Dolphin AdventureBritish Virgin Islands
Focused Tropical Marine Biology with Advanced Scuba
If you are curious to learn more about tropical marine biology, the Dolphin Voyage, run by our staff marine biologists and oceanographers, provides an interactive opportunity to explore the aquatic realm in a way that others only dream about.
The qualifications and certifications you earn can even be applied toward your high school transcript! The real-world learning is more inspiring than anything you will find in a text book. You will conduct reef research while furthering your diving certifications and learning to sail. Other water activities include water skiing and wakeboarding. The program runs aboard sailing vessels, which become your home, floating classroom and lab for the duration of the voyage. The BVI is famous for its awesome array of marine organisms. You'll see what we mean the first time you break the liquid barrier!
Earn four different diving certifications and learn underwater photography to capture the amazing sights you are witnessing on research dives. Off the water, we'll visit the islands, explore the towns, cook out on the white sand beaches and hike to the top of the tallest mountain.
Click on the image to view our Marine Bio Study Guide
Learning the Ropes - Week 1
We're off the dock!
Week one of our BVI adventure program for teens is all about meeting new people, trying new activities and learning the ropes. Lots of sailing, scuba diving, and water sports dominate the landscape but for our students, it's the teamwork and camaraderie that is the highlight of the experience so far.
Honing New Skills - Week 2
The adventure continues!
Week 2 of our BVI summer adventure experience is all about our students honing their new skills. Dive training is in full gear as our Vega students earn their PADI open water diver certifications and our Advanced diving fleet continue their training during wreck, photography, and underwater research dives, as well as star fish and shark dissections. While our students are learning a ton both above and below the surface, they also seem to be learning quite a bit about themselves.
Certifications & Celebrations - Week 3
The final week!
We wrap up the final week of our BVI teen adventure program with the students putting their newly earned sailing certifications to the test, while still making time for some amazing diving on the famous wreck of the RMS Rhone and a trek to the top of Mt. Sage, the highest point in the BVI. Our students reflect on their experience and the amazing relationships they developed over the past 3 weeks.
Voyage Blog Entry...
Author: Adrienne S.
Location: Sommer's Beach
Today was an amazing day. The Dolphin group started their first research dive while the Neptunes went water skiing. After lunch the Dolphins went turtle tagging. For this three people are pulled by a rope connected to a dinghy while snorkeling.
Hope was almost lost until Pablo came back to the boat with a Green turtle. About two feet long with a shell that was a tie dye pattern of dark greens, browns, and turquoise. It was so cool seeing this amazing animal up close. For dinner, we headed to a private beach for a delicious beach BBQ. Now it has become dark and we are ending our day laying underneath the stars. So far tonight we have spotted 2 shooting stars. I'll wake up tomorrow like every other morning and realize I'm on a boat. I can't fathom the feeling I will have once I'm home and wake up not on this boat with these people I've grown so close to. We've become a family. We love, support, help, argue, disagree, and forgive in the way every family should.
In this amazing ecosystem...
Our Dolphin students get to see marine development first hand. The intricate mesh of mangrove roots offers a quiet marine region for juvenile marine life. As part of their studies, the Dolphin students spend an afternoon exploring this incredible ecosystem.
The Job Wheel
Alumni Author: Chance S.
So here's how it works aboard the AQ boats, because everyone has a job to do each day. From the second you land in the BVI your in charge of your own adventure, and the staff is there for help and guidance... but it's really you who are in charge of raising sails, figuring out where you are and how to get to where you want to go, as well as cooking and cleaning etc. So, everyday you have a new job depending on where your name is on the job wheel and how it rotates. One day you might be the Skipper or the next you could be the chef... it gives you a taste of all the roles it takes to run the yacht.
The First Few Days...
It's full on!
And now you know why we're called ActionQuest! It's full on, full-time, and this video is just a glimpse of what we did in only the first few days on the water.
Voyage Blog Entry...
Big waves are LOTS of fun!
Author: Max D.
Location: Great Harbor Peter
Today was another amazing day in the BVI's. After breakfast we sailed to West End and got off the boat to stretch our legs, get some food, and look in the shops. Then we had a 2 1/2 hour sail to GHP (Great Harbor, Peter).
