St John Reef Bay & Congo Cay Petroglyphs

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Last updated: April 4th, 2023

Petroglyphs are one of the more intresting attractions you can find in St John. They date all the way back to when the first people arrived to the islands. Reef Bay and Congo Cay are two places in the U.S Virgin Islands where you can see these ancient pieces of art.

Reef Bay Petroglyphs

Despite the heavy rains, the Reef Bay Trail, for the most part, remains in fairly good condition, at least up to the Petroglyph and Lameshur Bay intersections.

The use of strategically placed stone culverts to deflect the water to the side of the trail and thus preventing the erosion that would be caused if the water just was allowed to run down the trail, did their job well.

reef bay petroglyphs

This is not to say that you didn’t have to cross some rapidly running guts that were flowing over the trail.

It was definitely worth the effort, as the Petroglyph waterfall was spectacular!

It was so good that I decided to brave the steep, muddy, slippery path that led to the top of the falls and to the bottom of another waterfall that appeared to be about twice the height of the Petroglyph Falls.

Congo Cay Petroglyphs

congo cay petroglyphs

The Taino rock carvings known as the petroglyphs, located alongside a freshwater pool in the Reef Bay Valley, are not the only ones to be found here in the northern Virgin Islands.

Taino artisans carved these symbolic pictures on rocks found in areas of obvious spiritual significance. Such petroglyphs exist at Reef Bay on St. John, along the side of a freshwater pool, and on the platform cliffs of Congo Cay. The petroglyphs on Congo Cay are extremely weathered and not as clear as the ones at Reef Bay.

It is believed that these carvings represent the natural spirits that resided in these places.

Congo Cay is a major nesting area for the Brown Pelican as well as for other seabirds. Goats were once introduced here but are no longer there. In addition to the rock carvings, Taino pottery shards have been found on the cay.

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