Part of the US Virgin Islands, St. Croix is home to some excellent Caribbean diving. Whether wrecks, macro, or reefs, there is something for every diver on a St. Croix scuba diving trip. A relatively small island with a population of around 40 thousand, the island is blessed with a fantastic climate, weather, and excellent diving.
The waters around St. Croix are home to an enormous diversity of species. So far, over 40 species of corals have been documented, as well as a whopping 500 species of fish. That is not to mention the almost innumerable number of invertebrates, slugs, nudibranchs, and more. The water around the island is varied, with reefs, wrecks, and more. They are a haven for every diver and a complete joy for underwater photographers.
If you are wondering when is the best time to visit St. Croix, the answer is simple: anytime. You can visit and dive into this part of the Caribbean year-round. During the summer, the water temperature is around 84F/29C, while in the winter, it drops to a still balmy 78.8F/26C. Diving conditions are ideal year-round, with visibility ranging from 60ft/18m to 100ft/30m.
A small island off the coast of St. Croix, buck island offers some excellent diving for beginners and advanced divers and is the highlight of many a St. Croix scuba diving trip. A tiny marine park that was first protected as far back as 1948, the effects of this protection are clear, and the island is home to some of the most spectacular elkhorn coral in the Caribbean. This is despite the devastation brought to the area by hurricane Hugo in 1989.
The island is about 40 minutes away from St. Croix; once moored up, dive into a shallow lagoon that is more like a swimming pool or aquarium with the easy condition and a vast amount of life and fish. The area’s shallow dives range from 15 ft/5 m to 45ft/14m. the richness of marine life and shallowness make diving around buck Island a joy for beginners and advanced divers. Not only that, if you have a non-diving partner or don’t can’t dive due to flying, snorkeling Buck Island is a brilliant experience.
The star of the show at Buck Island is the vast beds of elkhorn coral. These stunning reef beds are some of the best and most spectacular in the Caribbean. Swimming around buck island, you can encounter many reef fish and a wide range of critters and nudibranchs amongst the corals. Looking up, you can often see the odd spotted eagle ray and even hawksbill turtles.
Cane Bay Wall
The Cane Bay wall is so well known around St. Croix that the dive site is often called “the wall.” This utterly spectacular dive is a must-dive on any St. Croix scuba diving trip, which lies a mere 200 yards/182 m from the shore. A buoy marks the descent and start of the dive. The site is suitable for all levels of divers, although a level of experience is required due sheer drop of the wall. The wall starts at a depth of 25ft/7.5m and drops to a mind-boggling 2000ft/609m.
Swimming around the reef, there are many exciting things aside from the stunning marine life. At 60ft/18m, keep a lookout for an embedded anchor. The anchor makes for a perfect photo opportunity if you are into photography.
Exploring the wall around you have to keep your eyes peeled. The wall is covered in corals and sponges; amongst them, you can find a range of small critters, lobster, moray eels, nudibranchs, and a host of other colorful reef fish. Keeping an eye out towards the blue water, you can catch a glimpse of almost everything. Turtles, barracuda, reef sharks, and more have been seen at the site. If the diving gods are smiling at you, you could also see dolphins or, if you are in season, migrating humpback whales.
The Fredericksted Pier
They will smile if you ask a Macro photographer about The Frederiksted Pier. The site is often voted one of the best Macro dive sites in the world and is often the highlight of any St. Croix scuba diving trip. The current Frederiksted Pier is mammoth, measuring an enormous 1,526ft/465m, and was built to accommodate huge cruise ships, although they are infrequent visitors. Over the years, the pier has been rebuilt, and the old pier and its pillars are an amazing dive site.
Frederiksted Pier is a shore dive suitable for every level of diver and sheer joy for photographers. The dive is very shallow, as diving goes with most of your time spent at around 25ft/7.5m. conditions are ideal at the site, with almost no currents and a relatively easy entry and exit. The pier pillars create an incredibly photogenic environment with lights and shadows and the enormously rich marine life, corals, sponges, and sea fans that cover them.
While you can encounter many of the usual suspects in terms of ref fish and the typical smaller reef life, the Frederiksted Pier comes into its own when it comes to macro life. Seahorses abound, and although they are difficult to find, there is plenty at the site. Add to that frogfish, banded coral shrimp, lots of other shrimps, nudibranchs, and almost every Caribbean Marco life imaginable. Due to the easy conditions and the shallow depth, you can spend hours underwater, happily exploring every tiny bit of this stunning ecosystem.
St. Croix Scuba Diving Wreck Extravaganza Butler Bay
If there is one dive site not to miss on your next St. Croix scuba diving trip, it is the wreck extravaganza at Butler Bay. Several wrecks lie in a tiny area that you can almost skip from one to the other. The butler bay wrecks are split into shallow and deep wrecks.
The shallow wrecks include the enormous yet least interesting dive, the Virgin Islander’s oil barge, which measures 300ft/91m. Alongside her is Northwind tug boat, which comes in at 75ft/23m, and the most interesting of the lot is the 144ft/43m trawler, the Suffolk Maid. The wrecks are about 300 yards/274m from shore, making them a challenge to shore dive and best dived from a boat. The dive conditions are relatively simple. Most divers can explore the shallow wrecks, which range in depth from 55ft/16.5m to 70ft/21m. Aside from the wrecks, you can also find the remains of a Hydro Lab amongst the shallow wrecks of butler bay.
The two deeper wrecks in the bay are another tugboat, the Coakley Bay, which lies at a depth of 60ft/18m. the second wreck is deeper but only just lying in 70ft/21m of water is the freighter the Rosa Maria, which is commonly referred to as the Rosa.
What all the wrecks have in common is life. Many corals and sponges have colonized all and are now home to a rich and diverse marine ecosystem. Whether it’s grunts and damselfish or octopus and moray eels, all the wrecks are teeming with life.
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