I recently went on a cruise with a pit stop on the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and was looking for a great way to see the island and get a little adventure all in one. With the power of the Internet, I was able to find a tour provider with all the right stuff:
- A peaceful sail to Buck Island Reef National Monument with a small group (no loud, overbooked, overpriced cruise tours for moi);
- personalized attention;
- great snorkeling with equipment you’re not afraid will leave you with some funky uninvited virus;
- pristine white sands and crystal-clear Caribbean waters;
- a boat powered by wind only…supporting green tour operators;
- and a boat captain who looks like Matthew McConaughey!
Well, I hadn’t bargained on the last one, but, sure enough, I walked on board and met Matthew—I mean Captain Carl. Hey, a girl can dream. My husband was laughing at me all day, because he knew I kept trying to get a picture of him. I wish I would have gotten one better than this, but you can also see Carl at http://www.gotostcroix.com/heinz/index.php if you don’t believe me. (Girls don’t get too excited, Carl is a married man.)
But seriously, that is not the reason why you should book your day trip with Teroro II and Dragonfly Buck Island Charters (although it is a good one); you should book with them if you want to have a truly memorable vacation experience on St. Croix.
Carl and his sister Melanie (this is a family operated business) were our hosts, tour guides, and snorkeling masters as they took our group of 12 on an amazing day sail over to Buck Island National Monument. This protected national marine park is the home of an underwater snorkel trail that is a snorkeler’s paradise. It’s best to go with a guided tour to show you all the best spots, and Melanie really knew her way around the trail. The coral formations are sublime (the visibility up to a hundred feet is amazing), and I’ve never seen more colorful tropical fish in one place. If you are new to snorkeling, Melanie and Carl are expert instructors and really took the time to work with everyone on the boat to ensure they had the proper equipment and an unforgettable snorkeling adventure. You don’t get personal attention like that on most tours, and their snorkeling equipment is top notch (and clean!).
After snorkeling, they took the boat over to Turtle Beach, which has been voted one of the world’s prettiest beaches by National Geographic. We had time to eat our lunch (you bring your own), enjoy “pop” if you brought it along, swim on the white sand beach, or take a hike up to the top of the island for more amazing views. Pristine white sand, check; gorgeous, crystal-blue Caribbean water, check; palm trees, check. This is what a Caribbean beach is supposed to look like! I felt like Brooke Shields on The Blue Lagoon (well, okay, a much older deflowered version of Brooke).
Believe me, you will not want to leave Turtle Beach when Matthew, I mean Carl calls you back to the boat, but the reminder of a peaceful sail back with the wind pushing through the sails and the views of the St. Croix island coastline are just the enticement you’ll need.
When you get back to shore, if time permits, I’d recommend a quick stopover to Christiansted for some souvenir shopping and a rum runner at the Deck Bar, overlooking the marina.
This was our first stop on the cruise, and I was still winding down into vacation mode. I seriously think my stress level went from 8 to 0.0 while the Caribbean winds blew through my hair on the front deck of the Teroro II. This was one of the best days of our cruise! Thanks, Carl and Melanie.
Tags: Buck Island, Buck Island Charters with Captain Heinz and Captain Carl, buck island reef national monument, Carl Punzenberger, Cruise, Day Trips, Matthew McConaughey, Melanie Punzenberger, oceanography, recreation, Sailing, Snorkeling, St. Croix, St. Croix Cruise Excursions, St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands, Vacation