St. John Trails: The Maria Hope Road – Updated

St. John US Virgin Islands Trails: Maria Hope Road
Maria Hope Trail

In the last few years, the Maria Hope Trail has become a popular hiking venue. Passing through shady lush tropical forest, this old Danish Road provides Cinnamon Bay campers with convenient access to the Reef Bay Trail, historically significant ruins and a scenic overlook with bird’s eye views of Maho and Francis Bays and vistas extending eastward to West End Tortola and beyond.

There have been some complaints, however, about the fact that the trail runs over private land at the lower elevations. There is now a cure for that. Down on the lower section, just before the wire fence that crosses the trail, there is a nice trail that switchbacks down the hill and comes out at Maho Beach, just east of the green building on the beach.

St. John USVI Trails: Maria Hope
Alternate entrance to the Maria Hope Trail

There is a road sign (West  RT. 20) where it comes out.

This new section of trail passes through the flats just inland from Maho Beach before the it begins its steep uphill climb.

maria hope trail st john usvi
Maho Bay Flats

The low lying flats present a unique forested environment without thick or thorny undergrowth making it easy to pass though and enjoy.

Overlook on the Maria Hope Road
Overlook on the Maria Hope Trail
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St. John Trails: The White Cliffs

st john usvi trails: white cliffs
White Cliffs
White Cliffs Trail Map, St John Virgin Islands
White Cliffs Trail
St. John Trails: Europa bay
Europa Bay

Want a beautiful and exciting alternative to the Lameshur Bay Trail between Lameshur Bay and Reef Bay? We have one for you and it is one of the most dramatic, scenic and exciting hiking trails on St. John – The White Cliffs Trail.

trail to the ridge

Beginning at Lameshur Bay, take the Lameshur Bay Trail as far as the Europa Bay Spur. Turn left onto the Europa Bay Spur and follow it to the coral rubble and rock strewn beach at Europa Bay.

Turn right and head towards the south end of the beach. You should be feeling a cooling breeze and hearing the sounds of the surf breaking and the melodious rhythm of the small cobbles and pieces of coral rolling back and forth in the surge.

large rocks on trail
big rocks on trail

Walk along the shore until you reach the steep hill coming down from the cliffs. Turn right along the base of the hill (it is cleared) and go about 150 feet in from the water. Bear left and diagonally up the hill. You want to stay just to the right of the big rocks and in a short way, you will start to see a track that heads straight up. Follow it to the top of the ridge….”

Near the top is a turn off to the right with magnificent bird’s eye views of  Europa Bay and the big salt pond behind it.

When you reach the ridge, a short walk to the left will bring you to an overlook with great views to the southeast coast of St. John all the way out to Rams Head.

view of salt pond at Europa Bay
View of Europa Bay Salt Pond

Europa Bay
View of Europa Bay

View towards Ram Head
View towards Ram Head

Now for the trail: Walk west along the ridge. The trail goes to the left side of the ridge, down a bit and then back over the ridge and down a bit on the north side of the ridge. The trail gets better as you go. If you are bushwhacking at all, you missed it. Just keep heading west.

a large agave in middle of the trail
Agave on trail

Passing a rather large agave in then middle of the trail, follow the trail straight up the ridge. After you pass over a short rocky section, you will come to an area of large cactus.

The trail isn’t very noticeable here, but you can keep just to the right of the first couple of cactus and then bear up and left to reach the top of the cliff. There are a few little agaves but it is easy going. You should be at the top of the cliff with the ocean straight down below you. There is a section of stone wall at the edge.

What we’re calling the White Cliffs Trail may have been a footpath for those traveling between Lameshur Bay and Reef Bay, but this part where you first get to the clifftop and the section of stone wall appears to be an old road.

Now you will be walking west along the ridgetop. On your left the hillside descends steeply towards the White Cliffs and the rocky shoreline below. Wowie! Awesomely dramatic! And lots of outstanding photo ops also!

The views to the south are superb all along the trail and there are more orchids blooming along the trail than I have seen anywhere else on the island. If you look closely, they seem to grow along the trail, but not much away from the trail. They were just starting to bloom before Christmas.

From here, the trail is obvious and follows along the side of the hill and goes straight toward Reef Bay.

You will emerge from the trail at the east end of the beach not far from the beginning of the White Cliffs.

Entrance to trail from the beach at Reef Bay

If you want to find the trail from the beach at Reef Bay, walk east along the beach until you are a few hundred feet from the end. There are two round bushes on the beach, out toward the water. Both about 6 feet tall, look the same, and are maybe 20 feet apart. Head into the woods from between the bushes, bear right and sort of follow up the left side of the gut. Look for the cut stumps. It is probably easier to find from the Europa Bay end.

