The Moorings’ new office at the Yacht Haven Grande marina in St Thomas is in a former Little Switzerland.
And if you look closely, you realize that behind the TV monitor on the back wall is the door to a secret safe, a home for hidden jewels.
And that’s no coincidence.
Because amid the pandemic, St Thomas has emerged as a hidden jewel of its own in the Caribbean yachting industry, a fast-growing destination that’s drawing passionate sailors and yachters from around the world, eager to discover its treasures.
St Thomas’ new buzz largely began in the 2020-2021 winter season, when The Moorings launched a major new charter base at Yacht Haven Grande.
That led to a very strong 2021 peak season — a trend that has continued into the fall.
“We’re off the hook,” says Simon Carey, Chief Operating Officer at The Moorings in St Thomas, along with the same role for &Beyond Yacht Charters. “We’re fully booked for next year — this place is taking off.”
The growth has come from a number of factors.
First, there’s the United Sates Virgin Islands’ tourism boom amid the pandemic, buoyed by a region-leading Travel Health Screening system and surging visitors numbers.
And then there’s the sheer ease of charter vacations in the USVI, given that the destination doesn’t require a passport for US citizens to visit.
“You can fly here and get on your boat here,” Carey says. “You get here, you don’t need to have your passport. You get the drink in your hand on your boat.”
In all, Yacht Haven has about 200 charter boats across five to six different companies.
And the government is supporting the sector, too, with an ongoing project to install 200 new mooring balls in the St Thomas-St John corridor.
For travelers used to neighboring yachting destinations, the USVI is uncharted territory — but it’s increasingly home to the kinds of marine destinations sailors seek out.
That includes everything from the Pizza Pi boat-bound pizza delivery service to Lime Out, the floating taco bar off the coast of St John and the beloved Bikini Beach on St John’s Honeymoon Beach.
A sailing itinerary in the USVI sees a launch out of St Thomas and a few days around St Thomas and St John, exploring the wonders of St John’s beaches and navigating the green-hilled splendor around the tiny islands and cays off St Thomas — straddled by stops at Magens Bay or Christmas Cove.
“It’s easy [to navigate],” Carey says. “It’s not very well known yet. So you’re not getting the Soggy Dollars yet — but they’re coming. It will double in the next couple of years.”
The secret, in other words, is no longer safe.
For more, visit the US Virgin Islands