St. Croix

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DenbyS

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My wife and I spent a week in February at the Carambola Beach Resort. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the island. I dove with Sweet Bottom Dive Center located on the resort. They were great. I dove Davis Bay wall, Cane Bay wall, and Fredericksted pier. I thought the diving was great, as was the operator and dive masters. Many good places to eat in Christiansted, Bomaby Club is one of many. Enjoyed Angry Nate's for beer and margaritas. Ate at Eat at Cane Bay more than once, a very good place to enjoy the view, vibe, music and food. Looking forward to going back. Things left to see and do. A couple of videos from the dives below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4AENex-8SU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SAGLwiJOhY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AFh0Spd9YA
 

They call me Tater

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Richard,

I love to dive and can't sleep due to my excitement about leaving for a LOB tomorrow night (Saba) so I will try to clarify for you my thoughts on St. Croix.

I love to dive but have come to really enjoy trips where I can get my dives in while my wife and/or family relax and then I join them for the rest of the days activities. I have been to PDC, Eleuthera, Cayman Brac (w/day at LC), Grand Turk and loved all of them and would be happy to return. Each of them had a few features that I really enjoyed.

Brac diving and resort food were great but beaches/island didn't thrill me. PDC town was fun, diving with Bulls (not feeding) was a thrill and the family loved it but just not relaxed enough for me and I am not a huge fan of drift diving...I like to stop and look closely.( and we all lost a day from Montezuma). Eleuthera had the most beautiful and quiet beaches people were great but the diving was good but limited in some ways. GT was beautiful and the diving was good but a tad steep and island a.bit small.


St.Croix I got in 9 dives. Diving was relatively inexpensive and easy with N2theBlue. They were fun to be with, knew their stuff and it was total valet style. Each of the 9 sites I would go back to. Having said that, I never made it to dive Cane Bay, Salt River, do any Lionfish hunting or several other dive sites. (or operations) The pier is a special dive and I didn't make it at night.

We had decent meals at several restaurants and never made it to many more...check out Trip Advisor on that topic. We found that there were low key things to explore for an hour or two such as the rum distillery and art shows. While they were not as interesting as the Mayan Ruins, they were not all day trips either. We were alway happy to get back to our beachfront rental.

We spent a lot of time on Rainbow beach swimming and snorkeling and ate at the beach bar but never made it to some of the other beaches.

There was shopping for the wife (enough to partake but not enough to hurt me) and a nice local art scene...

Prices were reasonable (for a carribean island) and while driving takes some getting used to, we could get around fairly easily.

I want to get back to more diving at more sites, visit more beaches and restaurants as well as repeat much of what we did last time. I will probably not have enough time on my next trip either.

The islands are like ice cream or wine...people like different things and variety but lean towards favorites. I can't say St. Croix has the best of anything we have experienced but it was very good in most everything. (I should mention we like to have our cocktails on the beach but prefer to turn in early vs late night partying) It is so far OUR Favorite and we are going back next year. It may not be your favorite but it is worth a visit IMHO.

Hope this helps....helped me, now I can get a few winks :wink:
 

KathyV

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Tater, thanks for sharing your thoughts (We had a blast visiting the Rum Distillery tour on St. Croix!) I hope you have great weather because the Saba Explorer liveaboard is a fantastic trip! Bon Voyage!
 
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Greetings BFEIII, (and thank you for the comments drrich2 and Tater!)
St. Croix is rather unique in the surrounding islands in that we have 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.

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.

+ 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. This western side is the home of N2theBlue Scuba Diving.

+ 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).

- Christmas Winds start around Christmas and last about 2 months. These winds can bring 5-8' waves along the north and south shores.

+ 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).

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 US Dept of Homeland Security does not permit diving on The Pier (until after it departs).


Loads of options for dive companies that will rent gear, guide dives at the shore, or take you on a boat dive. TripAdvisor.com is a great resource to find out more. Lots of parking 100 steps away from The Pier.


As for food and restaurants -- ahhh, well. There are so many to talk about! Again, TripAdvisor is a good start. A few favorites come to mind: Pier69, Polly's Cafe, Lost Dog Pizza, Rose's Dream Cuisine, Rowdy Joes, Eat, Angry Nates, Savant, Pickled Greek -- and SO MANY MORE for that one particular dish or night of the week when they feature what they're known for (Coconut's sunday texas BBQ, Turtles after Dark's drunken lobster, etc.).


Enjoy your travels and Enjoy St. Croix!
 

KathyV

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I have a question about St. Croix. When we were on the Nekton in 2009 and visited the Fredricksted Pier, the Captain advised us "not to stray too far from the harbor" because there had been "robberies and acts of violence against visitors." He said that the "cruise ships were no longer visiting St. Croix because of the crime problem" and he told us "don't go any further than 3 streets in from the harbor!" We followed his advice and noticed many closed and vacant shops in the area. It was a little depressing. One merchant told us that many businesses had suffered because the cruise ships had stopped coming.

