Virgin Islands National Park, renowned throughout the world for its breathtaking beauty, covers approximately 3/5 of St. John, and nearly all of Hassel Island in the Charlotte Amalie harbor on St. Thomas. Within its borders lie protected bays of crystal blue-green waters teeming with coral reef life, white sandy beaches shaded by seagrape trees, coconut palms, and tropical forests providing habitat for over 800 species of plants. To these amazing natural resources, add relics from the Pre-Colombian Amerindian Civilization, remains of the Danish Colonial Sugar Plantations, and reminders of African Slavery and the Subsistence Culture that followed during the 100 years after Emancipation - all part of the rich cultural history of the Park and its island home.
Hence, in 1956, “….. a portion of the Virgin Islands of the United States, containing outstanding scenic and other features of national significance, shall be established ……. as the Virgin Islands National Park.”
In 1962 the enabling legislation was amended to add 5,650 acres of submerged land “……. order to preserve for the benefit of the public significant coral gardens, marine life, and seascapes in the vicinity thereof ……..”
In 1978 the legislation establishing Virgin Islands National Park was again amended to add Hassel Island, located in Charlotte Amalie harbor on St. Thomas, to the Park.
Did You Know?
The Machineel tree, found along the coast, produces crab apple-like fruit that is poisonous. While the fruit is deadly [as Columbus’ men reportedly found out in 1493 when visiting the island], even sap from the Machineel tree can cause an irritating skin rash. The tree is also called Death Apple.