The U.S. Virgin Islands is America's number-one Caribbean dive destination. Life above water is just like home — same language, money, electricity and holidays. Below the water, though, the USVI is a tropical paradise you'll never find in Ohio.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of three main islands — St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix — plus a couple dozen smaller, uninhabited islands. You never have to go far to find a good spot to dive. A 30-minute boat ride is about average, and the surface conditions are usually mild. The rocky bottom supports excellent coral coverage and provides lots of interesting swim-throughs and canyons. Although there are deeper dives, 60 feet is a typical maximum depth in the USVI, and there are many shallow reefs that seem custom-made for snorkeling. In addition to the usual suspects found on a tropical reef, the USVI is home to large numbers of hawkbill turtles, reef squid and sea horses.
Here's the big surprise: The USVI has some of the best sport-diving wrecks in the world. In fact, you could spend a week just exploring the wrecks and not have time for a reef dive. St. Thomas' primo wreck is the WIT Shoal, an upright freighter encrusted in coral from bow to stern; but don't miss the WIT Concrete II, the Cartansar and the Major General Rodgers. St. Croix has its own wreck city in the calm waters off Fredericksted. The centerpiece is the 177-foot LCM Rosamaria. Other wrecks include the tugboats Coakley Bay and Northwind and the fishing trawler Suffolk Maid. While you're in Fredericksted, make a dive or two off the pier. You can choose between the old pier pilings, which are thick with sponge and coral, and the new pier, which is actually old enough to have its own growth and is packed with life.
Must-Dive Spots in the USVI
1 Salt River Canyon
2 The WIT Shoal
3 Fredricksted Pier
4 Cane Bay Wall
5 Carvel Rock