Way off course: US Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands National Park: Gazing out along the desolate shoreline, one beholds a sight conceivably unchanged from that seen hundreds of years ago by explorers, traders and pirates: rolling green cliffs giving way to remote uninhabited bays of crystal clear blue.

virgin islands

Sometimes it is just too cold to jump on the boat and head out into the waters of Boston Harbor. From January to March, I miss my boating, so I like to hit my second favorite boating location after Boston Harbor: The US Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands National Park!

This is a boaters paradise given the protected waters, magnificent views and park provided amenities like moorings. Above is a picture overlooking Caneel Bay, on St. John, the gateway to the National Park.

Below are some additional interesting places around the island that I thought would be fun to share. Here is the nautical chart of the Virgin Islands, again provided by the helpful folks at the NOAA. I have put in some markers to denote locations of the following pictures:


*Source: NOAA nautical chart.

Legend: Blue=Dog Island, Red=Cruz Bay, Green= Chocolate Hole, Yellow= Caneel Bay, Orangle = Maho Bay, Pink=Leinster Bay, Big Purple line = Drake Passage.

Some interesting Flora overlooking Chocolate Hole, on the Southwest side of St. John. From here, the Island of St Croix is visible on a clear day despite being almost forty miles to the South:

St John

Taking a small craft around the South side of St. John:


Hawksnest Bay on the North side of St. John, in the US Virgin Islands National Park:

virgin islands

Coral Bay, on the protected Southeastern side of St. John. This is a fun place to tie up, and has a cool bar called Shipwreck Landing.

st. Jonh

Dog Island, a cool snorkeling location between St. Thomas and St. John:

St Thomas

Overlooking Trunk Bay, in the US Virgin Islands National Park:

national park

Boats tie up to the moorings provided by the National Park service in Maho Bay, deep in the middle of the park:

national park

The ruins of Annaberg, a sugar plantation built on a protected bay by Danish Settlers in the 17th century. This view of rolling green cliffs giving way to remote, crystal clear blue bays that is likely unchanged from what explorers, traders and pirates saw hundreds of years ago:

virgin islands

The Annaberg ruins as seen up close from land:

national park

Leinster Bay, deep in the heart of the US Virgin Islands National Park. This bay has crystal-clear waters and is a great place to tie up:

virgin islands

Views: Looking East up the Drake’s Passage, with St. John to the right and Tortola on the left. this location marks the division between US waters and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). In the distance, one can see all the way down the channel to the distant Virgin Gorda at the end of the BVI chain. The Drake can get very choppy with the afternoon breeze- fortunately this year we had a calm (but overcast) day.

virgin islands

Looking East at St. John, from St. Thomas. The West side of St. John is thickly settled, while the other sides are virtually wilderness.


Sandy Spit near the division of US and British Virgin Islands. This is a great place to anchor a boat, and is in close proximity to Jost Van Dyke, which in addition to the famous Soggy Dollar Bar, has sweeping views South across the US and British Virgin Islands.

jost van dyke

Out in the middle of the Drake’s Passage, near Peter Island and Cooper Island, looking back toward St. John. A trip to the baths on Virgin Gorda, which is a great a location for snorkeling, and makes for a fun and challenging day of boating.


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