Virgin Islands National Park has as much to explore below the water as it does above. Whether someone is swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving or gliding over the surface of St. John’s crystal clear turquoise waters on a standup paddle board, he or she is destined to discover colorful marine life, beautiful coral reef gardens and many more underwater delights.
Each year, Friends of V.I. National Park hosts a standup paddleboard race called Paddle the Park at Maho Bay early in November. This year marks the 4th annual event and will be held on Sunday, Nov. 6. Scheduled during what is traditionally the end of the “off-season” for St. John and the park, the Friends created the event to be a fun, competitive activity to bring Virgin Island locals out to enjoy the park. Proving the event’s growing popularity, participants came from California, Ohio and Florida, as well as locally from the BVI’s and St. Croix for last year’s Paddle the Park.
There are three courses for the event – a short course, open course and elite course. The event also offers a youth competition category for the short course (12 years and younger). The different courses offered allow anyone to participate, no matter what the person’s experience. Boards can be rented, too, and delivered to Maho Beach by the event’s sponsors, Arawak and Virgin Islands EcoTours.
The Short Course (1 mile) goes from Maho Beach to the National Park Service (NPS) floating fee station and back.
The Open Course (3 miles) goes from Maho Beach to Whistling Cay and back.
The Elite Course (5.5 miles) is from Maho Beach to Whistling Cay, then to and around Cinnamon Cay, back behind Whistling Cay and back to Maho.
Registration: Early Registration is Sept. 19 through Oct. 28. Adults – $60; Youth under 18 – $30. General Registration is Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Adults – $70; Youth $35. Late Registration is Nov. 5 until 2 p.m. Adults $85; youth $45 (at the Friends of the Park store only). There will no registration on race day.
Register online at www.friendvinp.org/paddle or call 779-4940, or register in person at the Friends of the Park store in Mongoose Junction, St. John; Connections in Cruz Bay; or Caribbean Surf Co. in Red Hook, Havensight, St. Thomas
Learn more about the event and see videos of the courses by visiting the Friends’ Web site: www.friendsvinp.org. After the event, thanks to North Shore Deli and St. John Brewers, there will be a party on the beach. Come and join the fun!