It’s always a treat to explore a new National Park, and to fit some hiking into an otherwise pretty indulgent trip — even if you’re short on time.
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U.S. Virgin Islands National Park covers most of the island of St. John, about 1,100 miles from Miami. Our cruise ship docked at nearby St. Thomas, and my companions and I boarded a ferry and sped across choppy waters for some hiking. There’s no air- or cruise port on St. John, so to reach the island you’re gonna need a smaller boat.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus sighted St. John and its surrounding islands and named them Eleven Thousand Virgins, in honor of St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgin Martyrs of Cologne. About 200 years later, Denmark colonized St. Thomas and claimed St. John. The United States purchased the Danish West Indies in 1917 and established the nearly 15,000-acre National Park in 1956.
Thanks to the island’s remoteness and Caribbean climate, it’s a unique park. It features more than 20 hiking trails, white-sand beaches, and even plantation ruins.
Since we had only a few hours before we had to re-embark the ferry back to St. Thomas, we needed a short hike. Following the advice of a ranger, we chose part of the Lind Point Trail, a short walk from the Visitor Center.
It was a fairly easy hike through lush woods, though there were some slippery spots, loose rocks, and exposed roots. We even saw fellow hikers sporting flip-flops, though I was more than happy with my decision to don hiking boots.
Along the way, we spotted lots of scampering lizards, a couple of hermit crabs, and interesting flora including teeny-tiny cacti.
We followed a spur down to Salomon Beach, nearly undisturbed, with white sand, turquoise water, and green trees.
Then we doubled back to the Lind Point Overlook, with its soaring cacti, and took in the views of the sailboats dotting Cruz Bay below before heading back down to the Visitor Center.
We’d have liked to explore more of the Park’s stunning beaches, tropical forests, and historic ruins, but we had to make our way back to the ferry port. But we did spot more wildlife while we waited to board.
Overall the Lind Point Trail makes a good choice if you’re on a tight schedule.