Because of their close proximity to one another, Christopher Columbus named the Virgin Islands, Santa Ursula y Las Once Mil Vírgenes, after Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. It's amazing to see so many beautiful, readily accessible islands scattered across the horizon. Big hilly islands, small rocky cays, and white barren spits lay so close that you can see the next adventure waiting on the next shore.
The day after our tour to the British Virgin Islands we caught a ferry to yet another peaceful green isle, this one home to the Virgin Islands National Park. Unlike the hustle, bustle and high-end shopping of St Thomas, St John is almost an entirely undeveloped tropical paradise. Not only the interior jungles and white sand beaches, but miles and miles of thriving coral reefs are also protected by the Park.
The ScenicBoys would choose roughing it over first class any day. For our four nights on St John we stayed at the Concordia Campground, which is a sustainably designed Eco-Resort that runs off of solar energy and collected rain water. While not actually a campground, it was the closest we could get to sleeping outside. More like roughing it in a tree house. Located on a hillside and bordered on three sides by the National Park, we had a spectacular view of the tall, narrow Ram Head peninsula. Our first night here was a full moon, and we took advantage of the bright tropical moonlight to hiked to the top.
Throughout St John, there are numerous remains of the 17th century plantain era. The Park Service has done an amazing job of preserving the Annaburg Sugar Mill Ruins with a windmill tower and a handful of roofless processing buildings made from coral masonry.
Snorkeling in crystal clear, turquoise water is something this country boy will never grow tired of. Fascinating colors and shapes tempt you to explore the other-worldly life in the coral reefs. We swam with schools of mini neon fish over multi layered coral arches, bulges and branches. Admiring the odd fish, giant sea enchants and graceful sting rays.
By the middle of our trip to the Caribbean we were amazed at all the opportunities we had already experienced. And we still had three more days to go! Up next are our hikes into the island's jungle backcountry.