Ecotourism is much more than just a buzzword. The principles of ecotourism include responsible travel to conserve the environment, education, and sustaining the well-being of locals. USVI sustainable travel is a growing industry that is well-poised to help the area, rather than harming it. This is a much-needed change of pace for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was named “more vulnerable to environmental degradation” due to normal tourism practices.
USVI Ecotourism Overview
Sustainable tourism options are quickly becoming a critical feature of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Whereas in the past the sole emphasis of tourism was on making visitors happy, there’s been a major change to the local point of view. Now, the USVI invites visitors to join locals in placing the islands’ future at the forefront. After all, if the future is mortgaged, subsequent generations will never be able to experience the wonderfulness of the islands.
12 of the Best Areas for Ecotourism in the USVI
Are you looking for ecotourism options? You’re in luck! It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for St. Thomas ecotourism, St. John ecotourism, or St. Croix ecotourism because all three islands have plenty to offer to concerned visitors. Join us as we look at 12 of the area’s best USVI eco-friendly places!
1. Agrifest – St. Croix
If you’re interested in learning more about local food options, you’ve got to visit Agrifest in St. Croix! Not only can you find delicious food, but the locals also participate in a contest to determine the best of the best. Categories include best preserves, candies, soups, condiments, beverages, native meals, tarts, cakes, puddings, breads, and salads.
Agrifest is always held over a three-day weekend. In 2024, it’ll be from February 17-19. You’ll get to experience a lot more than food, too! There will be carnival rides and live musicians to bring everything together. It’s a fun, family-friendly event that also counts as ecotourism.
2. Buck Island Reef – Near St. Croix
Buck Island Reef is considered to be a Caribbean Gem. In fact, that’s the name of a 2014 award-winning film that was filmed there. While you’re at Buck Island Reef, you’ll be able to enjoy snorkeling, private boating, walking trails, and picnic areas. To help preserve the natural environment, you can only go snorkeling in predesignated spots.
The entire reef is a marine protected area. This means you can’t remove anything from Buck Island Reef National Monument, and it’s also forbidden to go fishing. If this sounds like bliss to you, be sure to sign up for a ride from St. Croix’s mainland to the National Monument.
3. Turtle Encounters – St. Thomas
Join Virgin Islands Ecotours on an adventure with their Turtle Encounters and Beach Bliss trip! You’ll begin your experience by going on a guided snorkeling journey. You’ll see some of the most special aspects of the USVI while you’re underwater, including sea turtles, pufferfish, stingrays, and vibrant sea grass beds. Once your 90-minute snorkeling adventure concludes, you’ll have another 30 minutes to take picture perfect photos from the beach.
This encounter will share some of the very best USVI nature viewing opportunities. It’s also a win for sustainability as you’ll come to love the beautiful sea turtles, which will make you more conscious of efforts to preserve their natural habitat.
4. Night Kayak Tour – St. Thomas
Virgin Islands Ecotours also presents their enchanting Night Kayak Tour. You and a friend will spend 90 minutes paddling through the Mangrove Lagoon’s shallow waters. Then, as the sun begins to set, your guide will point out birds and other local wildlife. Soon, the sky above you will be filled with visible stars, which provides the perfect backdrop to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You’ll develop a new level of appreciation for marine life on this trip. You’ll also be treated to views of Mangrove Lagoon’s unique ecosystem before the sun completely sets. Everything is included on this tour, from the kayaks to the bottled water!
5. The Baths of Virgin Gorda Full Day Adventure – Depart from St. John
Sign up to take a full eight+ hour adventure that includes three hours at the Baths of Virgin Gorda! You’ll dine at Top of the Baths as you take in the wonder of the crystal-clear water. Next, go snorkeling in the Treasure Caves of Norman Island, which are reputed to be the inspiration behind Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. You’ll be able to explore three different caves as you snorkel.
This is all part of a trip to the British Virgin Islands, so pack your passport because you’re going to need it! Don’t worry, though, you’ll be back in St. John before the day ends.
