As the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix lies southeast of Puerto Rico in prime scuba diving waters of the Caribbean Sea. With its somewhat rugged terrain, the island boasts multiple ecosystems within a relatively small area, covering only about 130 square kilometers (83 square miles). From the wet and lush vegetation of the west, to the cactus-strewn deserts of the east, St. Croix’s diverse beauty is known to extend far beneath the waves as well. From a value point of view, you’d be hard-pressed to find another Caribbean destination that allows you to savour the thrills of reef, pier, wreck, and wall diving, all within a 24-hour period!
Scuba Diving 24/7
A scuba diving vacation in St. Croix is all about accessibility to an outstanding abundance of marine life. Hundreds of species of fish, and dozens of types of coral make the aqua waters surrounding this U.S-owned island their home. With regular sightings of everything from blue tangs, to spotted eagle rays, to spiny lobsters, and from turtles, to octopus, to seahorses, divers have the chance to explore the varied underwater settings of this natural aquarium at virtually any hour of the day or night.
Our partner in St. Croix is the PADI 5-star Cane Bay Dive Shop, and with a motto like, “We Dive When You Want To”, you just know your scuba diving vacation in St. Croix is going to be unlike any other. Offering scheduled boat dives and shore dives throughout the day, seven days a week, as well as the opportunity to schedule dives to suit your personal timetable, Cane Bay takes scuba to a whole new level. Whether you want to dive as the sun begins to rise, or under a full moon at midnight, the experience is yours for the asking.
The Big Four
St. Croix is a great location for TEC diving, but even newly certified divers will enjoy the diverse range of marine adventures available. Favourite local dive sites conveniently cover the “big four” - reef, pier, wreck, and wall diving – while offering outstanding visibility that ranges from 18-30 meters (60-100 feet). On the north shore, the reefs at Cane Bay feature the eclectic sight of colourful coral gardens, peppered with a collection of 19th century Danish anchors. Shore diving is wonderful here as the smooth, white sand dips gradually downwards. Swim a little further though, to where the bottom drops away beneath you, and you’ll soon discover the St. Croix Wall. As part of the impressive, 4000 meter (13,000 feet) deep Puerto Rican Trench, the Wall can be investigated from a number of other sites as well, all easily accessed by boat.
The west end of St. Croix is best known for the Butler Bay Wrecks, where both deep and shallow wrecks can be explored at two separate sites. Ranging from a 75-foot tugboat, to a 300-foot oil barge, the wrecks are adorned with various species of brightly coloured sponges, and attract an incredible variety of fish. Meanwhile the region’s top pick for a macro dive, whether by day or by night, is fabulous Frederiksted Pier, with its jewel-coloured, coral-encrusted pillars. Running from the beach out to a depth of 40 feet, the Pier shelters a host of moray eels, frogfish, seahorses, and octopus, with the occasional spotted scorpionfish and batfish thrown in for good measure.
When to Go, What to See
Diving in St. Croix is excellent all year long. The waters around the island range from 26oC (80oF) in the winter months, to 29oC (82oF) in the summer. With temperatures like these, most divers find they’re quite comfortable in a shorty wetsuit year-round. Higher winds and waves in late December and January can mean that some dive sites will be more enjoyable than others during those times, while February through April are the sunniest months of the year. As hurricane season settles in from July through November, visitors should expect to experience the occasional cloudy front moving through the region; usually about once a week. Naturally, as with any subtropical climate, a certain amount of rain is also to be expected throughout the year, but the heaviest rains in St. Croix tend to occur from September through December.
St. Croix’s unique history and picturesque setting means there’s always plenty to see and do when your scuba diving vacation finds you topside for the day. Relax on a white sand beach, or play a round of championship golf in the morning; then explore the island’s many churches, museums, and other historic sites after lunch. With a multitude of shopping, dining and live entertainment venues available, and activities that range from eco-tours to sea kayaking, there’s never a dull moment on this vibrant island, known fondly as the “Diverse Virgin”.