A gentle paddle safari by kayak or SUP (stand-up paddleboard) that weaves through an untouched mangrove lagoon on Beef Island, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. If you're looking for a short excursion in the BVI, this small-group local-guided tour is perfect. There's an abundance of wild nature in these mangrove forests, also known as 'the nurseries of the sea', which are home to juvenile marine life of all kinds including turtles, stingrays, baby sharks and barracuda. This is a wonderful way to enjoy the pristine BVI ecosystem, see raw nature up close and learn all about the sea, the land and the culture around you.
Rendezvous at the secret starting point on Beef Island. Whether coming by car or taxi, we'll give you detailed directions on where to meet. After a brief safety talk, we'll fit you with all the equipment you need – life vests, paddles and your choice of kayak or SUP. First we get used to the craft. SUP only takes about 10 mins to learn, kayaking much less, and we'll happily offer expert tips on how to proceed. Then we'll head outside the fringing reef with its vibrant corals and sea fans. In this deeper water we might see turtles, rays and schools of bonito or jacks. Once at the entrance, we'll paddle into the lagoon itself. Here the water is shallow and clear. To maximize visibility we'll head to whichever edge is best protected from the breeze – areas of completely still water offering a lens into the underwater world. A word on seeing fish: we don't ever feed the marine life. We respect the untouched nature of this ecosystem, preferring not to interfere. For this reason, we can't guarantee that we'll see baby sharks because that is up to nature!From the larger main lagoon we'll paddle into a shallow area full of baby mangroves. This is an excellent place to spot wildlife and crazy creatures like the caseopea andromeda. Next we'll head through the most dense part of the mangrove forest, taking our time to see what's swimming around. Keep your eyes skyward too, looking out for numerous types of birds from pelicans to mangrove cuckoos and even a pair of ospreys.Midway through the paddle we'll enjoy walking around on a small coral island. The atoll perfectly shows the dynamic physical and biological processes that create these lagoons and this complex environment. It's also a great time for visitors to ask your local guide questions and learn about everything from the modern BVI to the real tales of pirates on the islands. We won't overload you, but if you have areas of interest about the BVI, we can offer informed insights.Once back on the water, we'll continue nosing into nooks, crannies and deep coves in the mangrove network. Soon, the loop is almost complete and after 20-30 minutes, you'll be back at the start. The total excursion time is about 1.5-2 hours. While seeing the marine life highlights - turtles, barracuda, rays and sharks - is something that attracts potential customers, by the end of the paddle, almost everyone is truly thrilled by the location itself and the serenity of this immersive experience in nature.