St. John is so full of rich, cultural history. The VI National Park and Friends of the VI National Park have done an incredible job preserving and protecting this history, as well as providing education and knowledge about our islands. One of our favorite historical sites on St. John is Annaberg Plantation, the ruins of a plantation from 1780 that was one of 25 active sugar, rum and molasses producing factories on St. John. These ruins are the most intact sugar plantation ruins in the Virgin Islands, and also serve as a reminder of the difficult livelihood for the slaves who built and worked at the plantation. Today, the ruins are protected by the VI National Park and are open to the public to learn about, enjoy and explore. Placards and signs are dotted throughout the property, allowing you to take a self-guided walking tour through the site, describing how sugar was produced, what plantation life involved and the history behind sugar plantations on St. John.
The windmill, pictured here, is one of the focal points of the plantation ruins and was built sometime between 1810 and 1830. The ruins also include a fairly intact factory, horse mill, slave quarters, kettles and other structures associated with sugar production. There are many cultural activities that take place at Annaberg, ranging from demonstrations of baking “dumb bread” to basketweaving. Often times you will also find a local selling coconut water or doing demonstrations with calabash carvings. There are also a range of special events that take place at the site, like this week’s Full Moon Yoga and Meditation. Be sure to check the Virgin Islands National Park, The Visitor’s Center in Cruz Bay, or the Friends of the VI National Park event page for upcoming seminars, classes and special events.
Make sure to take carve out time on your trip to do either a self-guided tour or book a tour with a park ranger to explore the Annaberg Plantation. Located near Leinster Bay, Waterlemon Cay and Francis Bay, you can combine a beach day with a fun, educational sightseeing option!