Although they are often lumped together as the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI for short), the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix offer distinctly different personalities and experiences. St. Thomas is the most developed of all the Virgin Islands, British and American. You can expect luxury hotels and villas, restaurants running the gamut from burger joints to French bistros, and a plethora of things to do. St. John is for nature lovers, as two-thirds of the island is a U.S. national park. The smallest of the three islands, 19-square-mile St. John is also the rawest. There are twice as many hiking trails as there are paved roads. More than 40 coves and milky-white beaches are St. John's hallmarks.The largest of the USVI, St. Croix, is about 90 miles removed from its close-knit sister islands. The distance gives St. Croix a different type of underwater terrain. So while St. Thomas is the most known of the three islands among tourists and cruise ship guests, St. Croix is the best known to divers.No doubt the most popular activity in St. Croix is shore diving the well-protected Cane Bay reef on the island's north side. On the short swim out, garden eels can be seen peeking from holes in the sand. After cruising the shallow reef, you can make your way farther to a descent down the wall into a land of oddly shaped sponges and clouds of blue tangs.Out from Cane Bay is Jimmy's Surprise, a pinnacle dive from 45 to 90 feet featuring bright orange and red sponges and corals, and elegant gorgonians. If the current is running at Jimmy's, nearby Runstop Twist is a high-profile formation from 50 to 100 feet that attracts spotted eagle rays. To the west, Northstar Wall features a drop-off from 40 to 60 feet and an ancient Danish anchor embedded in the coral.There are many other great places to dive on the north side at Davis Bay, and Salt River and around the island's 30 moored sites. Also, the Frederiksted Pier plays host to wonderful macro life and makes for an enchanting night dive.In contrast, St. Thomas and St. John are on a sub-sea plateau. The reefs are relatively shallow, and you could argue that much of this area is best done on snorkel and not scuba. Lesser keys, small islands and rocky outcroppings that provide lees from the trade winds and easy anchorage surround both islands. The rocks and reefs offer steep-walled crevices, overhangs, ledges, tunnels and caves all in water less than 60 feet deep. The reefs are alive with red and black gorgonians, blue and green Venus sea fans and tan soft corals. And no where else in the Caribbean can boast as many flamingo tongue shells.St. John's Carval Rock, just 10 minutes out from Caneel Bay, is noted for schools of tarpon and clouds of silversides. There also is a pleasant beach dive at Coki, the beach next to the Coral World marine aquarium park in St. Thomas.The distance gives St. Croix a different type of underwater terrain. So while St. Thomas is the most known of the three islands among tourists and cruise ship guests, St. Croix is the best known to divers. For more information about St. Thomas dive click on the home page below.
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