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Alternatives to Snorkeling and Diving

Two of the most popular watersports on St. Thomas island are snorkeling and scuba diving. Diving requires certification, and both activities require knowing how to swim and being comfortable in the ocean. If you are a bit intimidated by snorkeling and diving, or maybe you cannot partake for medical reasons, here are five alternatives. The options include a helmet dive, BOSS, snuba, visiting an aquarium, and a semi-submarine. There are so many exciting ways to explore the marine environment around St. Thomas; let’s take a look at your options.

Helmet Dive in St. Thomas

A helmet dive in St. Thomas is a great option for anyone who does not know how to swim or has not gotten used to breathing through a snorkel. Of course, its also awesome in general since you get to walk under water! Its a cool experience. With helmet diving, you will wear a bell-shaped helmet that goes over your head and rests on your shoulders. That helmet keeps your head dry, and there is air for you to breathe normally. There is glass in the front of the helmet; that is your window to seeing all the fish and marine life. An air tube connects your helmet to your air supply at the surface. You can breathe, wear your glasses, and even reach your hand into the helmet to clear your ears if you need to. You are fitted with your helmet at the surface of the water, and then down you go to walk on the ocean floor. Helmet dives in St. Thomas typically take place in around ten feet of water. You are with a marine guide for your safety and your enjoyment; they will point out marine life. Helmet dives are available at Coral World Ocean Park on St. Thomas to anyone from eight years old and up. It does not require experience.

Coral World Ocean Park

Coral World Ocean Park

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Spend the day at Coral World Ocean Park, one of St. Thomas's Greatest Attractions. Get up close and personal with the beauty of Caribbean marine life in a stunning setting by participating in Sea TREK Helmet Diving. It's an amazing experience. Stroll along the ocean floor like a diver without the need for specialized training. You’ll be amazed as a guide leads you through the vibrant coral reef surrounding Coral World Park’s Undersea Observatory. You are likely to encounter schools of horse-eye jacks, beautiful parrotfish, sea cucumbers, and possibly even a stingray or sea turtle!

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Breathing Observation Submersible Scooter (BOSS)

On a BOSS excursion in St. Thomas, you will ride an underwater scooter while breathing normally through a built-in helmet. You zip around under the water while observing marine life and having fun on your neat “underwater motor bike”. BOSS helmets have 360-degree views. This fun activity is available to anyone from ten years old and up and does not require experience. A guide accompanies you and stays nearby.

There are a few differences between helmet diving and BOSS. When you go helmet diving, you will walk along the ocean floor, and with BOSS, you will be moving above the ocean floor on a scooter. With helmet diving in St. Thomas, you are near an aquarium, so there is some comfort in that factor, particularly if you are afraid of deeper water. With BOSS adventures in St. Thomas, you go out by boat to deeper waters. BOSS helmets have 360-degree viewing; with helmet diving, you have a window area in the front of the helmet. Helmet diving in St. Thomas is done in small groups. BOSS is done with slightly larger groups, and they take a few people out at a time. On a BOSS excursion in St. Thomas, you typically have the option to snorkel or lounge onboard the boat before and after your turn on a scooter. If you have claustrophobic sensitivities, both the helmet dive and BOSS might trigger them as your head is within a helmet.

St. Thomas Snuba Diving

Snuba is a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving. It has more similarities to scuba diving than it does to snorkeling, but it does not require certification. There is no training required with snuba, and you don’t have to worry about carrying an air tank on your back like in scuba diving. You will receive basic instruction from a guide, and you will be fitted with a mask, fins, weights, and a dive regulator to breathe. A long hose connects the regulator to an air tank that is floating on a raft on the surface. A guide remains on the raft to monitor air levels. Then off you go to explore. You are in shallow water while snuba diving and can quickly surface if needed. St. Thomas snuba is available to anyone from eight years old and up and does not require experience.

Helmet dives, BOSS, and snuba are popular St. Thomas shore excursions. All three are unique and fun alternatives to snorkeling and scuba diving. They all have one thing in common: you must get in the water to participate. If you want to explore the marine environment in St. Thomas and stay completely dry, here are two more alternatives for you to consider.

Visit an Aquarium

If you want to explore the underwater world in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, while keeping your feet on land or at least on a solid surface, consider visiting Coral World Ocean Park. Coral World is one of St. Thomas’ popular themed attractions. The park has exhibits on sharks, turtles, stingrays, sea lions, dolphins, Caribbean fish, seahorses, and more. Educational programs, activities, and experiences are available, including animal encounters.


Travel below the ocean’s surface in air-conditioned comfort aboard the Nautilus, a semi-submarine. Explore exotic Caribbean marine life during this 45-minute journey in a spacious 40-window panoramic underwater viewing cabin. Discover natural underwater coral gardens, view fish swimming past your porthole, and scan the seagrass beds for turtles and stingrays. Available at Coral World Ocean Park, St. Thomas. Appropriate for all ages.

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