These walks reveal a different side of the island
On an island where hiking through cool, shaded forests abound, St. John’s Salt Pond offers something very different. Located on the island’s sunbaked south coast, where rock bluffs and scrub dominate the landscape, this peninsula can only be reached by hiking trails, making it an ideal getaway for anyone seeking a bit of solitude.
Salt Pond Bay
The trail begins at the Salt Pond Bay parking lot, a 15-minute drive from Coral Bay. A short five-minute walk down a relatively steep dirt trail and you’re at beautiful Salt Pond Bay, where the often-calm waters offer excellent snorkeling. You could set up camp and spend the day sunning and swimming, but if you want to stretch your legs first and take in some scenic vistas, keep walking to the south end of the beach. As the sand starts to give way to a trail of dirt and rocks, you’ll find a National Park sign that points the way to a pair of hiking trails.
Ram Head Trail
The first portion of this trail winds gently up and down through a cactus forest, eventually ascending to about 100 feet above sea level, with big, open-ocean views. Birds provide the soundtrack, while Turks head cacti offer up their brilliant pink fruit to those who know where to find them. About 20 minutes into the hike, you’ll descend back to sea level to cross a unique blue cobblestone beach. Once you’re back on the trail, you’ll quickly ascend toward a cut in the hillside, which is the trail’s peak.
As you rise in elevation to approximately 200 feet above sea level, the hillside below you is littered with hundreds of Turks head cacti, standing at attention like soldiers guarding one of Mother Nature’s prized creations. Approaching the crevasse in the hill, you’ll get an initial glimpse of the wild open ocean below, and with it, the sense you’re about to witness something amazing. And then, it hits you — the wind, that is. Just when the sweat is really starting to pour, and the sun’s rays are really starting to punish, Ram Head provides deliverance in the form of all-natural air conditioning, as cool sea breezes whip up through the crevasse.
The trail to Drunk Bay provides an easier alternative to the Ram Head hike. The beginning of this route is also located at Salt Pond’s south end. On this third of a mile-long trail, you’ll skirt the large salt pond that gives the bay its name and arrive after a short five-minute walk at wild, windswept Drunk Bay. This rocky beach is littered with coral fragments and all kinds of interesting flotsam and jetsam, which beach-goers use to create sculptures of people, gravity-defying formations, and messages. Tap your creativity to leave your own mark on the beach before heading back for Salt Pond. Swim, relax, and enjoy the water as you summon up the energy to walk back to the parking lot with a well- earned sense of accomplishment.