Reef Bay Trail
Reef Bay Trail
4.5
About
This 2.2-mile hiking trail is one of the best on St. John: descend through a shady, moist forest and a dry forest, through visible remains of four sugar mills, pass by pre-Columbian petroglyphs, and end at a beautiful, pristine beach.
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  • Andrew M
    7,541 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Enjoyable hike with historic attractions
    The Reef bay trail head is located on Centerline Road, a 5 mile drive from the Ferry pier in Cruz bay. A taxi to the trail head is $14, and if you do this hike in the week, the VITRAN stops at the trailhead. The start of the trail is at an entrance in a stone wall, and down a few steps. There are storyboards along the trail which describe the trail history, plants and animals in the park. The old stone drainage gutters are an interesting view on the trail, as they still are necessary today to ensure the stability of the trail. After walking for half a mile (20 minutes) the first ruins will be seen. The Jossie Gut Estate was famous for it's natural water system with sluice gates and dam. These remains may be inspected before approaching the factory ruins. After passing this area, be on the lookout for deer, which occasionally cross the path in front of you. The next ruins, about 10 minutes away, is Par Force Village, which is the ruins of a single house. Another 10 minutes of walking will take you to a trail on the right known as Petroglyph Trail. At the end of this trail is a small pool in front of a waterfall. There is Taino rock art on the stones next to the pool which makes for great photos. After returning to the main trail, a short distance away is the Lameshur trail on the left. This trail leads to the Reef Bay Great House and Par Force Estate ruins. After returning to the main trail, you can continue south to the Reef Bay Factory. In this section of the trail, there are many hermit crabs, so care should be taken not to step on shells. Eventually the trail will become more sandy near to the end, and you will pass the entrance to the L'Esperance trail on the right. The Reef Bay factory is one of the best examples of a sugar mill in the Caribbean. The Reef Bay beach is a good area to relax after a long hike. If you are adventurous, take the L'Esperance trail to Genti Bay beach. I continued my hike up the L'Esperance trail instead of walking back up the Reef Bay trail. The L'Esperance trail is less steep than the Reef Bay trail, and there are ruins of the Sieban Estate and L'Esperance estate that may be visited on the hike. Ensure that you are wearing good footwear as the trail can be slippery in a few places.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 19 October 2023
  • roadwarrierMD
    Cary, North Carolina214 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Worth doing-moderate, interesting hike
    This is a scenic hike down from the Centerline road to the beach, with interesting ruins along the way, and a short detour over to very interesting petroglyphs. Hard to tell from reviews how hard it is and how long it takes, so here's my take-its a moderate hike-easy on the way down, steeper on the way back (duh, of course!) . It took us (we're in our late 60s, but used to hiking) about 90 minutes to go down (which included 0.5 mile over/back to the petroglyphs), and about 60 min to go back. Nothing very challenging excepting climbing up/over some rocks to get close to the petroglyphs. Well worth doing if you like to hike and explore ruins. Bring water.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 2 February 2024
  • travelgirl3781
    Boston, Massachusetts121 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing for many many reasons !
    First off, this is one of my favorite hikes. My husband, adult daughter and I consider this hike a highlight of our 4th Saint John Trip. We are a “fit family” and hike, walk and do various forms of exercise on a regular basis. This is a great work out. We did take the petroglyph path as well and ended at Reef Bay Beach. We all wore sturdy hiking sandals with good traction which I highly suggest. There had been downpours the night before and some of the path is both rocky and slippery from fallen leaves after a rain. Hiking Sandals and clothes to swim in offer a great reward to wade into the beautiful water for a swim after the hike down. We started our hike at 8 AM ;this time allowed for a cooler hike with hardly any people and had us avoiding the mid day heat and sun on the journey back which in parts can be steep and a little challenging ; pack water with electrolytes. You will sweat with the Caribbean heat although much of the hike is shaded. Our favorite parts of the hike were the beautiful tropical plants and animal sightings. We saw about 5 deer on our hike, mongoose, various types of lizards and of course land crabs ( watch your step as they are EVERYWHERE). We were hoping to see a wild boar, but not this time. The sugar plantation ruins are marked by educational plaques offering some education into some important history of the Island as you hike. The Water fall was a trickle but still impressive in its height and we had no trouble finding the petroglyphs. If you attempt this hike and aren’t in a decent level of fitness and have not replaced fluids and electrolytes sufficiently,the hike back may be very challenging. Beware.
