Liveaboard diving in St. Croix, Virgin Islands
St. Croix is truly a hidden gem in the Caribbean. Part of the US Virgin Islands, but worlds apart from the usual. Just 35 miles south of St. Thomas, St. John and BVIs it is the largest of the USVIs and also the most dramatic. At 84 miles square and highest elevation at Mount Eagle of 1,165ft, St Croix boasts beautiful beaches, rain forests, salt marshes, desert, and plains. But the diversity and beauty doesn’t stop at sea level.
Every winter, Juliet heads to St. Croix to explore this unique, friendly, and enchanting island – both above and below the water. Departing from the Frederiksted Pier, we’ll be exploring the wrecks and reefs of Butler Bay, the walls off Cane Bay, and the reefs and slopes of the northern shores of the island around the Salt River and Christainsted.
The West Side
Trips begin and end at the Frederiksted Pier, which means you land, you can head to the boat, toss your clothes in your cabin and throw a tank on your back the day you arrive! If your no-fly times allow for it, at the end of the trip take a dip with a final afternoon and even a night dive at the Pier as well. This Pier is beloved to many a diver, photographer, and critter lover. Ranging in depths from 10 to 60 feet, there is no lack of diversity all along the pilings. Jump off Juliet for a dive, or have some fun jumping from directly off the pier -a 20′ drop, now that’s a giant stride! Octopus, sea horses, and frog fish are almost guaranteed on every dive, not to mention juvenile puffers and box fish, tons of varieties of worms and sea slugs, and a handful of resident turtles as well.
Just to the north, the ruins of the old cruise ship pier lie in the deep section of Butler Bay at a dive site called Armageddon. Destroyed by hurricane Hugo in 1989 and sitting in 80-100′ of water, it looks just like it sounds. Steel girders, concrete, and general wreckage pile high on the seafloor, attracting tons of life! Also in Butler Bay are an old trawler the Suffolk Maid, a large barge called the Virgin Islander, and our personal favorite, a small tugboat named North Wind sitting upright in 50′ of water. If your navigation is spot on, you also might be able to find NOAA’s old Undersea Research Laboratory where 4 scientists could spend up to 2 weeks exploring the bottom of the ocean.
Just around the corner are the most spectacular collection of Wall dives you’ll see this side of the world. Cane Bay wall stretches a few miles in each direction with a sloping sand top starting between 20 and 40 feet, and a gorgeous spur and groove wall starting at 60-80 feet and dropping to thousands. Old ship’s anchors dot the seascape, and sharks, eagle rays, and turtles are abundant. Evenings in Cane Bay might be topped off with a run into the beach to a local island bar!
Still further east, the Salt River Canyon offers some amazing diversity – the nutrient-rich waters of the Salt River curating a beautiful coral-lined valley. The visibility might not be as predictable here, but the dive is well worth it!