Where to go to the beach ion St. John in light of the National Park closure.
The Virgin Islands National Park is one of the casualties of the US federal government shutdown. For St. John, that means all park lands and facilities on the island are now closed. That’s trails, beaches, the Visitors Center, the children’s playground, the mooring balls and anything else that has to do with the park. The worst part, in my opinion is not being able to legally access the beaches.
If you don’t want to take a chance of running afoul with some park enforcement personnel, here are four beach alternatives, which are not on National Park land:
St. John Happenings
Tonight October 4 and tomorrow Oct 5 Breath of Soul – 8pm 777-4220
Turner Point Trail Hike, St. John US Virgin Islands Saturday 01/09/2010
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
All about St John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands (USVI) American Paradise