Posted April 30th, 2012, 10:37 AM
We did a snorkel tour with Big Beards. You will arrive in Frederiksted, and if you want to do a snorkel tour to Buck Island, you have to take a 30 min taxi ride each way to Christiansted. Most of the Buck Island snorkel tours leave from Christiansted. Teroro leaves out of Green Cay.When you get off the ship, you walk out of the pier area. You will see a couple of ladies sitting at a table. They sell round trip taxi tickets to Christiansted for $16.00 pp. Keep your ticket, as you need it to return to Frederiksted after the snorkel tour. The taxi drops you off in front of Big Beards and picks you up in the same place.
The Big Beards 1/2 day tour was $69.00 pp. It was scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM & end at 12:30 PM. When we arrived at the taxi stand outside the pier, we had to wait for enough passengers to gather to fill a van to go to Christiansted. So, we arrived at Big Beards about 9:45 AM. There was something wrong with the boat, so we were told we wouldn't return until 1:15. We didn't actually return to Big Beards until 1:45. All aboard was 3:00, so we were cutting it close, considering there was still a 30 min. taxi ride back to Fredreriksted.
The taxi was waiting at Big Beards to take us back to Frederiksted. The problem was, there were several other people from the ship (not on the snorkel trip) waiting to return to the ship. The driver said they were there first and allowed all of them to get in the van first. There were 2 seats left and 3 of us who had done the Big Beards tour. After several more minutes of discussion, anxiety, and rudeness from the passengers on the van that didn't want to let us ride back. They didn't want to be crowded. My DH sat on the floor, in a very small space on the wheel well, all the way back. We arrived back at the Pier about 30 min. before all aboard.
We learned later, that we could have gotten another taxi back to Frederiksted if we paid $8.00 pp. The driver we had did not tell us this. We learned it when we returned to the ship. The other taxi would not honor the RT ticket bought at the pier. It is very likely if we had taken another taxi, it would have waited until it was full before leaving Christiansted, and who knows how much more time that would have taken.
Now, to describe the tour. We took about a 20 min. boat ride to Buck Island. There were about 40 people on the boat. There’s barely room for everyone to have a seat. Water was the only beverage offered. No food. There was a toilet. They stopped at Turtle beach and spent 45 min. there for the inexperienced snorkelers to try out their gear and learn how to snorkel. The others could swim, walk the beach etc. There was a ladder you walked down into the water. The beach was pretty, but there's no real snorkeling here, and I felt it was a waste of time.
After the stop at the beach, the boat moves to the other side of the island, and moors in 10 ft. of water. A guide takes you quickly around the snorkel trail, and then you can snorkel on your own. We stayed at the reef for about an hour. The water was a bit rough, so we had to be careful of the current. The reef was pretty, but there was also a lot of dead coral. It was a bit tricky getting onto the ladder to get back on the boat in that deep of water. They used the sails to return to Christiansted, and not the engine. So the return trip back was much longer than the trip to Buck Island.
Overall, I think going to Buck Island was worth seeing. I don't think I would I go back for a second visit. If I had it to do over again, I would not go with Big Beards because of the taxi situation. They did not seem to be as concerned with ship passengers time restraints as many of the other private tours we have taken. I would have gone on the ship excursion.
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