6. Mangrove Lagoon Kayak, Hike and Snorkel Adventure – St. Thomas
This daytime, five-hour adventure packs in a lot of bang for your buck! It’s listed as the Best of Mangrove Lagoon Kayak, Hike, and Snorkel Adventure, which is definitely a good summation. You’ll ride your kayak over the wildlife in this unique ecosystem. Fortunately, your guide will point the various fish and creatures out, so you’ll get to see all of them.
After you’re done kayaking, you’ll hike the volcanic cliffs until you reach a truly rare geological blowhole. Next, you’ll have a chance to go snorkeling among the coral reefs! This is a fantastic opportunity to look for a variety of marine life, including stingrays.
7. Private Half-Day Guided Snorkeling Charter – St. Thomas
Have you thought about taking a Private Half-Day Guided Snorkeling Charter? Currently recommended by 100% of travelers, this half-day trip will take you to Christmas Cove and Little Saint James to spend 90 minutes per spot snorkeling. To make things even better, your guide will be marine specialist! This means you can be practically guaranteed to spot tons of local marine life.
8. Caribbean Fish Market – St. Thomas
Ecotourism isn’t all about time spent in the water. In fact, the Caribbean Fish Market in St. Thomas is a must visit! Here, you’ll enjoy the essence of Caribbean cuisine as you dine on fresh seafood, house-made desserts, and local ingredients. Even better is the fact that they cater to a wide selection of people with their diverse dishes. Whether you’re a vegetarian or into chicken or steak, this fish market is still a fantastic place to go.
9. Volunteer at the Virgin Islands National Park – St. John
Want to do the original form of ecotourism? Sign up to volunteer at the Virgin Islands National Park in St. John. There are several different opportunities throughout the year such as leading guided USVI hiking treks, maintaining trails, staffing the visitor center, and monitoring the sea turtles!
Please note that there is no housing provided for volunteers. If you’re going to be in the area for a while, though, why not give up a couple of days to help connect with the local ecosystem?
10. Hike the Cinnamon Bay Trail – St. John
If you’re looking for a shorter ecotourism opportunity, how about hiking the Cinnamon Bay Trail in St. John? This hike is just less than 2 miles, but it’s moderately challenging, so it may take you about 90 minutes. As you make your way through the trail, you’ll encounter local wildlife. You’ll also challenge your body as you tackle steep inclines. Be sure to take some time to appreciate everything around you!
11. St. George Village Botanical Garden – St. Croix
St. George Village Botanical Garden in St. Croix is truly the hidden gem of the island. The entire purpose of this spot is to preserve the living collections and historical collections so that future generations can enjoy them. This is accomplished in multiple ways, including a museum, the seed bank, and the herbarium, which features more than 6,000 pressed and dried plants.
Something you’ll absolutely love is seeing more than 1,500 live plants, including native and exotic varieties. As a bonus, you’ll also visit a restored Danish sugar cane plantation from the 19th century!
12. St. Croix Heritage Trail – St. Croix
St. Croix Heritage Trail is by far the best ecotourism opportunity in St. Croix—and possibly in the entire USVI. This self-guided experience is 28 miles, which is the entire length of St. Croix. As you trek the trail, you’ll be treated to the area’s culture, history, landscapes, and plenty of outdoor activities. Other things you’ll get to see include the best sustainable lodging and tours, cattle farms, industrial complexes, and more!
Be an Ecotourist!
Do your part by wearing sustainable mineral sunscreen only! This is more than just a suggestion, by the way—it’s the law. Therefore, if you’re planning to visit any of the USVI beaches, be sure to be a friend to nature at the same time.
Vacation VI for The Best Sustainable Lodging and Tours
While you’re visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, you’ll need a place to stay. Vacation VI is a fantastic resource that enables you to choose from a wide variety of different locations. With more than 90 spots to select from, we can help you book an ideal place to stay that is close to your ecotourism adventures!