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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Green in St. John


3. What to Do

Ram Head Trail is a better hiking alternative to popular Reef Bay Trail.  

Explore the tropical forests of the 7,000-acre Virgin Islands National Park along twenty marked trails. Most tourists sign up in advance for a two-hour guided trek ($21) down Reef Bay Trail, lined with fragrant bay rum trees, sugar mill ruins, and pre-Columbian carvings. But for a more exhilarating, less congested hike, get up with the roosters and tackle the mile-long Ram Head Trail, which alternates between isolated beaches and rocky, steep terrain before reaching a 200-foot windswept cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Skip the much-touted Trunk Bay snorkel trail, which has little marine life left thanks to careless visitors. Instead, rent your gear from Lowkey Watersports ($8 per day) and head to remote Beehive Cove on the southeastern tip of Great Lameshur Bay, where the remnants of the 1969 NASA-built underwater habitat Tektite lie 50 feet below water. On a calm day, you can see an abundance of colorful fish, small reefs, and sea turtles.

Paddle the red mangroves in the protected harbor of Hurricane Hole with a knowledgeable guide from Hidden Reef Eco-Tours (from $65 for a three-hour trip; reservations essential). Recently reopened for commercial tours, the well-sheltered area and its bright tangled roots serve as a nursery habitat for sea anemones, coral colonies, juvenile fish, baby nurse sharks, and lobsters. Sit-on-top kayaks make jumping in and out of the water easy during snorkel stops.

Published on Apr 7, 2011 as a web exclusive.

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