Hikes & Sights: Scenic Trails on St. Thomas & St. Croix

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Dreamy beachside trails, treks to historic landmarks, and hikes off the beaten path to hidden bays and flourishing tide pools await on St. Thomas and St. Croix in USVI. These two islands offer outdoor enthusiasts all kinds of adventure, from climbing rugged peaks to ambling through dense rainforests and strolls along pristine beaches.

If you’re looking to enhance your outdoor experiences on St. Thomas and St. Croix, check out these diverse trails.

St. Thomas

On the north side of St. Thomas, Magens Bay Discovery Nature Trail offers a lot of variety in a short 1 ½ mile trail. Choose from one of two trailheads – one situated west of the beach or the trailhead at Magens Bay Road. Either way, you choose, you’ll traipse through dry and tropical forests and along a well-maintained boardwalk through mangroves. Stop at a wooden observation platform overlooking Magens Bay, where you can catch a better glimpse of some of the 263 migratory birds that visit the island. You may even catch a peregrine falcon diving for prey!

To get to Mermaid’s Chair on the westernmost tip of the island, you’ll check in with a guard at the gated community that houses the beach. From there, it’s a 3.6-mile out-and-back hike down a sun-soaked hill to the stunning, secluded white sand where waves crash in both directions from the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Cool off in the surf, snorkel with tropical fish (stay on the eastern side between Oppenheimer Beach), and inspect washed-up corals and tide pools teeming with aquatic life. If you get your timing right, you’ll catch an unbelievable sunset over the water before heading back up the trail!

For a more leisurely adventure, the Santa Maria Beach Path is a safe bet. Santa Maria Beach is a beloved (albeit quiet) spot for snorkeling and swimming, easy to hike to in a swimsuit and sandals. Cut through a forest trail lined with vegetation and follow the yellow tape past the remains of a few old sugar mills to get to the clear turquoise waters that Santa Maria is known for. Pack a lunch for a seaside picnic, watch boats from the bay, and bring your own gear if you plan to snorkel.

St. Thomas’s best-kept secret is the Neltjeberg Beach Trail, a short but rocky uphill climb from Dorothea Beach with a few tight squeezes and a small stream to cross. Spot scarlet splashes of wild pineapple plants and mountain guava while you walk, and marvel at the stony ruins of a historic plantation near the end of the one-mile challenging hike. The obstacles are well worth the reward: an isolated, crescent-shaped strip of soft sand, shimmering blue and green waves, and a plethora of coconut trees with a fantastic view of Kastel Point.

St. Croix

The Annaly Bay Tide Pools are a must-see for island adventurers. This steep trek spans three hours through lush, humid forest and native grassland. See millipedes, iguanas, and colorful, tropical flowers like Oleander, hibiscus, and Ginger Thomas. Once you’ve made it to the beach, cool off in the crystal-clear tide pools nestled in rocky basins along the shoreline. Enjoy the ocean spray as the waves crash over the rocks. Wade and float in the 4- to 6-foot deep pools with several species of crabs (including hermit crabs) and sea urchins. Hike solo or in pairs, or book a tour with an experienced guide!

In the Northwest corner of St. Croix, take a 30-minute hike to a rustic 20th-century Danish lighthouse that last brightened the bay in the mid-1990s. The march to Ham’s Bluff Lighthouse is less than a mile through shaded forest, where goats, hermit crabs, geckos, and large butterflies might accompany you. Cool off in the breeze on top of the bluff with sweeping views of Hams Bay, Annaly Bay, and Davis Bay. If you’re feeling brave, carefully climb to the third floor of the lighthouse for an even higher perspective of the island.

A scenic trail view on St. Croix.

The 2.6-mile Windsor Farm Trails Loop consists of three different trails: the Upper Spur, Lower Spur, and Robbie’s Trail, allowing hikers to choose the length of their trek. Pick up tidbits about St. Croix and its flora and fauna while you hike the wooded paths, thanks to informational signposts along the trail. Learn about Windsor Farm’s history as a dairy, the termite nests in the trees, and the native pipe organ cactus that locals transform into agua fresca. Stop for photos at the 40-foot-tall Salt River Well Tower, one of the last remaining historic water towers left on the island.

As the island’s second-highest peak, Goat’s Hill near Cramer’s Park towers over most of St. Croix, providing a fantastic view of the island and the endless blue ocean surrounding it. Beat the heat by starting the 3.5-mile climb early in the day, and keep your eyes peeled for butterflies, interesting spiders, and brown pelicans. Pass the massive VLBA telescope dish (one of only a handful in the United States) on your way up to the top, where you’ll have a nearly unobstructed view of St. Croix from 672 feet above sea level. Cool down at Cramer Beach after your descent!

If you’re looking for a long hike with a killer beach view and lots of marine life, Jack and Isaac Bay Preserve Trail is the one for you. At a little over 3 ½ miles out and back, this trail meanders along the ridgeline above the beach through the 300 acres of the preserve’s protected land. Start near Point Udall (the easternmost point of the US territories) and walk or jog through the hilly forest, brushland, and powdery beaches. Jack and Isaac Bays are a haven for endangered green and hawksbill sea turtles, and the immaculate coral reefs just off the coast are teeming with starfish, blue tangs, parrotfish, nurse sharks, and crabs. Perfect for a snorkeling break!

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