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Kayaking the Salt River National Park

Listed under Guided Kayaking in U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Photo by Caribbean Adventure Tours
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Kayaking along the estuaries of the Salt River National Park and Ecological Preserve on the north coast of St. Croix takes you along waters that are the notable site of old and new worlds converging.  First of course came the Carib Indians some several hundred years B.C., and then came the expeditionary forces of Columbus much later in 1493.  When the two worlds encountered here, it was to be the first ever meeting between native Americans and Europeans.

Nowadays, that historic encounter is marked by the Salt River’s designation as “Columbus Landing” – but kayakers who visit the area will also appreciate the other mix of marine and wildlife that also makes this immediate region wealthy in eco-diversity.   One way to explore is with a guided in-depth two-and-a-half hour tour courtesy of local experts Caribbean Adventure Tours.  They take top-seated kayaks within the limits of the National Park, which consists of three bay areas.  There is no open water kayaking – which means calms and protected waters all along the way.  The estuaries are clear to look down into at points, depending again on the weather, or wind, and since these waters are nutrient rich they also serve as an ideal breeding ground for manta rays, small sharks, tarpons, turtles, and eagle rays.  All come into this habitat to breed and lay their eggs here, which in turn are hatched here and remain in the protected area for a while before venturing out.  The dense embankments you pass hold an equally interesting range of salt water plant life, notably sea grape trees, plus red, black and white mangrove, and the Park is also home to some 60 species of resident or migrating birds.  Plans are afoot to develop a world class museum to exhibit the pre-Columbian artifacts discovered locally, but meanwhile you can get out of your kayak several times on this paddle and enjoy the open air abundance that endures.  

Written by  Hal Peat.

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