Photography United States

Virgin Islands National Park

Visiting a national park is always cool when you’ve got the opportunity. Virgin Islands National Park is… slightly more out of the way than many of them, but definitely worth checking out.

Getting there involves flying in to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and then taking a ferry over to St. John. The view from the ferry is a pretty good introduction:

Photograph of St. John Island, taken from the ferry leaving St. Thomas Island.

There’s a few options for ferries; if you’ve already rented a car, the Love Island Car Ferry is your best bet, and has a pretty reasonable schedule. Depending on which of their ships you wind up on, it’s worth hopping out after you’ve parked and paid/checked in and going to the upper deck to watch the ride.

Photograph of a decaying, partially-sunken vehicle ferry in Cruz Bay on St. John island.

You’ll be dropped off in Cruz Bay, a dense town that doesn’t offer much by way of walkability, but overflows with options to rent… Jeeps, mostly, though there’s a some variety thanks to the Bronco.

Photograph of a stop sign in Cruz Bay, St. John. It has many stickers added, including letters that make it read "Don't Stop Believin"

Get into the park, though, and there’s a whole lot to do. We’d hoped to do the Snorkeling Trail at Trunk Bay Beach, but it was packed, and hiking there from a parking lot that wasn’t at capacity seemed like a great way to get heat stroke. Instead, we wound up at Cinnamon Bay.

Photograph of the Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground sign in Virgin Islands National Park.

There’s a good setup; a campground, a little restaurant, and, once you walk past the park information signs and some ruins, the beach.

Photograph of overgrown ruins in Virgin Islands National Park. A sign reads "Danger: Unstable Ruins. Do not enter." A rock formation in the ocean is faintly visible through an open window in the ruins.

And oh, what a beach! The Caribbean, it’s got some great beaches, who knew? Though there’s no snorkel trail here, it’s still good snorkeling – almost directly out from these ruins, about level with the buoys, there’s a coral reef that’s fun to float around. (Treat the wildlife well, though! Don’t touch anything, don’t step on any coral, and make sure that any sunscreen and/or bug spray you apply is coral-safe.)

Photograph of Cinnamon Bay in Virgin Islands National Park.

There’s also at least one stingray out there – we spotted him close to that rock formation on the left in the photo above. Sadly, the only “waterproof” camera I own is my phone, and the water resistance of an iPhone is more “you can rinse it off if it gets dirty” than it is “lol spend an hour underwater.”

Blurry photograph of a deer at Virgin Islands National Park

We also spotted some more terrestrial wildlife; a deer stopped to enjoy the view, as well, just a few feet behind where we’d put down our towels on the beach.

Photograph of a tree-covered pathway next to the ruins at Cinnamon Bay in Virgin Islands National Park.

And, of course, what would a photography post of mine be without a picture of an aesthetically-appealing pathway?