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The Ultimate Guide to Chartering a Boat in the US Virgin Islands

The Ultimate Guide to Chartering a Boat in the US Virgin Islands

Welcome to Boaters Paradise

The Virgin Islands has earned this affectionate nickname owing to its crystal-clear waters, calm seas, and myriad picturesque bays and cays that have graced many a stateside resident’s screensaver for decades. 

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When visiting the Virgin Islands and planning vacation activities, renting a charter boat for the day is regarded as a must-do. What better way to see and experience the beauty of the islands than spending the day exploring by sea? Whether you’re dreaming of a relaxing sail or are looking to party all day, we’ve got the insider info for you to make the most of your vacation. Master the Virgin Islands boating world as you learn how to choose a boat that’s right for you, where to go, and what to bring

Choosing Your Boat

Do you believe life is about the journey or the destination?

You can take it slow and steady on a sailboat or satisfy your need for speed island hopping on a sleek power boat. Navigating the sea of choices is made simple with What To Do VI’s own curated list of captained charter boats and companies on island: 

https://www.whattodo-vi.com/places/charter-boats/

Now let’s get to the good stuff, so you can start your island adventure off the right way.

Sailboat Bookings

Schooners and Ketches and Catamarans, Oh My! When it comes to hoisting the sails, the sky is the limit. 

Sailing in the Virgin Islands
  • Public day sails are great for larger parties with Catamarans able to accommodate up to 50 guests. Get ready to make some new friends and enjoy an open bar on either a full or half day sail.
  • Private sailboat trips are available for up to 6 six guests for a more intimate sailing experience with more control over your itinerary and similar options for a half or full day
  • Sunset Sails are perfect for couples on a romantic getaway, or families looking for a laid-back evening excursion complete with magnificent views and a delicious spread of hors d’oeuvres. 

Travelling by wind-power places limitations on how far you will go and the number of stops you will make, however enjoying a cocktail on the deck of your boat as you cruise through sparkling azure waters, listening to nature’s very own soundtrack of wind and sea more than makes up for the lack of speed.

Power Boat Bookings

While the US Virgin Islands are a sight to behold, the neighboring British Virgin Islands are a short boat ride away, and the charter industry is chock full of power boat rentals to get you there. 

The vast selection of vessels to choose from ranges in price, size, and level of luxury. Most boats take anywhere from 6 to 12 people, and it is a good idea to book them in advance, especially in high season. 

If you’re not sure what kind of power boat you’re looking for, don’t get your swimsuits in a bunch, we can help you narrow it down! 

Remember key factors to consider when spending an entire day on the water:

  • Comfort
  • Speed
  • Itinerary
  • Amenities
Busy-Bee-Charters

A popular choice for BVI island hoppers is a center-console power boat like Busy Bee Charters out of Coral Bay, St. John, Fun Hog Charters out of Oasis Cove Marina, and Midnight Sun Charters out of American Yacht Harbor in St. Thomas. Trips are typically BYOB, and although most boats have a small shaded area, be prepared for a full day of sun exposure. This is ideal for those looking to make more stops and explore the farther-out islands and cays. 

For a more deluxe day at sea, there are several larger boats that offer ‘luxury excursions’ complete with Captain, Crew, and spacious accommodations. These charters offer a full bar and lunch for guests. No need to lift a finger as you enjoy a variety of comfortable seating areas both in the sun and shade, staterooms below deck, and a marine head (that’s a bathroom in boat-speak). 

When booking your vacation power boat of choice, it is wise to ask what is included in the price of your booking, as every boat rental company is different. 

 Cost factors to consider are:

  1. Captain’s fee: additional separate cost from the boat rental for the Captain 
  2. Estimated fuel costs: dependent on your itinerary
  3. Customs Fees: entry fee when travelling to the British Virgin Islands 
  4. Captains and crew working in the boating industry are like service industry workers; remember to tip at the end of your amazing day. 

Where to Go

Floating party barges, white sand beaches, and spectacular coral reefs abound in this Caribbean Island Paradise. With so much to do and see, how do you choose where to go? Narrow it down with our list of islander-approved favorites.

Boat Local

No passport, no problem! There is an amazing array of unique experiences in our own island backyard. 

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 Floating Bars

Pizza Pi at Christmas Cove US Virgin Islands
Pizza Pi, Christmas Cove, USVI
  • Pizza Pi VI – Stop by this famous New York-Style Pizza Boat for a floating pizza party.
  • Lime Inn – Lets taco-bout this floating taco boat and bar in Coral Bay, St. John. Could there be a better combo in all the seven seas?

Island Hopping

  • Lovango – Ask your Captain how this island got its name back in the Pirate days. This is an excellent spot to stop for a snorkel (or to mix up a cocktail). 
  • Water Island – Rent a golf cart and explore the WWII military bunkers or post up on Honeymoon beach and enjoy a famous Bushwhacker at the beach bar.  
  • Hans Lollik – This deserted island boasts a fantastic and secluded white sand beach; just keep an eye out for the wild goats. 

 St. John

  • Waterlemon Cay – Jump in and snorkel this tiny cay before checking out the soft-coral reef fringing Leinster bay. Feeling extra adventurous? A short hike from the shore will bring you to Windy Hill ruins with a commanding view of St. John and beyond.
  • Maho Bay – Swim with turtles and lime out in this picturesque bay nestled up to a coconut palm tree-lined white sand beach. 
  • Cruz Bay – End the day with happy hour in Cruz Bay. Enjoy the social hub of St. John by grabbing a drink from the beach bar before setting out to check out one of the local boutiques. View from Windy Hill Ruins,    Waterlemon Cay

 British Virgin Islands

Feel the Neighborly Love in the British Virgin Islands

Cane Garden Bay, BVI
  • Cane Garden Bay, Tortola – This beautiful beach favored by locals and tourists alike is lined with restaurants and a rum distillery, what more could you ask for? 
  • Jost Van Dyke – Home to both the world-famous Soggy Dollar Bar and Foxy’s, stop by for a painkiller or two (or five) at famous White Bay.
  • The Indians –This archipelago of islets is perfect for both beginner and advanced snorkelers.
  • The Willy T – Put your party pants on and get ready to dance them right back off at this infamous floating Pirate Ship Bar.  
  • Cooper Island Beach Club – Stop for a bite to eat or a tasty café treat at this dreamy island eco-resort. 
  • The Baths at Virgin Gorda – The trek is well worth the experience of visiting this geological wonder. Swim through an array of spectacular pools and grottoes as you explore this breathtaking sight.

What to Bring

There are few things worse than arriving to the customs dock in the British Virgin Islands and realizing you’ve forgotten your passport. Make sure you don’t rock the boat by forgetting these essential items:

  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Long sleeve shirt or rash guard 
  • Passport (BVI Trips only)
  • Towel
  • Bathing suit
  • Music Playlist
  • Snorkel Gear 
  • Adult Beverages
  • Snacks
  • Cash for tip and BVI Customs

Now that you’re an expert, be prepared for one of the best days of your vacation (and your life, for that matter). We’ll see you out there!

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Author: Sophie Rothman

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