If you haven’t had enough by now, you can easily reach the sugar mill ruins at the end of the Reef Bay Trail and continue your explorations, such as the petroglyphs, the Par Force Ruins and the Great House. If you don’t want to backtrack you can also return to Lameshur Bay via the Lameshur By Trail.

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St. John Memories: Erva Boulon’s “My Island Kitchen”

The 1966 copy of VI View, lent to me by Maureen Anderson contained one of the chapters of Erva Boulon’s  book My Island Kitchen, which was published in its complete form in 1969..

St. John, US Virgin Islands Memories: My Island Kitchen My Ilsand Kitchen, Erva Boulon St. John Virgin islands

In her blog, Random Thoughts, Bish Denham, Erva’s grand daughter, who grew up on St. John writes about her grandmother.

“…After World War II Grammy ran Trunk Bay as a guest house. She did it without electricity, cooking three meals a day for her guests. John Dos Passos, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife were among some of her more well-known guests. She gained the reputation for being a superior hostess and an excellent cook. Using local foods, she learned how to prepare them in ways that would please American taste buds. An article was written about her in the cooking section of the New York Times and she wrote a cook-book call My Island Kitchen. I loved having breakfast at her table because she would toast your bread on a charcoal pot set on a small table next to her chair….”

When Trunk Bay was sold to the Virgin Islands National Park, Erva moved over to Maho Bay with a new husband, Bill Thorp, and built another small guest house called “Lille Maho” next to the present Maho Campground, which she operated through the 1960s.

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St. John’s Elaborate Christmas Lights

st john virgin islands christmas

Better late than never, Chin and I drove over to the Wesselhoft home last night to photograph what was to be last time this season for the magnificent display of Christmas decorations jsut above Cruz Bay on Centerline Road.

The Wesselhoft Christmas lights has been a family tradition for many years. When Miss Alma passed away, the family put up the display the following Christmas, but for the next two years the house remained dark on Christmas time. This year Raffy and Carmen, Miss Alma and Mr. Wesselhoft’s children, renewed the tradition. They began a full time workday, on December 8 with the goal of finishing the project in time for Miss Alma’s birthday on December 15th.

Carmen came over on the 8:00 am ferry every morning for that week. She and Raffy worked all day with the help of various volunteers finally calling it a day and returning to St. Thomas on the 9:00 pm boat.

On the night of December 15th, honoring Miss Alma on her birthday, the Wesselhoft family Christmas lights lit up the night with colors and Santas and angels and familiar Christmas scenes.

st john usvi, christmas lights st john virgin islands santa st john virgin islands christmas
st john virgin islands santa st john christmas

st john virgin islands three kings

st john us virgin islands christmas st john usvi santa
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Virgin Islands View – St. Thomas 1966

Virgin islands View Magazine 1966
Virgin Islands View August 1966
Air France Promotion St. Thomas Virgin Islands 1966
click to enlarge

Maureen Anderson, who worked at the Virgin Islands Hotel in 1966 was kind enough to lend me this edition of the Virgin Islands View Magazine published in August of 1966. The photo on the left was taken in 1966 during an Air France promotion at the Virgin Islands Hotel on St. Thomas.  The cute young lady in the first row is Maureen and the black man in the last row is Tiger Haynes.

“Tiger Haynes (December 13, 1914 – February 14, 1994) was an American actor and musical performer. He was born as George Haynes in Frederiksted, St. Croix, and moved to New York when he was a boy. An ex-boxer, Haynes played guitar with The Three Flames from 1945 to 1956, a group which had its own NBC radio show in the mid-1940s and a television show on NBC television in 1949. He made his mainstream Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman’s musical revue New Faces of 1956.[3] He is best known for his portrayal of the Tin Man in the original Broadway cast of the the Wiz. He also made several television appearances on programs such as The Cosby Show (1989) and In the Heat of the Night (1989), as well as numerous minor film appearances in films such as All That Jazz (1979) and Ratboy (1986)” From the Wikipedia website.

Virgin Islands View

A.H. Riise St. Thomas Virgin Islands
A.H. Riise, St. Thomas 1966

Scott Hotel St. Thomas USVI
Scott Hotel St. Thomas Virgin islands 1966

Virgin islands View Magazine St. Thomas US Virgin Islands
Scooter Rental

A lot has changed since 1966., one of the most the most obvious being prices. Check it out.

At A.H. Riise offered Johnie walker Red Label Scotch for $2.75/bottle, Mateus Rose wine for $1.50/bottle.

