Info First trip to St Croix. Looking for opinions and trip reports

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Hello All,

Wife and I are recreational divers with about 300 dives each. Most of our diving has been in the Caribbean - Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, Caymans, etc.

We can't risk getting Covid while out of the country and not being able to return home. A little research revealed that Covid tests to return stateside from US territories is a non-thing. Travel is just like domestic as far as Covid is concerned.

So now we're thinking of the USVI and hear that St Croix has some great diving (especially walls for the wife). From reading this forum, it sounds like there are no dive resorts, just shops and hotels that apparently don't package anything together.

I'd love to hear opinions on hotel/dive shop combinations, dive sites, etc. We're not much on wrecks, but love walls, critters, BIG critters. Hotel - nice yes, but not looking for luxury.

Thanks!

Chuck in Houston
 

hilljo88

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Fredricksted pier is great for macro critters. Search for trip reports. Cane Bay Area for reef. Not really a wall like Caymans. You will need a rental car.
 

drrich2

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A lot has changed since my trip Aug. 2017, but my trip report was written to be an overview with photos and discussion, and may still be of some use. St. Croix Research Report Aug. 2017 - Trip Report - St. Croix Research Report Aug. 2017

Be aware Sweet Bottom Dive Center moved, Cane Bay Dive Shop may've moved a location (I don't recall specifics), N2TheBlue is under new ownership, and I'm told there's now a zip line excursion available. There are more recent trip reports than mine, with more current info.

From reading this forum, it sounds like there are no dive resorts, just shops and hotels that apparently don't package anything together.
Don't worry about that. As you can see from my report, you could stay in Christiansted, pick your class of hotel, and hit the boardwalk and head right out down to the boat for either of a couple of reputable providers. I dove with St. Croix Ultimate Blue Water Adventure.

So now we're thinking of the USVI and hear that St Croix has some great diving (especially walls for the wife).

We're not much on wrecks, but love walls, critters, BIG critters.
My experience is limited so take this with a grain of salt. I loved our St. Croix trip. It was a good family vacation with diving, both boat and shore. It's been awhile, but I recall sloping wall, not the dramatic vertical walls one might find at some sites off Little Cayman or southern Roatan. There were reef sharks, and one day a pod of dolphins zipped past while we were trying to get in and down to see them, but I didn't get the impression it was a 'big animal' destination.

If you ever decide you're willing to skip walls to pursue big animal diving in the U.S., it'll be time to talk about Jupiter, Florida.
 

rmorgan

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We went to St. Croix in April--we prepared by studying Richard's always-excellent research and trip report (I'm sure there's some redundancy here--sorry!).

I lived for several months (and earned SSI certification) there in 1980, but hadn't been back since. It is a beautiful island, mountainous and verdant. I don't know about the resorts, but there are many VRBO homes available, and food shopping is simple.

The Frederiksted pier is exceptional; you can spend 90-120 minutes on a tank no deeper than 30-35' and see all the little and medium sized animals (turtles, squid, eels, scorpionfish, drums (and tiny drums), dice, octopus, rays . . . you name it.

The reef diving is not what we're used to in Bonaire, Little Cayman, Saba, etc. The hard corals have been in decline for years, but St. Croix is now significantly affected by SCTLD (here's a link to the dashboard, updated last week). Many or the main dive areas are shown with severe infections, but the spread is certainly not yet as bad on other islands. Infections were clearly visible in April and it's a rapidly-spreading disease. I was surprised that none of the dive operations we used made any mention of either SCTLD or the protocol for avoiding spreading it--a mild bleach soak for all gear. I imagine this is a moot point unless you're moving from an affected area to one which is not, and there's good reason to believe that the main vector for spread is bilge water, but still.

The guides we were with were fans of spearing lion fish and leaving them on a rock to flop a little bit, which is intended to and did bring in hungry Caribbean reef sharks. This happened on most of the boat dives we were on, and while the encounters were interesting to watch, the sharks were behaving in ways I haven't seen before (circling close to the divers as they zeroed in on the prey, and hanging not far from the group in anticipation), and there apparently is a good bit of feeding them directly off of spears. Here's a link to an article from yesterday urging against this practice.

As drrich2 implies, as to the wall diving, don't think Bloody Bay. That said, there is good wall diving in Salt River, which when we were there this year was inaccessible due to high seas.

There are lots of non-SCUBA things to do; for example, in Salt River, there is a protected bay which has a glorious amount of bioluminescence (20-minute kayak paddle each way), a semi-rain forest which is beautiful, and excellent beaches, and well-preserved architecture, particularly in Christiansted (Frederiksted, long the poorer of the two main towns, still shows many signs of the carnage inflicted by Hurrican Maria in 2017). That said, Frederiksted has a beautiful waterfront, an excellent gallery or two, and something like five dive shops, due in significant part to the pier). And there is a thriving restaurant scene, mostly in Christiansted, but there's a great place across the street from the beach in Cane Bay.

