USVI | ACTIVE PURSUITS ST. JOHN/ ST. THOMAS
Whether you are a bonafide adrenaline junkie or the lounge-chair type, the beach-blessed islands of St. Thomas and St. John will seduce you with their treasure trove of entertaining activities — both on the land and in the sea. With their vibrant reefs, majestic mangroves, glorious greens and extraordinary tropical hiking trails, the sister islands can be your personal ticket to an unforgettable, vacation long sporting event.
Laid-back and lovely St. John is green, serene and packed with exciting opportunities for world-class hiking, snorkeling and boating; while St. Thomas’ palm-fringed shores are delightful playgrounds for watersports enthusiasts. Golfers can also get their game on at any of St. Thomas’ top-notch courses. And no matter which active pursuit tickles your fancy, chances are there’s an expert ready to help you practice your favorite sport or learn to love a new one.
ST. JOHN SPORTS ON THE SURF
It’s hard to imagine that anything could be more beautiful than St. John’s beaches, with their talcum-white sand that extends like a blanket into the sea. But venture out below the water’s surface and you’ll enter a world even more stunning than you could have imagined. A standout is Trunk Bay, as it features an underwater trail with markers that guide snorkelers along a reef that’s a kaleidoscope of marine life. Other great spots where you can rent snorkeling equipment and get right in the water include Cinnamon Bay, Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. There is also an abundance of dive shops where you can rent equipment that you can use right off the beach or on an organized boat dive.
For those who prefer sports above water, Cinnamon Bay is a good spot to rent windsurfing equipment and take a lesson or two. It’s also a good place to rent kayaks, which can also be easily picked up in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. Join the latest watersports trend and rent a stand-up paddleboard. Then enjoy the scenic and invigorating paddle session from Cruz Bay to Francis or Maho Bays.
Rent a powerboat or sailboat to experience the offshore excitement St. John has to offer, or venture to the nearby British Virgin Islands for an island-hopping adventure — just make sure you keep your passport handy. The many boat rental operators on the island can set you up with just about Anything you like, so treat yourself to a day out at sea — whether that’s on a breezy sailboat, a cozy catamaran or a decadent luxury yacht.
ST. JOHN SPORTS ON THE TURF
Nearly three-fifths of St. John is comprised of a national park, so the hiking opportunities here are seemingly endless. There are more than 20 trails that range from easy to challenging and, best of all, afford amazing close encounters with nature. The Reef Bay Trail hike from the island’s highest peak has been known to leave nature lovers breathless, and that’s not because the trek is demanding — in fact it’s all downhill. What hikers find awe-inspiring is the sheer natural beauty of the trail that leads through a forest teeming with wildlife and rich with history and ancient culture. The Petroglyph Trail also offers an intriguing glimpse of the island’s ancient culture through Taíno rock carvings, and the Francis Bay Trail passes a salt pond and a mangrove forest on its way to a beautiful beach.
ST. THOMAS ON THE SURF
St. Thomas is an ideal place for kayakers, especially its unspoiled and picture-perfect Mangrove Lagoon Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. There nature lovers get more than they can imagine in terms of plant, animal and marine splendor. A not-too-strenuous guided paddle tour through the protected maze of beautiful islands of red mangroves takes visitors past vibrant flora, fauna and wildlife that’s a rare sight anywhere else on the island.
The U.S. Virgin Islands’ many reefs, wrecks and drop-offs offer endless opportunities for underwater exploration. Its warm shallow waters are home to a rich variety of marine life and it offers amazing visibility — up to 80 feet in many locations. You can find a variety of hard and soft coral, lava formations, trenches and caverns, along with countless species of reef fish, turtles, seahorses, eels, lobster, manta rays, dolphins, barracuda, octopi and sharks. St. Thomas has several fully certified dive shops that offer Everything from introductory lessons and certification courses to beach and boat dives for seasoned divers.
