United States Virgin Islands (USVI)

    Three islands – St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix – all beckon with different personalities and scuba diving experiences. St. Thomas has large resorts and shopping complexes above water and lots of shipwrecks below. St. John is all about nature and eco-tourism throughout its forest covered hills and has beautiful shallow coral gardens to explore. St. Croix, the largest island, seems more Dutch than American with its quaint towns. It features incredible walls, wrecks and reefs. All islands feature soft, white sand beaches and warm turquoise water. The diversity of the USVI means that scuba divers are sure to find the island that fits their vacation dreams and diving desires.

    Great Dives

    • Coral Bowl (Joe’s Jam), St. Thomas – This reef is bowl-shaped and starts at about 9 metres/30 feet, then slopes down to 24 metres/80 feet. Full of crevices and overhangs, you can find lobsters and eels hiding in protected holes. Look for turtles and stingrays cruising by the reef’s edge.
    • Cartanser Senior, St. Thomas – This old freighter sank in a silty bay in the early 1970s, but was raised and moved to a cove on the west side of Buck Island in 1979. Now in several pieces, the Cartanser Senior sits in 15 metres/50 feet of water, leaning on her port side. Great for photography, the wreck attracts lots of colorful fish.
    • Eagle Shoals, St. John – This site has many tunnels, arches, caves and overhangs, which protect a wide variety of fish. One of the caves has several entrances and is referred to as “The Cathedral.” Look for colorful sponges and orange cup coral along with queen and French angelfish.
    • Carvel Rock, St. John – This cluster of rocks sticks up from the surface and below it’s encrusted with sponges, sea fans and corals. Usually navigated as a drift dive, you glide around the rock looking for stingrays, tarpon, silversides, nurse sharks, squid and octopus.
    • Salt River Canyon, St. Croix  – The canyon features two walls that face each across 400 metres/yards of blue water. The walls have interesting pinnacles and swim-throughs to explore with tube sponges, sea fans, soft corals, and black coral. The blue water provides the opportunity for big animals like hammerheads and black-tip reef sharks to sometimes make appearances.
    • Butler Bay Wrecks, St. Croix – This bay contains several shipwrecks and even a few abandoned cars. The Rosa Maria, a 54-metre/177-foot freighter, was purpose-sunk and is now covered with brightly colored sponges. Coakley Bay, a former oil refinery tugboat, is the one of the newer wrecks. Suffolk Maid, a large trawler, ran aground and sank during a hurricane. At 90 metres/300 feet, the Virgin Islander is the largest of the wrecks. North Wind was sunk after being used as a prop in the TV movie “Dreams of Gold – The Mel Fisher Story.”

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    Dive Summary

    Visibility – Visibility ranges from 18-30 metres/60-100 feet most of the time.

    Water Temperature – Water averages a comfortable 26°C/78°F in winter and 28°C/83°F in summer.

    Weather – The weather in the US Virgin Islands is fairly consistent, which makes diving great year round.  Average air temperature ranges between 26-29°C/79-83°F. The islands get a little more rain from June through October, which coincides with the Caribbean’s hurricane season.

    Featured Creatures – Queen angelfish are strikingly beautiful swimming among the cup corals, sea fans and feather duster worms. Tarpon are often seen in schools. Look for frogfish, reef squid, blackbar soldierfish and scorpion fish blending easily with the reef.

    Recommended Training – For St. Thomas, the PADI Wreck Diver course is a good idea. For St. John, the PADI Underwater Naturalist course will help you enjoy what the island offers. And, for St. Croix, the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer and PADI Drift Diver courses will add to your dive experiences.

    Travel Info

    Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

    Language – English is the official language.

    Currency – The United States dollar (USD) is the official currency. Credit cards are widely accepted.

    Major Airports – International flights arrive at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix. You get to St. John by ferry from St. Thomas.

    Electricity and Internet – The voltage is 110 volts, 60 Hz. Internet is widely available.

    Topside Attractions – Shop duty-free in St. Thomas. Lie on a beach in St. John or visit St. John’s National Park to learn about the tropical forest, petroglyphs and sugar mill ruins. Hike the Heritage Trail on St. Croix, stop at the Cruzan Rum Factory and visit Buck Island, one of only three underwater national monuments in the United States.

    Locate PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in the USVI.

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