Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands

Descriptive:

Located in the northeastern Caribbean, about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico, lie the United States’Virgin Islands. Composed of three major islands and some 50 islets, this tropical paradise featureswhite, sandy beaches and exotic coral reefs. Virgin Islands National Park is on the island of St. John,covering about two-thirds of the island, and is only about 13,000 acres, about half of which is offshore.

Of the 50 or so small islets dotting the blue-green waters of the Caribbean, some are only largeenough to moor a small craft. The National Park itself is located on the isle of St. John, which is about nineteen square miles.

Many of the trees on St. John are not native, as most were cleared by the slave trade under the ruleof Danish plantation owners prior to 1917. Still, tropical kapok, with its gnarled bent branches, isone of the interesting trees to be found here. Bougainvillea grow wild here and color the landscape with its blossoms.

In the water, the rich life offshore flourishes in the abundant ecosystem of coral reefs, and these tropical waters teem with brightly-colored fish. The snorkeling is excellent here in the abundantgrowth of the coral reefs. It is very easy to pass an entire day, or two even, snorkeling. Theequipment can be rented within the Park. Cinnamon Bay Beach and Hawksnest Beach bothschedule regular snorkeling trips. Good snorkeling can also be found at Trunk Bay.

Vegetation:

Kapok

Mangrove

Breadfruit

Seagrape

Mango

Bougainvillea

Hibiscus

Cactus

Wildlife:

Bats

Mongoose

Lizards

Sea turtle

Gull

Pelican

Heron

Frigate

Hummingbird

mockingbird

Butterfly fish

Trumpet fish

Parrot fish

Blue tang

Marlin

Sailfish

Tuna

Key locations:

Bordeaux Mountain rises approximately 1300 feet above sea level, and magnificent views can be had from its summit, including views of the isle of St. Croix, the largest of the islands, to the south,the isle of St. Thomas to the west, and the British Virgin Islands to the north.

Reef Bay Trail is a guided tour led by a Park Ranger down a carriage road through a small forest. A waterfall tumbles next to some Arawak Indian petroglyphs, and a Danish plantation estate can beseen along the way. A boat is waiting at a sandy beach to return hikers to Cruz Bay.

Trunk Bay Beach features an self-guiding trail that’s underwater! Unique to the National Parks, signs are located at various points underwater in this sub-marine habitat. This underwater trail isonly about ten feet deep, so snorkeling and duck-diving make it a true interactive learning experience.

Annaberg Ruins is an old sugar cane plantation from the time of the Danes, replete with a windmill from the old estate.

Activities:

Snorkeling

Boating

Deep sea fishing

Trails:

Annaberg Ruins Trail

Reef Bay Trail

Trunk Bay Trail

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