There's a lot of ways you can move yourself across the water -- by sailboat, kayak, jet ski, paddleboard, and surfboard, to name a few. Biking across the waves is a whole different experience, mixing the leg workout of a bike ride with the elevated views only an upright posture (like being on a paddleboard, minus the paddle) can provide.
Three-wheeled water trikes have been around for a while: you've probably seen these Big Wheels on steroids at resorts. They're funny looking and amusing to play on, but pretty slow-going once they get in the water. The Schiller S1 water bike, on the other hand, slides along the water with the grace of an actual marine vessel -- they're basically a pedal-powered catamaran, minus the sail.
"The S1 delivers a sensational bike ride on water that also comes with a glass bottom view of an aquatic world below," says Judah Schiller, CEO and founder of Schiller Bikes, who became the first person to bike across San Francisco Bay and the Hudson River in 2013. Schiller wedded cutting-edge nautical and bicycle engineering to create the S1, including a proprietary drive train, integrated handle bar steering, and rugged inflatable pontoons in a lightweight package.
Bike Between the Pitons in St. Lucia
With a price tag of $4,500, it's unlikely that you'll be picking up a Schiller bike to putter around the lake at home. But it's a great toy -- or exercise machine, if you prefer -- to try out when you're visiting the Caribbean: in fact, resorts are a key sales market for the company. Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort in St. Lucia, is the first (and so far, only) resort in the Caribbean to offer the use of Schiller bikes to guests; in fact, it was the first resort anywhere to do so. (They are also now available at the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora.)
Sugar Beach offers lessons on how to use the bikes as well as rentals. Rated safe on open water, the bikes can be used to explore Anse des Pitons, the body of water between St. Lucia's famous twin Piton mountains, right offshore of the resort.
“The best part of being on a bike on the water is how fabulous the perspective is," says Jennifer Hawkins, president and founder of Hawkins International Public Relations, who recently had the opportunity to take a Schiller bike for a sail ... er, spin. "It was really different than being on a boat or even a kayak because you’re much higher up. I could see the seaside below the water and also look around and view the scenery on shore. I think it would be a cool toy to have on a yacht or at a resort. It was a lot easier than it looks, and I loved that I could pedal backwards.”
Backwards or forward, the Schiller is built for speed, powered by a propeller like a boat rather than giant wheels or paddles like some other water bikes. The handlebars determine the direction of the prop for steering -- no rudder required. The bike can only be used by one person by a time, but the rugged frame supports riders of up to 300 pounds.
Besides the chance to ride a Schiller bike, the Viceroy Sugar Beach offers a variety of more traditional water sports activities, including windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, Hobie Cats, pedal boats (don't try to race the Schiller in these!), snorkeling, and paddleboarding. Plus the resort has a fully certified PADI dive center, the gorgeous Rainforest Spa, and is located one one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with luxury villas and bungalows offering nonstop views of the Pitons.
A pair of lighted tennis courts top the list of the resort's land-based activities, which also include a daily schedule of fitness classes. When your day's activities are concluded, you can recap over an outstanding selection of fine rums at the resort's Cane Bay, one of the best upscale rum bars in the Caribbean.