Water Toys to try on a Yacht Charter. These aren’t relegated to just child’s play. The water toys market in the U.S. reached $1.1 billion in November 2022, according to Statista, with no sign of a slowdown in the future. Enjoy these water toys in the Virgin Islands.
The crewed charter yacht industry has tapped into this trend by offering guests soup-to-nuts of fun with everything from stand-up paddleboards to sea scooters. Here’s a look at a baker’s dozen of top water toys and water sports equipment available on many charter yachts:
Think of this as an electric-powered surfboard. No wave action or even wind is needed. Instead, an electric propeller located above the hydrofoil wing powers the board. Once it hits a certain speed, about four mph, you’re levitating 2 feet over the ocean’s surface—ride speeds of up to 25 mph for an hour. The best conditions for eFoiling are calm bays. This is one of the latest toys to find its way on charter yachts.
Foam mats the size of a beach towel or, more significantly, are great for lazy lulls and sun tanning on the seas. These mats are ideal vantage points for launching more active pursuits like swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. Neon colors and tropical prints lend a playful ambiance. Since these roll up, many yachts have had several aboard.
Feel like a fish with nothing but the breath in your lungs. It’s like diving down to find a coin at the bottom of a swimming pool, except deeper (20 feet), longer (1 to 2 minutes), and in the ocean shallows. Instruction is vital for safety. There is the charter crew that is certified to teach freediving. Some people wear a mask and fins to enhance the experience. Others combine freediving with underwater fishing using a sling, pole spear, or speargun to catch dinner.
Sit motorcycle-like on this marine machine equipped with a jet propulsion engine. Make figure-eights in a bay, or ride at up to 70 mph out over the open waves. Also called Personal Watercraft, these are big enough for one to two riders. Because of their size (8-10 feet long and 300-900 pounds), these are usually found on larger charter yachts.
Sit-on-top rather than traditional artic-style or rapids-running sit-in styles are the most popular kayaks on Caribbean charter yachts. These hard plastic neon-colored crafts are more accessible to paddle and fun, too, with features like backrests and clear bottoms to see fish life below. Lightweight double-ended paddles propel the craft through the water, making for a great arm workout.
Explore reefs and wrecks 20- to 100 feet or more underwater sea up close with the aid of an air tank worn like a backpack, regulator that delivers air to your mouth, weight belt, gauges, mask, and fins. Know-how is needed to dive. Instruction beforehand is a must. Ask for an introductory dive led by professionals on vacation, or get certified at home. Bring your PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) or NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) card. Some charter yachts specialize in scuba and have all the equipment onboard. Others set up rendezvous dives ahead of the charter and on request, where land-based dive operators pick charter guests up for a one- or two-tank dive or more.
Dive like a dolphin. Grab the speed controls on Bob’s jet propulsion unit and ride up and down over undersea terrain. Many units have multiple speeds but often average at 8 to 10 miles per hour, for up to an hour, and at depths of 30 feet or more. Some seabob units have HD camera recording equipment on the bow to record the experience and show friends at home.
Sometimes called aqua scooters or water scooters, these have an electric engine that powers a propeller encased in plastic for safety. They are lighter (only 5 to 20 pounds versus 75 pounds or more for a Seabob) and slower (2-4 mph) than a Seabob, but depending on the model, the battery life is up to 4 hours. Think of a sea scooter as the vehicle of choice for taking a Sunday drive rather than racing up the highway, the latter of which best describes a Seabob.
Float on the water and watch the marine world unfold like a movie below. A snorkel mask is needed to put over your eyes and a J-shaped plastic tube in your mouth to breathe. Swim fins are a plus to cover for ground, as is a life vest or flotation device for those who aren’t strong swimmers. Snorkeling is one of the best ways to explore the Caribbean’s many shallow marine-life-rich coral reefs.
It’s the best of snorkeling and scuba combined. Dive 20- to 35 feet deep and stay there for 20-25 minutes without a scuba tank. Instead, you wear a mouthpiece regulator connected to an air supply located on the surface, most often in a dinghy that follows along. No certification, prior experience, or training is needed; only a 15-minute safety briefing before diving in. Another plus is that kids as young as age six can learn snuba. Many charters offer snuba equipment right on the yacht. There’s usually an extra fee.
Enjoy a walking-on-water experience on these paddle-propelled boards that are longer (about 10-11 feet), wider (nearly 3 feet), and more stable than a surfboard. SUPs are ideal for exploring coral reefs along the shoreline like a kayak. The stand-up feature makes it easier to see into the sea, where visibility in Caribbean waters can be 60- to 100-foot deep.
Picture wakeboarding but underwater. This toy is towable, where the rider hangs on with both hands and tilts the wings to steer it in different directions. It’s simple; you can glide along at the surface. Or it enables spectacular underwater acrobatics. Tilt the wings down to dive or in opposite directions to perform a roll. It’s a winner for both kids and adults.
Trade snow for sea and ski over the waves in this popular watersport. Virtually all charter yachts have dinghies outfitted with engines solid and fast enough to pull water skiers around an uncrowded bay or open ocean expanse. Just slip on water skis and buckle up a life vest. Then, jump in the water behind the dinghy, grab hold of the handle on the length of the tow rope, and take off at an exhilarating speed of 20 to 30 mph. Stand on one ski or jump the dinghy’s wake to up the ante on the fun.
There are kiting locations and schools in the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua, and Union Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.