Not really! But it was tempting. Can you imagine the food costs? Whew! Meeting Remo the Chilean Sea Lion was definitely a highlight of our visit to St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Remo lives at the Coral World Ocean Park which is approximately 1 hour from our room at the Emerald Beach hotel. The drive was remarkable and the park was just up the street from a small, white sand cove picture-perfect for snorkeling. In fact we jumped in with our masks, snorkels, and fins, just to see what treasures the USVI waters had to offer. There were plenty of brilliantly colored tropical fish that wouldn’t leave our sides and crustaceans on the rocky reefs, but the most entertaining was swimming on the outside of the underwater fencing for the park and peeking in to see the collection of pelagic fish and people in snuba gear.
We not only enjoyed the sea lion encounter and the amazing friendly sea lion trainer, but the whole park is like walking through a marine park that was in your own backyard. The Critter Corner with the lorikeets, iguanas, turtles, and ducks was informative, interactive, and entertaining. And my favorites, the Stingray Lagoon and Shark Encounter, were an excellent chance to be up close and personal with stingrays and baby sharks. Overall, for the small size of this well-structured eco-park, I was impressed. I’ve been to Sea World in San Diego, California, almost every year as a child, and loved it. But Coral World Ocean Park has an up close and personal feel that lends itself to intimate encounters without the commercialism experienced in larger sea life parks. And for the price, you can’t beat it!
Unfortunately, St Thomas was subjected to two Category 5 hurricanes within two weeks and the Coral World Ocean Park did not escape damages. They are currently rebuilding and their website can provide more details. If you do decide to visit, definitely pay for the extra adventures such as the sea lion encounter and the shark encounter – they are definitely worth the extra price. You can find all the links you need to plan your trip below.
The Coral World Ocean Park has a great website, and I highly recommend checking to make sure they are open on the dates you want to visit ahead of time, especially since this is a hurricane affected area.
If you are going to go in the water, you may be more comfortable doing the water activities first and changing into dry clothes afterwards. It’s a little humid and you’re swim clothes may not dry out very fast. They have nice lockers and a changing area with a shower for all guests.
If you didn’t bring your snorkeling or diving gear and you want to test out the beach near the park, there’s a really cute little dive shack in between the beach and park and the staff is super friendly. We highly recommend it!
Lynn, Bob, and Niele