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Chartering a Catamaran: The Good, Bad and Ugly!

I surprised my husband with a trip to the US Virgin Islands on a catamaran for his birthday! I knew I wanted to do something unique, adventurous and on the water. After a bit of research, I decided a catamaran would be the perfect gift!


- I started my planning by searching on google "charter catamarans USVI" There are TONS of companies that offer chartering. I found 5 that I had either known of, felt good about or a friend has used in the past! I entered my dates, the number of people and what add-ons I would need. (We needed a captain!) Once all the quotes got back to me, I compared what was included, the size/style of the boat available and booked! *If you are looking to save a little bit of money, look at their seasons and book out of peak season!*

Here are a few I recommend:


Charter (this depends on so many things, I've seen as low as $4,000 to start)

Captain ($200 per night)

Captain tip (10-20% of the base charter)

Nightly Mooring Ball ($26-$35 a night)

Groceries to stock the boat (everything is much more expensive on the islands, so plan accordingly)

Fuel for the boat and dinghy (depends what you use! This was around $200 for us)

Spending money (We ended up drinking and eating on the boat most of the time)

Packing and Preparing

- Since we traveled during COVID, we needed a negative test 5 days prior to our trip. Once we received our results, we had to upload the test to the airline's portal AND the USVI travel portal for approval. Approval took about 24 hours.

- I searched all over the place to help me pack. I had never been on a vacation like this so I wasn't sure what to expect. We packed things you wouldn't bring on a normal vacation. I actually checked an entire suitcase of supplies; toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, sunscreen, Ziploc bags, coffee, snacks, sponges, dish soap, motion-sickness medication, Clorox wipes. As for clothing, you will be in a swimsuit the entire time. Highly recommend a sweatshirt for cool nights on the water, shorts, sandals, and a swimsuit. If you go on to land at all, everyone is dressed in beachwear!

The trip

- We started our trip at Compass Point Marina on St. Thomas. From there, we sailed around the entire island of St. John.

Here are some of the spots we stopped:

Caneel Bay: This is the spot you will want to be at the most. Lots of things going on and a quick dinghy ride away from Cruz Bay. We stayed in this bay for 3 nights. Cruz Bay has a ton of restaurants (high-end and beach bars), bars and shops!

Cinnamon Bay: Before the hurricane, there was a campground. Now, it is home to a beautiful beach, a high end restaurant and the view of some amazing homes.

Trunk Bay: Although there isn't much to do on land, and there are only 4 mooring balls, this spot was amazing. There is an underwater snorkel trail- how cool?! You snorkel along the trail and there are plaques underwater you can read as you watch all the fish!

Francis Bay: This bay was right around the corner from Trunk. They had a full white, sandy beach, an amazing beach bar and lots of sea turtles. We saw several a day!

Leinster Bay: The best snorkeling! There was a sand bar, a dinghy tie up and a ton of rocks. This day we spent most of it in the water. I love the shallower waters for snorkeling.

Coral Bay: This is a great place to restock on food, supplies and booze! This bay is home to the floating Taco Bar! Getting out of this bay was a bit rough. This was the only day I truly felt sea-sick.

What they don't tell you (or maybe I should have researched more)

- not sure if this is common sense but the bathroom situation is a bit nasty. You should not flush any paper products, at all. This may have been boat specific, but still.

- The only fresh water you get on your boat is what you fill up at the marina. I didn't realize there wasn't going to be more places to stop to refill our water tank. Plan your water usage accordingly!

- To visit St. Croix needs a specific documents and approval needed ahead of time to go to this island. It's also a full day sail to and from.

This trip was one of my favorite vacations. It was like glamping on the water! I can't wait to get a bigger catamaran and do this trip again! Maybe the British Virgin Island next or somewhere in Europe!


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