“You always have that feeling of joy,” Sybille Sorrentino says, gazing at the wall of green just across the water. “It’s a three-by-two-mile sanctuary.”
We’re at Virgin Islands Eco Tours, set on the southeastern coast of the island of St Thomas, an operation that has been running kayak tours for 25 years.
And from the moment you turn off Route 32, you feel it, too.
Paddle a minute or two off the dock and you’ve entered the frontier; you’re no longer in St Thomas — or so it seems.
This is the Mangrove Lagoon, and it’s one of the most spectacular settings in the Virgin Islands, a breathtaking natural gallery of mangroves and tiny cays abutting the ocean’s edge.
And what’s wonderful how accessible it is, equally enjoyable for the novice just off Highway 32 and the advanced kayaker.
And the choices are vast: you can explore the mangroves on your own and then discover the underwater habitat snorkeling; you can take the full journey to nearby Cas Cay, where you’ll find volcanic cliffs — and even join a hermit crab race.
“You have that sound of the ocean and the waves, you have tidal pools, you can reach in the water and pick up starfish and octopus,” Sorrentino says.
Or you can return at night and kayak under the full moon.
No matter when you go or how you do it, it’s one of the truly great experiences in the USVI — an instant adventure in a rarefied place.
Sorrentino says the mangroves have never looked better, a renaissance in green just a few years after Irma and Maria’s devastation.
“It’s growing back so nicely now,” she says.
Of course, there’s an added bonus here, thanks to the recent debut of the St Thomas outpost of St John’s Bikinis on the Beach.
The STT edition is already one of the island’s best waterfront dining settings, with an excellent menu by Chef Sam Maricchow, whose culinary experience includes stops at Coki Beach and the Ritz-Carlton, St Thomas.
In other words, there are quite a few ways to find joy here, just off Route 32.
For more, visit VI Eco Tours.