Trip Number: 13407A
Staff: Jenny Roberts
- Snorkel in warm Caribbean waters
- Sea kayaking and an excursion on an ocean traveller
- Hike tropical forests and see old ruins and petroglyphs
- Kayak rental and gear, and ocean trawler rental
- All homemade meals included, except one restaurant meal
- All lodging and transportation on St. John
Unfortunately, this trip has been cancelled. If you
have questions, please
This trip is to show off and gain a respect for this mountainous island through
snorkeling, hiking, and paddling. Find out why St. John is so pristine. Who
and what prevented this island from being similar to St. Thomas, where hotels
claim the best beaches and private homes dominate the views?
Credit philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller for the bulk of what is right about
St. John today. The Virgin Islands National Park is mostly on and around St.
John. Three-fourths of St. John is in the national park, making it one of the
most non-commercialized of all the Caribbean islands.
Photo: Marti Greason
Day 1: All participants will be picked up at the Cruz Bay
Dock by 3 p.m. for a leisurely trip to our remote and rustic eco-camp, Virgin
Islands Environmental Resource Station (VIERS) at Little Lameshur Bay on the
southeastern side of the island. The nearest airport is St. Thomas and ferries
from two locations on St. Thomas run frequently to Cruz Bay. Early in the evening,
we will have a get acquainted party and evening meal at VIERS.
Day 2: After an early breakfast we will hike Reef Bay Trail
through moist and then dry forest that incorporates a variety of plant life.
We will go off-trail and view an old Danish plantation home. From there we will
pick up Petroglyph Trail and search for the rock carvings attributed to pre-Columbian
Taino people. If it has abundantly rained recently, we may get an extra treat
with the waterfall by the pools. After returning to VIERS, grab your swimsuit
and head off to Little Lameshur Bay for sunning, swimming, and snorkeling.
Day 3: We'll catch an early breakfast and drive to Cruz Bay
for a day spent kayaking in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean. We’ll
kayak to three sandy beaches and have time for snorkeling/swimming at each one.
A picnic lunch on a deserted cay is a highlight.
Day 4: Since we know the drill on early breakfasts, we will
do it again! We will drive to the north shore and hike Leinster Bay Trail by
water's edge with a National Park Service ranger. The trail meanders through
a mangrove forest. It follows along brackish water, which provides good bird
habitat. Later we will climb to the Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins. Here we will
see cultural demonstrations and learn the history of producing raw cane sugar
and its two valuable byproducts, rum and molasses. We will travel back to VIERS
to enjoy our Little Lameshur Bay, read, or take a snooze in the afternoon.
Photo: Marti Greason
Day 5: We will hike to Ram Head to a cliff 200 feet above
the Caribbean Sea for magnificent windswept scenery. Along the way, we will
pass by a unique blue cobble beach, then switchback up the hillside. We will
hike Drunk Bay Trail to Salt Pond Bay Beach. Iguanas have been known to frequent
this area. The trail skirts the north side of Salt Pond, an area good for viewing
wading birds. Turtles are commonly seen here. Then we go up and over the hill,
and down to the water's edge to gaze in wonder at the natural outdoor art on
the shore. Then it is back to Salt Pond Bay Beach for sunning, swimming, and
Day 6: We will have a half-day private boat trip on a 40-foot
trawler and sail around St Johns, making various stops to snorkel the wondrous
reefs around the island. We will hear local history and sea stories and learn
about Tektite, be prepared to see anything from pipefish to stingrays and lots
of coral. Afternoon will be spent at VIERS with a farewell swim and snorkel
at Little Lameshur Bay.
Day 7: Today is our last meal together and it will be the
customary fine VIERS breakfast. We will pack up and clean our cabins as we prepare
to leave VIERS by late morning for Cruz Bay. Departing flights from St. Thomas
should be scheduled for late afternoon.
Please note: Most evenings after dinner, we will have discussions regarding
present and past island life, animal and human. These will be casual open discussions
with time for questions and answers. The staff at VIERS will lend a hand during
these sessions. The majority of the staff is comprised of volunteers who have
been volunteering at VIERS over the years. The staff is a wealth of information.
Just wait and see!
Photo: Marti Greason
The leaders will make every reasonable effort to meet the goals outlined in
the itinerary. Please keep in mind that weather or other conditions beyond our
control may cause us to modify the itinerary in order to ensure the safety and
well-being of the group. We have Plan B ready to go just in case!