You haven’t fished until you’ve dropped a line in the island’s world-renowned fishing grounds. Mahi-mahi, tuna, marlin and wahoo abound. Dozens of reputable charter boat crews are can take you to the best locations and provide gear. A number of deep-sea charter boats offering several packages run out of the IGY American Yacht Harbor.
St. Thomas’ tranquil waters and ideal trade winds make it the perfect playground for stand-up paddleboarding, kiteboarding and windsurfing. Many beachfront resorts rent equipment and offer lessons to get watersports enthusiasts off and gliding on the sea’s surface. Kiteboarder wannabes can be airborne after an introductory course, and there are several spots, most notably on the island’s southeast side, where the side shore breezes and flat water make the conditions just right to catch some air. Stand-up paddleboarding is another great way to skim the sea. There are now several shops where you can rent a board and join the paddling set. St. Thomas’ many protected harbors make it an ideal spot for the sport, and you’ll often see enthusiasts paddling over the blue water in Secret Harbour, Hull Bay or Brewers Bay. The year-round trade winds make windsurfing a favorite pastime in St. Thomas. Many beachfront resorts and watersports outfitters carry rental equipment for adults and juniors and also offer introductory courses, as well as advanced lessons.Bluebeard Beach and Vessup Bay are among the spots where this sport can best be enjoyed.
ST. THOMAS ON THE TURF
President Obama and former President Bill Clinton survived the Devil’s Triangle, and you can too. The Mahogany Run Golf Course’s scenery is serene and relaxing, but its trio of challenging holes can make even the most seasoned golfer break a sweat. The 18-hole, par-70 course rises and drops like a wave into the sea. It’s been said that its cliffs and crashing sea waves are the ultimate hazards at the 13th and 14th holes.
PARADISE PLAYGROUND ST. CROIX
St. Croix hits the spot when it comes to active travel. Tropical weather means you can enjoy the outdoors year round. Whether you’d rather head out on your own, enjoy a guided activity or participate in any of several annual sporting events, St. Croix has it all.
Even if you’re not one to participate in the activities, the annual sporting events here are exciting to watch.The Captain Morgan Ironman 70.3 St. Croix triathlon in May is aptly dubbed “Beauty and the Beast,” as it includes a 7/10- mile bike climb up a hill so steep it’s been named “The Beast.” Those simply interested in running should try the Virgin Islands Half- Marathon in February or any of the other foot races held throughout the year. Swimmers come together annually for the Coral Reef Swim in October, and cyclists gather to clock miles and enjoy camaraderie at a number of events.
ST. CROIX ON THE TURF
Wide-open spaces and gently rolling terrain make St. Croix a golfer’s dream. The island offers two 18-hole courses. First is the tournament-quality, par-72 Carambola Golf Club, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. The second is the par-70, 5,668-yard Buccaneer Golf Course, which offers stunning views of the Caribbean. Farther east you’ll find the nine-hole Reef Golf Course, as well as mini-golf at the Divi Carina Bay All Inclusive Beach Resort & Casino.
Tennis courts — some with lights for night play — are available at several hotels and at a Few public parks, too. Rent a bike or an all-terrain vehicle, or take an escorted tour on an open Jeep. No experience is necessary for the guided horseback rides through the tropical forest and down to the beach or for the invigorating hikes led by local naturalists.
ST. CROIX ON THE SURF
The warm, clear waters surrounding the island are action central for watersports enthusiasts. Scuba divers have more than 50 sites to choose from, including underwater wrecks to the north and west and the spectacular Cane Bay Wall that drops thousands of feet along the north shore. An introductory resort course can get you started.
Snorkelers can wade or swim to coral reefs right off the beach or book a boat excursion over to Buck Island Reef National Monument to see a host of colorful fish. For even more water time, buzz around on a Jet Ski or try kayaking, kitesurfing or parasailing.
Sportfishing is in-season throughout the year, so anglers can head out to deep waters to scout a record-setting blue marlin or reel in wahoo, mahi-mahi or tuna.
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