To get to GHP we had to travel up the Drake Channel. It was very windy and the waves were all at least 3 ft. with a few huge waves inbetween. Everyone took advantage of the big waves and gathered together on the bow to ride the waves like a roller coaster. Everyone got drenched from the waves and had a lot of fun. Once we got to GHP we set up the dive gear and jumped in the water. On the dive we saw a sting ray, lobster, and a turtle. It was amazing to watch the turtle as he glided around the reef. It was a great end to another amazing day in the BVI.
Voyage Blog Entry...
Author: Courtney S.
Location: Mountain Pt.
As I helped drive Odyssea, I started to wonder how many days I had been in the beautiful BVI's. I took a guess of 5 and it turned out to be 8! Day 8. Time is simply flying by way too fast! The weather today was absolutely gorgeous and today was a total lazy day.
First we went to Anegada and just walked on the beach and took a short breather that allowed us all to just absorb the untouched and unspoiled BVI, all our dives, and the dance from the night before. Everything so far has been amazing. The people, dives, scenery, the annoying/hilarious seagulls, … just everything! After the beach in Anegada we sailed to Mountain Point (by the way we sailed off the anchor!). It was hard but our boat is so amazing that we pulled it off. When we first arrived at Mountain Point we all had a planof throwing Sky into the water and after the 3rd failed attempt we finally managed to tear his hands away from the ropes on the net and just toss him in. The most hilarious part of my day. For Dinner we had Mexican Night, which was actually really good, and afterwards the staff guided us through and awesome fish dissection! Tonight, like always, almost the entire boat is going to be sleeping outside under the stars. Today was a great day, as always, and I know that all of us grew closer together and our long lost shipmate, Liz or "L", has literally caused all of us to become more like a family. Can't wait to see what's in store for day 9!
Just you, your shipmates and the power of the wind. Now, with the breeze in your hair and the helm in your hands, you realize how far you and your teammates have come. No longer passengers, you are crew – shipmates, staff and adventurers united for this awesome voyage...MORE > >
Submerged in a completely different world - a world where 'exotic' doesn't begin to describe what's in front of your eyes, that's AQ scuba. Through crystal blue waters with incredible visibility, you'll come face-to-face with spectacular marine life like hawksbill turtles, queen angelfish and schools of mirror-like silver sides...MORE > >
Focused Tropical Marine Biology
What the heck is that? You just asked the most common diving question - and with good reason. Learning about tropical marine biology opens your eyes to the infinite variety of life that resides on the reefs below and being so close to the subject matter instills a profound sense of environmental stewardship...MORE > >
Can't picture yourself actually skiing, wakeboarding and windsurfing? Think again! As you carve through the water, you'll feel the speed, the wind, the exhilaration and the accomplishment of doing something you never thought you could. You'll be grinning for sure...MORE > >
ActionQuest visits some of the most incredible places on earth - the perfect settings for watersports, cultural expeditions, hiking and exploring. The sights you see on an AQ voyage vary according to the destinations you visit, and all are extraordinary.MORE > >
Other Cool Stuff
Think that's all we do at AQ? No way. Along with the beach BBQ's and reggae dance parties in the BVI, you'll learn to drive a dinghy, tie knots, splice a line, sail a laser and even cook for 15 people at a time! While the Galapagos and Ecuador voyages are filled with unpredictable, priceless moments of cultural exchange, service learning, and adventure. You’ll see striking scenery, improve your Spanish, taste new food, and make friends for life as you immerse yourself in an entirely new culture. Every moment of every day will be jam packed with cool stuff to do, see and experience...MORE > >
PADI Underwater Naturalist
Look closer to see more on your next dive. Look for symbioses, predator/prey and other relationships between aquatic plant and animal life. Learn not just what fish and animals are, but how they interact with each other and the environment.
PADI Night Diver
As the sun sets, you'll don your dive gear, slip on your scuba mask and introduce yourself to the whole new cast of critters that comes out after the sun goes down. A deep breath and you step off the boat – into the underwater night. Although you've seen this reef many times before, this time you drop into a whole new world and watch it come to life under the glow of your dive light.
PADI Research Diver
This PADI course is a "distinctive" specialty, meaning that it's only available through AQ! It is designed to teach our Marine Bio students the basic techniques and methods used to conduct underwater research in many branches of science. In the classroom you'll learn all about the scientific method, as well as the guidelines and basic procedures used while research diving. In the water, we'll use transect lines and quadrats as well as other measuring and observation techniques. Everything will culminate as you prepare and collect data for your own research project.
PADI Underwater Photography
Underwater photography is one of the most popular diving specialties, and the rise of digital underwater photography has made it easier and more fun than ever. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course gets you going quickly with today's modern digital equipment, whether you use a point-and-shoot snap camera or a sophisticated D-SLR like the pros.
VOYAGE ITINERARYPrevious Next
Throw your toothbrush in your bag and head to the airport! You'll start to meet our staff and other shipmates as you connect through St. Thomas on the way to Tortola. As soon as you arrive, it's straight aboard the boat where you'll meet your staff and choose your bunk. After that, change into your swim gear and take your first dip into the warm blue Caribbean water! You'll spend the rest of the afternoon getting to know your shipmates until it's time for all of you to prepare your first dinner aboard! Strangers will become fast friends as you end your first day chatting under the stars on board your new home.
It's up early with the roosters, and after a quick breakfast, we'll start off an action packed day. After swim tests are finished up, everyone will get together on the dock for the big program introduction. Next thing you know, it's time to slip our lines and get our first taste of sailing in paradise. Main from the Jib, Tack from the Clew… as you learn the boat, we'll practice tacking and trimming as we sail to Peter Island. Once we arrive in Peter, it's time for the checkout dive! Do you remember how to do a buddy check? Five point descent? Mask clear and fin pivot? Don't worry, we'll take you back to basics first! After dinner, we'll do a full introduction of the Dolphin program along with a quick tune up of our Scuba knowledge.
Big day of sailing and diving, so it is up early to head east. First stop is Cooper Island. Here, in the cut between Cooper and Salt, is a great dive site called Blue Chromis Reef and you might even catch a glimpse of the wreck of the Beata, too. This is your first time diving with our Marine Biology instructors who will try to get you familiarized with the underwater world of the British Virgin Islands. After a quick lunch, we raise sails once again and tack upwind to Virgin Gorda and the beautiful Savannah Bay. Take a dip, shower off and get ready for dinner. After dinner, we get together with the crews of the other dive boats for the Lifeworks Forum.
Scrambled eggs start this busy day, then it's straight off for a more formal introduction to Marine Biology and Fish and creature ID. We'll also chat a little about underwater navigation, as it is always important to know where you are and where you are going. After our chat, we head out to the Sandcircles for an ID dive. How many different fish can you spot? Grab a sandwich and it's time to head on shore to learn a little about the differences in the biology between the Leeward and Windward coasts of the islands. A short walk takes us from the low energy, sandy beach of the leeward side up and over to the rocky, windy, wavy, high energy windward side. Once we make it back, we'll head out for some wakeboarding before dinner. After dinner we get together for our Night Diving lecture, preparing for our first dive after the sun sets tomorrow.
The Baths are one of the most beautiful places in the world and we'll get to explore before the crowds arrive. Giant boulders scatter the shoreline providing caves and pools of blue water. This is a great place for some rock jumping, too. Ready for a cheese burger? After the Baths, we head to Spanish town where Rose at the Bath and Turtle will be ready for you with burgers, hot dogs and all sorts of other goodies. Feeling full, we'll sail out in the early afternoon to Mountain Point and take a snorkel to view the night dive site before the sun sets. After dinner and a briefing, you'll don your gear and head out for the first of three night dives. The first one is always the most memorable and you may even be lucky enough to see a sleeping turtle.
We start the day motoring over to the Dog Islands having breakfast on the way. Once we're there, we'll tidy up and then jump straight in for a dive on the Chimneys. The hour surface interval is perfect to have a snack and read up on the Underwater Naturalist guide before heading back in for a second dive on the plane wreck at Coral Gardens. We'll head back to Mountain Point while preparing lunch and aim to get some skiing in before the Underwater Naturalist chat. That leaves just a little more time for skiing and relaxing before dinner. After dinner, we break into small groups for our second Lifeworks Forum.
We'll move the boat just round the corner to the Point for your first underwater naturalist dive in the morning. The visibility here is fantastic, so spotting five new fish, four new invertebrates and 2 new plants should be easy. Then, we're off to Leverick Bay where we'll grab a quick lunch and replenish our fresh food! After a quick motor over to Vixen Point, we'll get together for a discussion on mangrove and sea grass biology, then head over to a couple of different snorkeling sites to explore these environments first-hand. Both of these are very important habitats for juvenile species, so it is likely that you will see a range of small reef fish and creatures here. Afterwards, we head to the beach for some games before heading back to the boat. There's just enough time to get the salt out of your hair before it's back to the beach for a BBQ and dance party with Heavy Beatz, the best DJ in the Islands.
After such a fun night, the morning always comes too soon, but we need to be up early for the long downwind sail to Peter Island. Once we arrive, we'll start on our Underwater Photography specialty discussion before lunch, learning to take photos of all of the great marine life that you are seeing. Ready to get snap happy? The first of many photography dives is always a challenge.. to get in exactly the right spot at the right time and the marine life never really cooperates! We'll round out the afternoon with some more watersport fun. Tonight will be the first of two research diver discussions for the distinctive PADI specialty unique to ActionQuest. This will also start to introduce the techniques that you will use for the research project that you and your buddy will undertake.
Today we motor over to Salt Island where the world famous wreck, the RMS Rhone, lies. Sitting between 30 and 80 feet, she is now home to thousands of fish and other sea creatures. This is a perfect spot to continue to practice your underwater photography. After the dive, we'll go ashore to hike the hills around the salt ponds. We have a quick lunch back on board before motoring back over to Peter Island, where we'll brush up on our dive table skills for an hour or two before skiing and then snorkeling the second night dive site. After dinner, it's time for your second night dive, but this time you're leading! The instructors will be behind you all the way, but this should prepare you for next time when you and your buddy will be out there, just the two of you!
SLEEP IN! But it's tough when the sun comes up at 5am. Still, who's complaining?! We'll make scrambled eggs and then go for a shallow water snorkel to collect specimens for a discussion group. Grilled cheese for lunch and then we're off for the first underwater research dive, learning to use transect lines and quadrats. After lunch, we have a fish dissection so that we can learn more about the anatomy and biology of these marine creatures. After Dinner, we'll settle in for a relaxing movie night!
We head for Ginger Island early that morning and aim for a dive on the Windward side of the Island. It's rocky, but the experience is worth it, as the coral and fish diversity on Alice In Wonderland will blow your mind. After the dive, we'll head over to Trellis Bay to grab lunch, get some fresh food, and call home. It's a quick motor over to Marina Cay after that. This tiny island is quintessentially Caribbean, with lush landscaping and only a couple of pink buildings. After dinner, we head to the top of Marina Cay for a Lifeworks Forum with the whole fleet.
After filling ourselves up with french toast, we'll head to the north side of Tortola, to a beautiful bay that we call Lava Flow, due to the basalt rock formation that is found there. Today is a great day to relax and, after finishing up the research diver specialty discussions, you'll get together with your buddy and plan your research project. After the lava flow, we head to the beautiful Muskmelon Bay and hop in for a quick snorkel before dinner. This is an important one, as it will prepare you and your buddy for your first night dive without an instructor. After dinner, off you go! Night dive #3 and, when you surface, CONGRATULATIONS, you're a certified Night Diver!
After a sleep in, scrambled eggs and a quick ski around the flat, calm bay, you and your buddy will hit the water for your first dive to collect data for your research project. In the past, students have studied anything from territorial behavior to species diversity and everything in between! Once back on the surface, we'll motor over to Somer's beach. After lunch we'll head over to Monkey Point to help tag and release Green and Hawksbill Sea Turtles for the Darwin Initiative. Afterwards we rinse off and head to the beach for a BBQ with the entire AQ fleet.
Up and out on the earlier side today for a great downwind sail to Brewers Bay. This morning, we'll finish off our Underwater Naturalist certification dive before lunch. After lunch, it's time to start evaluating the research data that we have collected and then drop down to the dive site for a second visit. After this, there may even be time to explore the sandy beach before slipping the mooring and motoring around the corner to Cane Garden Bay. After dinner, we'll learn a little more about the underwater world during the fish and creature slide show, then off to bed early as tomorrow is a big day.
Are you ready for the longest day ever? Starting with a hike to the rainforest at the top of Mt. Sage, you'll have earned that Cheese Burger in Paradise once you make it back down. This is the place where Jimmy Buffet wrote those famous words, so enjoy your lunch and then head back to the boat. Once we're all back on board, it's off to Sandy Cay for the sandcastle building competition. The whole fleet will be here to compete, so don't forget your shovel and pail. Wash off in the blue waters before we set off once again to Little Harbor on the island of Jost Van Dyke for the evening. This is the best meal ever! BBQ chicken, rice and peas, potato salad and an ice-cold soda... all to the sound of a live reggae band. Sydney's Peace and Love Restaurant really knows how to lay on a party. You'll sleep really well tonight!
A well-deserved sleep in, followed by a slow breakfast as we motor around to one of the most famous islands in all of the Caribbean, Sandy Spit. If you were asked to close your eyes and picture a classic deserted island, this is it! We'll drop anchor and head to the cut between Green Cay and Little Jost. Here, at a dive site called the Playgrounds, we often see turtles, eagle rays, tarpon and many other big pelagic fish. After lunch, go for a second dive and then head to the beach to play Frisbee, weave a palm frond hat or maybe sit back and relax! This evening, we'll have our final Lifeworks Forum evening, when we'll chat a little about our goals and aspirations.
Wow! Back to West End, the place where it all started. You've now circumnavigated the whole of the BVI, but, this time, we'll only be staying long enough to fill up with fresh food and water before heading out again for a long upwind sail to Dead Chest Island. Dead Chest is the island where renowned pirate, Blackbeard, marooned 10 of his men with nothing but a cutlass and a bottle of rum. The tale of this incident is well-known to this day, through the words of the song "Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum." We won't be going ashore, but below lies one of the prettiest dive sites in the islands, Painted Walls. Tomorrow is the presentation for your research project and the marine bio quiz is due by the end of the evening too, so after dinner is a good time to pull out the books and spend some time reviewing the material and putting together our reports.
Up and out! We'll grab breakfast on the way to Blue Chromis Reef while planning out the profile for our final two research dives. Once we arrive at the site, we'll jump straight in and get to it. This really is a very special dive site-amazing visibility and incredible coral formations. Grab a bite to eat and relax while we wait on deck for our minimum surface interval before heading back down once again. Don't delay, as our bottom time is precious now and every piece of data helps. You'll be putting the final touches on your presentation as we motor back to Great Harbour, Peter Island. After dinner it's presentation time!
Second to last dive this morning on a wreck called the Fearless, outside Peter Island, and then over to Road Town, the capital of Tortola and the BVI, for lunch. You'll enjoy exploring the town and picking up a few gifts for people at home. We head back to the boat for our final downwind sail to Norman Island, so enjoy yourself as we race the other yachts for position in the anchorage. After dinner we have our closing program and time to reflect on the amazing experience that we have shared.
Off for the final dive of the trip on the Indians. It's a shallow dive, but one of the very best. Once you are back aboard, it's go, go, go. We start heading back to West End, but this is a good time to get your bags packed and the boat cleaned. With lines thrown ashore in West End and the yacht shipshape once again, you can relax, swap addresses, take photos and get ready for the final BBQ. After the BBQ, we get together on the dock for our last program presentation and then reminisce about the amazing adventures we've all had together.
Up early and head to the airport. Make sure that you remember to pack that towel and bathing suit you hung up to dry last night, then head for home with an address book full of new friends, pocket full of certifications and a bag full of great memories. See you next year!
Having said that, when on program we follow strict guidelines as to when students may use their cell phones. The environment we strive to create aboard relies heavily on each individual remaining focused on the group and our experience. Being tied to the modern world of "instant communications" can, in certain circumstances, be a hindrance to the personal and group processes aboard. We feel that there is ample opportunity to make calls during personal time ashore.
Please be aware that ALL cell phones (this includes iPhones, Blackberries, camera phones etc.) will be collected upon arrival to the program and held in safekeeping. Cell phones will be made available to students at times designated for making phone calls when we are ashore.
We encourage our students to call home when they have the chance, however, we do not require this, as our staff are usually busy with other activities such as stocking the boats with fresh food over this time. The old saying "you can lead a horse to water..." comes to mind, as some shipmates call home every time and some never call! In the BVI, there are ample opportunities, and the phone service is pretty reliable.
FLIGHTS & TRAVEL INFO
To learn about student travel to and from the British Virgin Islands, please click HERE to visit our Student Travel page
Here you'll find:
> Contact details for Leah Hernandez, our student travel coordinator
> Options on how to get to the British Virgin Islands
> Info on how we accommodate early arrivals or late departures
> What you should consider in terms of passports and visas