We're thinking about a 1/2 day snorkel sail as a cruise-ship shore excursion. So we're not surprised and possibly disappointed, a couple of questions.
Is Turtle Cove part of Buck Island? If not, where do we find it? If it is, is Buck Island really a marine park on a deserted island?
Any advice would be much appreciated!
Day travel between STT and/or STJ and STX is not easy. Sea plane between STT and STX is probably the most reliable way to go. We found the ferry schedule to be erratic at best (if they were operating).
I don't think there's a section of STX's Buck Island that is known as Turtle Cove. There is a Buck Island off STT as well -- I have not been there so can't comment if it is part of a Marine Park or is suitable for snorkeling.
As a diver and snorkeler who has been to STX's Buck Island several times and spent a week on STJ -- I would say that the beach snorkeling in STJ is just as good, if not better than, the Buck Island snorkeling.
There is also a snorkel opportunity around an uninhabited island off STJ, my notes are at home, but I think it was Mingo Cay.
There is a section of Buck Island in STX that is called Turtle Bay, or Turtle Cove. It is the short section of beach in the middle on the south side. Day trips do not stop there. The beach is rocky and there isn't too much to see. As the name would imply, a lot of turtles come up there to nest, but this mostly happens at night.
I think you can check with National Park Service and see if there are any hiking trips across the island if interested in an ecological tour that would take you to Turtle Bay, but the island is hot and covered in cactus so I don't recommend it.
I like to take day trips with Mile Mark Tours. Snorkel the trail and have fun on the west end beach. It's well worth the time and money, but If your ship stops on STT I just don't think you will be able to make it to St. Croix and back. Try St. John
If you are doing a 1/2 day snorkel sail from a cruise ship on St. Thomas you then visting Turtle Cove/Buck Island - a small non-populated island off of St. Thomas not far from Charlotte Amalie where the ships dock. This is not part of Buck Island Reef National Monument which is protected as an underwater national monument under the National Park Service. Two different places - same name.
Buck Island National Monument; St. Croix:
The Buck Island area was first protected in 1948 and later became a national park in 1962 under the direction of John F. Kennedy. Buck Island National Monument is 6000 feet long and ½ a mile wide. Uninhabited Buck Island is 340 feet above sea level. The National Park Service manages this underwater monument of extraordinary marine beauty. Buck Island offers a pristine white sand beach; excellent snorkeling and a wonderful look at marine life around spectacular coral reefs and gardens. There are several species of coral and almost 90 species of fish in the park's waters. This 880-acre monument created by nature is a mile off the northeast coast of St. Croix. It is made up of 176 acres of land and 704 acres of underwater area. It is one of the most popular attractions on St. Croix.
Turtle Cove, Buck Island off of St. Thomas- a small island with great snorkeling off the shores - a popular cruise ship snorkeling excursion destination.
I am not sure what you mean by Marine Park - if you mean an aquarium - no thats not what is meant. Marine Park is meant to describe the natural environment of a protected marine area in the case of both the buck islands discussed.
Hope that helps clarify.
Hi, Islander...thanks for the excellent info...perhaps you have time for a little further clarification...
The promotional bumpf for the excursion reads..."sail the Castaway Girl to Shipwreck Cove in the famous Marine Park, Buck Island..."
Can you nail that down for me..the online maps that I've found so far aren't really clear...do you have one that you could recommend?
Anyway, have a great day..here it's hovering around freezing, with a cold rain/mist...no wonder we're dreaming of snorkelling...actually anything with warm sun and some warm water would do right now.
Even without the description I am certain its the Buck Island off of St. Thomas. Charters don't leave St. Thomas and go to St. Croix - its about 40 miles away. With your description, Castaway Girl is a good charter and it goes to Buck Island off of St. Thomas.The charter will pull into a cove at the little island so you can snorkel there. Nice snorkeling. I am not sure you will find a map that has the little islands on it; usually maps include the larger 4 populated islands, maybe Hassel Island... and perhaps the larger of the smaller islands. I just checked several of the maps online and they don't include it.
What are you trying to find out - exactly where its located. Its right off the south-eastern part of St. Thomas - not far from Charlotte Amalie where the ships dock.
Beachcomber - the little island is about a 15-20 minute boat ride from Charlotte AMalie.
Thanks again, Islander...your help is much appreciated...
We're not really trying to be too specific, but from time-to-time we've been disappointed with shore excursions, perhaps because we've had too high an expectation before setting out..for instance, once, after an hours bus ride over windy bumpy roads, we debarked to find that the beach was perhaps a quarter mile from the ship...we coulda swum there quicker!!!
So now we spend a litle time finding out what's what before we go, and thanks to good folks like you, reduce or eliminate the potential for disappointment. Or at least know what we're getting into.
Beachcomber - absolutely correct in terms of you wanting to be informed - I say that a lot here; if you have a good idea of what you are getting into then you have a more adequate perception which lessens the chance of disappointment.
In any case I have a friend who went on the Castaway Girl and he said that it was enjoyable. The snorkeling was good, he saw turtles. He said as an experienced snorkeler and diver he felt it necessary to sort of snorkel away from the other people on the charter because they sort of stuck together in a mass making it difficult to navigate around them. He said the boating was nice. So if I were to give you a description I would say... you will get picked up at the ship (I think that is the norm) by the Castaway Girl a 65' Catamaran. Sail for about 15-20 minutes to Turtle Cove for snorkeling. There will be several dozen other passengers also. On the sail back you will have drinks and snacks.
Have a great time, if you do go for that excursion do let us know how it worked out for you.
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