Dive into more than 58 different sites throughout the U.S. Virgin islands. Reached by beach or boat, these reefs and wrecks offer a diverse range of dive experiences. Here are a few examples:
ST. CROIX DIVES
1 CANE BAY:
Some of the best diving in the U.S. Virgin Islands is along the wall that runs parallel to the north shore of St. Croix. The wall at Cane Bay is the most popular site since it is easy to get to from the beach and even easier by boat. Covered in plate corals, elephant ear sponges and black coral, the wall starts at 60 feet and goes down to more than 2,000 feet! Schools of horse-eye jacks are common along the wall, and so are a reef shark or two. In the shallows of Cane Bay, you can find large gray angelfish, schools of black durgon, stingrays, and even the occasional seahorse.
2 FREDERIKSTED PIER:
At night, this site is a must-see. Giant-stride off the pier, then start looking for the eye shine of squirrel, trumpet and puffer fish hiding among the rocks. The submerged old pier also protects anemones, sponges, Pederson cleaner shrimp and, if you have a keen eye or know where to look, a seahorse or two.
3 BUTLER BAY:
On the west shore of St. Croix, you’ll find Butler Bay, where, from 1984 to 1999, several shipwrecks were intentionally sunk for the pleasure of divers. The Rosa Maria, a 177-foot steel-hulled freighter, rests at 60 to 100 feet and is covered with brilliant pink and bold red sponges where you’ll find schooling fish like grunts, snappers and reef fish. The Suffolk Maid, a 140-foot trawler, and the Northwind, a 75-foot tugboat, both located in shallower waters, house a variety of intriguing underwater creatures.
4 BUCK ISLAND:
Two miles off northeast St. Croix is Buck Island, an unspoiled natural habitat and marine national monument known for its underwater snorkeling trail and excellent diving. There are plenty of small coral caves to explore in this shallow dive, which ranges from 15 to 40 feet. Buck Island is a nesting ground for hawksbills, leatherbacks and green sea turtles as well as brown pelicans and other seabirds.
5 SALT RIVER CANYON:
Within the national historic park and ecological preserve, divers can explore a submarine canyon with two different walls. The east wall starts in 45 feet and plunges down to 1,000 feet, where you will find a large assortment of reef fish, barracuda, as well as both the greenand pink-colored black coral. The west wall starts in 20 feet and has many swim-throughs, eventually plummeting to a dramatic drop-off.
1 CARVAL ROCK:
Carval Rock is best known for its dramatic and beautiful rock formations loaded with a rainbowlike assortment of corals,sponges and gorgonians. At the base of the rocks, you’ll notice a passageway that will take you through to the other side of the rock, where you might catch a glimpse of a dozen or so shiny tarpon feeding on schools of silversides.
2 EAGLE SHOAL:
Located off the southeast tip of St. John, Eagle Shoal is a popular site where you can expect to be accompanied by schooling durgon, grouper, parrotfish, porkfish, snapper, barracuda and tarpon. Overhangs, tunnels, arches and an almost overwhelming number of fish are the hallmarks of this site.
3 HURRICANE HOLE:
Protected as a part of the U.S. National Parks of St. John, the mangrove diving in this area reveals some of the best examples of that ecology in the world. The water clarity, calmness and diversity of marine life are amazing.
4 CONGO CAY:
Off this tiny island just north of St. John, there is a steep drop to sand where you’ll find an abundance of colorful reef fish, overhangs with spiny lobsters, and conchs at the sandy bottom around 45 feet.
5 FLANAGAN ISLAND:
Calm waters and shallow settings make this spot perfect for diving and snorkeling alike. The site has swim-throughs, minicanyons and dozens of fish species.
ST. THOMAS DIVES
1 WRECK OF THE WIT SHOAL II:
Located in 90 feet of water off the southwest coast of St. Thomas, the 328-foot WIT Shoal was once an armed military cargo ship (LST 467) designed to transport and land up to 20 tanks during World War II. There are five different levels to explore with a wide variety of entries and exits, including the coralencrusted smokestacks.
2 COW & CALF:
Traveling off the southeastern end of St. Thomas, you’ll come across two rocks piercing the surface. According to local legend, sailors often mistook these rocks as a pair of migrating humpback whales — a cow and her calf. Today, divers can explore a colorful labyrinth of swimthrough tunnels, archways and caves that are connected by the two dramatic formations.
3 FLAT CAY:
With a depth of only 35 feet, divers can maximize bottom time and enjoy a relaxing, beautiful dive exploring both a reef and the remains of a mega-yacht shipwreck known as the Easterly or Chrysler wreck. The reef itself is a buffet of pillar and brain corals, sponges and a smorgasbord of other sea creatures.
4 CORAL BOWL:
With a bowl-shaped slope starting in 30 feet and descending to 80 feet at its bottom, you’ll find sloping tiers of hard and soft corals, full of nooks and overhangs to explore. Schooling fish swim along the different levels as lobsters, eels and nurse sharks watch from their protected homes. As soon as the Caribbean sun sinks below the horizon, the ledges and overhangs of Coral Bowl come alive with sea creatures large and small. The finale of your day will be blocking your light for just a moment, and watching the reef light up with bioluminescence, rivaling the nighttime lights of Charlotte Amalie harbor for splendor and beauty.
5 NAVY BARGES:
Located off the southern coast of St. Thomas are the remains of several Navy barges sunk after World War II. This shallow site, ranging from 25 to 40 feet, is a popular birthing area for nurse sharks during the summer months.