Virgin Islands National Park

U.S. Virgin Islands, United States of America

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About Virgin Islands National Park

Established in 1956, the Virgin Islands National Park covers 61 km2 (23.5 mi2), including around 60% of the Island of St. John and almost all of Hassel Island. The protected tropical rainforests, coral reefs and oceans attract around half a million visitors per year.

The site is testament to its moving history – travelling the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail for example, the landscape is marked with haunting traces of sugar plantations, mills and areas of land cleared and terraced by slaves.

The park's ecosystem

Indeed, much of the original vegetation was slashed to make way for sugar cane production, and so what you see today is recovering secondary forest as an intensive program of reforestation takes place. Despite the damage done in the past, the flora and fauna are rich and diverse. Although bats are the only native mammal, non-native species include deer, goats, sheep and donkeys. There are over 140 species of bird and 740 plant species recorded in the park.

But the most popular activity here has to include visiting the beaches and coral reefs. Around 50 different coral species and gorgonians provide some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Trunk Bay is perhaps the most famous of the coastal resorts, named by National Geographic as the most beautiful beach in the world by Conde Nast Traveler as one of ten best beaches in the world. 

But inevitably, the area is suffering for that popularity – the underwater snorkeling trail has suffered extensive coral damage due to overuse – and park resources are struggling to cope to maintain the ecological balance of the area.

Scuba Diving
Landscape Photography
Guided Tours
U.S. Virgin Islands, United States of America
Latitude: 18.342305, Longitude: -64.745033