Scuba Diving at St Croix in the US Virgin Islands – What you need to know

Turtle at St Croix

Background:

The magnificence and variety of the Virgin Islands in the US expands way beyond the white sandy beaches along the coast. St. Croix has astonishing beauty as well as diversity under the sea. You won’t find another location on the Caribbean Islands where you have the option to reef, wreck dive, wall dive and pier just in a day alone. The US Virgin Islands is really easy to get to and has something to offer everyone regardless of age and experience. Plus, you have all the extra safety as the island is classified as being part of the US. Therefore, all the dive boats are thoroughly examined by the United States Coast Guard and the boat captains are properly qualified with a USCG certificate.

Sea Life:

There is an abundant sea life at St Croix with over 500 fish species to observe, 40 different kinds of coral and lots of interesting invertebrates that dwell in the sea. Lively blue tang, queen triggerfish, silvery horse-eyes, spotted eagle rays, cleaner gobies, creole wrasses and spiny lobsters are merely a small sample of some of the sea life populating the ocean. When the sun starts to set, moray eels, seahorses and octopus will make an appearance. Hawksbill, a green coloured leatherback turtle, can be spotted on a lot of the dives because the island is their regular home. And if you’re in luck then you might get to see a few turtles hatching on one of the nesting grounds.

Turtle at St Croix

Dive Companies

All dive operators at St Croix teach a variety of PADI and NAUI courses to include Discover Scuba, Open Water, Instructor training and speciality courses. A few of the dive outlets offers training for people with physical disabilities. You can find reputable dive companies in our Dive Companies article.

Dive Temperatures & Visibility:

It’s possible to dive at St Croix all year round with water temperatures around 82 F(29C) during summer months and 80F(26 C) in the winter. There is a chance of experiencing hurricanes from July to October. The majority of divers are comfortable wearing short wetsuits during both seasons.

The visibility usually varies from around 60 to 100 feet, although it can be lower or higher according to the weather on the day.

Here are some of dive sites preferred by dive operators locally:

Butler Bay Wrecks

Butler Bay Wrecks is located on the west side of St. Croix and has two distinctive dive sites that feature swallow and deep wrecks. The deepest wreck is called Rosa Maria – it’s a 177 foot freighter made of steel and was the first one to be intentionally sunk. You can find a bright hued rope, a stovepipe as well as some barrel sponges on the hull of the ship. Regular sea creatures include mahogany snappers, grey angles and blackbar soldierfish. Coakley Bay, which use to be an oil refinery tugger, is the latest wreck. The Suffolk Maid is a 144 foot trawler that was operational when there were hurricanes in the 1980’s. This is now viewed as one of the shallower wrecks. You will see Creole wrasses there as well as the likeable green moray who comes and pays a visit from time to time. The Virgin Islander, a 300 foot oil barrage is the biggest wreck. It’s well covered with colourful coral and sponges. You should look out for small amounts of pink stylaster coral inside any recesses and stingrays hiding underneath the ship itself. The North Wind is a 75 foot maritime tugboat; it was purposefully sunk at Butler Bay after it a film production company finished using it as a TV prop in the movie Dreams of God-The Mel Fisher Story. Plenty of hinds, snappers, fairy basslets, sergeants and chromis live in this particular wreck.

Frederiksted Pier

This remarkable dive site is well- known as being the greatest macro dive on the Caribbean island. Take a peek of the coral-covered pilings as you make your way out of the old pier. The dispersed debris act as a useful shelter for octopus and moray eels. If you take a closer look, you will come across the real beauties - like the smooth young trunkfish, spotted scorpionfish, scarce roughback batfish and sea horses. Shrimps with golden coloured eyes and sleepy parrotfish all reside within the shallow. Frederiksted Pier is a wonderful dive during the day and at night time.

Tropical Fish

Salt River Canyon East & West Walls

The East Wall has colourful sea life such as sponges, soft corals and gorgonians that all grow along a steep vertical wall. The West Wall starts off at around 30 feet, swiftly drops down to 90 feet and then plunges down to a 1,000 feet. The amazing scenery including mini-canyons, pinnacles as well as the neat swim-through makes this the most popular dive site at St. Croix.

Cane Bay

Cane Bay has been rated as one of the best dive sites in the Caribbean, plus it offers shore diving which is rare to find on the Virgin Islands. You begin your dive on silky white sand and progressively drops downwards as extra 19th century anchors appear and coral heads reveal themselves. You’ll definitely find the wall after a short swim as the bottom totally drops away from you. You will see a vibrant reef on one side and an endless blue ocean in the opposite direction.