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“Challenging and Interesting Hike” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Reef Bay Trail

Reef Bay Trail
Rte. 10, Virgin Islands National Park, St. John
340 776-6201
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Type: Hiking Trails, Trails, Outdoors
Activities: Hiking, Swimming
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Attraction details
Owner description: This 2.2-mile hiking trail is one of the best on St. John: descend through a shady, moist forest and a dry forest, through visible remains of four sugar mills, pass by pre-Columbian petroglyphs, and end at a beautiful, pristine beach.
Williamstown NJ
Top Contributor
100 reviews 100 reviews
50 attraction reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
115 helpful votes 115 helpful votes
“Challenging and Interesting Hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2013

We tried to see if there was availability with park service tour when we arrived, but it was booked full the day we wanted to go. It end up raining that day hard, so we got lucky we didn't go that day. It would have been miserable hike in the pouring rain.
We had a rental jeep and a copy of "Off the Beaten Track", so it was no problem doing hike on our own. The trail head is well marked and parking was easy on centerline road.
The hike down was fairly easy and well marked. The park service has signage at along trail identifying items. Without bringing "Off the beaten Track" we would have not known what we were looking at without the park service guide. There are various ruins along the way to the bottom.
The petroglyphs were a very interesting, and they are about a 1/4 mile side trip off the main trail. We saw lots of wildlife along the way including mongoose, deer, and lots of different crabs that at sections of trail were 100's at one spot covering trail.
The sugar mill at the bottom was the best preserved we saw on St John. Very interesting and some of the equipment/machinery is still there. It looks like at one time there was a partial reconstruction. Its starting to fall in disrepair again.
The beach is nice, but the water is full of oval rocks and not the best for swimming. We swam and snorkeled anyway and it was a relaxing break from hike before starting back uphill.
The beach to the left loaded with 1000's of conch in the shallow water.
The hike back up was a little challenging, especially the top half where grade is steeper. We had to take a couple 5 minute breaks. It was a very peaceful hike and we recommend going. We only saw 13 other people the entire hike down and up.
The hike was around 6 miles round trip including petroglyphs. We started about 9am to beat the heat, and got back a little after 1pm taking our time to enjoy the scenery and swim.

We like to make a couple recommendations. Bring sturdy shoes, not flip flops. Bring at least 2 bottles of water each and a little snack. There were nats, so bring insect repellent.
If you don't take park tour bring a guide book so you know what you are looking at.
We are in our early 50's and had no problems hiking both ways. Great hike to spend a morning at before hitting the beaches.
There is a porta-potty at bottom of trail near mill if needed.

We saw a group of 4 young adults(early 20's), they were doing hike in flip-flop and had no water, insect repellent. They looked like they were in pure hell and not enjoying it. They didn't research hike and said they didn't know hike was that long or hard. They thought they heard it was a 1/4 mile hike.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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171 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Beautiful athletic hike...bring lunch and WATER!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 2, 2013

Starting at the top of a peak, you hike down (don't wear flip flops...sneaks!) through a nice forest canopy that shades you beautifully...all the way to reef bay, 2.5 miles on a well worn trail. The trail is rocky and many roots in places.Along the way, there are amazing trees, labeled by the park service, a sugar cane estate ruins, and petroglyphs (splash water on them) at a ritual pond. The petrogyphs are only a 1/4 mile off the trail so not far at all. At petroglyphs we saw a few mongoose and then further toward the bottom we saw deer and beautiful birds with polka dot wings. Bring or wear yr bathing suit. Some people bring just the mask and snorkel, not the fins. At the bottom is a sugar cane mill with many remenants of 200 years ago. There are two bays, one with a reef and bigger waves, the calmer one's trail is before the sugar mill and goes up a steep knoll and back down to beach. Many no seeums that bite! We saw two big sting rays playing near the surf! Very exciting.

Hiking back is level at first, but the last 45 min is very steep and challenging. Total round trip is a little over 5.6 miles. But it is well worth it and a good work out. Trail is clearly marked from road (rt 10)

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Beautiful but be prepared for uphill trek”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

Our favorite hike on the island. You need some footwear other than flip flops for this hike as there are a lot of rocks. Much to see with the combination of the plant and animal life and the remains of sugar plantations and settlements along the way. The side trip to the petroglyphs is well worth doing. Your return hike back up the hill is semi-strenuous.

Visited March 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“A great hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2013 via mobile

Do this early on your trip and with the National Park Ranger so you can learn a ton about the wildlife on the island and all of your future hikes will be enhanced. For example the ranger taught us how to spot ruins and we had excitement of finding so many hidden off-trail ruins. Also learned about both helpful and harmful plant life. It comes with a taxi ride and scenic boat ride/swim at end of hike.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Beautiful Hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2013

The hike is pretty tough -- definitely wear sneakers! It's downhill the whole way so coming back up is a bit of a challenge but well worth the time. The petroglyphs are very cool too.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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