    Visited May 2024
    Travelled with family
    Written 1 June 2024
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles487 reviews
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travelgirl3781
Boston, MA121 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Family
First off, this is one of my favorite hikes. My husband, adult daughter and I consider this hike a highlight of our 4th Saint John Trip. We are a “fit family” and hike, walk and do various forms of exercise on a regular basis. This is a great work out. We did take the petroglyph path as well and ended at Reef Bay Beach. We all wore sturdy hiking sandals with good traction which I highly suggest. There had been downpours the night before and some of the path is both rocky and slippery from fallen leaves after a rain. Hiking Sandals and clothes to swim in offer a great reward to wade into the beautiful water for a swim after the hike down. We started our hike at 8 AM ;this time allowed for a cooler hike with hardly any people and had us avoiding the mid day heat and sun on the journey back which in parts can be steep and a little challenging ; pack water with electrolytes. You will sweat with the Caribbean heat although much of the hike is shaded. Our favorite parts of the hike were the beautiful tropical plants and animal sightings. We saw about 5 deer on our hike, mongoose, various types of lizards and of course land crabs ( watch your step as they are EVERYWHERE). We were hoping to see a wild boar, but not this time. The sugar plantation ruins are marked by educational plaques offering some education into some important history of the Island as you hike. The Water fall was a trickle but still impressive in its height and we had no trouble finding the petroglyphs. If you attempt this hike and aren’t in a decent level of fitness and have not replaced fluids and electrolytes sufficiently,the hike back may be very challenging. Beware.
Written 1 June 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mitch R
2 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
The hike down is beautiful, tropical, isolated/what others have said/blah blah. But, no one mentioned the following items I would have liked to known: there are no pestering bugs but be advised, there are hundreds of bees and wasps flying very close by making a fairly loud buzzing din. It is quite disconcerting at first but "ok". This is really "slavery tourism". We are gawking at the ruins and the past horrors left from slavery. As a person of color and African origin, it really gave me pause. Other than those items, awesome workout: 2 hours to go from the stairs to the Reef Bay Ruins (included stops to read all of the signage); 55 minutes to get back to the stairs (no stops/treated it as a workout).
Written 26 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bucket List
West Lafayette, IN294 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Couples
Not worth giving up part of the day for. Downhill and then a brutal return to the top of the trailhead. We are early 60-somethings in decent shape. A couple in great cardio shape. The trail is rough, rocky and honestly, not much to see. Maybe a few remains of structures. The petroglyphs aren’t that exciting and somewhat difficult to see. Our mistake was going mid-day and it was hot, very humid and we didn’t take enough water. We own that mistake. Trail is mostly shaded. I honestly don’t think going when it’s cooler would make that much of a difference. Be sure to wear good athletic shoes or hiking shoes/boots. Dry season, so no waterfalls, and a stagnant pond at the petroglyphs awaited us. Take a snack and hydrate before you go. We did not go down to the beach below.
Written 23 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lpro52NYC
4 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Friends
Beware. Unlike in years past, this tour has become a 4 hour indoctrination into woke ideology. While the plight of indigenous and enalaved peoples is extremely important to understand and appreciate, it’s unfortunate that that has become the sole topic of discussion on this hike. The ecology and biology of the island is largely ignored.
Written 6 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

