Sunset on St John

10 Tips on Visiting National Parks in the USVI

May 16, 2023

The US Virgin Islands are a treasure trove of picture-perfect beaches, lush landscapes and breathtaking rainforests. There are also several national parks to explore all that the Caribbean has to offer. Some, like Hassel Island's Historic District, are located inland, while others, like Buck Island Reef in St. Croix, are on the water. Each park offers unique experiences that make them a great destination for any traveler.

Why Visit National Parks in the USVI?

Visiting national parks in the USVI is an incredible way to explore the area's beautiful landscapes, rich history and culture, and unique wildlife. The USVI has numerous protected areas, allowing visitors to take in stunning views of untouched rainforests, explore historic monuments and sites, and even swim with endangered sea turtles. Whether you're looking for a secluded beach or getting an expert guide to help you through all the lush vegetation in the rainforests and jungles, the USVI national parks are an ideal destination for outdoor recreation and exploration.

Overview of the USVI National Parks

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) is home to several national parks on the three main islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. These parks include the Christiansted National Historical Site, Salt River Bay National Historical Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Hassel Island, the Virgin Islands National Park, and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

Christiansted National Historical Site

The Christiansted National Historic Site is a seven-acre waterfront site located in the heart of St. Croix that serves as a testament to the rich history of the area. The Christiansted National Historic Site offers various activities for visitors, ranging from leisurely walks to more eventful gatherings. Visitors can take in the breathtaking views while lounging on one of the many benches that line the grounds or explore the area by taking a self-guided tour and learning about the island's history.

Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve

The Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve is more than 1,000 acres of breathtaking wilderness to enjoy. Located near the northeast coast of St. Croix, it is the only area where three distinct ecosystems – a tropical dry forest, mangroves, and saltwater marsh – come together in close proximity. You can explore this unique ecosystem by visiting the beach, taking a boat tour of the bay, or hiking the trails at Salt River.

Buck Island Reef National Monument

This national park on an 86-acre protected area is a must-see. Two-thirds of the island is made up of a barrier reef made up of elkhorn coral that supports a diverse ecosystem for marine life. Buck Island Reef National Monument is also home to the stunning Turtle Beach, a secluded stretch of white sand located on the west side of the island. This gem is about one and a half miles off the northeast coast of St. Croix.

Hassel Island

History buffs will love Hassel Island in St. Thomas for its Historic District. The location houses a number of fortifications built by the Danish West Indian government in 1788 as part of their effort to ward off potential invasions. Today, visitors can explore these sites and learn more about the island's history. When you're done exploring, you can take a break and relax on the beach or take a walk around the island's lush vegetation.

Virgin Islands National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park in St. John is home to a variety of wildlife, such as exotic birds, lizards, iguanas, and turtles. You can also take a walk through the ruins of the Annaberg Sugar Plantation or see the park's ancient petroglyphs, which the original Taino natives of the area created. Visitors can also relax on one of the park's pristine beaches or take in the park's stunning views of neighboring islands and the Caribbean Sea.

Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

The Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument is a protected area located within the three-mile belt off the shore of St. John in the US Virgin Islands. It is home to a diverse and complex system of coral reefs. Hurricane Hole, located within the national monument, is a special mangrove snorkeling experience. Visitors can expect to see coral structures, vibrantly colored juvenile fish, and various invertebrates like crabs, sponges and sea stars.

Other Special Areas to Visit in the USVI

There are many other special areas to visit in the USVI as well, such as the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge on St. Croix, where you can observe various species of birds and marine life. The refuge also serves as the nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles. Also, don't forget to fuel up and have fun by visiting local restaurants and clubs that feature delicious Caribbean cuisine and nightlife.


One club for the books is Lime Out, an iconic floating bar that has become one of the most popular hangouts for locals and visitors alike. This unique establishment is located on a barge anchored offshore of St. John, and it offers breathtaking views of the sea and nearby islands. Lime Out features floating booths and decks where you can nosh on some tasty tacos and wash them down with fresh hibiscus tea and cocktails.

10 Tips for Visiting USVI National Parks

The following are some tips for making the most out of your USVI national park visits:


  1. Research Before You Go: Make sure to read up on the various parks and their offerings before you make your trip. Each park has its own set of rules and regulations, as well as different activities and amenities offered.
  2. Pack Appropriately: Depending on what park you're visiting, you'll want to make sure to pack the right items for the activities you have planned.
  3. Bring a Map: Many of the parks in the USVI are large, so it's a good idea to have a map on hand.
  4. Follow Leave No Trace Principles: Make sure to stay on designated trails and paths and be mindful of the wildlife when visiting any park.
  5. Stay on the Lookout for Endangered Species: Many of the parks in the USVI are home to endangered species, such as sea turtles, so make sure to keep an eye out for any wildlife you may come across.
  6. Use proper lighting devices while exploring: Many of the trails in USVI national parks are covered in dense jungle terrain. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp so you can see your way around the park after dark.
  7. Wear proper clothing: Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and terrain, as some of the parks can be very hot and humid during the day and cool at night.
  8. Bring sunscreen and insect repellent: The sun can be intense in the USVI, so make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Additionally, some tropical insects can be a nuisance, so it’s important to bring bug spray as well.
  9. Stay safe: Always be sure to check in with the park ranger or staff before heading out on a hike, and make sure someone knows your route and when you plan on returning. Bring plenty of water, and if possible, travel with a friend or group for added safety.
  10. Get proper licensing: Depending on where you visit the USVI, you may need to get a license or permit for activities such as deep sea fishing or spiny lobster collecting. Be sure to check with the local park staff before engaging in any activities that require licensing.

Where to Stay

It's a good idea to book a stay at the USVI resorts or USVI hotels that are near the parks, so you don't have to worry about transportation. That way, you can focus on enjoying your time in the USVI national parks and all they have to offer!


Overall, the USVI has some of the best national parks in the Caribbean. Whether you're looking for a relaxing beach getaway or an adventure-filled exploration of nature and wildlife, you can find it in the USVI national parks. With so much to explore, you will surely find something to make your trip memorable. 

Book Your Stay at the Hills, St. John

If you're looking for the best places to stay while visiting the USVI, The Hills, St John is the perfect spot. Located on a hilltop overlooking the Caribbean Sea, this luxury resort offers all of the amenities and comforts you need for a relaxing and enjoyable stay. 


Plus, with its close proximity to the Virgin Islands National Park, it's easy to take day trips from The Hills and explore the natural beauty of St. John. From pristine beaches to lush forests, there is something for everyone at the Virgin Islands National Park. Contact us today at 855-990-4976 to book your stay!

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