Reef Bay Trail
Reef Bay Trail
4.5
About
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.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
466 reviews
Excellent
332
Very good
101
Average
25
Poor
4
Terrible
4

Susan K
6 contributions
We hiked the Reef Bay Trail on our first day on the island, in the rain. The trail mostly goes through the trees, so we were largely protected from the intermittent drizzle. The petroglyphs were easy to see and worth the short spur trail (0.22 miles each way, per the sign). The ruins are largely intact and have informational signs. The beach is small and rocky, but very picturesque. And deserted. I didn't think the uphill portion of the hike was as bad as others have described, but I'm used to hiking in the mountains of Colorado, and there's way more oxygen at sea level! It opened up and POURED as we were hiking up the last 1/2 mile or so, which eliminated the challenge of the heat. Despite being the queen of flip-flops, I recommend real shoes for this trail. I wore my keens, which were perfect. Definitely a must-do on St. John.
Written February 14, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Mary Jo C
Massachusetts161 contributions
Couples
My husband and I signed up for the guided tour with the National Park. We enjoyed the bus ride up to the trail and the comradery of the other hikers and our tour guide. The guides were very knowledgeable and fun. We would not have learned so much about the history of the island. Arriving at the petroglyphs was very exciting to see and learn about how and why they were there. The ruins of the sugar plantation were very intact and very interesting. We would highly recommend this hike and tour now that the Sadie Sea is back up and running again to provide a pleasant boat ride back to the visitor center. If your feeling adventurous you can swim from the beach out to the boat, otherwise you get picked up by a dingy and brought out to the boat!
Written February 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lori M
United States6 contributions
We loved this trail! Some peek a boo views of ocean from the trail until you get down to the beach. Loved seeing the sugar mill ruins and all the different trees and plants. The walk back up is a good workout. This trail reminded us of some of the trails we have done and loved in Hawaii.
We took the passenger ferry over then got on the $1 vitran bus and had them drop us off at mile marker 5. Then after hike waited for them to pass by again and flagged them down. We are used to elevation and we hike a lot so we were able to this round trip in less than 3 hours, but others may need an extra hour. Make sure to take water! Enjoy!
Written March 31, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dave K
Overland Park, KS24 contributions
This was a very enjoyable hike - but tough! We started around 0945 and finished around noon. Bring plenty of water and it was quite hot on the way back (weather was mid 80's most of the way). The ruins were amazing at the bottom of the trail and the petroglyphs are not to be missed! (The fresh water pool was extremely low as the area hasn't had a good rain in almost 2 months). Saw a bit of wildlife (deer, mongoose, snakes) but all very pleasant and a few lizards accomodated our pictures! Don't miss the HUGE bee colony in the steam room of the large mill! Spent a few minutes in the ocean before heading back. We didn't have a car so we safari/taxid to the trail head and ended up waiting about 35 minutes for the island bus and rode back to Cruz Bay. It was about 5 miles total (with the petroglyphs).
Written July 4, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

cchina
Largo, FL86 contributions
It's a pretty trail with ruins of old buildings along the ways. There is a fork towards the bottom that leads to a waterfall and petroglyphs. And you can also continue to the beach.

I only went as far as the petroglyphs -- as someone who is a bit out of shape and has breathing issues with altitude changes/ steep, this was challenging for me. The trail head is directly off the road (so watch carefully when navigating to it) and parking is wherever you can find on the side of the road. The trail is relatively steep towards the top but becomes easier towards the bottom. We were there on a rainy day, so the trail was muddy and I felt like I spent a lot of time on the steep parts watching my step to make sure I didn't slip (on both the way down and up)!

The waterfall is pretty and the petroglyphs are cool (be sure to wet the rocks to see them better).