At the Scott Hotel off season rates were as low as $9.00/night for a single and $16.00/night for a double. High season rates were $14.00 to $18.00/night for a single and $22.00 to $28.00/night for a double. Swimming pool and a shower in every room!

And a Honda 90 could be rented for $7.00/day or $38.00 for the whole week.

Parachutte Jumpers St. Thomas Virgin Islands
Parachute Jumpers, St. Thomas 1966
Frenchman's Bay St. Thomas Virgin Islands
Frenchman's Bay St. Thomas 1966

Here’s some more images. On the left were the parachute jumpers who jumped every Sunday. The instructor in the center is Don Dewerd from Hull Bay. On the right is the view from Frenchman’s Bay before development

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St. John Virgin Islands: Turner Point Trail Revisited

st john trails: turner point
cannon buried in sand

Turner Point Trail Hike, St. John US Virgin Islands Saturday 01/09/2010

haulover bay, st john, us virgin islands
The adventure begins – Haulover Bay, East End, St. John

Ezius Ashley and I arrived at Haulover Bay on the East End of St. John around noon on Saturday. Ezius is only ten years old, but is the best hiker I ever set out on the off the beaten track trails of St. John, with the exception of the infamous Trail Bandit, I must ad.

This was my third attempt at this trail, my last two terminating at the ruins on the ridge above Elk Bay. My goal this time was to descend the other side of the hill to Water Creek, and see the ruins there and more importantly to make my way around the bay to the next point where an old cannon stands partly buried in the sand.

The Route

Turner Point Trail, St. John Virgin Islands
Turner Point Trail Map

We proposed to follow the shoreline of Haulover Bay heading west to the end of the beach. From there, a footpath of sorts leads into the bush rising to the top of the hill that forms the point separating Haulover Bay from Elk Bay and descends down to the cobble beach at the eastern extreme of Elk Bay.

Elk Bay can also be accessed from the south side of the East End Road (heading east) at the top of the last (highest) hill before going down into Haulover, where a trail descends steeply through a dry cactus scrub environment and leads to the beach at Elk Bay.

I find the Haulover access to be much more pleasant, cooler and more scenic, but both ways are possible.

Elk Bay, St. John Virgin Islands
Elk Bay
Elk Bay, St. John Virgin Islands

The trail Ezius and I take crossing  the headland between Haulover and Elk Bays leads us to some flats where a huge tamarind tree stands in an area surrounded by the skeletons of century plants that have succumbed to the disease that is currently decimating the species on St. John.
Reaching the beach, we begin our walk west on the rocky shore enjoying the rhythmic melodious sound of the cobbles being washed back and forth by the waves. At about the middle of the beach there is a rocky outcropping that we must scramble over. A flat rock along the way provides us with some nice views and cooling ocean breezes.

wrecked boat on elk bay - st john usvi
wrecked boat

The next stretch of beach is much the same as before. We continue walking west over the colorful, round cobblestones passing a wrecked boat that had washed up on the beach.

We continue west for about 100 more yards scrambling over a small rocky outcropping, until we find the path, presently marked by pink ribbons that leads into the forest.

After a short walk over the flats behind the beach, the trail leads us up the hillside to the ridge.

ruins on the turner bay trail st john usvi

ezius ashley clears ctach n keep
ezius cuts away catch n keep

The ruins of several structures lie on the ridge top.

We spend some time exploring the ruins and Ezius helps clear access for a photograph, clipping away a patch of catch n keep.

On the other side of the ridge we pick up a trail going down the hillside. This trail is steeper then the last and it’s not long before we reach more ruins lying along the mangrove lined shore.

ruins at water creek, st john
ruins at water creek
mangroves at water creek, st john
red mangroves at water creek

We have reached Water Creek a small protected cove completely lined by red mangroves. Snorkelers arriving aboard the sailboat, “Breath,” are exploring the undersea community of fish and sea creatures in the mangrove environment.

The ruins here are in better condition and more easily accessed than those on the ridge. Nearby we find a well, many old bottles and a goats’ skull bleached white by the sun.

In order to reach are goal of photographing the cannon we must bushwhack along the coast to the next point of land. There’s no trail so the going is slow, but we’re intrepid explorers and we emerge from the forest at the rock and sand beach just south of water creek.

There’s our cannon!

turner point trail map, st john usvi
cannon on beach
the cannon

We return the way we came, arriving back at Haulover Bay at about 4:00. We had been gone about four hours. I’m tired, Ezius’s battery is still on full charge.

