Virgin Islands National Park – Guide, Camping & What to See

Petr Novák

The Virgin Islands National Park, alongside American Samoa, is the only one not situated within one of the 50 USA states. It is located in the USA Virgin Islands, a group of islands nestled in the tropical Caribbean and also an unincorporated territory of the United States. The park covers an area of 22.93 mi2 out of a total of 346.

Virgin Islands National Park | © Rennett Stowe

Table of Contents
  1. Information About Virgin Islands National Park
  2. What to See and Do in Virgin Islands National Park
  3. When to Go to Virgin Islands National Park
  4. Entrance Fees for Virgin Islands National Park
  5. How to Reach Virgin Islands National Park
  6. Accommodation in Virgin Islands National Park
  7. Tips and Advice Before Traveling to Virgin Islands National Park
  8. Photos of Virgin Islands National Park

Information About Virgin Islands National Park

The USA Virgin Islands are located in the Caribbean and consist of three main islands, Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, and Saint John. Virgin Islands National Park covers about 60% of Saint John. The park is renowned for its clear water and beautiful beaches, ideal for diving and snorkelling, and the hiking trails winding through the rainforest are also popular.

The Virgin Islands National Park was established on August 2, 1956, with the aim of protecting this unique wildlife. Interestingly, the creation of the national park was thanks to Laurance Rockefeller, who purchased most of the island at the time.

The national park had 323,999 visitors in 2021. The highest point in the park is Bourdeaux Mountain, standing at just 1,276 ft.

The park hosts 140 species of birds, 302 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 22 species of mammals, 50 species of coral, and 740 species of plants. Among mammals, the park is home to endangered bats, and in the surrounding waters of the Caribbean Sea, dolphins and, during the winter months, pods of whales can be spotted.

In terms of plant life, the park is dominated by mangroves that cloak the coastline. The most common species are the red, black, and white mangroves, which can be seen in Hurricane Hole and Mary Creek.

What to See and Do in Virgin Islands National Park

This tropical paradise in the heart of the Caribbean offers beautiful beaches, snorkelling, diving, and other water sports. There are two popular spots in the USA Virgin Islands National Park:

Trunk Bay

Regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it features a 676 ft-long underwater snorkeling trail. There is a fee to visit the beach, and a snack stand and equipment rental are available on-site.

Cinnamon Bay

Cinnamon Bay is an excellent location for sports enthusiasts. Besides the campground, there is equipment rental and a diving school available on-site.


This is the first significant beach on the route from Cruz Bay. Facilities include changing rooms, picnic tables, and toilets.

Typical agricultural crops of the USA Virgin Islands include sugar cane. One of the larger plantations on St. John used to be the Annaberg Sugar Plantation, near the Leinster Bay Trail. While its most prosperous days are behind it, you can still partake in a demonstration of native crafts. Other notable plantations include Catherinburg off Centerline Road and The Reef Bay Sugar Mill. You can visit these as part of an organized ranger-led hike. Simply inquire at the visitor center from which you start.

Hiking is also a popular pastime on the island, with twenty trails available in the USA Virgin Islands. Here are some of the most beautiful ones:

Cinnamon Bay Self-Guiding Trail

This is an 2,625 ft trail that takes approximately one hour to complete. The historical loop takes you through a former sugar mill and tropical forest.

Francis Bay Trail

This 2,625 ft trail starts on a paved road in Mary Creek and runs across to the beach. If you’ve never seen a mangrove forest, this is the perfect trail for you.

Petroglyph Trail

This short trail is less than 0.31 mi long, and it will take you about 15 minutes to explore the patterns in the rocks dating back to a time before Christopher Columbus had even considered discovering America.

Salt Pond Bay Trail

If you’re longing for a leisurely stroll ending with a dip at the beach, take this trail, which is just 1,050 ft long.

Reef Bay Trail

Probably the most challenging trail on the island, this 2.17 mi-long route takes experienced hikers less than two hours. It leads through diverse forests, abandoned farms, and former sugar cane plantations.

