What’s the hype?
There is an extra magical spot in St. John, well hidden in the midst of this Caribbean island paradise where the petroglyphs reside. History left behind by ancestors from long ago. Fascinating carvings on the rocks around a fresh water pond. If you’re lucky and it’s been raining for some time, you may also witness a rather gigantic waterfall, loud and powerful, busting down the hillside.
Where is this place?
This wondrous site can only be reached by foot and possibly that’s why it’s still a well kept secret from many. Located on land owned by Virgin Islands National Park, and surrounded by the younger, yet historic, Sugar Cane Plantations, these carvings still tell the tale of a civilization long extinct.
How do I get there?
Assuming you’re already in sunny St. John, travel to the top of Centerline Road, halfway to Coral Bay and look for a small brown sign that says Reef Bay. Park along the road, tighten your sneakers, bring plenty of water and a snack, and head down the steps. You’ll have a magical 3 miles, mostly downhill, to reach the Reef Bay Beach and the old Sugar Plantation Ruin. In parts shaded, yet hot. Make sure to wear your sunscreen. Watch your step as you walk along uneven surfaces, climb over some fallen trees and maneuver rocks of various sizes. Enjoy the beautiful scenery, lush green vegetation, while passing old, interesting looking trees and remnants and ruins of former plantations, some more intact than others.
A slightly shorter hike, about a mile, brings you to the petroglyphs.
What is a petroglyph?
Simply stated it’s rock art! The lovely carvings in St. John are believed to have been created by the Taíno people. Faces and other symbols forever embedded into the blue basalt rock some 1000 plus years ago! A worship site of sorts, perhaps to keep communications open with the super natural and their predecessors? Do some of the carvings resemble bats? Perhaps facial images of ancestors? The possibilities are many and the guesses are endless. The water level in the natural fresh water pool remains the same all year round and the surrounding petroglyphs reflect effortlessly in this water. It’s believed that perhaps this duality is representing the natural and the super natural world.
Can I swim in the pond?
Technically, yes you can. It’s rather dark looking water most of the time but on occasion people are seen taking a cooling dip and it's allowed. What’s not allowed though is to mess with the carvings. Don’t scratch them or draw on them! Respect them so that they will be around for another 1000 plus years, or more!
So what about the St. John Petroglyph?
It’s the most famous of the carvings, referred to as The St. John Petroglyph. Extra special as no historians with certainty know what the symbol stands for. It’s design has never been found anywhere else throughout other Caribbean islands or in South America. A much loved symbol by many, filled with good vibes and ancient history, hence no wonder that local artists in the area enjoy incorporating it into our designs! Select jewelry, with this famous Petroglyph, sure will help you to always keep a piece of St. John close to your heart, whether you've been to the island many times or have yet to make a visit. For those of you who feel an uphill climb is a bit too much, or for those of you who simply appreciate a guided trip, Virgin Islands National Park offer an informative half day tour where they also arrange a boat ride back to Cruz Bay!
To Sum It Up
For St. John locals and visitors alike, The Petroglyphs are something as close to the "7 wonders of the world" as you'll get to in the Caribbean. People cherish them. Talk about them. Speculate what the meaning of them are. They inspire fine art and jewelry designs. One thing is for sure, they are a must see!
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