NOTE: If you're allergic to bees/wasps, it's a tropical environment so don't be surprised to see a lot of bees/ wasps along the trail. Watch where you put your hands and be careful when touching/ moving tree branches.
Written January 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Meadowsm20
4 contributions
We hiked this in July and spent way too much time sight seeing on our way to the trailhead. We didn't get there until around 10:30 AM and we hiked down in the heat of the day and were sore by the time we got down to the bottom. We then did about an hour's worth of snorkeling in the bay which was another mistake. There was not much to see in the water and it tired us out further. As such, we did not bring enough water! We then made the hike back up around 1pm and we were all about to throw up from exhaustion! We are all fit people who work out quite a bit, 3 out of 4 in the group were college athletes. On the way down we encountered a group of people who were completely exhausted, out of breath, and covered in sweat. We thought, "what's wrong with them?!". On the way back up we quickly figured out what was wrong with them! With that being said, I would still highly recommend doing it, just be a lot smarter than we were! HA! After that we drove to a gas station and got some water, went to the beach, then made our way to Skinny Legs where we DEMOLISHED some hamburgers!
Written October 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Laura M
Nokomis, FL2 contributions
Family
We really did not do our homework on this one! The hike is amazing with views of the mountains, ruins and lots of wild life. My husband, 18 year old daughter and myself started around 1:30 in the afternoon. Lesson 1 -start earlier in the day. The hike back hit the hottest part of the day and areas that were in complete shade on the way down were blazing with sun on the way back. We went only as far as the petroglyphs trail. This trail was amazing and really deserves a moment to appreciate the history that you are touching. We brought two bottles of water for the three of us, which we didn’t feel the need to use until the walk back, but due to the heat and exertion of the incline back we had to ration. Lesson 2 bring more water than you think you will need. Although the trail is well kept it is treacherous. There are patches with loose gravel, wet slippery stones and dry leaves hiding other dangers, the latter resulted in me slipping, twisting my ankle and falling hard to the ground. Each of us were wearing good walking shoes- Lesson 3 do not try this hike in anything but good walking/hiking shoes. After a few minutes of rest we continued the two miles left of the hike as my ankle continued to swell and turn purple. Even without a hurt ankle though the climb back up was very tough. Concentrating on it however took my mind of my ankle until we got in the car. Summary: be prepared and enjoy.
Written July 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kimmy S
14 contributions
Friends
Loved this trail, absolutely beautiful. Bring lots of water!! Pretty steep downhill at the start of the trail, which means its rough coming back up. The petroglyphs are fun to look at...unfortunately there was a dead deer nearby the day we were there. (We did see lots of living deer too which was fun) I loved reading all the trail signs with the fun history facts. The Sugar Mill ruins were fun to look at. The beach down at Reef Bay is not great, very shallow and rocky, with lots sea grass and maybe coral? Don't really know what it was, but I didn't want to step on it. But, I did have a great time climbing on the large rocks at the waters edge at the end of the trail. 100% would do this hike again.
Written June 3, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

rdcrx
Lake Placid, NY193 contributions
I am a hiker in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, therefore I am familiar with steep, difficult trails. I found the Reef Bay trail very enjoyable, however it is not a walk in the woods and quite steep at sections. The ruins at Reef Bay are very interesting to see, along with the Reef Bay house and the petroglyphs. If you are an experienced hiker, go for it. If you are not and not in the best physical shape, I would suggest skipping this trail. There are many more trails on St. John that are less difficult. If you still want to hike this trail, I may suggest descending the Reef Bay trail, and returning on the L'Esperance or Lamshure trail. Happy hiking.
Written June 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Andrew T
21 contributions
Let's start out by saying this is a great hike. The ruins are cool, the petroglyphs are great if you like to think about the history of it. The hike back up to the trail head is MISERABLE. There are definitely people in much better shape than me that won't have too much of a problem. I recently had gastric sleeve surgery and lost over 100 pounds. My motivation has been through the roof and I have been wanting to do anything and everything. As the wife and I descended into the jungle to start the hike, we made comments about how steep the downhill was and how hard it would be to get back up. It was worse than that. We went through four bottles of water and both had to take breaks sitting on rocks for long periods of time. One hour to the petroglyphs, two and a half hours back to the car. Being 8 hours removed from the experience makes be glad we got through it... but the hike back up to the top is no joke. Please be sure you can handle it and bring a lot of water. There were a few times I thought I wasn't going to make it as crazy as that sounds.
Written September 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Reef Bay Trail (Virgin Islands National Park) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Reef Bay Trail

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