cann_it_114
Ferrara, Italy23 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
Fun hike with lots of wildlife, different elevations, petroglyphs, and ruins! Steep and somewhat rocky at the beginning and the end, otherwise relatively flat. Bring lots of water.
Written 5 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Travelpro56V
Boston, MA267 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
The hike is fairly easy to the Reef Bay, as it is mostly downhill (or level), but the return is more arduous as it is steeply uphill for the last 1/3 of the trail, with lots of stone steps. Most of the trail is shaded under trees, so it isn't hot and the path is well-marked and well-groomed. At the end, just before Reef Bay, you're rewarded with the somewhat intact remains of a sugar mill. The beach is rocky, so if you can carry water shoes in your backpack, that would be helpful. I would also advise women to wear two-piece (tankini) bathing suits, so you can go to the bathroom easily en route. We were walking at a decent clip, and the hike took about 2.5 hours, with a detour to the Petroglyph Trail and a quick dip in the ocean. It was very dry out so the trail wasn't slippery at all, but the waterfall at the Petroglyph was also non-existent, which is too bad as some of the photos looked amazing. The entrance to the trail is through an opening in a stone wall, and cars have to park alongside the road. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and we were able to park about 50 feet away from the entrance.
Written 2 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

roadwarrierMD
Cary, NC214 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Couples
This is a scenic hike down from the Centerline road to the beach, with interesting ruins along the way, and a short detour over to very interesting petroglyphs. Hard to tell from reviews how hard it is and how long it takes, so here's my take-its a moderate hike-easy on the way down, steeper on the way back (duh, of course!) . It took us (we're in our late 60s, but used to hiking) about 90 minutes to go down (which included 0.5 mile over/back to the petroglyphs), and about 60 min to go back. Nothing very challenging excepting climbing up/over some rocks to get close to the petroglyphs. Well worth doing if you like to hike and explore ruins. Bring water.
Written 2 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Andrew M
7,541 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2023 • Solo
The Reef bay trail head is located on Centerline Road, a 5 mile drive from the Ferry pier in Cruz bay. A taxi to the trail head is $14, and if you do this hike in the week, the VITRAN stops at the trailhead. The start of the trail is at an entrance in a stone wall, and down a few steps. There are storyboards along the trail which describe the trail history, plants and animals in the park. The old stone drainage gutters are an interesting view on the trail, as they still are necessary today to ensure the stability of the trail.

After walking for half a mile (20 minutes) the first ruins will be seen. The Jossie Gut Estate was famous for it's natural water system with sluice gates and dam. These remains may be inspected before approaching the factory ruins. After passing this area, be on the lookout for deer, which occasionally cross the path in front of you. The next ruins, about 10 minutes away, is Par Force Village, which is the ruins of a single house. Another 10 minutes of walking will take you to a trail on the right known as Petroglyph Trail. At the end of this trail is a small pool in front of a waterfall. There is Taino rock art on the stones next to the pool which makes for great photos.

After returning to the main trail, a short distance away is the Lameshur trail on the left. This trail leads to the Reef Bay Great House and Par Force Estate ruins. After returning to the main trail, you can continue south to the Reef Bay Factory. In this section of the trail, there are many hermit crabs, so care should be taken not to step on shells. Eventually the trail will become more sandy near to the end, and you will pass the entrance to the L'Esperance trail on the right. The Reef Bay factory is one of the best examples of a sugar mill in the Caribbean. The Reef Bay beach is a good area to relax after a long hike. If you are adventurous, take the L'Esperance trail to Genti Bay beach.

I continued my hike up the L'Esperance trail instead of walking back up the Reef Bay trail. The L'Esperance trail is less steep than the Reef Bay trail, and there are ruins of the Sieban Estate and L'Esperance estate that may be visited on the hike. Ensure that you are wearing good footwear as the trail can be slippery in a few places.
Written 19 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MSK
Fenton, MO17 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Couples
My husband and I did this hike on our own. We rented a car and drove into the park because it may have been difficult to find a taxi to come get us. The walk down was okay but the walk up is somewhat difficult. Definitely bring a lot of water and a snack.
Written 21 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lisa G
Rochester, NY40 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2023
We booked the guided hike and boat ride through the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park website. Our tour guide (Taylor?) was fantastic. Warning - All day parking at Lumberyard costs $70 - park elsewhere. The tour leaves promptly at 8:45 with a safari taxi ride to the trailhead. The hike is all down-hill and not strenuous. At about 11:30 you'll stop at the petroglyphs and have a break for lunch if you brought it. It's another ~ 1 mile to the sugar mill ruins and the beach. There is a (not in good condition) restroom at the ruins. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes if you want a dip in the ocean - you'll have 20 minutes or so depending on the time of the boat arrival. Dinghy from the beach to the boat - took 5 trips for our group of 30. Then a wonderful boat ride back to the visitor center - we got back around 2:00. I would have given in 5 stars only if the pre-communicated information had been a little clearer (itinerary was vague) and we hadn't been told to park at the lumberyard!!
Written 21 May 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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