Much of the Artwork in the Hummingbird Hill Villa was created by homeowner and artist, Roy Imhoff. St. John being his favorite vacation spot is often the subject of his work. He has been sketching and painting the island for over 4 decades. His work can be found on St. John at Bajo el Sol – Under the Sun – Gallery Art Studio in Mongoose Junction. Visit the Gallery on line at http://www.bajoelsolgallery.com/artists/painting/roy-imhoff.
Just outside of Cruz Bay heading North on 20 (North Shore Road) sits Peace Hill. Peace Hill is home to windmill ruins from the colonial and days and the former Christ of the Caribbean. There is easy access to the Peace Hill trail head and plenty of parking. Although the Christ of the Caribbean is no longer there the view and the ruins are worth the trip.
The Christ of the Caribbean – In 1953, Col. Wadsworth commissioned St. Johnians Terrence Powell and Thomas Thomas to construct the Christ of the Caribbean. The statue overlooked and blessed the land and sea. Remarkably, as it seemed to have the properties of a sail, the creation withstood numerous hurricanes. However, it finally succumbed to the strength of Hurricane Marylyn in 1995. The islanders decided not reconstruct the statue. Much like the petroglyphs, the Christ of the Caribbean was a symbol of St. John and you could find, for example , gold and silver pendants in the shape of the statue in local shops. After almost twenty years they are harder to find.
Peace Hill is still home to ruins of the Denis Bay area of the Susannaberg Plantation. The very short hike (.1 mile) up to Peace Hill provides some incredible views of the north coast of St. John and is still a peaceful retreat. You can venture further to explore the area, but be certain to take the time to visit Peace Hill on your way to the beach.
A shorter route than from the Caneel Bay entrance to the Margaret Hill overlook can be accessed from Centerline Road. To get to the trail head from the Hummingbird Hill villa you exit the gate, turn left onto Gifft Hill Road and then turn left onto Centerline Road. The trail entrance is on the right, a short distance on Centerline Road. There is parking for one or two cars at the entrance and make sure you pull far enough off the road.
The trail to the Caneel Bay watercatchment includes this old concrete gutter that led water to the basin. Remains of the concrete can be seen as you hike down to the catchment from Centerline Road.
(We visited the Watercatchment basin before heading up to the lookout.)
This lookout point rock can be seen from Hummingbird Hill’s pool deck if you look carefully.
The extremely clear day afforded us some great views from the lookout point.
The artistic and eclectic touch of Roy Imhoff can be seen throughout the Hummingbird Hill Villa. Although not a native, Roy has been traveling to the Island of St. John for over 40 years and has captured St.John in numerous watercolors and pen and inks. Below is some recent work. Additional work is currently on display on St. John at BAJO El SOL (Under The SUN) Gallery. www.bajoelsolgallery.com. Or visit www.royimhoff.com
Late afternoon is ‘Very Happy Hour ” at Woodies in Downtown Crus Bay.
The Beach Bar
With the work week a distant memory, Sunday afternoons listening to Live Jazz and enjoying a beer are a pleasant relief.
Entering Cruz Bay
When the Ferry enters the Harbor and passes the old Government Complex on the left, you’ve arrived. It was 50 years ago, on our first time here and the battery hasn’t changed.
Leinster Bay/Waterlemon Cay – Great Beach – Great Snorkeling
After visiting the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins, take the 0.8 mile hike to Leinster Bay/Waterlemon Cay. The path to the beach is flat and shaded. The walk hugs the shoreline and you hear the soft sounds of the surf. The area is a nesting ground for Sea Turtles and you are bound to see them on your adventure.
From the beach, you can access the fine snorkeling around Waterlemon Cay, the small island just offshore. The shoreline water is shallow, and the sea floor is a mixture of sand and coral rubble. You will find that the sea-life accessible to snorkelers is abundant along the shoreline as you head out to the Cay, so be prepared to spend time mask down enjoying the scenery. It is about a 0.2-mile snorkel to the edge of the reef off Waterlemon Cay.
Along with the turtles you will see stingray’s, sea cucumbers, blue tangs, parrotfish, sea fans and sea plumes, starfish, barracuda, clown fish, squid etc… While the turtles pop their heads up the pelicans take a dive. Leinster/Waterlemon Cay is a great experience. The sound of the small waves and calm waters on the beach makes for a relaxing day. The trip to Waterlemon adds the adventure.
Donkeys, goats and Iguanas – oh St. John. Coming face to face with the wild life on St. john is easy. Goats, donkeys and chickens regularly roam the streets. Occasionally a pig will cross Gifft Hill Road just before Centerline Road (Rte. 10). Make the right from Gifft Hill Road to Centerline and you usually see Elsie the cow roadside. Like going to the farm.
You learn to share the road in St. John
On the road to Salt Pond we visited with some friendly animals.
I decided not to stay on the beach as the sign just outside of Caneel Bay Resort for the Caneel trail was on my mind. My wife had done the trial years ago and said the view was spectacular. So I dropped my son and his friend off at Hawksnest Beach while I ventured the trail for my first time. I did a loop that took me first to the Water Catchment. (A wrong turn took me to Centerline road) but I ventured back and finally made the climb to Margaret Hill – worth the effort. My total time on the trail was just under two hours.
Here is my hike in words, images and video. If you get the chance take the trail.
Caneel Trail Mileage
My Trail Map for hike to the Water Catchment and Margaret Hill Overlook, St. John USVI
I parked at the entrance to the trial on Rte. 20 just across the entrance to Caneel Bay. I had Margaret Hill as a destination, but first stopped at Water Catchment. I realized later that the trail sign at the trail head needs to be combined with the a trail map (see below and combination on the left) as I at first did not understand how I got to the Catchment first, then up to Centerline Road. I went back to an unmarked cutoff where I should have gone right, not left . However, it was all worth it as I eventually made my way to the wonderful view at Margaret Hill.
Caneel Trail National Park Map
Quickly into the hike you encounter an old stone retaining wall.
This beautiful stone wall is encountered quickly on the hike
You then begin your ascent on a well groomed trail.
Begin your ascent
Following the path takes you to the Water Catchment. The catchment is an extensive concrete slab that catches rainwater, leading it into a basin for temporary storage. The water is piped through the force of gravity to the Caneel Bay Resort.
Water Catchment, St. John USVI
There are views from various spots when you get close to the top. I was able to slip between some rocks to experience some great views before a small side trail gives you access to a “Platform Rock” with panoramic views.
View from Margaret Hill
A short Margaret Hill trail video
The Caneel Hill portion of this trail can be accessed from Cruz Bay and is a bit more challenging. The easiest way to get to the Margaret Hill views is to access the trail from Centerline Road. When you exit the gate at Hummingbird Hill Villa, turn left. Then turn left onto Centerline road. The trial entrance will be on your right. Enjoy your stay on St. John, USVI!
While making improvements at Cinnamon Bay a possible 2,000 year old effigy face was uncovered. The V.I. National Park archaeology officials are now looking for help to find more interesting objects. The surprise discovery has the limited VINP Archaeology staff asking for public help.
VINP Archaeology Dig at Cinnamon Bay
Interested volunteers should show up at Cinnamon Bay Campground anytime after 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and be ready to get their hands dirty.
For more information call the VINP archeology lab at 340-715-8580.