Three Top Adventure Options for US Virgin Islands Travelers
PHOTO: Travelers can depart St. Thomas for kayak excursions to Hassel Island. (Photo by Brian Major)
Some travelers believe the perfect Caribbean vacation involves a hammock, an umbrella drink and a lounge chair. Others meanwhile are not content to let the day pass quite as quietly. Fortunately for adventure-seeking travelers, the U.S. Virgin Islands offers a wide range of options to satisfy everyone’s inner Tarzan.
Sports enthusiasts will find one of the Caribbean’s best golf courses on St. Thomas, while denizens of the deep can opt for diving, scuba and watersports at each of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ three main islands. And fishing fans will encounter premium opportunities for deep-sea and close-to-shore fishing with some of the world’s best anglers.
Here are three options for U.S. Virgin Islands vacationers seeking active, adventure-oriented vacations:
On and over the water: Whether it’s scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or other ocean-going activities, water-borne activities are available all across the three main islands’ beautiful blue waters.
Virgin Islands Ecotours offers a variety of guided excursions for water-lovers. A mangrove lagoon adventure takes visitors on a kayak tour to the Cas Cay Wildlife Sanctuary, where they will snorkel with tropical fish, look for turtles and sting rays and stroll coral-sand beaches.
Another kayak excursion departs from St. Thomas to nearby Hassel Island, a Virgin Islands national park that features British naval forts and batteries from the Napoleonic wars and the island’s former U.S. military base.
The island also features an ancient Amerindian site and the haunting ruins of the 19th century steam engine-powered Creque Marine Railway Slipway. Hassel Island visitors can also cool off with a bit of snorkeling at a quiet local beach.
On St. John, the Virgins Islands Ecotours Hut at Honeymoon Beach is the starting point for guided kayak tours to Henley Bay and Caneel Bay. Travelers can also rent floats, stand-up paddleboards, snorkeling gear and other equipment. Vacationers who want to catch some air can opt for a Blue Reef Watersports parasailing adventure that lifts participants 800 feet above the water.
The Red Hook Dive Center and St. Thomas Diving Club both offer scuba and diving excursions, services and certification courses. Travelers won’t have to worry about bringing their own equipment as operators provide tanks, weight belts, regulators and other necessary items.
Beginners can seek out green turtles, tropical fish and stingrays around the waters off Buck Island’s Turtle Bay. The Cow and Calf rocks off St. Thomas’ southeastern coast feature caves, ledges and canyons 20 to 40 feet beneath the water’s surface. Skilled scuba divers can explore the WIT Shoal, a sunken 328-foot military cargo ship and freighter located 90 feet below the water off Saba Rock.
Fishin’ Fool: Not only do travelers not need a passport to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, they also aren’t required to have a fishing license to test their angling skills in the surrounding waters. Furthermore, the U.S. Virgin Islands offers several top fishing charter operators as the surrounding Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea waters are the home base of numerous world and tournament-level anglers.
Bluewater Safaris offers deep-sea fishing charters with Matthew Raffa and Colin Butler, master licensed captains with 45 years’ combined fishing experience in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Anglers can opt for in-shore trips using light tackle to capture kingfish, barracuda, tarpon and jacks or head out to sea in search of trophy-sized tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi and blue marlin. Offshore trips utilize live bait, ballyhoo and artificial lures.
DoubleHeader Sportfishing offers half, three quarters, full-day and 10-hour “marlin only” trips and also offers inshore and offshore fishing for the species vacationers would like to target. Double Header boats have caught and released 14-foot long tiger sharks and rare double billed blue marlin within the last year.
Great Golf: The 18-hole Mahogany Run Golf Course, the only one on St. Thomas, has hosted U.S. presidents, celebrities and legions of seasoned and vacationing golfers. Little wonder, as the George and Tom-Fazio designed course is one of the most picturesque and challenging in the entire Caribbean.
Set along the island’s lush hillsides, the magnificent landscape features scenic vistas, several elevation changes and inspiring views of St. John and the British Virgin Islands.
The course’s signature “Devil’s Triangle” – namely the 13th, 14th and 15th holes – presents players with tough shots; careless duffers could find their balls sailing off into the blue ocean below with a wrong move here.
In fact, golfers who can play the three holes without a penalty will collect a prize in the pro shop. There are also several par-friendly holes, making the course a challenge for golfers of all levels. Visitors can also enjoy a meal and cold drink in The Grille restaurant after play concludes.
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