Taking a motorized snorkel tour with Mermaid Adventures was the highlight of my summer! This unique excursion allows you to snorkel the Frederiksted Pier and swim with sea turtles, all while being effortlessly propelled through the Caribbean Sea on an underwater scooter. It’s part adventure tour, part watersport, part marine ecology, and 100% fun for the whole family.
St. Croix residents April and Stormie started Mermaid Adventures back in 2015 to offer motorized snorkel tours to half a dozen beautiful snorkel sites across the island. We opted for their flagship ‘Guaranteed Turtles Tour’ in Frederiksted. Easily their most popular tour, Mermaid Adventures actually does guarantee that you will see turtles on this tour, and you will! If you’re intrigued, here’s what you’ll want to know about this experience…
What is a seascooter?
A seascooter, also known as a Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV), is a mechanical propulsion device that helps you move underwater with less physical effort. Originally designed by the military based on torpedo propulsion technology, DPVs were used for transporting people and equipment underwater. Luckily for us, sea scooters are now used for recreational diving and snorkeling too! Mermaid Adventures uses Yamaha 275L seacooters for their tours, which move at speeds of almost 4 MPH. The beauty of a seascooter is that it pulls you through the water, so you’ll conserve your swimming energy and get the most coverage during your snorkeling time.
Before the Tour
We met our guides, April and Sean, at a designated spot near Frederiksted Beach. After introductions, April gave us a safety briefing and a tutorial on how the seascooters work and went over what to expect on the tour. She and Sean properly fitted each of us for snorkel gear and sun shirts and we geared up right on the beach. After a few photos, we hopped into the waist deep water, put on our fins and were each handed a scooter. Then April and Sean made sure we were all comfortable controlling and maneuvering our seascooters before we headed out. You can rest assured that the staff at Mermaid Adventures will make sure you are safe and comfortable, while still having a very memorable experience.
Turtles and Much More
Before we even got out to the first “stop” on the tour, we ran across two different turtles grazing on the seagrass, and a little free swimming snake eel. While we were over the sandy bottom and seagrass beds April demonstrated how to safely dive underwater on the scooters. It was completely voluntary, and all three of us jumped at the chance to give it a try. The sound of the seascooters doesn’t bother the turtles in the least, so we got to swim very close to them without interfering with their natural behaviors.
As we continued exploring the seagrass beds, we also got to see and hold a West Indian sea egg (a neat type of short spined sea urchin that has little tube feet that it uses to move around and hold onto things), a large read heart urchin, a cushion sea star and a queen conch. We were just 20 minutes into the tour and you could already tell how passionate and knowledgeable our guides were about marine life, conservation and protecting our local environment.
Fun at Frederiksted Pier
When we scooted over to the Frederiksted Pier, we were thrilled to find not one, but two frogfish. In my 10 years of snorkeling and scuba diving on St. Croix I had never seen one, and within 10 feet there were two! We also found a beautiful seahorse hanging onto a finger sponge. As we swam along the wall, April pointed out different species of coral and reef fish, and we even swan through a bait ball.
The pier is teeming with too much sea life to mention, so you should check it out for yourself. From the wall we explored the pilings and the bits of reef and structures on the sea floor, enjoying the underwater world surrounding us. We also swan over to The Dolphins (the pilings from the old pier) which are covered in coral and sponges that are home to arrow crabs, brittle stars, banded shrimp, juvenile fish and, of course, more turtles!
The tour also included a stop at the “turtle scratching post” and a little swim through between some boulders swirling with schools of grunts, soldier fish, and tangs. We stopped for a quick picture in front of Fort Frederik with the cannons overhead, and made our way back in the shallower areas peeking into barrel sponges and finding even more marine life from lionfish to lobsters. We even swam with two spotted eagle rays and a southern stingray!
As someone who enjoys being underwater, I highly recommend this tour for anyone who wants to get up close and personal with the amazing sea life St. Croix has to offer, in a safe and respectful manner. The icing on the cake of touring with Mermaid Adventures is that they take fantastic underwater photos and video of your entire experience, and you can purchase a souvenir USB wristband which allows you to take home all your memories from the tour that same day!
Mermaid Adventure Tour Details
- Mermaid Adventures seascooter tours are ideal for beginners to expert snorkelers and swimmers, as well as guests of all ages and abilities. Tandem tours are even available for seniors and guests with mobility challenges.
- All snorkel equipment, a sun shirt/rashguard, and seascooter are provided for your use.
- Mermaid Adventures’ will photograph and video your entire underwater experience and you can buy the entire collection on a souvenir USB wristband at the end of the tour.
- Your tour will last 1 -2 hours depending on what you purchased. Please allow 2 hours in addition to your tour time for a safety and equipment training, clean up and photo/video download.
- All Mermaid Adventures take place during the daytime only (between 10:00am and sunset).
- Tour guides are Water Safety & Rescue Certified and First Aid/CPR/AED Certified.
- Book your tour online now!
Thank you to Stormie, April and Sean of Mermaid Adventures for creating such for an unforgettable underwater experience here on St. Croix! If you’re ready to try it for yourself, check out their website for details and book your tour online.
-Jennie Ogden, Editor