HIKING: Second only to snorkeling among the TOP ACTIVITIES and things to do on St John. Over 2/3rds of the island of St John is protected by the Virgin Islands National Park. Within those boundaries are miles of hiking trails. And many of these hiking trails lead to off-the-beaten-path bays, scenic overlooks, and slave-era Danish plantation ruins. Come along as we bring you on a digital guide of one of our favorite St John hikes, Leinster Bay Trail.
Located on the north side of St John, just west of Maho Bay, Francis Bay and around Mary Point, you’ll discover the Leinster Bay Trail. It ranks among our favorite TOP HIKING TRAILS on St John. Why? Because it’s relatively flat compared to other trails on the island. Because it offers a lot of things to see along the hike. And because it includes St John’s Top Snorkeling Spot, Waterlemon Cay!
The Leinster Bay Trail
The Leinster Bay Trail starts about 100 yards west of the parking lot and at the foot of the hill leading to the roundabout at Annaberg Plantation Ruins. And here’s what makes this spot special – BAM! right off the bat – your first set of ruins.
Annaberg Plantation: Well worth the walk up and around. Perched on a soft knoll sits the best preserved of all St John Danish slave-era plantations. There’s a paved path which leads visitors around the hillside, past slave quarters, windmill, bread ovens, and the sugar cane processing buildings.
The Leinster Bay Trail takes you along the waters edge of Leinster Bay. The path is fairly level with some sections of coral rubble to negotiate. Approximately 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead you’ll round a small point. From here you get your first glimpse of Waterlemon Cay. A small “island” made famous as a snorkeler’s mecca. Another 1/4 mile and you reach a small crescent-shaped beach. Behind the beach is a narrow path which leads to the ruins of the Leinster Bay Plantation. The beach is a popular spot to don your snorkel gear and traverse the seagrass beds in search of sea turtles and rays!
At the far end of the beach the trail splits. The lower trail leads to a point closest to Waterlemon Cay. It’s another popular spot for snorkelers to enter the water. The upper trail takes a winding route up the ridge. along the way you’ll pass another set of ruins, The Old Danish Guardhouse. The remaining arch of stone frames the bay below.
Continue hiking up the trail and you’ll come to another split in the trail. The trail heading north leads to a spectacular overlook and ruins of the Murphy Great House.