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St. John Trails: White Cliffs

View of Europa Bay from the White Cliffs Trail

If you’re in decent physical shape and enjoy hiking on St. John and you’re looking for a good hike recommendation, I have one for you: the Lameshur Bay to Reef Bay loop.

This loop will not only provide you with access to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins on the Reef Bay Trail, the waterfall fed pool where Taino Indians made carvings in the rocks called the the petroglyphs and the Par Force Great House where wealthy plantation owners made their home, but it will also lead you on an adventurous journey along a dramatic cliffside trail with breathtaking views, a coastal scramble along a coral rubble beach and access to a remote salt pond and reef protected shallow water lagoon.

Note: The White Cliffs portion of the loop is not an official National Park trail and consequently no official maintenance is being done. My point is, check out this outstanding trail sooner rather than later while it is still in such good condition Experience tells me it won’t be this good forever.

Although there are several modifications and alternative options the basic hike would go something like this:

1) Lameshur Bay Trail from Lameshur Bay to the Europa Spur Trail
2) Europa Spur to the beach at Europa Bay
3) Walk along the beach towards the point (White Point)
4) Pick up the Trail that goes inland and climbs steeply up to the White Cliffs Trail that runs on top of a ridge above the White Cliffs on St. John’s the southern coast between Europa and Reef Bay.
5) Follow the White Cliffs Trail until it ends on the beach at the eastern end of Reef Bay
6) Walk west along the beach as far as you can without getting wet and then walk through the mangrove forest to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins.
7) Take the Reef Bay Trail to the Lameshur Bay Trail and then hike back to Lameshur Bay.

Bring water! A camera, snacks and bug repellent might also be good ideas.

Highlights

Lameshur Bay Trail from Lameshur Bay to the Europa Spur Trail
The beginning of the Lameshur Bay Trail passes through some dry forest lowlands. It’s an easy flat and shady walk – a good beginning. Check out the large tamarind tree by the side of the trail. Looks like it was split in half by lightening once upon a time.

If you have plenty of energy, you can check out the Europa Point Trail for some outstanding overlooks and photo ops, but remember the loop is rather long so perhaps the exploration of Europa Point should be left to the end of the adventure, just to see if you really do have that extra energy.

If you’re in luck like I often am, you’ll see a deer or two on this section of the hike. They seem to like it around here.

Europa Bay
The Europa Bay Trail will take you to the beach at Europa Bay. Walk south towards the point to the end of the beach where you’ll find the entrance to the White Cliffs Trail.

Entrance to Europa Bay Beach from the Europa Bay Spur Trail

Europa bay Salt Pond

Me at Europa Bay - photo by Ezius Ashley

Native Orchids

White Cliffs Trail
At the end of the beach you should find a narrow but well defined trail that heads inland and then runs steeple up the hillside to the ridge above. It’s a bit tough going because of the steepness, but before you know it you’ll have reached the top. You’ll pass by some beautiful rock formations after which you should start seeing countless native orchids which seem to be everywhere along this trail and along the ridge top.

Near the top of the trail there are some great overlooks down towards Europa Bay. At the top of the steep trail, there are some more great vantage points. The White Cliffs Trail heads west from here, but you can go east for a little while and enjoy a great view towards the southeastern coastline, Kiddle, Grootpan and Salt Pond Bays.

The trail is presently in great condition and you shouldn’t have a problem following it. Once you get the section above the White Cliffs, there will be plenty of opportunities for great photographs as the trail follows the edge of a steep cliff side that descends from the ridge down to the sea.

To Reef Bay and back to Lameshur
After passing over the White Cliffs, the White Cliff Trail descends down to the beach at the eastern end of Reef Bay. A barrier reef, which forms a long semi circle around the bay comes ashore nearby. Behind the reef is a shallow lagoon, which may or may not be under water depending on the tide and time of year. This lagoon provides protection for many varieties of sea life and is an integral part of island and ocean environments.

Walk east along the beach as long as you can and then enter the mangrove forest proceeding in the same general direction until you get to the sugar mill ruins.

From there take the Reef Bay Trail to the Lameshur Bay Trail.

Note: This was not the first time that I hiked the White Cliff Trail, but this is the first time that I had my good camera with me. Read about my previous White Cliffs trail hike.

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3 Responses to “St. John Trails: Lameshur Bay to Reef Bay & Back – A Really Cool Loop”
  1. Nancie Moore says:

    Hi Gerald! I’m enjoying your blog very much…even added it to my favorites so I can get to it easily. When I have time I’ll go through the archives and catch up. Your name sounds familiar to me. Are you known on the Island for anything other than this blog? Keep up the good work and take care.

  2. Gerald says:

    Hi Nancy,
    Thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I also have written “St. John Off The Beaten Track”, “St. John Beach Guide” and “Tales of St. John and the Caribbean”
    Gerald

  3. Zubar Zadar says:

    Greetings, I am never sure what to write in comments these months, because what ever you do people flag you as spam. But what the heck, I was reading your blog and I have to say that sometimes you have great opinions in your articles that make me stop a while and think about it. And, for me this days, it takes lot to impress when it comes to writing on the web. So, your post is good, keep up your work :).

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