Hiking the Reef Bay Trail

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One of the most popular hiking trails on St. John is Reef Bay Trail. Boasting various terrains, archaeological ruins, petroglyphs, a waterfall and a beach, it’s no wonder that visitors and locals alike love this National Park gem.

The beautiful 3-mile (one way, 6 miles round trip) long trail starts just off Centerline Road and takes you down to the beach through a beautiful tropical forrest with lots of highlights along the way!  Descend into the valley, where you’ll see awe-inspiring ruins and some of the largest trees on St. John, including giant Kapok trees. The trail, which is maintained by the Virgin Islands National Park, features signage at various trees and plants to let you know what you’re looking at.

About 3/4 of the way down the trail, you’ll see signs for the petroglyphs and the trail has a spur to the right. You don’t want to miss the freshwater pools and petroglyphs – carvings in the rocks that are believed to be over 1000 year old sacred symbols carved by Taino Indians. If you’re here during rainy season, you may get to witness the 40-foot waterfall that spills into the pools here.

Continue back to the main trail and you’ll soon come across more ruins of a sugar plantation, part of the Reef Bay Estate that was established in the early 18th century. The factory building still includes a lot of original equipment and is one of the best preserved sugar plantation ruins in the Virgin Islands.

Right near the ruins, you’ll find a short sandy path that continues on to the beach where you might enjoy popping in the water to cool off!

Make sure to bring water and snacks, and wear running/hiking shoes. The hike back up can be rigorous! If you want to hike the trail but don’t want the more intense hike back up, you can also go on a guided tour with the VI National Park and take a boat, Sadie Sea, from the bottom back to Cruz Bay for $40. You can visit the Friends of the National Park and book this guided tour here. This is a fun option, and allows you to see a portion of the southside of the island from the water.

Visit One of the Top Beaches in the World

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St. John is home to LOTS of gorgeous white sand beaches. So many, in fact, that you can visit a different beach each day of your week-long vacation and still not hit every one.

One of the most popular beaches is Trunk Bay, voted Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World and often included in best beach stories by travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. It’s pretty unanimous that Trunk Bay is a must-visit beach on St. John, and that St. John is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Caribbean.

This little strip of heaven features a 225-yard long underwater snorkeling trail and .3 miles of beach to walk on and accessible paths and beach ramps. Donated by Laurence Rockefeller over 50 years ago, Trunk Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, with the beach, coral reefs and waters preserved by the park. It’s pristine beach, warm water and silky sands make it one of the most sough-after beaches on St. John.

To help preserve the beach and snorkel trail, there is a $5 per person day-use fee to enter the beach. Life guards are on duty daily. Amenities include snack shack, bar, snorkel gear rentals, a beach shop, restrooms, and showers.

Enjoy a day at Trunk Bay, or some of our other favorite beaches including Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay! What beach was your favorite?  We’d love for you to share your experience in the comments, or tag beach photos with #DestinationSTJ and we’ll repost and share!

Local Dining: Fresh Fish

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We’re often asked about where to eat fresh fish on island and we love the island-inspired fish dishes that are offered at The Longboard. With a healthy menu focused on seafood, you can’t go wrong dining at this bright, upbeat Cruz Bay restaurant.

The Longboard, which opened in March 2015, celebrates the adventurous yet laid back ocean lifestyle of the islands and draws inspiration from coastal cuisines around the globe. Head Chef Kenny Claxton and owners Clint Gaskins and Tyler Beckstead bring a fresh approach to dining on St. John with incredible flavors and offerings. Located on the stretch of road between Connections and the Post Office (across from Rhumblines), The Longboard has certainly brightened Cruz Bay with a cheery, surf-themed spot that is sure to draw you in for a drink and some memorable eats.

Some of our favorite dishes include Ahi Poke, with fresh chunks of ruby red Ahi tuna, avocado, mango, in a spicy sesame soy sauce topped with scallions.  Not to be missed are the tacos or bowls – your choice of a house made corn tortilla, local Josephine’s greens or a quinoa and rice blend. The choices make it hard to pick, but we always go for the Grilled Pescado – it’s the fresh grilled daily catch with pickled red onion, jalapeño, baby arugula, mango and guacamole! We love it on a corn taco, but you can’t go wrong. There are also a lot of great gluten free and vegetarian options. Check out their Instagram for nightly menu specials that feature fresh catches, local and exotic vegetables and more!

AND, don’t miss the DRINKS. Make sure to try the Frozen Painkillers on tap (yes – Frozen. Painkiller. and it’s $5 at Happy Hour!) and the Passion Fruit Frosé, a delightful concoction of rosé wine and passion fruit, frozen and perfect. We also love their inspired cocktail list with house made sodas like ginger beer, grapefruit and lemonade.  Our go to: The Heart & Sol, a tropical blend of grilled pineapple and jalapeño infused reposed tequila, Grand Marnier, lime, Thai basil, pineapple. honey syrup with a smoked sea salt rim!

Grab a table (arrive early, the place opens at 3pm and fills up fast!), enjoy the tropical music and surf videos playing behind the bar, and watch the Cruz Bay scene as you sip a frozen Painkiller.

Dining at the Longboard during your stay? Share a photo of your favorite drink or dish by tagging #destinationSTJ on Instagram!