St. Croix Trip

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t-mac

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Location
VA, USA
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I've been watching you STXers and so I know I will get some good advice here. My wife and I like to combine our two passions, sailing and diving and we try to find places with a reasonable mix of both. Every year one of our trips is over Thanksgiving and this year we are picking up a boat in St Thomas and, since we've seen most of the rest of the area, tradewinds permitting, we plan to hop down to St. Croix for a few days of diving.

We'll probably stay 3-4 full days and would fill most of that time diving. We'll probably base mostly in Christiansted because the harbor looks pretty much all-weather, but we may make a jaunt to Fredericksted and perhaps Buck Island on the way out (yes, I know about the permitting to stay there). We would like to do a mix of diving on our own and diving with local outfits. With regard to the latter, if it's part of the gig, we enjoy a good guide that can show us the local stuff and orient us to a site, but we don't need or want a babysitter. I will have my camera with me and we will want some time to set our own pace and go our own way.

So what I'm looking for is a hit list tailored to my "special needs," which are (1) a desire to do some diving on our own (shore, from our boat or our dinghy); (2) the fact that we will not have a car and so if we need to get somewhere (ie, not near our boat) we will either have to rely on a shop to pick us up or on public transport; (3) we want a shop(s) that is not too paternalistic.

Some things of particular interest:

1. Are there any good spots we can dinghy to right near Csted harbor?
2. Are there some spots where I could take the sailboat and anchor to dive?
3. Are taxis okay with carting people around with their scuba gear? Do they charge extra for that?
4. Does it make more sense to arrange transport with a shop (seems like the going taxi rate for anyting I want to do is $24 each way).
5. Some dives I'm pretty sure I want to do are Salt River, Cane Bay, and Fsted Pier (day/night). Time for quite a few more!

BTW, just to incense you a little, I want you to know that I posted my plans on the Cruiser's Forum (for sailors) and got a number of snooty responses about how dangerous the place is and why would I ever want to go there. Bunch of frightened rich kids with expensive toys and a perverted sense of the world. Never fear, I beat them into submission with probing questions and actual facts -- your honor is intact! When I called them out it seemed like the loudest had never even been there. Truly sad.

I look forward to a more positive, meaningful discussion here, and I'm really looking forward to the trip.

Thanks in advance!
 

Shasta_man

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When we went there on the Nekton cruise, we did the North side only one day because they were worried out it being too rough. THe dives over there were much better than the South side, except perhaps the F'sted pier. The dives we did on North side had lots of coral and formations while the SOuth side was more open areas with coral rubble. We saw the only shark of the trip (and of the other passengers) when we saw a hammerhead in Cane Bay. The pier is much written about but was a good dive mainly because easy and shallow so air lasts hours. It's looking through debris so not so good but there were a lot of cool critters like octopus. We just walked around in town so no idea about transit.
 

Lopez116

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Orange County, CA
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As you mentioned, Can Bay is not to be missed. For me, it and Buck Island were the highlights of the trip. Cane Bay has excellent and easy shore diving out to the wall. The dive shop there is essentially set up for shore diving. They even have an inflatable that will run you out to the wall if you don't want to swim it. The swim isn't bad at all though. I

Salt River was okay but not great. Buck Island is excellent.

I lugged all my gear on taxis and never got any snide comments or attitude. To the contrary, it was a good conversation starter.

Can't help you on the sailing front unfortunately, but your trip sounds totally doable and very exciting.
 

ScottUgly

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For shore diving, you can't beat the pier at night and Cane Bay for the wall. At Cane Bay, get tanks at their shop ( Cane Bay Dive Shop ) just across from the beach. Easy swim out to the wall. No babysitter required. There are several great ops to dive with. I recommend S.C.U.B.A. St Croix Scuba Diving, SCUBA Dive Shop - St Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures in the US Virgin Islands in Christiansted for North Shore boat diving. On the west end there is N2 the Blue N2 The Blue :Dive St Croix, scuba dive St Croix, St Croix dive shops, scuba dive virgin islands, virgin islands dive shops- that will get you out to some of the wrecks over there. I'm not sure where to launch your boat from, but I'm sure others will chime in. As far as taxis go, just don't go to the taxi stand/booth (or whatever they call it) Just stop them on the street for a better price. I only carried my regs, so not sure how friendly they will be with more gear. I wouldn't worry too much about the place being "dangerous". I met some of the friendliest folks there. Even in what were considered the "bad" parts of town. Never once felt threatened by anyone there. I think a lot of that has to do with the attitude you present to others. Now the mongooses are a different story. Had one run out of the bushes and halfway up my leg. Scared the hell out of me. Even after being content while diving with the few sharks and the many barracuda that I was able to see there. I'm sure you will enjoy the trip no matter which op you decide to go with.
 