When to Go to Virgin Islands National Park

The USA Virgin Islands National Park is accessible all year round, and the subtropical climate makes it suitable to visit any day of the year. The typical temperature in winter is around 79°F, while in summer it’s slightly higher at around 91°F.

Most visitors come to the park between December and April or May.

The weather is largely influenced by trade winds that blow from east to west across the tropical islands of the Caribbean. Traditionally, it rains less and the wind is stronger in winter, resulting in higher waves. Summers tend to be wetter and less windy, but occasionally, a tropical storm or hurricane may approach from the south or east.

Average Temperatures and Visitor Numbers in Virgin Islands National Park

Average temperatures in the Virgin Islands National Park. Visitor numbers are based on a 2017-2021 average, and the data source is the National Parks Service.

Max Temp Min Temp Precipitation Days Visitors Popularity
January 84°F 73°F 4.4 22 538 🟨🟨
February 84°F 73°F 3.8 25 738 🟧🟧🟧
March 84°F 73°F 3.9 29 162 🟧🟧🟧
April 86°F 75°F 5.7 26 404 🟧🟧🟧
May 86°F 77°F 9.8 26 567 🟧🟧🟧
June 88°F 79°F 7.0 25 526 🟨🟨
July 90°F 79°F 7.7 25 353 🟨🟨
August 90°F 79°F 9.4 23 476 🟨🟨
September 88°F 79°F 11.5 8 368 🟩
October 88°F 79°F 11.3 9 112 🟩
November 86°F 77°F 9.8 14 722 🟨🟨
December 84°F 75°F 6.3 20 122 🟨🟨

Entrance Fees for Virgin Islands National Park

Entry to the national park is free of charge.

There is a fee of $5.00 for visiting Trunk Bay and a fee of $26 for an overnight stay moored in Moorings Harbour. If you arrive after 5:00 pm, the fee is still applicable.

How to Reach Virgin Islands National Park

The primary airport in the Virgin Islands, USA, is Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. Round trip tickets from Europe can be acquired for less than $500 if you are fortunate.

A ferry service operates from St. Thomas to St. John, with departures every hour from 6:00 am until midnight. One-way ferry tickets can be bought for $12.00.

You can traverse St. John using trendy shuttles, which have a basic canopy instead of a roof, or traditional buses. Bus 10, which connects Cruz Bay and Salt Pond Bay via Centerline Road, runs hourly from 6:00 am to 7:25 pm.

The most convenient mode of transportation in the Virgin Islands, USA, is a car. It is the only USA territory where you drive on the left.

Accommodation in Virgin Islands National Park

🏨 Hotels

There are dozens of primarily vacation resorts on St. John and throughout the Virgin Islands, USA. The most affordable accommodation begins at $160 per room per night.

⛺ Campsites

Tent enthusiasts can set up camp on the beach at Cinnamon Bay, where a campground is available. Tents or cabins can be rented, with prices starting at $50 per person per night.

Tips and Advice Before Traveling to Virgin Islands National Park

ℹ️ Visitor Center

The park’s visitor center is located in Cruz Bay near the public restrooms. It is open every day except December 25, always from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. In this attractive waterfront building, you can obtain informational brochures, purchase books and other souvenirs, or view exhibits detailing the island’s history. You can also seek help from the friendly rangers.

👍 Good to Know

To save money when visiting the Virgin Islands, USA, plan your vacation for the months of April through May, when room rates are lower.

The Caribbean sun is intense, and the constant fresh breeze won’t shield you from sunburn. Therefore, make sure to pack sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen.

Before visiting the Virgin Islands, download maps of the islands, trails, and other useful brochures onto your phone. They are free of charge.

Photos of Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park, USA | © Jason Crotty
Virgin Islands National Park, USA | © Rennett Stowe
Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands National Park, USA | © Rennett Stowe
Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands National Park, USA | © Rennett Stowe
Virgin Islands National Park, USA | © mark byzewski
Virgin Islands National Park, USA | © mark byzewski
Virgin Islands National Park, USA | © mark byzewski

US National Parks

  1. List of US National Parks
  2. America the Beautiful Annual Pass
  3. Timed-Entry Reservation for US National Parks

Travel Guides to USA National Parks

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