Editor’s Note: This story was written by Patrice Williams and first appeared on Thrillist.
It was on my first night staying at Cinnamon Bay Campground in St. John on the U.S. Virgin Islands, that I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake. Perhaps my error was simply the three painkiller cocktails I’d consumed, now spurring me to contemplate the two-minute walk from my tent to the bathroom.
Or maybe the mistake had been thinking that I — very much not a camper — should stay at Cinnamon Bay Campground in the first place. This possibility seemed especially likely as I ruminated on the concept of leaving my tent to walk through the darkness, of which I happened to be very afraid.
A few hours later, however, the sun rose, and my fear of setting foot outside subsided. Newly comfortable, I took in my surroundings: My own sizable tent set amongst lush greenery and atop a wooden platform, beside a cute outdoor seating area and grill. The secluded expanse of Cinnamon Bay Beach beyond a dense wall of trees and shrubs, its crashing waves a heady shade of turquoise. I thought about the wildlife I’d already seen here — tiny lizards, hermit crabs and even a few deer — equal parts exciting and alarming for a non-camper, but very much the marker of a special place. Maybe, I thought, it was worth finding out how granola this city girl could get.
You wouldn’t necessarily know from looking that Cinnamon Bay Campground was recently completely rebuilt in the wake of 2017’s devastating hurricane season. Its tents had to be repaired and re-skinned, and its cottages rebuilt in concrete to withstand storm winds. The campground finally reopened in November 2022, a boon for nature lovers willing to sleep in close proximity to the island’s considerable flora and fauna. More than 60% of St. John is located in Virgin Islands National Park, and Cinnamon Bay falls right within park limits, making it both beautiful in its own right and a great jumping-off point for adventures.