Excerpted from St. John Off The Beaten
2006 Gerald Singer
The Lameshur Bay Trail connects the western part of the beach
at Lameshur Bay with the Reef Bay Trail. The 1.8-mile track
includes a steep hill that reaches an elevation of 467 feet.
The distance from Lameshur Bay to the Reef Bay sugar factory
is 2.6 miles, and from Lameshur Bay to the petroglyphs is 2.1
The public road leads right to the trailhead, which is clearly
marked by a National Park information sign. The road to the
right goes up the hill and leads to the rangers station and
the Bordeaux Mountain Trail. The ruins of the Lameshur Bay
Plantation lie in the immediate vicinity of the trail entrance
and can be easily accessed and explored.
Bay Rum Still at Lameshur Bay
There are three spur trails on the route. The first leads to
Europa point, the second to the rubble beach at Europa Bay
and the third to the old Reef Bay Estate House. The Reef Bay
Estate House Spur has a spur of its own leading to the ruins
of the Par Force Plantation.
In the low lying area at the beginning of the trail you will
come upon a big tamarind tree that was split in half by lightning
in the past. Both sides are alive. A beehive in the tree
is reminiscent of the days when almost all the large trees
on St. John housed honeybees. Another species that has chosen
to make this tree its home is the termite, whose large nest
is plainly visible nestled in a branch on the far side of
Genip trees in the area produce sweet genips in the summer.
Note: The genips easily pickable on the lower branches disappear
About 50 yards west of the tamarind tree you will see a narrow
trail leading south towards the sea. This is the old National
Park Trail to Europa Point, abandoned when the National Park
workers cut the trail to Europa Bay, which begins about a
quarter mile further along the Lameshur Bay Trail.
The original trail to Europa Point became so overgrown as
to be nearly impassable until it was reopened through the efforts
of a local hiking group in 2005.
The trail runs over the ridge and leads to a grassy knoll
above Europa Point in an environment of cactus, frangipani
guinea grass and century plants. From the edge of the point,
you can enjoy fresh breezes and excellent views to the east
south and west.
Watch out for catch-and-keep along this presently unmaintained
trail and the thorny bush such as cactus and century plants
when you arrive at the point.
After passing the Europa Point Spur, the Lameshur Bay Trail
begins a steady incline. The trailhead for the Europa Bay
Trail can be found about 200 yards up the hill. Unlike the
original trail, the Europa Bay Trail trail is maintained
by Park workers.
The quarter-mile track descends to the beach at Europa Bay,
passing by a salt pond just behind the beach. The salt pond
is home to several species of birds including pin tail ducks.
The best time to see the birds is early in the morning or just
Standing on the muddy shoreline of the pond,
you will meet thousands of fiddler crabs. So numerous are they
that despite their diminutive size you can here the pitter-patter
of their little legs as they scurry into the pond or back to
their holes as soon as they become aware of your presence.
After passing by the salt pond, the Europa Bay Spur Trail continues
through the flats to the coral rubble beach at Europa Bay.
Waves generally break over the shallow reef close to shore,
but when the sea is flat you can enter the water to snorkel
at the north end of the beach. The best snorkeling here (for
experienced snorkelers only and only then on extremely calm
days) is around the point to the south.
The beach is cooled by easterly trades and is usually quite
deserted, and thus, makes for a great picnic spot, as well
as a place to enjoy seclusion and natural beauty.
Continuing on the main trail, just past the Europa Bay Spur
Trail entrance, you will find a stone bench, which was constructed
by the American Hiking Society in January of 1986. From here,
you can look down upon Little Lameshur and Great Lameshur
Bays and the Yawzi Point Peninsula that separates the two.
The trail continues up the valley until it crosses over the
ridge at a saddle in the mountains. At 467 feet, this is
the highest point of the trail, which descends steeply from
here on. Loose rocks on the trail can be slippery, so proceed
A stone wall mottled with lichen can be found just off the
trail near the high point. These stones are of volcanic origin
and extremely hard. They are locally known as blue bitch. As
you descend into the Reef Bay Valley, you will be treated to
spectacular views of the valley, the outlying bay, the long
fringing reef, and the shallow inshore lagoon.
From this height you will also be able to observe the opening
in the reef at the center of the bay. The bluer water at the
aperture is deep enough to allow most sailing vessels entry
into the protected harbor behind the reef. This feature of
Reef Bay supported the development of the sugar plantations
in the valley due to the relative ease with which shipments
of sugar and rum could be loaded onto ships bound for Europe.
As you approach the lower levels of the valley, you will come
to a fork in the trail. The wider, right-hand fork leads up
to the Reef Bay Greathouse. The narrower left-hand fork, which
passes through a profusion of sansevieria (mother-in-law tongue),
leads to the Reef Bay Trail. At the intersection of the Reef
Bay Trail, go left to reach the ruins of the Reef Bay Sugar
Factory or go right to access the Petroglyph Trail or to continue
up to Centerline Road.
The spur trail to the Reef Bay (also known as Par Force) Estate
House begins on the Lameshur Bay Trail about 100 yards east
of the intersection with the Reef Bay Trail. It is a moderate
to steep quarter-mile climb to reach the plateau upon which
the greathouse was constructed.
The Reef Bay Estate House was built in 1832 and reconstructed
in 1844. In 1994, it was partially renovated by the National
Park Service. The attention to architectural detail and the
sturdy construction of this building are noteworthy. As was
the custom in plantation days, the cookhouse or kitchen was
built as a separate structure. Here the ruins of the cookhouse
are located just outside the entrance to the greathouse. Caution
- The renovation was never completed and the structure has
been allowed to fall into an extreme state of disrepair. The
trail to the Estate House is officially closed and visits are
A local hiking group has reopened the trail to the extensive
Par Force Estate Ruins. The trail runs from the Reef Bay
Estate House spur at a switchback on the trail and leads
down the valley to the Par Force Estate. Lying alongside
the gut are the remains of the horsemill, the sugar factory,
a cistern, an ox pound and several dwellings.
The section of the trail that continues to meet the Reef Bay
Trail has overgrown to such an extent that it is just about
impassable as of the writing of this book. The Reef Bay Trail
can more easily be accessed from here by walking west along