On that trip, during our second week on St. Croix, we rented a car and we did a lot of exploring, driving from Christiansted to Fredricksted and many other places around the island; but we remembered the Captain's warning and we never strayed too far "off the beaten path". We never felt in danger but we were very cautious. I remember thinking that it was a shame that Americans were afraid to visit an American territory.

What is the current situation regarding crime - and specifically crime against visitors? It is obvious that the cruise ships have returned so I am hopeful that the crime problem has decreased? That is one of the considerations that has held us back from returning to St. Croix.
 
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They call me Tater

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I would say that is still true but I would also say we got the same warnings in Mexico, GT, New Orleans and Chicago.
 

KathyV

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I would say that is still true but I would also say we got the same warnings in Mexico, GT, New Orleans and Chicago.

I work in downtown Chicago so that doesn't surprise me! One of the things that we like about the Caymans is that the crime rate is so low, but you pay extra for that feeling of security.
 
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drrich2

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N2theBlue Scuba Diving:

Thanks for the info. Any idea how easy good day care is to get for your customers? One factor that can impact destination choice is non-diving activities. I've seen the listings on your website; here's a listing from your site:


It seems to me St. Croix is one of those 'non-touristy' destinations, since I don't see zip lining, glass-bottomed boats, parasailing, dolphin & sea lion encounters, a zoo, etc... I see Gecko's Island Adventures offers ATV tours & 'Wave Runners' (like a jet ski?).

I bring this up because these days I tend to plan 2 kinds of trips:

1.) Solo - in which case I want Bonaire, a live-aboard, or some other at least 3, preferably 4+ dives/day destination.

2.) Family - Wife, toddler & mother-in-law in tow, so I need things for them to go do while I'm diving (10 dives over 5 days; maybe more). Wife calls these scuba trips-disguised-as-family vacations.

Here's Royal Caribbean Int.'s excursions page for St. Croix, which I use much like Trip Advisor's 'Things To Do' section to get a sense of non-diving activities. Seems like beaches, walking tours of historical grounds & a botanical garden are typical offerings. RCI only lists 14 offerings.

I like what Tater posted:

We found that there were low key things to explore for an hour or two such as the rum distillery and art shows. While they were not as interesting as the Mayan Ruins, they were not all day trips either. We were alway happy to get back to our beachfront rental.

There was shopping for the wife (enough to partake but not enough to hurt me) and a nice local art scene...

I'm glad to see St. Croix getting more attention on Scuba Board lately. Reminds me that a few years back, I hardly saw a post about Dominica. Past couple of years, it's more talked about. Maybe St. Croix will become more popular.

Richard.
 

jonhall

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We followed his advice and noticed many closed and vacant shops in the area. It was a little depressing. One merchant told us that many businesses had suffered because the cruise ships had stopped coming.

Have been to St. Croix 5 times starting in 2005 and last in 2012. There have always been vacant buildings but the area has shown much improvement over the years. Always thought it weird that cruise ships come into Frederiksted even though Christiansted, on the other side of the island has more shopping.

Have done a lot of dives in St. Croix, as my aunt-in-law lives in Frederiksted about 35-40 ft. from the water. IMO the wind protected west side is the best for diving as there are wrecks, pier shore/night dives, and calm and clear water. Snorkeling from the shore can be pretty good also. Diving out of the Salt River National Park will get you some nice topography, canyons, and the north wall, but the water can be choppy and not as clear.

N2theBlue has a great post (#14) and I do dive with them when I'm in St. Croix. It's nice to get a tank from them and walk a short distance for a pier shore dive.

It seems to me St.Croix is one of those 'non-touristy' destinations, since I don't see zip lining, glass-bottomed boats, parasailing, dolphin & sea lion encounters, a zoo, etc... I see Gecko's Island Adventures offers ATV tours & 'Wave Runners' (like a jet ski?).

Just touristy enough depending on what you're looking for. Gecko's ATV tour is a lot of fun. The wave runners are like a jet ski. Don't usually see too many people renting these. It's not like some touristy spots where you look out and see charter boats, parasailing, kayaks, and jet skis all in your line of sight.

One of the things not mentioned to do is a trip to Buck Island Reef National Park for snorkeling. There is usually a stop at Turtle Island, a part of Buck Island, which is considered one of the top beaches in the world, depending on which list you look at. St. Croix also has the only casino in the Virgin Islands.

If diving in Frederiksted, a stop should be Coconuts on the Beach. Very friendly people /divers tend to go there and there are daily specials. In the evening, go to the Lost Dog in town for the pizza. In Christiansted, Tavern 1844 has one of the best (I rarely say that) hamburgers you'll ever eat and a huge beer list.

The Cruzan rum factory and Captain Morgan rum factory are both there. Tours are fine, but what I like is that the Cruzan rum and other liquors are cheap (get them at K-Mart) and you can bring back, to the U. S., 6 bottles a person. It's boxed and doesn't count as checked luggage.

As you can tell, I recommend St. Croix as a vacation spot/diving trip.
 

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