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St Croix is a diver's paradise. Advertised as an island where you can dive a wreck, wall, reef and Pier all in the same day, or at a slower pace, all during the same vacation. There are approximately 40 dive sites in the West (Frederiksted) and ~20 more along the Northern side of the island (Cane Bay, Salt River Canyon, Christiansted, and Buck Island).
St. Croix is ~37 miles long, 42,000 population, with winds/waves going from East to West. There are 5 dive shops, each with a particular focus, location, and how many people they take on the boats. The far east is sparsely inhabited and very dry with grasses, shrubs, and cactus. The middle of the island (Christiansted) is the heavy population center. The west is the Rainforest and large, green estates. No diving on the south shore due to the wave break. Almost nobody has a home or resort on this side due to the waves/winds (except Divi resort and Casino). It takes about 30 minutes to get from the far east/PointUdall/Divi to Christiansted and another 30 minutes from Christiansted to the west/Frederiksted, and the north shore (Cane Bay) is about 25 minutes from both Frederiksted and Christiansted (kind of a triangle, but with slower/twisty/steeper roads going to Cane). There are very few cruise ships to St. Croix, perhaps 8-10 in January (peak) and 0-2 per month in July-October, but there are so many calm water dive sites in the west, cruiseship day only limits/restricts diving the Pier.
St. Croix is rather unique in the surrounding islands in that is has a Pier (One of the Seven Jewels of the Caribbean), Canyons, Reef, Walls, Wrecks, and spectacular night dives all on the same island. St. Croix is great for beginners, advanced, tec divers, photographers, boat divers, and shore divers. Depending on what you are looking to see, you've several options to choose from.
+ The West side (Frederiksted-side) of the island the calm leeward/shadow of the island and ideal for calm diving. There are about 40+dive sites on the west, including The Pier and all the major Wreck dives. Long, gentle sloping terrain to ~55', then a drop off to about 100' is the overall profile on the West. Reef diving is unique in each location. Beaches are large and calm (Rainbow Beach, Frederiksted Beach) and great for paddleboarding.
+ The NorthWest side of the island can have 2-5' waves and 100 yards off shore is the Wall dropping from ~40' to 900'+ deep and a rather steep slope. About a dozen+ dive sites total from SweetBottom to CaneBay.
+ The North-Central is the famous, underwater Salt River Canyon and served by several dive shops (N2theBlue, CaneBay, DiveExperience, and St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures).
+ The North-East diving is the barrier reef protecting Christiansted to a bit further east. Waves can be 2-5' most of the year.
+ The South doesn't have any dive operators and sparse diving due to the wind/waves typically come from this direction (ESE).
+ Whales can be heard late February and most of March. This is the time Humpback Whales are calving their young.
+ Seahorses are everywhere on the Frederiksted Pier. Be sure to hire a Divemaster to point them out.
+ Turtles make a great sight all year. Green Turtles, Hawksbill, Leatherback... all grand.
+ Water Temp is ~77'F in February and ~85'F in October.
+ Water Viz ranges from ~120' on good days, ~60-70' on most days, and ~30' on bad days (higher winds/waves).
+ Christmas Winds start around Christmas and last about 2 months. These winds can bring 5-8' waves along the north and south shores.
What are the MUST SEE DIVES of St. Croix?
(1) The Frederiksted Pier -- WEST/FREDERIKSTED -- One of the Seven Jewels of the Caribbean. Also, #1 place in the Caribbean to find seahorses. Its like diving a Gothic Catherdral with pylons reaching towards the sky and the stained glass windows are replaced with a dazzling display of corals and sponges. There are still two sections of the old pier (destroyed by hurricane Hugo in 1989) with over 50 years of growth, too. This dive site will easily take several dives to explore, from the end at 90' (known as Three Amigos), to the end of the cement walkway at 42', or near shore and the old Pier remnants at 20'.
(2) Night Dive -- WEST/FREDERIKSTED -- The Frederiksted Pier. Bio-luminescence is a highlight! Moreover, the colors EXPLODE at night under your dive-light! Also, there are other creatures that come out at night... especially Octopus.
(3) The Salt River Canyon / The Wall -- NORTH SHORE -- 100 yards off shore and at ~40' deep, the Wall drops to several thousand feet deep (deepest point: ~13,500'). This brings a diversity of life that is not often seen in the world. Because this is on the north shore, conditions can be a bit chopy/bumpy. Waves can be knee high or 5'. Salt River Canyon is a boat ride to get to unless you use one of the dive companies that have a boat directly in the Salt River Marina. Salt River is a prehistoric underwater carved canyon/river/waterfall. Brilliant.
(4) The Wrecks -- WEST/FREDERIKSTED -- A: Deep Wrecks (2 @ 72-110'); B: Shallow Wrecks(3 @ 35-60'), C: Armageddon (the massive wreckage of the old Pier dropped at 90-120'). These are all quite close to each other.
(5) The Reefs -- WEST/FREDERIKSTED -- Calm waters, extended dives, and water features that can have the dive be 30-55', or 55-120'. There's a ridge on the west where dives can be either deep or shallow. The waters are almost always calm because this is on the wind-protected side of the island. The cover-story of a magazine was divesite: The Swirling Reef of Death. You'll have to ask for the funny story from the captain. There are over 40 divesites for both shallow and deep dives that'll keep you delighted. Very easy to book a 3-5 day package and see a lot! HUGE beaches for the non-divers, stand up paddleboarding, and the charming laid-back rest you've been looking for.
Please note: When Cruise Ships are in port, the Dept of Homeland Security does not permit diving on The Pier (until after it departs). There are very few cruise ships to St. Croix, perhaps 8-10 in January (peak) and 0-2 per month in July-October, but there are so many calm water dive sites in the west, cruiseship day only limits/restricts diving the Pier.More about the diving on St. Croix : Generally the dive sites from the Eastern most Scotch Bank sites to Little Cozumel are sloping reef, sand chute ledge dives. Just west of Little Cozumel lies the Salt River Wall. This is amongst the most popular and requested dive area on St. Croix . It is a near vertical wall, dropping down in excess of 600 feet, which slopes out to several thousand feet in a very short distance. Beyond the Salt River wall over to Cane Bay is again sloping reef, dive sites. At Cane Bay , the most popular dive site on St. Croix is the famous Cane Bay Wall. Here, in approximately 40 feet of water the wall begins a steep drop to several thousand feet. Reaching this ledge is an easy kick-out dive from the Cane Bay beach. There are two mooring balls marking the start of the sand chutes which lead divers directly to the wall. Similarly west at the Carambola Resort divers can do an easy kick-out from shore to hit this same wall. The rest of the dive sites on West and South are most easily accessed by boat. Although the Deep Wrecks are accessible via kicking out from Butler Bay , it is only for more advanced divers, as a kick-out dive. Also in the same general vicinity as the deep wrecks and the shallow wreck dive sites is the Armageddon dive site. Armageddon is the remnants of the Frederiksted Pier which was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1988. It was loaded on a barge and deposited here. The mooring for this site is at Truck Lagoon, the result of Hess Oil Company dropping several “no-longer-needed” vehicles off into the Caribbean . All that remains are the chassis. Makes for an interesting access to Armageddon! There are several dive sites after this underwater junkyard, on to the South ending at Sandy Point . The most ominously named dive site on St. Croix , The Swirling Reef of Death lies between the Frederiksted Pier and Sandy Point . To fully appreciate horrors of this site, you must dive it at night. Mystery awaits!