The peak winter tourist season is almost in full swing now, and there are lots of new attractions currently open — or coming soon — in the Virgin Islands, from ziplines, to SNUBA, to glass-bottomed boats! Here’s a roundup of what to look forward to on St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix:
Magic Ice Gallery and Bar: This unique exhibit will allow visitors to explore the rich nature, traditions and history of the islands through varied and intricate sculptures and installations created from snow and ice. The installations are dramatically lit and presented with music and images. The exhibit, which opens on January 11, 2012, will be located next to the Pizza Hut on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. To see a preview, go to www.magicice.vi or call (340) 422-1581.
Tree Limin’ Extreme Zip-Line: Scheduled to open in the spring of 2012, the US Virgin Islands’ first zip line will include six lines and two sky walks. Located near the highest point on the island, visitors will get dramatic views of Magens Bay and down island. The zip-line adventure also includes admission to the St. Peter Mountain Greathouse, its home base. For more information go to http://www.ziplinestthomas.com or call (340) 998-7942.
Treasure Seeker Pirate Ship: In a nod to the island’s pirate history, The Treasure Seeker is now offering two-hour pirate themed tours around Hassel Island and Water Island. This converted car ferry turned 65-foot pirate ship offers family-friendly activities ranging from face painting, to tattoos, to water gun battles and limbo dancing. A bar and gift shop are also found onboard. For more information, call Ray Hixon at 727-902-9646.
Flightseeing Adventures: Visitors can now experience the thrill of “flightseeing” in the Virgin Islands. From the window seat of a Piper Aztec or Cessna 172 aircraft, passengers can enjoy a bird’s eye view of St. Thomas and St. John, including vistas of Charlotte Amalie harbor, St. Thomas’ mountainous north side, and St, John’s famed north shore beaches. The 25-minute flight includes narration and a descriptive route guide identifying scenic highlights. For more information contact VI Ecotours at (340)779-2155 or visit http://www.viecotours.com.
Discovery Undersea Reef Tours: St. John’s newest attraction is a 125 passenger glass bottom boat. Departing from Cruz Bay, St. John or Red Hook, St. Thomas, Discovery Undersea Reef Tours allows passengers to explore the underwater world in air-conditioned comfort from its bottom level through 20 picture windows. The middle and upper level house a bar, seating and captain’s deck where visitors can enjoy picturesque views of St. Thomas and St. John. Available for groups, weddings and special events. For more information go to http://globalmarinellc.weebly.com/
New “Accessible Trails” in the Virgin Islands National Park: These trails allow visitors in wheelchairs, families with young children and strollers, and other people who are less “sure of foot” to enjoy the natural beauty and exotic fauna of the VI National Park. The Cinnamon Bay Trail, opposite the entrance to the park, is now wheelchair-accessible with a 610 foot ramp that winds thru the Cinnamon Bay Factory Ruins. The wide path combines concrete walkways with raised wooden boardwalks. It also uses toe rails and grooved handrails to ensure that visitors are safe and comfortable.
SNUBA of St. Croix: SNUBA is a form of SCUBA diving, but without all the tanks and equipment – and you don’t need certification. It’s now available on St. Croix for both beach and boat dives. Departing from the Christiansted boardwalk, guests can opt for a two-and-a-half-hour SNUBA boat trip from the East End Marine Park, or enjoy Snuba from the famed Cane Bay Beach along the north shore. Open 7 days a week. For more information, go to http://www.snubastcroix.com or call (340) 226 3468.
Standup Paddleboarding: Stand-up paddleboarding has arrived on St. Croix! Two outfitters now offer lessons and/or guided eco-tours. For more information, contact Teres Veho at 340-227-0682 or Kite St. Croix at email@example.com.
Fort Frederick Beach Amenities: Frederiksted’s popular pier-side beach will soon offer new amenities for visitors to enjoy. A water trampoline and inflatable rock climbing wall will be installed just offshore for public use, and there will soon be a new food-vendors plaza where visitors can enjoy tasty island treats, sample local cuisine and cool off with frozen drinks and shaved ice flavored with local fruit.
Diageo Welcome Center: Work is well underway on the $5 million visitor center being built as part of the Captain Morgan Rum Distillery. The center hopes to capture the Captain’s personality and bring his story, the story of rum, and the USVI together. The experience will include history and artifacts of the industry, a movie theater, a bar reception area, a small store and a place for visitors to take tours of the plant. The welcome center is scheduled to open in the Spring of 2012.