Located in Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, Virgin Kayak Tours offers more than their name implies. Virgin Kayak is the only Hobie dealership on St. Croix, and the only tour company offering Hobie Mirage pedal kayak tours of Salt River and the Bioluminescent Bay. Now, they have expanded their operation to offer stand up paddleboard (SUP) tours as well. Let us introduce you (or reintroduce you, as the case may be) to Virgin Kayak Tours…
Founded in 1997 by Bryan and Jill Updyke, the small, family-owned and operated kayak outfitter began showing visitors and locals the beauty of St Croix on kayak tours of Salt River back in 1998. Continuing that legacy since Bryan’s untimely passing are new owners Patti and John Thompson II, and their managers JT and Alison. While the players may have changed, the mission remains the same: to offer St. Croix kayak tours that focus on ecology, Pre-Columbian history, and the bioluminescence. The Virgin Kayak family continues to strive to pass on an awareness for the preservation of St Croix’s natural and historical resources through kayaking, and now SUP as well.
Regardless of your level of experience, this tour is sure to be filled with fun and adventure! If you’re a beginner, don’t worry! You will start with a lesson to get comfortable on the board before you start touring around the bay. Once you’re ready, your Virgin Kayak guides will take you out on a two hour tour to experience the wonder and beauty of Salt River Bay. Full of information about ecology and history, you’ll enjoy a relaxing morning of exploring via SUP. Best of all, the trip will be customized based on the ability of those in your group, so if you’re all advanced you may be able to see the whole bay on your tour!
With several different types of kayak tours available based on your interest, there is sure to be something for everyone! The most unique kayak tour on St. Croix by far is the Bioluminescent Bay. Once it gets dark, you will kayak across to the ‘Biobay’, where you’ll witness the magical underwater ‘lights’ – tiny single celled organisms called Dino-flagellates, which sparkle in the water when agitated. If you’re looking to focus on the history and ecology, the Salt River Bay Eco Tour is perfect. You’ll learn about the Mangrove Estuary, the Tainos and Kalinagos, migratory birds, the encounter with Columbus, the earthen fort, and the Taino Ball Court as you pedal the whole bay. If you want a truly peaceful evening, try the Sunset and Moonlight kayak tour. You’ll catch the end of the sunset casting beautiful colors over Salt River Bay, then learn about the history and ecology of the bay, as well as the night sky and the constellations. Finally, kayak over to the Biobay before enjoying a relaxing ride back across Salt River in the moonlight.
Paddlesports Rentals and Sales
If you want to explore the beauty of Salt River at your own pace, you can rent a kayak or SUP from Virgin Kayak Tours for either a full or half day. They’ll even provide you with a map and some information about Salt River Bay to get you started on your self-guided tour. If you already love to kayak and/or SUP, and you’re ready to invest in your own paddlesports equipment, Virgin Kayak can get you set up with a Hobie pedal kayak, a traditional paddle kayak or a stand up paddleboard. Virgin Kayak even offers both new and used equipment, so they can help get you outfitted accordingly based on your budget.
In my humble opinion, no trip to St. Croix would be complete without a kayak tour of Salt River Bay. While my personal favorite is the Biobay tour, there is so much history and wildlife to experience in Salt River that any tour is worth taking. If you’ve already done a kayak tour, a SUP tour may be a fun new way for you to see the bay from a fresh perspective. Whichever you choose, Virgin Kayak Tours has friendly, knowledgeable guides to make your paddlesports experience a great one!
-Jennie Ogden, Editor
Virgin Kayak is a full paddlesports center located in Salt River Bay National Park, at The Salt River Marina. We offer SUP and Kayak rentals, as well as Bioluminescent Bay...
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