St. Thomas’s number-one tourist attraction features a three-story underwater observation tower 100 feet offshore. Inside, you’ll spy sea sponges, fish, coral, and other aquatic creatures in their natural state. An 80,000-gallon reef tank features exotic marine life of the Caribbean; another tank is devoted to sea predators, with circling sharks and giant moray eels. Among the exciting new activities are the Sea Lion Splash ($125 adult, $117 child; includes Coral World admission), where you actually get to swim with sea lions; the Sea Lion Encounter ($86 adult, $77 child; includes Coral World admission), where you interact with sea lions without gettting wet; the Turtle Encounter ($53 adult, $44 child; includes Coral World admission), where participants have up-close encounters with large sea turtles; and the Shark Encounter ($53 adult, $44 child; includes Coral World admission), where you have the chance to enter a shallow pool with juvenile sharks. Age and/or height and weight restrictions apply to all activities.
Nondivers can get some of the thrill long known to scuba aficionados by participating in Sea Trek, which is slightly different from Snuba. For $79, or $70 for children, you can get a full immersion undersea with no experience necessary. Participants are given a helmet and a tube to breathe through. The tube is attached to an air source at the observatory tower. You then enjoy a 20-minute stroll in water that’s 18 feet deep, observing rainbow-hued tropical fish and the coral reefs as you move along the seafloor. It’s a marvelous way to experience the world through the eyes of a fish. Note: Reservations are required, so call ahead or log on to the park’s website.
Coral World’s guests can take advantage of adjacent Coki Beach for snorkel rentals, scuba lessons, or simply swimming and snorkeling. Lockers are available. Also included in the marine park are a seaside cafe, duty-free shops, and a nature trail.