon Beach
Honeymoon beach is one of the prettiest beaches in the Park. It has a white-sand shoreline, crystal clear turquoise waters, and lush green hillsides make it an excellent spot for swimming, wading, or just basking on the sand.
The beach’s tree line includes coconut and grape trees that provide plenty of natural shade, ensuring the sun won’t murder you.
Hike Reef Bay Trail
This 4.5-mile hike is one of the most popular hikes in the Park, perfect for casual strollers and serious hikers.
It takes the visitors past the historic petroglyphs, the ParForce Great House, and ends at the Reef Bay Sugar Factory Ruins.
Overall, it’s a great way to stretch your legs and enjoy some beautiful scenery.
Visit The Annaberg Plantation Ruins
Annaberg Plantation was one of the largest sugar mills in the Virgin Islands and still produces sugar, rum, and molasses.
It’s a great place for history buffs to about sugar production in the 18th and 19th centuries. You can either take a hike or catch a ranger-guided tour around the ruins.
Best Time To Visit Virgin Islands National Park
Winter is the best time to visit this Park as it marks the end of the hurricane season.
Also, crowds are thinner during winters, and the temperature feels both warm and humid at the same time, ideal for enjoying underwater adventures.
Map Of Virgin Islands National Park
Here’s a complete illustrated map of the Virgin Islands National Park created with the National Park Service.
It includes everything from ferry routes, trail descriptions, points of interest, parking, campgrounds, and nearby facilities so that you can navigate more effectively.
Camping Locations At Virgin Islands National Park
This Park offers restricted camping at the Cinnamon Bay Resort Campground.
However, the campground is currently closed due to the ongoing hurricane warning. For the latest updates, visit the NPS website.
Weather Of Virgin Islands National Park
This Park enjoys plenty of sunshine throughout the year and has entirely predictable weather.
Summer in the Virgin Islands is warm and hot and marks the start of hurricane season. Winters are a bit cooler but with a plethora of sunshine.
Sometimes, the cold fronts moving off the continent bring the Christmas winds from the north, creating huge waves on the shore.
Take extreme caution while entering the waters, and make sure to check out the current weather and warnings before planning a visit.
However, the significant caution here is the hurricane season that can lead to extreme devastation like in the past.
Hotels Near Virgin Islands Park
There are many accommodations near the park ranging from guest houses, beds & breakfasts, vacation villas, and luxury beach resorts.
Here are some top recommendations based on different needs and budgets:
- Estate Lindholm
- Coconut Coast Villas
- Gallows Point Resort
- Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel
- St John Inn
- Grande Bay Resort
Entry Fee & Passes
This Park has no entry fee, but donations are accepted. A same-day user fee is collected at Annenberg and Trunk Bay; $4 and $10 for individual annual passes and $15 for annual family passes.
Checklist Of Things To Pack
Here’s a checklist of things you must pack while traveling to the Park:
- A Daypack
- Light cotton clothes
- Waterproof Jacket
- Hiking boots & Sandals
- Sunscreen & Hat
- Water & Snacks
- Snorkel gear
- Goggles and flippers
- Underwater Camera housing
- Insect repellent
- First-aid kit
- Map & GPS
How much time do I need to explore Virgin Islands National Park?
Though it is possible to cover the main highlights of Virgin Islands National Park in one day, we’d recommend setting aside at least 2-3 days to get a good experience of everything the park has to offer.
Do I need a Passport for Virgin Islands National Park?
No, the Virgin Islands are a part of United States territory, and U.S. citizens coming from the U.S. mainland don’t need a passport to enter the Virgin Islands.
Do I need a car in Virgin Islands National Park?
Yes, with so many places to explore in the park, the car is the important and easiest way to get around the park.
Taxis are also available, but they are much more time-consuming.
Shefali Jain is a Content Editor & Writer at National Planning Cycles.
After completing her graduation in hospitality, Shefali decided to follow her passion and started writing. Shefali has been writing for two years now and contributes to our website as a skilled editor and content writer with strong research skills. Writing product and service reviews, biographies, and book reviews are some of her key areas, among many others in which she specializes.