Virgin Islands National Park, which covers more than half of the island of St John in the Caribbean Sea, offers a tropical paradise where adventurers can engage in a variety of activities and learn about the area’s fascinating history as well. A civilization known as the Taino were the earliest known people to inhabit the island, and since that time, the islands have seen colonization, development, and finally a good portion set aside to create a national park in St John—about 15,000 acres are devoted to preserving the beautiful landscapes. A visit to this special national park in the Virgin Islands is sure to be a refreshing outdoors experience.
The history of the Virgin Islands dates back to well before they were known as the Virgin Islands; the earliest known inhabitation is dated to 1100 AD. The Taino society left behind rock carvings during their occupation, and these can be seen on hiking trips along the Reef Bay trail. During the time that European civilizations were spreading out in the seventeenth century, colonization took place on several of these islands. Eventually, they were divided between Great Britain and the United States, and they became known as the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. The national park in St John consists of 60 percent of that island, all of Hassel Island, and parts of St Thomas.
While colonization was taking place, a great majority of vegetation was wiped out on St John to make way for the sugarcane crop, meaning that the foliage seen today has been introduced to the island in an effort to re-create the natural setting; however, the only native plant and animal known on St. John are the tyre palm and the bat. The diverse landscape of this national park in the Virgin Islands ranges from tropical rain forests to sandy beaches to a gorgeous underwater environment that’s perfect for diving In addition to the enchanting forests and natural settings, the Virgin Islands National Park is also a haven for ruins and remnants of buildings and structures from both the native inhabitants and the later settlers.
Activities and attractions at the park include hiking, camping, guided tours, visiting monuments and museums, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing. The crystal clear waters of the national park in St John are some of the best for snorkeling and scuba diving, and there is an ample supply of underwater wildlife to dazzle every visitor. Strolling along the pristine beaches or hiking through the vegetation on one of the twenty trails traversing the park provides a quiet moment, and cruising on the surface of those unblemished waters around the islands, whether you are sailing or windsurfing, is a memorable way to spend the days in Virgin Islands National Park.
Guests of the park can take advantage of several guided tours as well as visit the onsite museums for a more in depth understanding of the Virgin Islands. If you’re looking to pamper yourself, you can also stay at the Caneel Bay Beach resort, which was once owned by Laurance Rockefeller. It offers a great chance to combine pampering such as massages with the pristine outdoors of the national park in the Virgin Islands. Whether you’re visiting for several hours or several days, the park is filled with some of the most beguiling natural settings in the Caribbean, from the forest to the beaches to the sea, and it’s sure to leave guests with a lasting impression of their natural encounters.