Beautiful and wild, the Virgin Islands National Park is famous for its undeveloped beaches and lush green hills. If you’re searching for world-class snorkeling, hiking and white-sand beaches with hardly a building in sight, you’ve come to the right place.
Most visitors to the park make a beeline for one of the large popular beaches, but there are dozens of lesser-known adventures to be had. We’ve listed four of our favorites below. If you have any questions, or need help planning a day trip from one of our St. Thomas condos or villas to St. John, please let us know!
Swim to Mermaid’s Chair Beach
Not to be confused with Mermaid’s Chair Beach on St. Thomas, this tiny pocket of sand can only be reached by boat or by swimming or snorkeling from the eastern shoreline of Oppenheimer Beach. Once you make your way around the first rock outcropping, you’ll reach Mermaid’s Chair. If you go during low tide, you’ll have just enough space to lay out a towel and your beach gear and enjoy a little slice of heaven all to yourself. This beach is best enjoyed during spring, summer and fall months when it gets maximum sun.
Kayak Hurricane Hole
For centuries, Hurricane Hole was a refuge for boats seeking shelter from storms. Today, this mangrove-lined bay is a unique refuge for more than 30 species of coral. The coral flourish among the mangrove roots, and the trees shade the water, keeping it cool and preventing coral bleaching. You can explore this area by kayaking, paddleboarding or snorkeling along the mangroves to see coral, anemones, barracuda, star fish and more.
Hike to Waterlemon Cay
If you’re a snorkeling enthusiast, you’ve got to visit Waterlemon Cay. This beach gets fewer visitors than others on the island because it’s rocky and can only be reached by hiking approximately one mile from the Annaberg Plantation or taking the slightly longer route from Coral Bay. Many consider it to have the best snorkeling on the island, and its crystal-clear water makes it a great place to see coral, fish, nurse sharks, barracuda and rays. Currents can be strong along the western edge of the cay, so use caution and consider snorkeling with a buddy. You may want to consider bringing a pair of sturdy water socks or tennis shoes to navigate the rocky path to the water.
Explore the Fish Bay Gut
Despite its gruesome name, a “gut” is simply a stream formed at the bottom of one of St. John’s many valleys. These guts are often lined with lush tropical plants and contain waterfalls and pools filled with crabs and fish. Exploring guts is not for the faint of heart - it often requires scrambling over wet rocks and navigating deep pools, but it is an amazing way to see a totally unique side of St. John. To access the biggest waterfall in the area, start at Fish Bay Bridge and proceed carefully up the gut until you reach the place where the trail intersects with Battery Gut. Follow the left fork (Battery Gut) for another .1 mile and you’ll be rewarded with a 70-foot waterfall.
Planning a Visit to Virgin Islands National Park?
If these adventures have prompted you to plan a vacation to Virgin Islands National Park, we’re here to help! The park is a short 30-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas, and we frequently help our guests plan transportation, arrange a boat charter or plan the perfect day exploring the island on their own. For more information about St. John, you can check out our blogs before. Don’t forget to tag us (@islandluxuryvi) in photos of your trip so we can see and share!