During our long Thanksgiving weekend, in November, we decided to take a short trip to the island of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. While there, we found a very cool little theme park called Coral World Ocean Park. Join us as we journey into this amazing little corner of the world for some truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
About Coral World Ocean Park
Coral World Ocean Park is an amazing little theme park nestled at the tip of Coki Point on St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. You will find it right next to the gorgeous Coki Point Beach. Coral World is located roughly 36 minutes from the Cyril E. King Airport, in Charlotte Amalie or 21 mintues from the Cruise Ship Docks. This little gem is host to some of the most amazing marine exhibits, nature trails and an Undersea Observatory Tower. Coral World is heavily involved in the restoration and conservation of our oceans and its wildlife. Some of their projects include Coral Restoration, Turtle Conservation and Shark Research just to name a few. Some of the amazing experiences you’ll have the opportunity to encounter are such things as a Sea Lion Swim, SNUBA diving and their popular Sea Trek!
What is Sea Trek you say? Sea Trek is an amazing underwater experience where Coral World’s visitors can don a heavy helmet (that allows you to breathe normally). The helmet provides enough weight to help keep you firmly planted on the sea floor. You will have the opportunity to walk on the ocean floor. At about 20 feet below the surface, you will walk through a coral garden and experience the wildlife below. Some may think this sounds daunting and a little scary, but trust me, it’s so worth it.
We started off this fun experience with a brief wait for our Coral World guide to arrive. The guide was a young lady who was wearing a wet suit. We followed her down to the observatory tower where we completed some paperwork. The paperwork included a simple waiver stating that we were participating at our own risk and by choice. A few basic rules and a safety brief later, we were getting ready to descend below the surface into the crystal-clear Caribbean water. Thankfully, I was able to take my GoPro Hero 5 with Super Suit Dive Housing. I wanted to get some cool shots under water!
A little word about my GoPro… It takes some really good footage and stills. The camera is durable and designed to be waterproof up to 33ft without the housing. You also can preview and playback, change settings and trim your footage…all on your GoPro. It was perfect for our trip to Coral World Ocean Park. I got mine from Amazon! Click here to buy yours!
The safety diver met us at the top of the ladder, and assisted with every foot placement as we slowly approached the sea floor. The brochure didn’t do a very good job of describing the experience. Initially, the view through the helmet throws you off. Obstacles in front and to the sides, of you, appear to be closer than they actually are! However, the views are amazing. Countless species of tropical fish swam around us as we slowly strolled along the handrails, that were anchored to the sea floor, as the currents pushed and pulled gently against our bodies. Needless to say, having all the fish swim around you was amazing!
The safety diver monitored the group, as he effortlessly floated just off the sea floor, taking photos of us at every opportunity. He even picked up a sea cucumber, at one point, and passed it around for everybody to feel. In all, the experience was very good. Keeping the position of the helmet correctly; however, was a challenge. It was important to keep it balanced as tilting your head forward, to look down toward your feet, would cause the water level to shift enough inside the air cavity to cover your face. Thankfully, I only did it once and then remembered the briefing on how to fix it! All you had to do was simply to return your head to the upright position, and viola, back to normal!
A Swim with a Sea Lion
While we thoroughly enjoyed the Coral World’s Sea Trek, and would do it again in a heartbeat, our next experience would prove to be our favorite. We never thought, in a million years, that we would have the opportunity to swim with a Sea Lion. Our new friend is an amazing, 400-pound, South American Sea Lion named Remo!
The adventure started with the same paperwork and safety brief, as with Sea Trek. However, this briefing was done in an area that also housed another sea lion. She was extremely talkative and it almost seemed as though she was giving her own take on the adventure we were about to experience. To say the least, it was very cute! After receiving the briefing, we donned life vests and headed to the pool where we would meet Remo. We were about to have the best experience while at Coral World Ocean Park.
Remo, who was sitting at the waters edge, was eagerly waiting for the Coral World trainer to give him his first command of the encounter. We met Remo, while standing poolside, and then we were instructed to enter the cool water. After we entered the water and floated to the center of the pool, Remo dove in head-first and swam right up to us. Greeting us face-to-face, he gave Stephani (in her words) one of the best kisses ever. With me, he pretended to be a jealous boyfriend and pretended to be attacking me. He seemed to really enjoy the attention as he swam circles around us, allowing us to pet him, and even giving us hugs!
After about 30 minutes of play time, it was time for our photo shoot with Remo. One of the rules, of this encounter, is that you are forbidden to bring your own cameras (the sea lions think they are great toys and steal them)! Good thing the guide and her assistant were great photographers. We came home with a treasure trove of amazing photographs to remember Remo and the experience he gave us at Coral World Ocean Park, on St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Time to say good-bye!
Like any amazing experience, it has to end, and there are no words that can recreate the memories that participating gave us. We will forever cherish the memory and Remo! In our ever-growing list of places not to miss, Coral World Ocean Park on St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, is definitely one to add! If you decide to experience this magical place, please share your experience in our comments page! We’d love to hear your stories as well!