Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Special Report: Hike Leinster to Coral Bay (UPDATE)

(UPDATE:  See link below to download free charts & GPS coordinates). 
Last year, we barely stepped foot on St. John (except to pay our mooring fee at Lameshur:  (planesboatsandbicycles/2016/05/virgin-islands), forget about taking advantage of the extensive hiking trails.  Time to make up for it.

Difficulty:  Moderate (No flip flops.  Teva sandals, but we did have a blowout, possibly unrelated) to difficult (tennis shoes).

This is a marked National Park hike.  The trail was mostly shaded in the morning and has a few steep sections but also levels out and a few downhills.

Recommend:  Leave early, at least 16 oz of water/each, sunblock, hat, long sleeves, (bug spray, but we didn't need it).

The island of St. John, USVI is over 50% national park which includes a series of hiking trails.  We heard a rumor you could hike from our anchorage in Leinster/Waterlemon to Coral Bay for lunch at Skinny Legs (a popular cruiser stop).

I found very little info about the trail, except the National Park map.  It was either 1.5-1.8 miles, depending on who you ask.  It should take 2 hours one way.  We feel a little out of shape, we we take it "Caribbean slow" and do it in an hour.  (MapMyRide ultimately showed 500 ft elevation gain one way, so 1000 ft of total climbing with a 30:00 min/mile avg pace).  

Here's my notes:

Tie the dinghy to the mangroves on the east beach

Step through the mangroves...

And turn left on the National Park hiking trail

You should see this sign just before you head up the hill.  The Captain broke his sandal just after here, but refused to go back...

Ruins of the Danish Guard House, overlooking Waterlemon/Leinster Bay

Another view near the top of the pass

A few signs to confirm you stay on the right path

And there are a few steep spots

View overlooking Coral Bay as we head back down

You'd think we're almost there we we reach the boat on the trail, but not yet

Street art greets us as we enter downtown

Coral Bay:  A haven from the tourists, this is a laid-back community of craftsmen and artists, but cruisers come for Skinny Legs Bar & Grill.  Apparently, Skinny Legs is to the left (I also would have also liked to scope out the dinghy dock).  We end up heading the other way towards the Dolphin Market (too tired to stop & scope it out.  Next time) and end up stopping at Oasis, an outdoor bar that was open for breakfast (it was Sunday & their website doesn't reflect this).  The Captain has a scone the size of a loaf of bread.

Brunch on the Oasis patio was like Colorado in the Caribbean!  Huevos Rancheros & an iced Chai.  Wifi & free ice water refill for our water bottle!

My favorite

More art in Oasis

For some reason, we noticed more cactus on the way back.  Taking over a tree

Cactus overtaking a rock

Good info

More interesting fauna

"Now that's a big, dam cactus..."
Aloe, I believe but The Captain didn't recognize it because it was SO BIG!  Well over our heads

And back to the ruins overlooking Watermelon Cay.  The Captain's Teva had a complete failure here (that's sv Encore in the middle).  

I would call the hike over moderate.  However, with a belly full of food & the sun higher in the sky, the first mile back up with the sun at our back was tricky (long sleeves & lots of water).  A couple we passed going down into Coral Bay was coming back from Leinster.  They swear the last hill up to Coral Bay was the hardest.  I guess it depends which way you are going.  Worth the trip, but only once.  We did it because we could.

Here's a cool website:

More about the Johnny Horn Trail & other activities on St. John, check out

Download maps & GPS coordinates for free!

Also check out the Vitran bus route for getting around the island

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