Underwater St Croix…..

Rock Beauty on Reef in St Croix

There are more spectacular places to dive than St Croix, yet the island is a consistent and reliable enjoyable dive location. The fact that you have wall diving, shore diving, healthy reefs and half a dozen wrecks supported by multiple good dive centers/shops all combine to make this a favored spot for us. As with many islands, overfishing is an issue and so the larger fish such as big groupers and sizeable parrots have diminished during the 10+ years we have been coming to the island. Tropical fish are still plentiful and during our two days of diving this trip we saw rays, turtles, eels, and shrimp among other marine creatures and thankfully fewer of the invasive lionfish than on our previous trip. I am a sucker for the tiny garden eels and certainly get my fill when we drop into the water on the west side of the island.

I confess that we have never been diving on the East or South sides; we stay on North Shore and go west. There are also a few of the dive centers/shops we have not patronized, but that is not to say we wouldn’t – it’s just that you often establish relationships that you perpetuate. Saint Croix Blue Water Underwater Adventure (SCUBA) is fun, but Cane Bay, N2theBlue, and Anchor Dive all have aspects that divers can appreciate, and Dive Experience is a favorite of other people that we know.

It is an excellant place to first explore diving because there are plenty of shallow colorful reefs with profusion of corals, sponges, so many days when visibility underwater exceeds 70-80 feet and the temperature in winter stays in at least the high 70s. The boat rides to the dive sites (many that last 20 minutes or less) are scenic with the turquoise sky reflecting aquamarine and azure colors in the waters. You look to the mountains to see houses perched along the slopes, some at the very peaks where you can envision the panoramic views.

While this post is primarily about diving, I do want to mention Buck Island and the underwater trail. Buck Island is near the harbor of Christiansted and is a landmark of the East End. It is a protected area and both the underwater and topside tours are truly one of the “musts” of St Croix. Granted, the snorkel tours are usually crowded, but again, it is a very short boat ride and the protected status of the area means you will see some of the larger fish. Friends swear by Issacs Bay on the far side of the island between Udall Point (eastern most point in the U.S.) and Divi Casino and Resort. You can snorkel right from shore and they tell me that it is protected against rough water.

One of the most unique features of diving in St Crox is that you can, in fact, make a shore dive to the wall from a couple of spots on the North Shore of the island. Now, it is a bit of a swim, but nothing overly strenuous if you take your time. And there is something about crossing reefs, then coming to the edge of the wall that extends down more than 12,000 feet. You can navigate along at whatever depth you are rated for/comfortable with, remembering to look out into the blue every so often in case something like, say a manta ray, is swooping in. Granted, that doesn’t happen often, but you might be in the right place at the right time.

You finish your dive/dives, whether shore or by boat, and if you want to grab lunch and a cold beer (or whatever) while still clad in swimsuit and a shirt, there is likely to be a beach bar or casual waterfront restaurant either next door or within a short distance. Beach bars and other dining choices will be the subject of the next post. Happy Diving!

 

 

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