This is definitely a shorts/cutoffs/swimsuit trip. Pack accordingly. Transportation
from Cruz Bay to VIERS has little room for luggage. Do not worry about wrinkled
clothing. This trip is not a fashion show. If you pack more than you need, you
may have to park it on your lap. This will become cumbersome during the 45-minute
trip to VIERS over narrow hairpin curve roads. You may bring your personal snorkel
gear; however, you could save some space and rent this gear at VIERS.
So come along with us on this island adventure. Get up close and personal with
nature. See how the Virgin Islands National Park and United Nations (UNESCO)
Biosphere Reserve protect St. John's various and fascinating habitats
There are numerous daily flights to St. Thomas. From St. Thomas air terminal,
you need to take a taxi to a ferry dock. There are two ferry docks in St. Thomas
called Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook. Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook both provide
ferry service to Cruz Bay, St. John. You need to take a ferry that will get
you into Cruz Bay no later than 3 p.m. on day one of the trip, when we will
meet you at the dock in Cruz Bay for the ride to VIERS.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Marti Greason
VIERS is situated at the base of Bordeaux Mountain on the southeast shore of
St. John. VIERS' remote location provides many opportunities for visitors to
easily discover the local environment. At VIERS you are "in nature"
-- you are part of the eco-system. You are just minutes from being able to hike
to a mountaintop or swim in the Caribbean.
We will have single-bed dormitory-style accommodations and non-dormitory-style
cabins for couples at VIERS, a rustic eco-camp consisting of 18 buildings, including
cabins, classroom, library, office, restrooms, outdoor showers, and a dining
hall with kitchen. The kitchen staff provides three meals a day in the dining
hall. Oh, and yes, the master menu has a vegetarian option! We will help in
the dishwashing and housekeeping responsibilities. We will have dinner at a
local restaurant one night (not included in trip cost). Our first meal will
be dinner on day one and our last meal will be breakfast on day seven.
Ocean kayaking is physically challenging and participants should be in good
shape to enjoy the day of sea kayaking. The majority of the week will be spent
snorkeling and hiking, in that order. Snorkeling is also challenging, especially
swimming off the trawler almost 60 feet to the mangroves, so being aerobically
fit will increase your chances of a pleasant trip! Most hiking trails are hilly
and exposed to the sun.
Equipment and Clothing
Bring quality raingear, a water bottle(s) -- minimum two liters -- insect
repellent, a day pack, snorkeling gear (or you may rent it on the island), and
personal first-aid kit. Expect warm days and cooler nights, with rain in the
late afternoon. Sun protection is critical. You will need a long-sleeved "travel"
shirt, sandals, light fleece top, shorts, swimsuit, and support walking shoes.
Cotton or cotton blend is more comfortable than polyester in the tropical weather.
Please bring a camping mug or cup marked with your name. We will be spending
a morning sailing and snorkeling off an ocean trawler, so if you are susceptible
to sea or motion sickness please bring preventative medication or wrist band
in case the seas are choppy on our boat trip.
Photo: Marti Greason
- ITMB Publishing Ltd., U. S. Virgin Islands: An International Travel
- Sullivan, Lynne, Adventure Guide to the Virgin Islands.
- Nellis, David W., Seashore Plants of the South Florida and the Caribbean.
- Raffaele, Herbert, A Guide to the Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin
- Kaplan, Eugene H., Peterson Field Guides' Coral Reefs: Caribbean and
- Kalplan, Eugene H., Peterson Field Guides' Seashores: Southeastern and
- Singer, Gerald, St. John Off the Beaten Path.
- Muilenburg, Peter, A Drift on a Sea of Blue Light.
VIERS is operated by Clean Islands International, a U. S. non-profit, non-governmental
environmental organization dedicated to providing educational and technical
assistance to Caribbean Island communities for the preservation of their environment.
Among other projects, they run special experimental studies on water conservation
and solar energy.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Jenny Roberts is originally from Australia and has lived in the US over 20 years. Her love of travel started when she was 11 years old and spent 6 months travelling around the world with her family; Jenny has traveled to over 50 countries. She began leading Sierra trips 7 years ago and feels it is a wonderful privilege to be able to show others special places that they will always remember. Jenny is actively involved in Sierra Club and is currently serving on the Excomm of the Grand Canyon Chapter in Arizona.
Don Steuter has been assisting on Sierra Club trips for six years. He has been actively involved in Sierra Club for twenty years and is currently on both the Palo Verde Group Excomm and on the Excomm of Grand Canyon Chapter in Arizona; serving as Conservation Chair. Don is originally from Nebraska.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips