Vega AdventureBritish Virgin Islands
Intro to Sailing, Scuba & Marine Biology with Watersports
The Vega voyage offers the broadest range of activities and certifications. It's ideal if you are a beginner to scuba diving, have limited sailing experience and want to learn more about marine biology.
You'll live aboard a 50-foot sailing yacht in a small group of 10 to 12 shipmates of similar age. Up to eight yachts sail together in a flotilla, so you'll connect with other crews of teens from all over the USA and the world, and that makes for a ton of fun!
Under the guidance of licensed sailing experts, you and your team will take charge of piloting and running your vessel. You'll have a blast while earning internationally-recognized certifications in sailing and scuba diving, and also learning introductory marine biology, water skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, navigation and seamanship. Although the program emphasis is on everything above and below the water, your crew will also explore ashore, hike Mt. Sage and take in a fiery sunset during a beach barbecue. On completion of your scuba certification, you'll also dive the famous wreck of the RMS Rhone and see first-hand why this was voted best wreck dive in all of the Caribbean.
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.
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...
The last day on Mary Jewell
Author: Mia S.
Location: West End, Tortola
This morning we had our second sailing race from the Bight to Road Town. We had already won the first race, so we were determined to win again! After being pelted with tomatoes and eggs from Spindrift, we finished in first place yet again!
Today is our last full day and I know that everyone is going to miss all the great times we had. From debating whether applebottom jeans with the boots with the fur or baggy sweatpants with the reeboks with the straps are better, to exclaiming "frooty loopis!" On the way back to West End we scrubbed, wiped, and deckied the boat until it was spotless. Tonight we are looking forward to spending time with people from other boats and our crew. This trip I have had so much fun learning how to sail and dive, as well as meeting new people. My favorite part of the trip was diving the Rhone and seeing eels, vibrant coral, and many fish. I am definitely wanting to come back next summer and am hoping that I will get to see all my shipmates again!
Alumni Author: Chance S.
Cooking on the boat is a lot different than you might expect; the meals are actually amazing and it's a big learning curve having to prepare food for a starving crew of 16 people, trust me! All the meals are good, like I said, but Mexican Night has to be the greatest meal, unless you're a salty!... don't worry, you'll understand what that is when you get to AQ!
Sydneys Peace and Love...
Alumni Author: Rachael W.
Rachel tells us about the longest day at AQ...
During session I and II in the BVI, the whole fleet gets together for a BBQ and dance night at Sydney's Peace and Love restaurant on the island of Jost Van Dyke.
It's a highlight of the session, and usually occurs on the same day as "the big hike" to the top of Mt. Sage, as well as the Sandcastle Competition at Sandy Spit... Needless to say, this is a HUGE day at AQ and you'll certainly be going to bed very happy, yet very tired!
Voyage Blog Entry...
Author: Casey K.
Location: Salt Island
Today was probably one of my favorites during our entire three weeks in the BVI. We sailed over to Salt Island early this morning from our anchorage in Peter Island, to take our shot at diving a shipwreck called the Rhone.
The ship sank during a hurricane in the 1800s, and there's a super cool story behind the people on Salt Island who went out in the storm to rescue them. The people happened to save items directly associated with the monarchy in England, so as a reward, the Queen herself gave the people Salt Island. The only tax they pay for it, even to this day, is a single bag of salt. It is rumored that this salt sits on the Queen's dinner table even in the present. How cool is that?! After the dive, we returned to Great Harbor for some wakeboarding and waterskiing. I'm the only girl on my boat who can land a jump wakeboarding, which is pretty awesome. Tomorrow is race day, and the other boats in this fleet better watch out, because Caribbean Soul is going to rack up some major gnar points. On that note, the Soul Crew is going to finish watching Transformers, and maybe go Argo-ing in our dinghy Argo. Keep calm, sail on!!
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 > >
Basic 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 > >
IYT International Crew
The IYT International Crew course is designed for students with limited previous experience, who want to become competent crew and helm on a yacht. You'll learn about yacht and personal safety, rules of the road, buoyage and, most important, keeping a look out! These are are just some of the elements taught aboard by our instructors.
PADI Open Water Diver
The PADI Open Water Diver course is, by far, the world's most popular scuba certification. Millions of people have started diving as certified PADI Open Water Divers. Learning to scuba dive requires both knowledge development (facts, principles, concepts) and dive skills (techniques, methods). The PADI Open Water Diver Course provides the knowledge development portion you need. You develop the remaining skills by diving with your PADI Instructors right off your own sailing yacht!
PADI Coral Reef Conservation Specialty
As a scuba diver, the health of aquatic ecosystems is often what makes a good dive. Become aware of the fragileness of coral reefs and how you can help preserve them. The PADI Coral Reef Conservation Specialty course teaches you about the vital role of coral reefs in the marine environment. The course also familiarizes you with the current state of the world's coral reefs and how you can help. You will learn about how coral reefs function, why they are so important, why many reefs are in serious trouble and what you can do to prevent further decline.
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, you'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 your lines and get your first taste of sailing in paradise. Main from the Jib, Tack from the Clew, as you learn the boat, you'll practice helming and trimming as you sail to Norman Island. After you drop anchor and enjoy lunch, there is a snorkeling adventure through the once treasure-filled 'Caves' on Norman Island. You'll spend your evening anchored beneath Spyglass hill, and after dinner, you have an introductory SCUBA chat!
The trend of waking up early continues as we get an early start for a fantastic training sail up the Sir Francis Drake Channel. We'll break half way for lunch and a quick swim, and then set sails again, rotating positions so everyone has a turn at each job aboard as we work through learning 'man overboard' and the points of sail. As the sun begins to dip, we drop anchor off the sugar white beach in Savannah Bay. The chefs of the day will begin to create our evening meal as the rest of the crew tidies up from our sailing adventure. After dinner, we gather for our second SCUBA chat, looking forward to the excitement of our first dive the following day.
Today is a day of firsts. While the yachts we live aboard will not sail today, we will go for our first SCUBA dive, have our first windsurfing lesson, learn how to drive the dinghy, and get out in the ski boats for some waterskiing and wakeboarding! Lunch comes and goes in a blur of activity, and as the sun starts to set, you finally begin to wrap your head around all you have done in this very busy day. After another wonderful meal, courtesy of yourself and your fellow shipmates, it is time to get together with a number of other boats for an evening of interaction and discovery that is part of the Lifeworks Forum.
As we make passage out of Savannah Bay and around the infamous 'Whale Rock Point' we begin to see The Baths in the distance, one of the British Virgin Islands' true natural treasures. We spend the morning climbing, swimming and exploring this amazing formation of granite boulders before pulling up anchors and heading for our first port of call in Spanish Town. Spanish Town offers a chance to call home, grab lunch & an ice cream ashore, and pick up any odds and ends needed. Once back out on the water, we have a high energy sail up past the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda and into North Sound, where we will spend the next couple of days. With the entire fleet rafted up, the usual meal preparation and shower time take an entirely more social turn. The evening finds us again meeting in small groups to work on our knowledge of SCUBA diving and the underwater world.
Another full activity day begins early at Vixen point, with shipmates having the opportunity to build on their skills in SCUBA diving, water skiing/wakeboarding, windsurfing and basic seamanship. Gorda Sound also offers the perfect conditions and equipment to further our small boat sailing skills using Laser Picos and Hunter 19s from The Bitter End Yacht Club. The evening's activities see the crews really putting a focus on mastering the nomenclature and theory behind the science and practice of sailing. By reinforcing the lessons learned on the water that day, everyone is beginning to feel like a real sailor.
