Virgin Islands National Park: A Visitor’s Guide

Virgin Islands National Park

virgin islands national park
Simon/Flickr/CC by 2.0

The Virgin Island National Park was authorized on August 2, 1956. Located on Hassel Island in Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. John, the park covers about half of St. John Island as well as Hassel Island in St. Thomas harbor and includes quiet coves, white-sand beaches, tropical forests, wildlife, wildflowers, breathtaking views, and offshore coral reefs. The Virgin Island National Park protects early Carib Indian relics and the remains of Danish colonial sugar plantations.


arrow-icon  Phone Number: 340/776-2601

arrow-icon  Park Hours:  Park Opens Daily. Park opens daily. Visitor center open 8-4:30.

arrow-icon  When to Go: Busiest December through March. Least crowded September and October.

arrow-icon  Helpful Links: www.nps.gov/viis

arrow-icon  What to Do: Bird-watching, boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, sailing, scenic drives, scuba diving, snorkeling (rentals), swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing.

arrow-icon  Facilities: Visitor center, information kiosk, bulletin boards, self-guided underwater trail, hiking trails, book and map sales area, picnic areas.

arrow-icon  Programs/Events: Guided island hikes, snorkeling trips, cultural history demonstrations, evening programs. Advance registration and transportation fees required in some cases. Black History Month Commemoration (Annaberg Sugar Plantation, late Feb.), St. John’s Carnival (week ending July 4).

arrow-icon  Address: Service Headquarters, St John 00830, U.S. Virgin Islands

arrow-icon  Directions: Choose Starting Point  national parks    

arrow-icon  Number of Visitors/Year:

112,287 (Year 2018)

arrow-icon  Fees and Permits:  Access to most of the park is free.  Access to Trunk Bay requires a fee of $5 per adult. Children younger than 16 years of age can access free of cost. 

  Accessibility: The visitor center is wheelchair accessible. Beaches, trails, and paths have various degrees of wheelchair accessibility. Some trails and paths have no wheelchair access.

arrow-icon  Pets: Pets on a leash are allowed on trails and paths but not on beaches. Pets must be restrained on a 6 feet leash, never left unattended, and owners are responsible for removing pet waste.

photos-national parks  See Photos.


Major Attractions

Virgin Islands National Park is praise for its secluded tropical beaches. The crystal clear water offers great snorkeling opportunities. One can wade from the beach to a coral reef to marvel at the hundreds of species of tropical fish and coral.

Trunk Bay Beach is a typical beautiful beach on the Caribbean islands. One can enjoy the white sand and calm water or wade into the shallow coral reef that features an underwater snorkeling trail. A local shop offers drinks, snacks, gifts, and snorkeling equipment for rent.

Cinnamon Bay Beach is also another popular beach. This beach has a water sports center where one can rent gear for windsurfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Local professionals offer lessons on snorkeling, scuba diving, and wind sailing.

Exploring the subtropical forest that surrounds the beaches and other parts of the island is also a popular activity.

The 0.9-mile Ram Head Trail is a short trail off Salt pond Bay that takes visitors through a lush subtropical forest where several species of birds can be seen.

The 2.5-mile Reef Bay Trail descends descend to a steep valley where the remains of sugar plantations and petroglyphs on rock walls can be found.

Another sugar plantation is found in Annaberg. Visitors can inspect the installations of all plantations and tour through the remains of machinery and other instruments used to produce sugar cane. On Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, locals provide basket weaving demonstrations.

Fort Frederick is also another sugar cane plantation worth visiting.

Tips:   Wear light cotton clothes and lightweight trousers to help protect against insect bites.


Virgin Islands National Park’s Summary Reviews

The following are summaries of actual reviews made by visitors to the Virgin Islands National Park.

What is good:

One of the best national parks I have visited in my life and I have visited more than 15, which are mostly considered the best.

The views from various overlooks are the best. There are many beaches where you can swim and they are the best beaches in the world. We spent most of our time in Trunk Bay.

Beautiful scenery and the water is amazing! Very clean beach and plenty of room to layout.

Absolutely gorgeous beaches! If you can come here, and you absolutely should! It was amazing.

The snorkeling is top notch here as well. Showers, restrooms, and other necessities are available here as well.

This is hands down my most beautiful beach yet. I have not come across a beach with water this amazing and clear. The sand is like butter. So soft.

St John is Such Gem and the Natural Parks are amazing. You will not be disappointed visiting Trunk Bay or any of the other parks on this beautiful Island. St John is a slice of heaven.

I went to see turtles and I was able to see a lot very close to shore. They were not scared of us. I will go back with my kids.

Absolutely beautiful, stunning, incredible. Lovely and amazing all at the same time. The tour guides were great with questions and showings us around their homes.

This place is beautiful. I did the Reef Bay trail, which was a bit intense.

Trunk Bay is the most beautiful beach in the world! We saw tons of sea turtles when we rented SUPs in Maho Bay!

What is not so good:

I was not a fan. Do not waste your time getting there.

So much dead coral.

Our tour took us to a beautiful beach but the snorkeling was surprisingly poor.

They had an underwater trail (great idea) but it was just a semi-circle of plaques that were hard to read and there was not much to see but a dull almost lifeless bottom.

Not recovered from the hurricane. Trees are half-broken, debris everywhere.
This National Park is in desperate need of more parking.

Good place for a quick getaway hike but requires maintenance. We were attacked by mosquitoes on our recent Rams Head hike.

Not much in it. Few picnic tables and benches.

Beautiful place to visit, but the airport employees are rude and have no up to date computers!
I was only passing through and it seemed a little sketchy.

Beautiful but too expensive, everything cost too much.

So many fun things here. Parking may be an issue if you have a car. Entry fee was not that bad.

Trails are rocky stay on Lind trail to Honeymoon beach. Be careful on the way back! Don’t make the same mistake as we did the other trail took us 40 minutes longer to lower Lind trail….UGH.


Read Next: