Tour Salt River Bay

Salt River Bay is one of the most significant treasures of natural, cultural, scientific, and recreational resources in the U.S. Virgin Islands.* It has been identified by the National Trust for Historical Preservation as one of the eleven most endangered sites
in the United States and Territories.
• National Historic Landmark & National Natural Landmark •
*Source: NPS
Bioluminescent Bay
By filtering water that runs off the land and into the bay, the mangrove forests protect coral reefs from sediments that can smother corals and block the sunlight they use to synthesize their food.

It is estimated that there are fewer than ten places like this in the entire world. One of the most popular tourist attractions on Saint Croix is the glowing water of Bio Bay at Salt River Bay. These magical waters are illuminated year round by tiny bioluminescent one-celled organisms including the dinoflagellate Pyrodinium Bahamense. Bioluminescent bays are extremely rare and are concentrated in the Caribbean. Mangrove forests surrounding the water are also known to be a factor contributing to the support of bioluminescence in the bay. Salt River Bay encompasses the single largest mangrove system remaining in the Virgin Islands. Visitors to St. Croix can experience the wonder of this phenomenon year-round in Bio Bay by guided kayak tours of Salt River Bay and its complex mangrove ecology, including Sugar Bay and Triton Bay.

Wildlife Refuge
Salt River Bay encompasses the single largest mangrove system remaining in the Virgin Islands. The mangroves and bay's sea grass beds provide some of the most important wildlife habitat in the territory.

Six endangered animals, including Green Sea Turtles, Brown Pelicans, White-crowned pigeons, and Leatherback Sea Turtles, call Salt River Bay home. Nineteen locally listed endangered animals have also been known to live in or around Salt River Bay. The wildlife refuge of Salt River Bay provides nesting grounds for over 26 species of birds, which is more than half of the birds who breed on Saint Croix. The mangroves of Salt River Bay have also been found to be a vital nesting ground for migrating songbirds from Northern parts of America. Three species of endangered sea turtles find refuge in the bay to graze on sea grass and mate. The tranquil waters of Salt River Bay are undisturbed by heavy boat traffic providing an ideal nesting ground for the shy Sea Turtles. Mammals that have been known to inhabit or migrate through the area are Whitetail deer, Mongoose and the Humpback whale. Salt River Bay is also home to numerous species of reptiles and invertebrate.

Marine Sanctuary
The 350 foot submarine canyon at the entrance to Salt River Bay, with its diversity of deep water coral and unique geologic features is one of few such features found worldwide.
Salt River Bay has been proven to exhibit high biological diversity and productivity compared to other coastal environments in the Territory due to the large size of the estuary and its close association with mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs. The nutrient-rich waters of the estuary found at Salt River Bay support rich sea grass, which is the base of a food chain for at least 71 families and 324 species of fish. The barrier reef extends from both sides of the bay and is comprised of Finger coral and Elkhorn coral. In 1995, the Salt River Bay Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary was established as a Marine Protected Area by the VI Department of Planning & Natural Resources Division of Coastal Zone Management. It is to be managed federally and territorially due to its importance and uniqueness, with its caverns, grottoes, ledges, and caves. It was declared that no species are to be harvested from this area, and there is to be no anchoring outside of designated areas.
The only Tainan ceremonial ball court or plaza found in the Lesser Antilles is at Salt River Bay. Both ceremonial and recreational, the ball game originated in Mesoamerica.
Witness to every period of human settlement in St. Croix, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve is one of the most important archeological and natural sites in the U.S Virgin Islands, as noted by the National Park Service. This region has been home to numerous tribes of Caribbean Indians dating back to 100 AD. Multiple studies have found multiple aboriginal and colonial artifacts in places in the Salt River Bay area such as Salt River Point, Cabo de las Flechas, Sugar Bay and Triton Bay. Excavations of the area have uncovered tools, carvings and pottery that date back to at least 300 AD, having witnessed inhabitation by two different indigenous Caribbean Indian tribes, as well as European colonization. Four major ceramic styles have been unearthed at Salt River Bay, which is extremely rare that all four styles are found in the same area. Igneri, Taino, and Carib Indian tribes were known to inhabit the region of Salt River Bay prior to
European colonization.
The Columbus landing site in Salt River Bay is the only documented area within the United States and its territories where a fleet of men from Columbus' excursion landed.
When Columbus anchored his fleet in the waters off of Salt River Bay in 1493, he sent a crew of men to explore the land. While returning to their ships from the excursion, the European men encountered several Carib Indians, who were settled at Salt River Bay at the time. The encounter turned violent and was later named the “Cape of Arrows.” Salt River Point is also the location of the remnants of an eleven-gun, earthwork fortification started in 1641 by English colonists. Known as Fort Sale (as renamed by the French who later took control), the site is now part of a five-acre lot owned by the V.I. Government. It is a "multi-component" site containing prehistoric levels, Columbus associations, early European sites (beginning 1641), and the Fort, considered to be the oldest and possibly the only earthen fort in the Americas. Over 100 years of archeological investigations have demonstrated that this area was the focus of the most extensive and intensive prehistoric occupation in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This site was named as one of the top 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1988, threatened by intrusive development.