St. Croix Scuba Diving
I recently added St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands to my list of diving locations. I spent about 4 days diving with St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures (notice the clever alternate for the SCUBA acronym) based out of Christiansted. My hotel (Hotel Caravelle) was less than 50 feet from the dive shop and the dock which made it really convernient. This dive shop was pretty good -- their equipment was fairly new; they provided integrated BCDs; boats were in good condition with plenty of shade; and the dive masters were competent, very friendly, and had fresh pineapple for us during the surface interval. All trips had a divemaster and a boat captain. They also had morning, afternoon, and night dives making it possible to do a total of 5 tank dives a day.
Both the morning and afternoon dives were similar and typically ran 45 minutes. All that really changed was the dive sites and the divers. Every dive went to a different site so there was a good variety. Dive sites included:
Inner West Wall at Salt River
Visibility -- around 80 feet -- was great on this dive. The primary attraction is the terrain and coral and less so for fish.
Eagle Ray Off of the North Shore
I prefer dives with sea life and this one delivered with a barracuda, green eel, spotted eel, lobster, and a plethora of fish. So even though visibility dropped to around 50 feet, I enjoyed this one more than the Inner West Wall dive above.
Frederiksted Pier (Night Dive)
If you haven't done a night dive before, this is a great one to start with. Diving off of a pier eliminates many of the complications associated with a boat dive. Our dive profile started near the beginning of the pier from which we swam to the middle of the pier along one side, crossed over to the other side of the pier, and then headed back to land where we did a shore extraction.
I like night dives a lot. And even though this dive was off of a pier it remains one more of the more memorable dives of my visit to St. Croix. At night a different host of creatures come out including bat fish, rock fish, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, sea urchins, starfish, and the main attraction of the night a lone sea horse. The dive shop provided us with decent lights too, but I've decided to buy my own dive light for future dives.
Since this was a relatively shallow dive, we were able to remain underwater for about 65 minutes.
Sometimes the names of dive sites don't match what you end up seeing. Fortunately, this one did indeed have stringrays most of which were at a cleaning station. Our dive master indicated that there can be dozens of stingrays here.
The name of this dive site is a tribute to the gardening skills of the Japanese. Apparently the sea life like it too as I saw multiple green and spotted eels, a turtle, a huge lobster, and many fish too numerous to list. Although they were tiny, I also saw multiple jellyfish. I even came across one during my safety stop which made for a more interesting stop than usual.
King's Corner Off the West End
Visibility here was above average at about 80 feet. I liked this dive less than the others, but every site differs from day to day so I don't want to say it should be ignored. Our dive master did pick up a very large sea cucumber which he allowed me touch so that was pretty cool.
Sprat Hall Off the West End
My last dive from St. Croix. Bummer. Luckily there was a lot to see on this one including stingrays, nurse sharks (a baby too), blue tang, cowfish, trunk fish, many more fish the name of which I can't remember. I need to get a fish card!