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St. Thomas Blues Fesival Tickets on Sale

Press Release:

St. Thomas Blues Festival St. Thomas Virgin Islands
St. Thomas Blues Festival

FRIDAY – JANUARY 22nd – 8:00 pm
At the Reichhold Center at the University of the Virgin Islands

Curtis Salgado, Trampled Under Foot & Eden Brent

Tickets for the 1st Annual Johnnie Walker St. Thomas Blues Festival are now available at the following locations:

Reichhold Center Box Office
VI Bridal & Tuxedo – Tutu Park Mall
Home Again – Red Hook Plaza
Eccentric Shoe Boutique – Town
Urban Threadz – Buccaneer Mall @ Havensight
Connections – St. John

Please note that tickets are going quite fast so make sure you get yours.

For further information go to
or contact Steve Simon at or at 340-643-6475

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Virgin Islands Ecotours & Caneel Bay – Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park Membership Offer


Virgin Islands Ecotours

– Guests enjoying off-property Kayak, Hike & Snorkel Adventure inspire donations and receive complimentary one-year membership from local environmental group –

St. John, U.S.V.I. (January 2010) – Give and get back – that’s what Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort is offering guests who embark upon the Kayak, Hike & Snorkel Adventure with Virgin Islands Ecotours , one of the resort’s most popular off-property activities.

Through this new partnership, for each guest who signs-up for a multi-sport adventure with Caneel Bay partner Virgin Islands Ecotours, a donation is made to the local environmental group Friends of Virgin Islands National Park . In turn, guests receive a complimentary one-year membership to Friends – a $30 value with benefits to keep them engaged on continuing efforts to preserve the beauty that the resort calls home.

The value-oriented offer reflects Caneel Bay and Virgin Islands Ecotours common goal of building eco-tourism on St. John. Virgin Islands Ecotours, which offers kayak, hiking and snorkeling tours of Caneel Bay and the Mangrove Lagoon on St. Thomas, is a strong supporter the non-profit Friends of Virgin Islands National Park organization and its dedication to protecting and preserving the natural resources of the park.

Led by expert guides, the Kayak, Hike & Snorkel Adventure available at Caneel Bay explores crystal-blue waters teeming with reef life and sea turtles, beaches shaded by sea grape trees and coconut palms, and picturesque tropical forests.

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St. John Virgin Islands: Official Virgin Islands Holidays for 2010

Virgin Islands Holidays
New Years Day January 1 Friday
Three Kings Day January 6 Wednesday
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 18 Monday (3rd Monday)
President’s Day February 15 Monday (3rd Monday)
Transfer Day March 31 Wednesday
Holy Thursday April 1 Thursday
Good Friday April 2 Friday
Easter Monday April 5 Monday
Children’s Parade * April 30 Friday
Adult’s Parade* May 1 Saturday
Memorial Day May 31 Monday
VI Emancipation Day July 3 Saturday
Independence Day July 4 Sunday
Labor Day September 6 Monday (1st Monday)
Columbus Day/ VI-PR Friendship Day October 11 Monday (2nd Monday
D. Hamilton Jackson Day November 1 Monday
Veterans Day November 11 Thursday
Thanksgiving Day November 25 Thursday (4th Thursday
Christmas Day December 25 Saturday
Boxing Day December 26 Sunday

*The Children’s and Adult Parade Days are days when administrative leave is granted, although they are not legal holidays

Information from the Virgin Islands Department of Education website

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A Visit to the Willy-T on X-Rated, The Bight, Norman Island, BVI

The William Thornton
The Willy-T, the Bight, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

The William Thornton, more affectionately known as the “Willy T” was originally a wooden 1935 Baltic Schooner. In 1985 the vessel was hauled out to the Bight at Norman Island and operated as a restaurant and bar, frequented by the many bareboaters who would anchor at the bay.

The old Willy T sunk in 1995. It was raised and hauled out to sea to be used a s a BVI dive site, but unfortunately the Willy T broke apart and was scattered about the sea bottom. The new Willy T is a steel replica of the original and is more popular than ever. Lits of drinking and girls jumping off the poop deck topless and body shots and music and dirty dancing and fun for all, not to mention the food that is really good.

The name William Thornton comes from a guy who was born on Jost Van Dyke and designed the United States Capitol Building.

SS William Thornton

Al "Boopy" Smith on X-Rated
Al "Boopy" Smith on "X-Rated"

M/V X-Rated

Mario and Boopy
Mario "Chin" Jackson & Boopy at the Willy-T

Norman Island BVI
Boats rafted up at the Willy T

The Bight, Norman Island British Virgin islands
Boopy, Mario and unidentified Jumper

Willy T "William Thornton
Dancers at the Willy T

outboard engines

Mario "Willy Chin" Jackson
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