Since the storms of 2017 swept boats from Cruz Bay harbor against the iconic shoreline adjacent to the ferry dock, questions have been buzzing about the progress of the Wharfside complex. Today, you’ll see the beach cleared of debris and construction work and popular businesses with their doors now open. But there are some new things happening at Wharfside as well!
You might have noticed over the past year that shiny new dinghies have replaced the broken boats left in Irma’s path on the beach in front of Joe’s Rum Hut. There’s a new water sports facility in town with easy access to the water (and happy hour!), retail and rental options and unique offerings that you won’t find elsewhere…All in one place!
First, let’s start with location. The Wharfside Watersports store front begs you to come hangout on their “front porch” with a libation in hand. Grab a happy hour drink from Joe’s Rum Hut or Beach Bar and head over to this comfortable setting to discuss a day on the water or at the beach with one of their knowledgeable associates. And do a little shopping while you’re there! This new retail storefront and water sports rental facility is located in the corridor between Rum Hut and Bamboo at the Wharfside complex.
The clever and comfortable interior and exterior of the store boasts a sleek design by Tristan Ewald-Mudarra and all kinds of information on dinghy rentals, bareback boating, day charters, snorkel sales and rentals, apparel, sunscreen and every beach or boat ready rental or sale item you can think of!
A very common question I have received is “Where can I rent a power boat for the day?” Well, up until recently, there weren’t many options for this on St. John. The vast majority of charter providers require a licensed captain provided by the company to power the boat. Wharfside Watersports houses a fleet of brand new Zodiac N-ZO’s with 150-200HP Yamaha in board motors. The Zodiacs are fully decked out with pre-programmed GPS systems to get you safely to and from your destinations of choice and safely back to Cruz Bay at the end of the day.
At the start of your full day or half day rental, a knowledgeable staff member will help you plan your day and map it out with you on the in-console system. The GPS system also has marked underwater obstacles and boat friendly channels so you can safely and easily navigate the VI waters without jeopardizing safety or our precious marine life.
Dependent upon weather and sea conditions, you can travel to just about anywhere in these high powered, comfortable boats with seating space up for up to six people. If you don’t have a ton of on the water experience, that’s ok! The crew simply asks that you have a bit of a background in operating a similar sized vessel and know how to read navigation tools.
They will work with you prior to your day out in order to make sure your understanding of the boat, the tools and the rules are up to par. Prices for the Zodiac rentals range from $395-$595 plus insurance and a deposit. To inquire further into this awesomely independent on the water experience, check out their FAQ page!
If the full on bare boat experience is a little more adventure (or responsibility!) than you are seeking, try a power boat charter with a knowledgeable captain or a dinghy rental! A dinghy rental is a great way to privately explore the North Shore beaches all the way to Waterlemon Cay at a slower pace than the Zodiac and without the hassle of looking for a parking spot! Rent some snorkel gear and a cooler from the desk for a leisurely day aboard a 12-foot APEX inflatable with a 25HP Yamaha engine.
After a short orientation, you’re ready to hit the water for a half-day or full-day excursion with secluded snorkel and beach stops along the way. Dinghy rentals range from $195-$295 and can be booked direct through their website.
If you’d rather have someone else in charge while you kick back and relax for the day, Wharfside Watersports can accommodate! They have two beautiful power boats on their roster to accommodate a larger and more leisurely party. Bonus Time, a 30-foot World Cat with comfortable seating for ten, and Neptune, a 42-foot Hydrosport with seating for nine, are both ready and waiting to take you on an exclusively private trip around the USVI.
All charter boats arranged with Wharfside Watersports will pick you up right in Cruz Bay and come complete with a captain, water, ice, coolers, snorkel gear and the guarantee of a beautiful experience!
This place is truly a one stop shop for a day on the water in the Virgin Islands for anyone with any level of experience. In addition to creating a custom boating experience for your group, every beach ready rental you can think of is available for rent at the desk prior to your departure. Snorkel gear, coolers, towels, beach chairs, Go-Pro’s and speaker rentals can either ensure light packing for you on the morning of your trip OR can fill in the blanks on things you left behind.
I mentioned shopping before…Well, the retail shop is OPEN and they carry everything from sun shirts to tanks, insulated cups to reef safe sunscreen. Whether you are wrapping up your day and looking for a souvenir or just getting started and realizing that you forgot an important item, if it’s meant for the beach, it’s available at Wharfside Watersports! Oh, and if you aren’t on St. John, you can get some serious holiday shopping done at their online store for the lovers of Love City on your Christmas list.
If you have already clicked through to the website, you may have noticed a menu tab for “Diving.” Well, in addition to the array of activities you can already book, they have some VERY exciting stuff on the horizon!
This winter, many additional unique excursion options will be available. I’m simply going to highlight them for now, but we will be following up with them for a second spotlight in early 2021 with all of the details.
Are you familiar with the Sadie Sea? This distinctive red and white 40′ Lindsey Trawler with shaded seating downstairs and a sunny upper deck holds up to 32 guests in USVI waters and has recently been purchased by Wharfside Watersports. The very recognizable Cruz Bay based boat was recently acquired by Wharfside Watersports in order to offer affordable snorkel tours, an option for larger groups AND dinner cruises to Zozo’s at Caneel Bay! It sounds like there are a lot of really inventive plans for fun on the water on this distinctive vessel that is currently undergoing a “facelift” at a marina in Puerto Rico.
The dive shop at Wharfside is set to open in the early winter and will take your next boat day to a new level! If you are a dive enthusiast, you can add on a dive package to your private boat charter or bareboat rental for an added fee. Every captain employed by the company is PADI dive certified and can take you on a private diving adventure in secluded areas. Additionally, the team at Wharfside Watersports will be offering dive certification courses, weekly guided tours and gear rentals with or without a boat package. You will also be able to fill your dive tanks at this conveniently located shop.
Well, I for one am very excited about the developments happening with this on the water retail, rental and charter company. I’ll be looking forward to sharing more of the details on the above highlighted items with you as well as additional advancements at the Wharfside complex with you in the months to come!
In the meantime, check out their website to stay tuned in to all of the updates or to inquire about a customized, amazing day on the water!