Established in 1956, Virgin Islands National Park, on one of the US Virgin Islands, St. John, is dubbed “America’s Paradise”. It features beautiful beaches, resplendent flora and a rich history depicted through ancient petroglyphs. This 23 sq. mile national park is a great place to visit for exciting recreational activities and opportunities to learn about the time when sugar was dominant here.
Water recreation is just one of the many things to enjoy at the park. From windsurfing, to sailing, and kayaking, there are enough opportunities to have fun on the park’s waters. Hidden marine life within the coral reefs are there for snorkeling enthusiasts to discover at the park. Native fauna (bats) and non-native animals (like deer, sheep, and pigs) are also present for visitors and campers to watch. Also, whatever time of the year you visit, you are guaranteed a lovely bird watching experience.
There are no RV campgrounds in the park, neither are there RV facilities, however, a tent-only campground with bathrooms, showers, cottages, a restaurant, and a beach shop is available.
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RV Rentals in Virgin Islands National Park
Transportation in Virgin Islands National Park
Virgin Islands National Park is not accessible directly by air, so visitors and campers have to fly to St. Thomas and then travel to the park from there. Getting around the park is, however, easy with vehicles because two main roads - Centerline (Route 10) and North Shore (Route 20), provide access to most of the park’s areas.
There are designated parking areas at Virgin Islands National Park around the north shore beaches, visitor center, vehicle ferry docks, and Cruz Bay. Parking outside the designated areas is not allowed.
Public bus services are available between Cruz Bay and Salt Pond Bay.
Campgrounds and parking in Virgin Islands National Park
Campsites in Virgin Islands National Park
Cinnamon Bay Resort & Campground
Cinnamon Bay Resort & Campground is the only campground in the park that offers campsites with tents. RVs and trailers cannot be accommodated here.
There are cottages, a restaurant, and a beach shop within the campground for your convenience. Bathrooms with cold showers are available. The campground is only a short walk from the beach. Reservations are accepted.
Seasonal activities in Virgin Islands National Park
The only native mammal at Virgin Islands National Park is the bat. Some of the bats in the park are pollinators while others consume insects and mosquitoes. Non-native animals in the park include deer, sheep, goats, donkeys, and pigs. Mongoose is also commonly seen in the park.
In addition to these mammals, there are about 500 different fish species residing in various habitats such as the seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and mangrove prop roots. Watch out for sharks, groupers and grunts, butterflyfish, and angelfish within the park’s waters.
Amazing opportunities to enjoy a wide range of water-related activities are available at Virgin Islands National Park. Sailing, kayaking, and windsurfing are some of the more popular activities for guests at the Cinnamon Bay beach in the park as the prevailing winds make the experience exciting.
The park offers some of the best snorkeling. The various locations to enjoy snorkeling in the park are highlighted in the park brochure available at the visitor center. Sailboat, windsurfing gear, and kayak rentals are available.
Virgin Islands National Park is home to a wide array of plant life thriving in various habitats. The different flora in the park clearly indicate the effects of rainfall, human activity, and nature. In some parts of the park there are moist forests, while some other areas feature dry cactus scrublands.
Coastal mangroves and offshore seagrass are some of the common flora in the park. All these come together to beautify the park and make it a scenic setting for nature observation.
A trip to the visitor center in Cruz Bay is a must for all campers and visitors at Virgin Islands National Park who wish to learn about the submerged lands in the region. Additionally, there are exhibits in the visitor center that show the cultural and natural resources at the park. You’ll see coral and reef fish on display at the center as well as panels with elements from the early inhabitants of the area. Artifacts that date back to the pre-Columbian Tainos are also on show at the center.
One of the most popular activities that visitors and campers at Virgin Islands National Park engage in is hiking. This is enhanced by the fact that over 20 trails are available in the park, each offering a unique hiking experience for the campers. Boardwalks are also on hand in the park for hikers to stroll through historic ruins leading to salt ponds and a bird viewing platform. A casual walk to the petroglyphs in the park is also an option for hikers who wish to enjoy Reef Bay Trail. Ensure you bring your best hiking shoes.
About 144 bird species are seen at Virgin Islands National Park. However, roughly 35 of these birds reside in the park year-round. Most of the rest are either neotropical migrating birds or summer residents. The neotropical migrants are commonly seen between November and April, while the summer residents are found in the park from April to November.
Look out for hummingbirds, doves, pigeons, flycatchers, and thrashers in the park, particularly on the Francis Bay Salt Pond Trail. The other salt ponds in the park are also good spots to watch birds.