St John, US Virgin Islands

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sat 21 Jun 2014 15:07
18:21.5N 64:44.9W
The majority of the area of St John is Virgin Islands National Park.  The land was donated to the US parks service by the previous owner, Laurence Rockefeller, in 1956.  One of the park restrictions is that you must use mooring balls where provided, but the fee is a reasonable $15 per night.
We initially moored in Caneel Bay, a long sandy bay that is a dinghy ride from the main town in Cruz bay.  Andrea wanted to go in and browse the shops.  This is a tourist destination so there is a new shopping area with boutiques and art galleries.
Caneel is not a well protected anchorage and it was a bit rolly overnight so we moved over to Maho bay, which has a beautiful beach and is well protected from the swell.
We went on a guided nature walk with a park ranger, which involved being taken by taxi to the middle of the island and then following a trail down a valley to Reef Bay, where we were picked up by a boat and taken back to Cruz Bay.  It was a vey interesting walk, visiting prehistoric petroglyphs and the ruins of the old Danish sugar industry, as well as tasting all sorts of fruit and berries we would not have dreamed of tasting on our own.  “Stinky Toes” are like a big bean with a hard outer shell and a fibrous interior that tastes a bit of banana but leaves your mouth smelling of sweaty feet.  The wild boars love it.  Termites are an easy food source to find, but we declined the offer of eating those, although the ranger ate some.
The Cruz Bay shops and restaurants are personalised for the tourists
We saw several deer on the nature trails.  The island must be teeming with them.
All around are the ruins of the sugar industry
Nature is gradually reasserting itself
In some cases going to great lengths to reclaim territory
The Golden Orb spider builds one of the largest and strongest nests of all spiders
We did not see many different types of birds on St John, but this one is everywhere.
The guide telling us about the petroglyphs
Andrea did not notice this one and sat on him, until the guide told her she was sitting on “Uncle Martin”.
The Reef Bay mill ruins still have the old steam engine in situ.
We visited an underwater snorkel trail.  The coral is in reasonable condition in St John and there are still plenty of reef fish around.
Turtles can be seen everywhere and some are completely unconcerned about the presence of humans.
The seagulls are pretty tame as well, although this guy perched on a mooring ball thought I was getting too close.