Virgin Islands National Park   2 comments

Virgin Islands NP 00Where Is It: 30 minutes from San Juan, Puerto Rico … or 2 hours, 45 minutes from Miami by air. You have travel to the Virgin Islands by air or boat.

The Birth: from

By the end of the 19th century, St. John’s had less than 1,000 inhabitants. The United States purchased the islands in 1917, and by the 1930’s the seed of a tourism industry had sprouted. Word spread quickly of this “untouched” Caribbean paradise. In 1956, Rockefeller interests purchased land and transferred it to the Federal Government to be designated a national park. In 1962, boundaries were enlarged to include 5,650 acres of submerged lands.

It Happened Here: From

Fearful that the Germans might capture the islands during World War I, the United States bought St. John, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and about 50 smaller islands from Denmark for $25,000,000. … Today, though its boundary includes three-quarters of St. John, the national park owns only slightly more than half the island.

Size: 14,737 acres

# Visitors: 438,601 in 2013. Attendance peaked in March, and bottomed out in September/October.

Plants: From the Park’s website:

From the peaks of St. John’s steep mountains to beaches and mangrove shorelines to offshore seagrass beds and algal plains, Virgin Islands National Park protects an interesting and diverse variety of plant life.

Visitors can travel from moist forests to dry cactus scrubland in minutes, each landscape telling a different story of rainfall, human impact, and slow natural change. Most of the vegetation on St. John today is recovering secondary forest with native and nonnative species competing for space. Coastal mangroves and seagrass support marine ecosystems. These plants stabilize shorelines and provide critical habitat for fish and marine invertebrates.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

The only mammal native to St. John is the bat. Three of the six native species of bats are protected under the V.I. Endangered and Indigenous Species Act of 1990 (Act No. 5665) (Table 2). Some bat species are important pollinators of many floral species on the island as well as important seed dispersal agents for many species of fruit bearing trees and shrubs. Other species of bats consume vast quantities of insects, including mosquitoes.

Present day St. John does have many other species of animals that are not native to the island or even the tropics. These include: deer, goats, sheep, donkeys, cats, dogs, mongoose and pigs.

Fees: I don’t understand it, but here’s how the Park’s website explains their non-fee fees:

There is no charge for entrance into Virgin Islands National Park. However, a same-day user fee is collected at Trunk Bay. Children age 16 and under are admitted free; adults, $4….

Staying There: Campsites are available in Cinnamon Bay Campground. Accommodations include bare tent sites (26), sites with tent-covered platforms already set up (44), and cottages (40).

Contact Info:

1300 Cruz Bay Creek
St. John, VI 00830
(340) 776-6201, ext. 238

Current Issues: From

Like most Caribbean islands, the natural world of St. John has undergone tremendous, sometimes overwhelming, changes. Forests were cleared over almost all of St. John for sugar plantations, farms, and houses in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Foreign trees and shrubs, brought over to provide food or medicines, invaded the native forests, and, by the early 1900’s, no sizable original stands were left. Animals, too, were introduced by man. Some, such as the weasel-like mongoose, which developed a taste for the eggs of ground-nesting birds and sea turtles, have had devastating effects.


National Park Service: Virgin Islands National Park


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