There are many ways to explore the sea around St. John: on a boat, in a kayak, on a paddleboard, or with a mask and snorkel.
But as of early 2012, there's another way: glass-bottom boat. Undersea Reef Tours' new ship Discovery allows passengers to explore the bottom of the ocean from the hull of its 125-passenger vehicle, where 20 picture windows offer a glimpse into the crystal clear Caribbean waters. The experience is ideal for very young children, the elderly, or others who simply want to experience marine life without getting wet – for whatever reason.
Discovery Undersea's glass bottom boat — Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt
The ship, which departs from Cruz Bay, takes passengers on a two-and-a-half hour trek around the shallow offshore reefs and cays near St. John. First, Discovery slowly cruises over an extensive coral reef surrounding Stevens Cay, just outside Cruz Bay harbor. Here, hundreds of species of tropical fish, rays, sharks and urchins bob and weave in the gentle currents. Next the boat heads north to Lovango Cay, where the undersea life is matched only by the views of the pristine deserted beaches on this barely-inhabited island. The ship circles the island, exposing passengers to coral habitats that vary every few hundred yards and never fail to impress. Lastly, the boat passes by the lovely Caneel Bay on its leisurely trip back to Cruz Bay.
Children aboard the glass-bottom boat — Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt
In addition to the lower-level viewing area, Discovery features two upper decks with both indoor and outdoor seating areas, a bar, snacks, and a captain’s deck where visitors can enjoy picturesque views toward St. Thomas, St. John, and the British Virgin Islands. All enclosed areas of the ship are air-conditioned.
Captain Stanley Hedrington, Discovery's captain — Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt
Tickets cost $47 for adults, and $25 for children 10 and under. Night tours are offered (please call for details). The ship is also available for groups, weddings and special events. For more information go to http://globalmarinellc.weebly.com/ or call 340-779-1739.