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2024 April 1

The United States Virgin Islands offer unparalleled charter cruising


Charter sailors who fly into St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands, and quickly hustle to the ferry dock to catch a ride to the BVIs don’t know what they are missing. From Christmas Cove, to Frenchman Bay and the untouched beauty of nearby St. John, the USVI cruising grounds offer a variety of experiences, from peaceful solitude and snorkeling to beach bars and lively island entertainment.

One of the closest destinations to the main charter bases in Charlotte Amalie is Christmas Cove, a sheltered oasis on Great St. James Island renown for its snorkeling where sealife includes stingrays, spotted eagle rays and turtles. 

Honeymoon Beach is a tropical paradise. 
Snorkeling also is unparalleled off St. John, two-thirds of which is Virgin Islands National Park. St. John’s Trunk Bay is a photogenic paradise with 650 feet of underwater trails with signs for the most remarkable swimming and snorkeling experiences. This heart-shaped bay is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Lameshure Bay on the St. John’s south shore is a must-see spot due to its remote location, white sandy beach and fantastic hiking trails. On the western end of the bay is the start of the amazing hiking trails with petroglyphs, waterfalls and remains of a sugar mill and sugar plantation. The snorkeling is some of the best and you’re sure to spot octopus, rays, barracuda, tangs, parrotfish, Caribbean lobsters, coral banded shrimp and queen angelfish. 

Beachcombers will enjoy the expansive beaches on St. John’s north shore, including Caneel, Hawksnest, Cinnamon and Maho. Finn Druif Bay is a must stop for history buffs who can visit the fort and learn about the island’s exciting past. Golf carts are also available for rent to drive around the island.

To make chartering easier, the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association installed 200 moorings in the popular cruising spots of each island The moorings protect the underwater habitats, coral reefs and seagrass beds from anchors and anchor chains. Operated through the Boatyball system, the moorings are $35 per night. Visit www.vipca.org for locations and information.

In the last seven years, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ charter yacht industry proved resilient in the face of challenges such as hurricanes and a global pandemic, and it has grown to $88 million annually, making it one of the Caribbean’s premier maritime destinations, especially for boutique-style, customized crewed-yacht charter vacations. 

If you are looking to find out more about chartering or charter yacht ownership, the USVI Charter Yacht Show comes to St. Thomas November 8 to 11. And next month, a brand new show, the Virgin Islands Boating Expo, runs May 10 to 12 and features manufacturers such as Lagoon, Bali, Azimut, Fountaine Pajot and Boston Whaler along with live music concerts and island food and beverages. Visit www.vibe.vi or www.usviyachtshow.org for more information.