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St. John heeft misschien het leeuwendeel van de natuurlijke attracties van de Maagdeneilanden, maar de buitengewone concentratie van flora en fauna in de Mangrove Lagoon van St. Thomas maakt het een topbestemming voor ecotoerisme.

Kleine kajakgroepen lopen door de kleine rode mangrove-eilanden van de lagune, met gidsen die wijzen op de enorme diversiteit aan vogels die ze aantrekken, waaronder reigers, zilverreigers en eenden.

De route brengt je naar het verlaten eiland Cas Cay, waar heremietkreeften rondscharrelen tussen mangrovewortels. Tijdens je rustige reizen zie je jonge vissen rondschieten in deze natuurlijke broedplaats. Low-impact snorkelen brengt je nog dichterbij, en je ziet roggen, palingen en kwallen, evenals een groot aantal kleurrijke tropische vissen.

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The basics

Small kayaking groups thread through the lagoon’s tiny red mangrove islands, with guides pointing out the diverse birdlife, including herons, egrets, and ducks. The route takes you to deserted Cas Cay island, where hermit crabs dart among mangrove roots. On your leisurely-paced travels, you’ll see young fish swimming around this natural breeding ground. Low-impact snorkeling gets you even closer, and you’ll spot rays, eels, and jellyfish amid the shoals of tropical fish.

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Things to know before you go

  • Rent a single or double kayak on site to explore on your own.
  • Remember to wear a swimsuit and sunscreen.
  • Some cruise ship passengers recommend booking a tour independently, as opposed to through the cruise ship, for a more personalized experience.
  • Tours are typically suitable for novice and experienced kayakers.
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How to get there

Mangrove Lagoon is located in the southeast of St. Thomas, less than 15 minutes away by car from the capital, Charlotte Amalie, which is where the cruise port is found. Taxis are readily available at the airport, cruise ship dock, resorts, and beaches; keep in mind that the taxis are not metered and that rates are set ahead of time. Ferry services are also available between islands.

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When to get there

Take a guided tour of the lagoon in the evening to watch the sunset and to see plenty of bird activity. Overall, expect to encounter the biggest crowds in the US Virgin Islands during the winter, from December to March. To score the best deals, plan to travel from April to June, after peak season.

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Magens Bay

The most popular, picturesque beach on St. Thomas (and perhaps all of the US Virgin Islands), Magens Bay boasts calm waves for swimming and kayaking, along with white sands and turquoise waters. Facilities here include lifeguards, showers, snack stands, and windsurfing rentals. There is a nominal fee to access the beach, and it’s about a 20-minute drive across the island from the lagoon.

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