Choose Your Own Adventure

USVI tour operators aim to please

By: Judy Koutsky

The U.S. Virgin Islands are the perfect destination for those adventurous of spirit. Horseback riding, hiking and a plethora of watersports including some unique aquatic activities not readily found in the Caribbean are a strong draw for families and couples. Add to that some of the best diving and snorkeling in the region, if not the world, and the USVI becomes an easy sell.

St. Croix
St. Croix is the largest in size of the three islands and it’s known for its laidback flavor (unlike bustling St. Thomas, one of the top cruise ports in the Caribbean). The St. Croix Half Ironman Triathlon is one of the premier destination triathlons in the world (the beauty alone draws both athletes and spectators). Not to be missed is Buck Island, arguably one of the best snorkeling spots anywhere. The barrier reef shelters thousands of tropical fish and turtles and the crystal-blue water allows for maximum visibility.

For those wanting some land-based activities, AY AY Eco Hike and Tours offers hikes up Annaly Hill where visitors will get 360-degree views of not only St. Croix, but also the vistas of the surrounding islands. The naturalist guide points out local flora and fauna during the hike as well as educating visitors on the history of the islands.

Commission: Contact company for policy.

St. Thomas
Coral World is the perfect destination for families. There’s an aquarium, marine zoo, parasailing and Sea Trekking. This aquatic adventure is considered scuba diving with training wheels. Visitors don a Sea Trekking helmet (which keeps face and hair dry and allows for normal breathing) and then are escorted on a walk at the bottom of the sea floor. Clients can interact closely with fish, coral and plants without worrying about breathing techniques or even having to know how to swim.

Commission: 15 percent

For those looking for a combination excursion, VI Eco-Tours offers a kayak and snorkeling trip with an emphasis on educating visitors on the ecology of the area. Visitors explore the Inner Lagoon Wildlife Refuge and Marine Sanctuary on the east end of the island at Mangrove Lagoon. Tim, the guide, who has a degree in biology as well as nursing, explained the delicate balance of wildlife, human interaction and hurricanes. Even children will find the history and biology lessons fun as Tim leads his group through mangroves and clear Caribbean waters.

Commission: 20 percent

St. John
Two thirds of St. John is protected national park. It’s also home to Trunk Bay considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Here visitors will be able to try Snuba, a cross between snorkeling and scuba and one of the hottest, new watersports. Snuba divers breathe underwater by means of a 20-foot air line. This allows people to dive without heavy equipment and also keeps them from diving too deep.

Clients should try island experts VI Snuba Excursions.

Commission: 20 percent

What better way to see the beauty of an island than from atop a horse? Carolina Corral offers trail rides through the hills offering stellar views of neighboring BVI as well as the beaches for which St. John is famous.

Commission: 10 percent



Tamarind Reef & Green Cay Marina, St. Croix
This hotel is located a few miles from Christiansted, the main town on St. Croix. The hotel is located right on the water and also includes two beaches and a large freshwater pool. There are 44 rooms.
Commission: 10 percent

Westin Resort, St. John
Minutes from the Virgin Island National Park, this secluded hotel overlooks the Great Cruz Bay and is surrounded by the green hills of St. John. Fishing, diving, parasailing and snorkeling are popular water activities. On shore, there is tennis, a fitness center, hiking, shopping and golfing. The Westin Kids Club offers a variety of indoor and outdoor supervised activities.
Commission: 10 percent

Ritz Carlton, St. Thomas
A surprisingly large number of families can be found on premises. The rooms are large and the views overlook the eastern tip of St. Thomas. The hotel is nestled on a 30-acre estate and on-site dining, spa and watersports can be found. There are plans for an extensive renovation to start in 2006.
Commission: 10 percent


AY AY Eco Hike and Tours

Carolina Corral

Coral World

VI Eco-Tours

VI Snuba Excursions