Day two at Vixen Point sees the same flurry of activity as the day before and shipmates begin to really solidify the skills they are learning. For the second day, Gorda Sound provides the perfect winds and calm water coupled with the right mix of sailing craft to really give shipmates the feel for sailing. In addition to their third day of SCUBA diving instruction, shipmates have now had enough instruction in water skiing and wakeboarding that they are making the move to try the slalom ski or starting to catch some air on the wakeboard! As the late afternoon approaches, focus turns to the excitement of the beach barbeque and the D.J. who will be spinning tunes at the private beach party for our last evening in Gorda Sound. All the favorite beach barbeque staples are prepared and ready, and for the first time during the trip, there are no dishes! The evening begins with a wonderful sunset and ends with dancing to the sound of the island beats!
Sails are set and we are off to Anegada! It is just seven miles away but unlike the rest of the BVI's, this reef encircled sandy island cannot be seen until we are almost upon it. Once we reach the western tip of Anegada, it is time to run and swim on miles of deserted beaches before packing up and setting our sails for the fast reach back to Mountain Point. After a big day of sailing, we find ourselves anchored under the towering rock formations off Mountain Point. A great Mexican night meal is followed by our final review of the academic SCUBA materials and the written exam that everyone will pass with flying colors.
In addition to more water skiing/wakeboarding, SCUBA diving, and small boat sailing, today will see our crews getting more time on the helm of the 50ft monohulls with close quarters maneuvering and 'man overboard' skills being mastered. Mountain Point provides the perfect place for the final confined water SCUBA dive in the shallow, crystal clear, protected waters. Shipmates are now ready to take the next step in their diving training by going on their first open water dive. After dinner, and a wonderful Mountain Point sunset, the crews once again break into small groups to take part in the Lifeworks Forum.
On the water early again today for another full activity day! Sailing relay races are on the agenda, as well as learning some of the fundamentals of coastal and ocean navigation. For the first time, we have a chance to use new diving skills to cruise the reefs and hopefully see a turtle or two. After a quick skills review in a sand patch, we are off for our first true tour of the undersea kingdom. The evening's activities once again focus on preparing shipmates for the upcoming sailing exam that is part of the sailing certification process with International Yachtmaster Training.
A quick morning sail to the Island of Great Dog will put us in position to do our second open water dive at the always impressive Coral Gardens. This site shows us the true wonders of the tropical undersea world and, if the conditions are right, we may even get to check out the wreck of an airplane that was placed in the sand beside the reef for the filming of a movie. After a great dive and some lunch, we again set sail for the lovely little island of Marina Cay. Once ashore, there is time to make phone calls, grab an ice cream and take a quick look around the five-acre island. Just after dinner aboard, the entire program heads ashore to get together up on the highest point of the island for another installment of the Lifeworks Forum.
Sailing skill development is the order of the day, as crews set out from Marina Cay and transit the small cut between Tortola and Camanoe Island to access the pristine sailing grounds to the north of Tortola. Practical sailing skills are evaluated as shipmates move a step closer to gaining certification for their seamanship skills. As the afternoon light begins to fade, we bring the vessels into the cliff-lined cove of Muskmellon Bay and anchor amidst the diving pelicans and circling Frigate birds. After dinner, it is time to whip up some brownies and popcorn for movie night aboard.
Muskmellon Bay once again provides us with a place to get all the equipment out for another full activity day. With the ski boats pulling skiers and wake boarders outside of the bay, the inside of the bay gets divided into two areas for more small boat sailing and SCUBA diving. By this point, we are now polishing our diving skills and really appreciate the near-perfect wall structure that the south side of Muskmellon Bay provides. The cliffs below the sea rival the beauty of those above and provide a wonderful backdrop for the bustling sea life that surrounds us. As the afternoon's activities wrap up, we pull anchor and head over to Somer's Beach for a cookout and the games on the beach.
Our final SCUBA certification dive takes place today, as we perform our last couple of skills and our instructors pass along any final pointers. While we still have one more dive during the trip, it is a great accomplishment to now be certified open water divers! After a quick tow behind the ski boats and some instruction in making monkey's fists and turk's heads out of line, it is time for a great sail down the northern coast of Tortola to the famous Cane Garden Bay. Tucked into Cane Garden Bay for the night, we enjoy a great meal aboard and break into small groups for more of the Lifeworks Forum before turning in early in preparation for the big hike the following day.
