Welcome to the Virgin Islands National Park, a 7,000 acre tropical oasis that takes up half of St. John Island and most of Hassel Island. The Virgin Islands are full of rolling hills, sweeping valleys, and pristine beaches, as well as heaps of history! This park is the most western tropical Atlantic terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystem as part of the United States territories. Within this ecosystem you will see subtropical dry to moist forest, salt ponds, beaches, mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs, and algal plains. The topography is dramatic, with the slopes at an average of 30%, the tallest mountain point dropping quickly into the sea in less than three quarters of a mile.
Within these islands your group will see native bats (the only native mammal), deer, goats, sheep, donkeys, mongoose, pigs, and domesticated pets, as well as 140 species of bird, 302 of fish, seven amphibian species, 740 plants, and 50 coral reef communities. Seven coral reefs are actually endangered here, due to high traffic in the snorkeling areas. The countries best snorkeling and diving reefs are located here though, as well as gorgonians and sponges. Trunk Bay is the best white sand beach for snorkeling, just proceed with caution and be sure not to disturb the natural setting underwater!
The history of this location is incredible, dating back to 840 BC! There are over 100 historic sites as well as many other structures such as plantations, windmills, animal mills, factories, warehouses, and regular houses. These islands first saw the hunter gatherer archaic period, followed by chiefdom villages, followed by Taino culture ceremonial sites and burial grounds. Visit Reef Bay to see ancient rock art describing religious and social elements of life before Columbus, or take a trip off of Cinnamon Bay to see old plantation homes owned by Europeans and maintained by enslaved Africans in early history.
Be sure to check out the information kiosk and visitor center, as well as popular Bordeaux Mountain Trail for excellent hiking. Oh, and those crab apple trees you may see lining the forested landscape are actually poisonous (the Manchineel tree), so try to avoid these well-known "Death Apple Trees"!