Trip Report: Rebreather Friendly shop in St. Croix

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

doctormike

ScubaBoard Supporter
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
7,178
Reaction score
7,731
Location
New York City
# of dives
1000 - 2499
I just got back from a week diving in St. Croix. As a new CCR diver, I needed to find a place with good rebreather support, and I definitely found one in the Sweet Bottom Dive Center.

SBDC is a fantastic shop, with great customer service and a well designed layout. It’s situated in the Carambola resort on St. Croix’s north coast; one of the best reef walls in the Caribbean is a 75 yard swim from the beach. The shop is a family business, run by Mark and Laura Linse, their son Tim, Tim’s fiancee Lizzi, and a number of other excellent dive pros.

For recreational divers who just want to dive and enjoy the resort, SBDC is perfect. The staff deals with rinsing, storing, and transporting your gear to the beach, the dive boats, or the Frederiksted pier. Of course, you can take care of your own gear if you prefer - the loading platforms, rinse tanks, drying racks and gear lockers are set up perfectly for that.

For me, Tim was my go-to guy. He had everything I needed, with a well equipped shop for equipment issues. There were aluminum or steel rebreather bottles, plenty of sorb, and a great setup for washing and sterilizing the loop on a regular basis. Also, Tim was always happy to chat with me and answer my newbie questions. He is a technical instructor and an Optima diver, with a lot of experience.

St. Croix is a great if under-appreciated dive location. For US visitors, it sure is nice to just walk off the plane and pick up your bags and rental car in a few minutes with no passports or visas. US cell phone plans also work here. The diving is terrific - wrecks, healthy reefs, and the pier is one of the best dives in the Caribbean, day or night. For technical divers, the wall goes down as far as you need - Tim told me stories of sea caves and vibrant reefs in the 200-300 foot range. And it’s much more fun to do a few hours of deco on a wall dripping with marine life than on a line.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,107
Reaction score
8,538
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Sounds like a great trip. From a recreational diver's perspective, about how much shore diving do you figure a recreational diver would want to do from Carambola Beach Resort's location? Just curious as to whether it'd be like a house reef at a resort in Bonaire, or the large, apparently multi-dive worthy shore dive I read of off CocoView Resort.

Richard.
 
OP
doctormike

doctormike

ScubaBoard Supporter
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
7,178
Reaction score
7,731
Location
New York City
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Sounds like a great trip. From a recreational diver's perspective, about how much shore diving do you figure a recreational diver would want to do from Carambola Beach Resort's location? Just curious as to whether it'd be like a house reef at a resort in Bonaire, or the large, apparently multi-dive worthy shore dive I read of off CocoView Resort.

Richard.

My three dive buddies that I went with were all single tank, recreational divers. They loved it. It's a bit more of a swim to the reef than in Bonaire. Bonaire is great for diving, but not as much else to do on the island and the beaches on St. Croix are a lot nicer. Also, that pier dive is really amazing, you can sit there for hours in 20 feet of water, day and night (as long as there is no cruise ship in town) and find all sorts of things - octopus, batfish, frogfish, turtles, eel, etc...

You could easily do a week there and never leave the resort, but some of the boat dives (wrecks, Armageddon, etc...) are worth it.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,107
Reaction score
8,538
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
On the Frederiksted Pier dive, did any of you tow a dive flag?

I ask because last Friday evening I got to try that on a shore dive; 1st time I'd towed one. 'Interesting' experience; wasn't too bad, but made me glad (for once) I'd left my camera back at the room, and the idea of towing a flag and taking snapshots sounds a bit much. Of course, I understand there are options for guided dives, which might fix that problem...

Richard.
 
OP
doctormike

doctormike

ScubaBoard Supporter
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
7,178
Reaction score
7,731
Location
New York City
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Not necessary at all, when we were there. The only boat traffic was the occasional dive boat, and you don't really need to surface where they dock. Have done that dive on all four visits to St. Croix, I never saw a dive flag there.

Basically, the pier extends about 1500 feet from the shore, with the more interesting diving further out (and therefore a bit deeper). The very end of the pier is in 90 feet of water, but we never made it that far (not necessary). Our usual dive is in 20-30 FSW. You jump from the north side of the pier and then just dive under it, following the pilings out as far as you like, then return and swim to a little beach on the south side of the pier where you exit right into town. If you don't want a long swim to the deeper parts, you can also walk to the end of the pier and jump in, but that's a higher jump (about 10 feet!). A bit scary the first time you do it, but no big deal.

You can bring a dive guide, which is mainly to find seahorses and other stuff for you, but really not necessary, it's VERY easy navigation. When no cruise ships are in town, you can actually park right on the pier, which makes suiting up easier.

I hate towing a dive flag. When I did the Blue Heron Bridge in Florida we had to have one, and I just tied it off and swam around it. No problem as long as you don't surface away from the flag.
 

Top Bottom