Family-friendly lodging for any size pocketbook can be found on
There are no water parks, no mini-golf courses and no
kid-centric all-inclusives on the 28-square-mile island of St. John
in the U.S Virgin Islands. Yet this picturesque tropical
destination, accessible only by ferry, has something more
captivating than manmade entertainment for families-it boasts
attractions only nature can create.
Two-thirds of the island is protected as national park
territory, providing a safeguard against the rampant development
that permeates much of the Caribbean. The Virgin Islands National
Park also serves another important purpose: it provides families
the opportunity to get in touch with their outdoorsy sides through
"Ken Wild, the park's archeologist, always has a dig going at
Cinnamon Bay," says Frank Barnako, author of the popular News of
St. John blog. "Wild invites volunteers of all ages to join him and
get their hands dirty."
The island is also home to dozens of trails with options for
even pint-sized hikers, like the pleasant half-mile trek down to
Salomon Bay, one of the prettiest and most secluded beaches on St.
John. For those with the stamina for a more rigorous journey,
Barnako recommends the two-mile trip led by a park ranger on Reef
Bay Trail, which passes the ruins of a historic sugar mill and
culminates in a scenic boat ride back to the main town of Cruz
Of course, visitors simply can make it their goal to experience
a different beach every day-St. John is home to some of the most
famous seaside spots in the world. Barnako offers this tip for
beachgoers searching for a tranquil piece of paradise: "Except for
Trunk Bay, where daytrippers from neighboring St. Thomas seem to
congregate, St. John's beaches are long, wide, clean, safe and
For ranger-led activities at the Virgin Islands National Park
and other park information, call the national park visitor center
at (340) 776-6201 ext. 238.
Visit barnako.typepad.com, the News of St. John blog,
for an insider view of happenings on the island.
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