The morning starts in a flash as we find ourselves standing on the dock at 7am, water bottle in hand, ready to make the hike to the top of Tortola. As we approach the summit, we are wrapped in the lush greens of the Mt. Scenery National Park with views of the entire British and US Virgin Islands. The trip down is much quicker than the way up, and by noon we are enjoying a "Cheese Burger in Paradise" in the very spot for which Jimmy Buffet is claimed to have written his song. Quickly following our burgers and ice cream, we depart for an inter-boat sandcastle contest on the deserted beach of Sandy Cay. In the evening, we head over to Sydney's Peace and Love in Little Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, as "the busiest day in ActionQuest" continues with another catered barbecue dinner ashore and a live reggae band to get us dancing. As the band plays the last note, we are all ready to call it a night and get some much deserved rest.
Sleeping in is not something that usually happens in the world of ActionQuest, but we give it a shot and try to sleep as long as the sun will allow. After a big breakfast, we set sail for our final sailing skills review day. With fun races between the boats of the flotilla scheduled for the next day, everyone is motivated to make sure they have the skills needed to make their boat the best in the fleet. After a great day of sailing, we anchor in behind the most photographed island in the BVI's, Sandy Spit. After some time ashore this beautiful deserted island, we head back to the boats for a meal under the stars and our final Lifeworks Forum.
Our first "Race Day" has arrived! The goals of the day are to use our newfound skills to race in friendly competition with our peers. Our first race takes us from Sandy Spit to West End, where we stop for lunch, provisions and water. The second race of the day starts in West End and skirts the south coast of Tortola before crossing the Sir Francis Drake Channel to arrive in Great Harbour, Peter Island. With a big day of sailing behind us, the knowledge we need to pass the sailing exam the following morning is bubbling over, but it never hurts to review. After a quick sailing review, we turn in ready for our exam and really looking forward to the diving adventure we will have on the Wreck of the Rhone the next day.
We start today with a motor over to Salt Island. After a dive briefing and story of "The Wreck of the Rhone", we embark on what will be the highlight of our diving career. In and around the fantastic coral-encrusted shipwreck, we watch first hand as all types of fish and marine life dart and flirt. Once back on board, we have lunch and head to Salt Island for a beautiful hike around the island. After the hike, it's time to pass our sailing exam before heading back to Peter Island for a free night to catch up with friends on other boats, or just relax under the stars.
No trip to the islands would be complete without a trip to the small capital of the BVI's, Road Town. With an hour or two to explore, buy a souvenir and maybe grab a bite to eat, we are ready to hop back onboard and have a very relaxing reach down to Norman Island, the very first place we anchored on our first day of the trip. The last evening at anchor is really all about wrapping up our voyage together. The closing program that we do gives each shipmate a chance to reflect and express what the voyage has meant to them, allowing the crew to solidify the bond they have developed.
An early breakfast and then skippers meeting is held to determine the course and starting procedures for the final race today! Crew morale and spirit are running high as chants and cheering echo through the anchorage, while vessels are prepared for the big event. After an exciting start, the crews squeeze every bit of speed out of the vessels, sailing up the Sir Francis Drake Channel, over to a buoy off of Road Town, then to Great Harbour, Peter Island, for the exciting finish. After sailing back to West End, a BBQ at Pussers Landing with a reggae band playing island tunes is a perfect setting for our final night. A final wrap-up with the entire flotilla takes place on the dock and is followed by the re-telling of the tales and adventures we have all had.
The tears start flowing with the first taxi departing before the sun rises as shipmates say goodbye and depart for the airport. Departures continue with the final group setting off for the ride to the airport in the early afternoon. Students arrive back to friends and family and begin to reflect and tell the tales of the sailing, diving, adventure and new friendships developed during their time aboard.
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 it means to be an Unaccompanied Minor
> What you should consider in terms of passports and visas