Worth brief mention, cars drive on the left, but steering wheels are almost all also on the left. Sweet Bottom Dive Center is right across from the shore entry to Cane Bay, and the folks there are great; we rented from them for shore diving and because we were staying close by, for tanks to take to the pier.

We'll undoubtedly go back to St. Croix.

Have a great trip!
 

jonhall

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Have only ever stayed in the "pink condos" which can be rented, if available. They are located on the west side (Frederiksted.) Gives you your own private beach with some good snorkeling and a view of the setting sun every evening. Also a few minute drive from the Frederiksted Pier. Nep2une Diving is a really good dive op located close the pier.

West side is calm side: reefs and wrecks (and pier) - reefs with coral, sponges, and sea life, wrecks are not swim throughs, just nice to swim around and see what life is around. Recommend diving the pier both day and night.

North side: Cane Bay has a wall - can be a shore dive with a long swim (1½ -2 football fields) out to drop point. Salt Bay has some unique topography (walls, submarine canyons.)

Can't say anything about other places to stay. Nep2une Scuba's website has a list of places in or near Frederiksted. Nep2une Scuba – Small Group Diving At Its Best
 

BrackaFish

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Hello All,

Wife and I are recreational divers with about 300 dives each. Most of our diving has been in the Caribbean - Cozumel, Roatan, Belize, Caymans, etc.

We can't risk getting Covid while out of the country and not being able to return home. A little research revealed that Covid tests to return stateside from US territories is a non-thing. Travel is just like domestic as far as Covid is concerned.

So now we're thinking of the USVI and hear that St Croix has some great diving (especially walls for the wife). From reading this forum, it sounds like there are no dive resorts, just shops and hotels that apparently don't package anything together.

I'd love to hear opinions on hotel/dive shop combinations, dive sites, etc. We're not much on wrecks, but love walls, critters, BIG critters. Hotel - nice yes, but not looking for luxury.

Thanks!

Chuck in Houston
Our family chose to go to Saint Croix in August for the same reasons you are thinking. Spent a few minutes looking at past reports in this section of the forum. Lots of good advice here. It is a pretty cool place.
Feel free to DM me if you have a specific question. Be safe
 

Rob9876

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The guides we were with were fans of spearing lion fish and leaving them on a rock to flop a little bit, which is intended to and did bring in hungry Caribbean reef sharks. This happened on most of the boat dives we were on, and while the encounters were interesting to watch, the sharks were behaving in ways I haven't seen before (circling close to the divers as they zeroed in on the prey, and hanging not far from the group in anticipation), and there apparently is a good bit of feeding them directly off of spears.
That happened on our boat dives too (with Dive Experience). The guide would swim around for a while with the lionfish on the spear, and reef sharks would start circling our group and coming in pretty close -- made me a bit uneasy, as I'm used to reef sharks being pretty shy.

This, plus the fact that our shore dives were better than our boat dives, makes me think that we might skip boat dives altogether if we go back to St. Croix and we would focus on the Pier and shore dives at Cane Bay, Davis Bay, and (if I get thicker boots for the rocky entry) Northstar. The north shore dives we did with Sweet Bottom Dive Center were better dives than the boat dives we did, and I ended up enjoying diving at the Frederiksted Pier much more than I thought I would (I generally prefer natural reefs to any manmade structures/wrecks, but the Pier and the surrounding dolphin structures really are outstanding with so much to see in an easy dive day or night). You could have a really relaxing time staying a week in Frederiksted, diving the Pier with no schedule to worry about (with a 10 tank punch card from Adventures in Diving STX), and adding in a couple of north-side shore dives.
 

buck3647

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Arriving St Croix Celebrity Equinox Jan dive shop suggestions or shore dives? Dive guides for hire?
 

Rob9876

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Arriving St Croix Celebrity Equinox Jan dive shop suggestions or shore dives? Dive guides for hire?
If you're arriving by cruise ship I'll assume that you're docking at the Frederiksted Pier -- and if a ship is at the Pier, then there's no diving allowed at the Pier. I'd be inclined to talk to Sweet Bottom Dive Center about dives at Davis Bay, Cane Bay or Northstar (would be good to have thicker boots for the Northstar entry). I'd specifically ask them about timing and transportation -- they seem to be able to work around your schedule.

If you wanted boat dives I'm guessing you'd need to go with a dive op that leaves from Frederiksted. We only did boat dives from Christiansted, so I'll leave it to others to recommend F'sted boat ops. I think the shore dives might be better dives, but the boat dives may be more convenient for a cruise schedule.
 
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