stcroixscuba

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St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
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I'm a Fish!
Thanks for your interest in diving on St. Croix. You will find the diving here completely different than that on St. Thomas, St. John, and/or the British Virgin Islands due to the nature of our makeup which is tectonic rather than volcanic. That give us, among other things, the wall.

I'll preface my answers to your questions with my usual disclosure that I do own and operate a dive shop on St. Croix so I have an obvious vested interest in the diving here. With that said.............

1. Are there any good spots we can dinghy to right near Csted harbor?
Yes absolutely. Long Reef, which is the barrier reef that protects Christiansted Harbor and is the second longest barrier reef in the Caribbean has quite a few moored dive sites. There are 5 sites east of the entrance channel and a dozen or so to the west.

2. Are there some spots where I could take the sailboat and anchor to dive?
There are quite a few dive moorings available to you. If you send me your email via PM I will be happy to send the GPS list to you.

3. Are taxis okay with carting people around with their scuba gear? Do they charge extra for that?
I highly recommend renting a car while you're here. There is a lot to see and on the island when you're not diving and travel by taxi is highly expensive. Some will charge extra for gear and most will complain if it's wet. In addition to the usual rental car chains there are also a couple of great local rental companies including Judi of Croix, Olympic, and Centerline. Most rentals at these companies go for $30-$40 a day.

4. Does it make more sense to arrange transport with a shop (seems like the going taxi rate for anyting I want to do is $24 each way).
Dive shops on the island are prohibited by law from transporting divers via any means other than boat. It's a stupid old law that has just recently been enforced but there are a lot more taxis on the island than dive shops so it's not likely to change anytime soon.

5. Some dives I'm pretty sure I want to do are Salt River, Cane Bay, and Fsted Pier (day/night). Time for quite a few more!
Those are some great sites. The Frederiksted Pier, especially at night, is easily one of the top ten dives on the planet. You can dive it anytime there isn't a cruise ship in and we don't get a LOT of ships so it shouldn't be a problem.

Now for the self-serving part. We (St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures) operate two custom dive boats and cover all of the moored dive sites on the island. Our northshore dive boat (walls and reefs) departs from right off of the Boardwalk in Christiansted, while the west shore boat (wrecks, reefs, and the Pier) departs from right off of the Pier.

If you have any questions at all about diving here, or anything about the island for that matter as I've lived here over 25 years, please don't hesitate to let me know.
 
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t-mac

t-mac

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Thanks for all the comments. Cap'n Ed, I'll PM you.
 

silvernotch

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We just recently dove with SCUBA and Capt Ed back in July (Thanks Ed :) ) We never made it out to Cane Bay but dove the pier twice (once at night and once during the day) and also loved the Butler Bay wrecks. We also saw a lot of sharks out by Salt River
 
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t-mac

t-mac

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Thanks again, everyone, for the help. We will arrive in St. Croix on Sunday, sailing in from St Thomas. We've decided to go with SCUBA and Capt Ed for our organized trips -- he provided me the locations of a number of mooring buoys so we can take our boat out on our own too. Aside from the organized trips, we plan to go on our own to some of the reefs near Christiansted, Cane Bay, possibly the wrecks at Butler Bay and of course the pier in Fredericksted. I'll post a trip report when we return.
 

kierentec

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Thanks again, everyone, for the help. We will arrive in St. Croix on Sunday, sailing in from St Thomas. We've decided to go with SCUBA and Capt Ed for our organized trips -- he provided me the locations of a number of mooring buoys so we can take our boat out on our own too. Aside from the organized trips, we plan to go on our own to some of the reefs near Christiansted, Cane Bay, possibly the wrecks at Butler Bay and of course the pier in Fredericksted. I'll post a trip report when we return.

it was great having you guys here, and a pleasure diving with you! hopefully we'll see you again soon!
 

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