83.2 F
Cruz Bay
Monday, August 15, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesIsland Girl's VI Guide: Virgin Islands Ecotours

Island Girl's VI Guide: Virgin Islands Ecotours

Skip ahead to "What You Need To Know"


Virgin Islands Ecotours
Island Girl likes to head off the beaten path for a look around as much as the next gal, so of course when I heard about a kayak tour of a lagoon wildlife refuge that included a guided snorkel and hike around an uninhabited cay, I of course had to check it out. So I made a reservation, slathered on a thick layer of sun block, and headed off in my trusty jeep, Sasha, for a three-hour mini-adventure. Making sure I passed the little gravel road not once, but twice, despite the gigantic sign, I eventually arrived in front of the brightly colored Ecotours offices and what they call the "forgot-it" shop, for people who forget stuff like hats and sunscreen and whatnot. I found myself one of 13 intrepid souls in the afternoon group being led by one of our guides, Troy, through the basics of paddling a kayak. (Here Island Girl will digress for a brief but important note on kayaking for those who’ve never done it: kayaking is glorious fun, and very hard work. Your arms will hurt after. So will your shoulders. But don’t worry, it’s that good, I-worked-hard-under-the-Caribbean-sun hurt. Totally worth it. Trust me.) In the fragrant shelter of the mangroves we practiced paddling and learned from Troy about the unusual eco-system we were now bobbing around in, where trees live in salt-water and all kinds of sea-life is nurtured in the tangled, murky root system. After a healthy dose of knowledge I fully intend to pass off as my own, it was on to Cas Cay, known to many locals as Happy Island, where we beached our Kayaks and enjoyed a brief natural history tour of the land. Between the kayaking and then the walking, we were all more than ready for a plunge in the water by the time we got to the snorkeling part, and to be honest, I was a little nervous. I know it’s supposed to be totally irrational and all that, especially considering that I live here…and I practically live in the ocean…and I’ve never even seen one of them in the wild…but I’ve got this thing about sharks. So, as I secretly always do, I quietly hung back and let everybody else get in the water first. When nobody got eaten after a slow five-count, I was fine, and the snorkeling rocked. Under the expert guidance of Troy, and the other guide, Branden, I saw two octopuses, a porcupine puffer fish, a sea cucumber, a squirrel fish, two spotted eagle rays, and I could go on for days, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that if you ever get the chance to go snorkeling with a biologist or a professional marine tour-guide, here or anywhere, take it. I learned that the Virgin Islands are the enormously popular vacation destination they are in large part because of the delicate coastal and near-coastal eco-systems. These include decadent white-sand beaches with nice people that will serve you drinks and watch the kids as you lay in the sun counting your blessings, but also downy beds of sea-grass where turtles feed and frolic and fields of purple sea fans sway beneath delicate towers of living coral; all of that amazing life balanced on the edge of human civilization, just within our reach, but not quite within our grasp. Whoah! I think I was just possessed by Marlin Perkins.
What You Need To Know
Quite the workout: Island Girl needs to do more push-ups. My arms were tired from paddling, My legs were worn out from walking – but that may be because I (stupidly) went running before going on the tour. After we returned to our dry towels, our senior guide, Troy, told us that we had seriously worked out: We burned around 700 calories on our three-hour tour. We kayaked 2 miles, averaging 1,000 strokes. The way my arms are feeling now, though, I swear I must have stroked closer to 10,000 times.
Hours: Virgin Island Ecotours is open most days, and tour times are based in part on cruise-ship schedules. Call for reservations. Tours are cancelled only for lightning or other dangerous weather.
Best time to go: Sometimes it’s less crowded in the summertime, but the tours are very popular throughout the year.
Time commitment: 3 hours or more.
Cost: $65 for a two-and-a-half hour snorkeling and kayak trip, or $75 for a three-hour snorkeling, hiking and kayak trip.
ATM on-site: No, but they take credit cards.
Gift shop: Yes. They call it the "forgot-it shop," because it has bathing suits, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and anything else you might need out there on the water, but forgot to bring with you.
Parking: There is limited free parking there. A taxi ride from Havensight is about $12; from Red Hook is about $10.


Related Links
St. Thomas Beach Guide
St. Thomas Accommodations Guide
St. Thomas Community Events Calendar
St. Thomas Taxi Rates
V.I. Ferry Schedule


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.



FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more