TURTLE BEACH, BUCK ISLAND REEF, BBQ- Website:
TOUR BY BIG BEARDS
This will be our first time in St Croix and I knew I wanted to go to Buck Island for some reef snorkeling.
Our only option for booking this excursion (vendors are very limited as to who can go there) was Big Beards. Big Beards offers half day and full day sails. Their half day sails were filled up and we didn't have any other option but to do a full day sail.
The full day saild was from 9:30am until 3:30pm and was $105 per adult and $85 per child 6-12 and $25 for children 5 and under. You must also prepay the full amount for this excursion.
The only difference between a half day sail and full day is that the full day also stops at a private beach area for a BBQ.
You do have to pay an additional $16 for a taxi to get to Big Beards in Christiansted (round trip) per person and the drive is about 30 minutes from the cruise port.
For our family of 2 adults and 1 child at age 9, we paid $295 for the full day option and the only difference was the BBQ. Had we done a half day, it would have only cost us $210. That's an extra $85 just for some hamburgers, hot dogs and chips with fruit and rum punch!!! THINK ABOUT IT!!!
Outside the cruise pier you will find the taxi stand to get to Big Beards.
We paid for our taxi and got our tickets. We were in the van and leaving by 8:28am. Along the way, our driver told us that the oil factory there was the second largest and owned by someone that lives in New Jersey. I didn't really see much poverty like you do in a lot of the ports in the Caribbean.
Here are some of the sites along the way:
This was the place that you check in and they also had a little "store" inside there. You could buy drinks, beer, chips and so on to take with you on the excursion. We did buy some pop of course and a few extras. They provided some coolers with ice and you could put your things in there to keep them cold, which was nice. I just wished that I would have bought more than I did.
There is the dock area and you can see the huge sail in the air...that would be our boat.
So..I just have to comment on the "choice" of boats they have.
First- those on the half day sail are on a boat with motors and said they were speed boats.
Second-those on the full day sail are on an actual sail boat.
Ummm, shouldn't this be the other way around? Shouldn't the people that are on a full day sail be the ones with the faster boat? They are the ones pressed for time to get back and make it back to the ship on time. They actually advertise their "leisurely sail back to the dock" with their sail boat and I'm sorry, but it kinda irritated me with the thought of being late because we we're "leisurely sailing" along. We need to be in a hurry to get back when it's all over. Sigh, I'm going to give myself a heart attack thinking about this all day.
They had us wait on the dock, in the hot sun, for some reason, instead of getting on the boat and sitting down. The other 1/2 day trip was allowed to board their boat and sit to wait for them to leave.
Our crew was Mike, Kristen and Daniella. They told us a little about the history of Big Beards and how they had been in business for 40 years. The owners name was John, but there was already someone there that had a business named Big John, so he decided to name the business Big Beards...since he had a ... well... big beard. John has since retired and the business was sold off to keep the legacy going. They said John actually did look like the Big Beards picture you see on everything on their logo.
They did mention that the boat we were currently on, did get some damage by the hurricane and it tour up the front and the railing down the side and a spot in the back. So, I guess they did get some damage by the hurricane. I just really didn't hear or read much about it.
I tell you what, these little bitty girls do all the work on here. Mike is the Captain and that's what he pretty much does...drive the boat. Both of these girls were doing some heavy labor with carrying everything from food to barrels of drinks, coolers, lifting the sails...you name it. They were really working hard.
Video of these girls working their butts off to put the sail up:
We pulled away from the dock around 9:45am and we were on our way to Buck Island.
Someone lost their boat. The crew mentioned that they had never seen it there washed up on shore before.
Buck Island was in view and I couldn't wait to see this beautiful place.
We arrived at Buck Island some time around 10:45, so it takes about an hour to get there although it sure didn't seem like that long.
It was absolutely beautiful there. The beach was gorgeous and so was the water.
Now notice in the picture where the boat is docked. Yes, it is out in the water. The steps leading down from the boat are in the middle of it. You have to climb down the steps and wade in the water to the beach. So...if you are bringing anything ashore with you, you are going to have to carry it and if you don't want it to get wet, you carry it above your head.
Immediately the mermaid was off to find her special spot to swim.
We were told that we could snorkel to the left and it's somewhat of a grassy area and then there's an awesome place to snorkel to the right where there were some rocks. Well, I wanted awesome so we went right.
The hubby brought his new snorkeling mask with him to try out. He would later use these for scuba and he needed some practice first.
We found the spot that looked like it had rocks and in we went.
I immediately spotted this little guy and I was super excited (spoted trunk fish)
Sakari found a cool snail to show me.
Well obviously the new snorkeling/scuba mask is working...he's still in the water longer than I was.
We didn't snorkel too long because quite honestly, there wasn't much to see and if that's what they considered good snorkeling, I was almost afraid of what was to come.
We did see a LOT of lobsters and I'm talking BIG lobsters. The only problem is that they hide super quick and usually the only thing you can see sticking out are their antennaes. They were just everywhere and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get a clear picture of them.
My little mermaid posing...
We also seen some squid. Also, too fast to get a picture of them because most of their time was spent running from a guy that was chasing them. Ugh!
But I did get a video.
We headed over to the left side of the boat just to see if there was anything interesting. The only thing we seen there was a huge conch shell that was crawling along the seabed way down below. There was a crab that had obviously purchased himself a new house and he was in the process of moving it to a better location.
My little mermaid seems to need to see everything up close and loves diving down.
People were starting to get back on the boat to head out to the snorkeling area.
We were ssslllooowwwlllyyy making our way back. Although there wasn't much to see as far as snorkeling, it was such a beautiful island and I could have stayed here all day.
I managed to capture an over/under picture. As you can see, nothing but sand in the area the boat was located.
I almost caught a glimpse of a mermaid under the water by the boat...but a big wave came along...darnit
Sakari found a pretty snail and wanted a picture with it.
They yelled at her to put it back and that she wasn't allowed to remove anything from this place because it was a protected National Park. Duh, we already knew this and there was a snail in it so no matter where we were at, we wouldn't have removed it. Geesh.
Around 11:44am, we were all in the boat and off we went to the snorkeling site.
The snorkeling area is just on the other side of the island. Less than 10 minutes away.
Read my next review of snorkeling the reef at Buck Island Underwater National Monument.
You can find this review located HERE
Turtle Beach was absolutely GORGEOUS! This is what you picture when you are thinking "Caribbean". The water is beautiful and the sand soft and gorgeous. It is definitely a secluded island.
The only drawbacks are:
*You have to book with a vendor to get there. It's my understanding there are only certain vendors that can go there.
*There's nothing to do there other than swim and lay on the beach. I have heard of others wondering around and climbing the hills to see above, but they must have been on a private tour with more time.
*There are absolutely NO FACILITIES there. No restrooms and no food or drinks.