Camping in the Caribbean: Cinnamon Bay St. John USVI
“Let’s go camping.”
“I want a resort.”
“But I need nature.”
“The beach is nature.”
Miniscule waves, clear as the Caribbean sky, lick the pearlescent grains of sand, drawing the sugary beach into the tide like a child eating a snow cone. The unspoiled, condo free Cinnamon Bay on St. John inspires enough sickly sweet metaphors to rival the first chapter of a Robert Ludlum novel.
I fell in love with Cinnamon Bay the first time I stepped into the eco-friendly camping resort. Not the “oh this is pretty” love; I’m talking about make a mixed tape, write cheesy poetry, try a new hairstyle kind of love.
The Caribbean is packed with pseudo-tropical resorts begging to fulfill our every desire. Fruity drinks, seemingly ready for inclement weather with paper umbrellas, are served poolside by sarong clad waitresses. Egyptian cotton clouds to rest our heads at night and hot mango croissants at the buffet in the morning have become synonymous with little latitude islands. For a completely different approach to the Caribbean, Cinnamon Bay St John USVI rates 5 Conch Shells on the purely fictional, made only for this review, 1 to 5 Conch Shell rating scale.
Cinnamon Bay Campground is a no-frills, back to nature camping experience infused into the longest beach on the island. The accommodations may be back to basics but the activities and amenities are plentiful and typically Caribbean.
The Beach Shop lives up to its name, equipped with sun worshipping paraphernalia such as bathing suits, t-shirts and the emblematic sundries visitors would expect to find in a shop with such a descriptive if not original title. The obligatory water sports shack rents snorkeling gear, sailboats, sea kayaks and windsurfing boards.
But what really stands out about Cinnamon Bay is the ability to camp under the Virgin Island sky and gaze out at the star speckled sea. The deluxe beachfront accommodations are 15 by 15 foot cottages with an outside terrace. The front and rear of the cottages are screen walls and are equipped with four twin beds, electric lights, electrical outlets, fan, picnic table, charcoal grill, propane gas stove, ice chest, water container and cooking and eating utensils.
Slightly off the beach, privately tucked away tents, 10 by 14 feet with a solid floor and mosquito netting, provide a secluded tropical experience reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe. Cots, picnic table, charcoal grill, propane gas stove and gas lantern, ice chest, water container, storage bin, and cooking and eating utensils are provided allowing visitors a real camping experience without the hassle of carrying in gear.
For a more traditional camping approach, bare sites are large enough for one large or two small tents and include a picnic table. You won’t have to worry about bears invading your camp, however, alcoholic donkeys love to steal bottles of rum left out overnight. Wild donkeys can be seen grazing roadsides, strolling the beach and doing their best raccoon impersonations in campsites.
A hike along the Cinnamon Bay loop literally unearths St John history. The trail was a road in the days of the Danish settlement where hikers can see teams of archeologists digging up artifacts for the museum at the end of the trail. The ancient sugar mill and rum factory ruins are fascinating sites to explore for a day off the beach.
Cinnamon Bay Campgrounds is an eco-friendly, budget minded alternative Caribbean vacation that is perfect for children and adults.
No matter where you go, there is nothing like the Caribbean Beaches.
They are the whitest, purest and most inviting beaches in the world. There are so many options when considering beach holidays that it is often hard to choose. I have been to so many in the Caribbean that it is hard to remember them all. For peace and solitude the Caribbean is my first choice. But when it comes to excitement and a real party atmosphere I would have to choose among the many Spanish Beaches. There are no shortage of great beaches in Spain, and they all have one thing in common…close access to some of the best food in the world.