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St Croix for diver/nondiver couple

Discussion in 'Lesser Antilles' started by jejton, Dec 27, 2020.

  1. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
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    A lot of the topside activities were closed when we were recently on St. Croix (Oct/Nov 2020) because of Covid. I think that is probably true of many tourist destinations including the other USVI islands.

    Quite a few restaurants and some shops were open but several of the tourist activities we remembered from an earlier trip were not available; I don't know if that has changed yet. The island had only been open to visitors for a month when we were there and things were quiet.

    But there were still lots of great things to do. There are excellent restaurants and the boardwalk in Christiansted is fun. Of course there are beaches and snorkeling and diving to enjoy. You could also take a half-day cruise over to Buck Island to explore and snorkel and I believe that sunset cruises were also being offered. I didn't notice any jet skis, kayaks, parasailing, or paddleboards in use so I don't know if they are available.

    The island is beautiful to explore and you can drive to Point Udall, the easternmost point in the US to enjoy the stunning views.

    The things that were closed when we were there included the casino, both of the rum distillery tours, the museums, forts, and the botanical gardens. I believe that the vodka distillery tour is open but we didn't take it. Maybe more things have since opened up because we are now in the high season for tropical travel.

    Christiansted is on the north side and it is the main town and that area has the most tourist attractions. You don't have to stay right in Christiansted, there are resorts, hotels, and condos nearby. You can dive out of Christiansted on the north reefs and the wall.

    Cane Bay is also on the north side (east of Christiansted) and it is a lovely area and accessible to shore dives and the wall, but it may not be the best area for non-divers. I am not sure, I've never stayed in the Cane Bay area.

    Fredricksted is on the west side and it is said to have the best beaches and it has the pier, but it was almost a ghost town (and rather "derelict-looking" not far away from the shore and the pier) when we were there, so it might not be great spot for non-divers. A place to stay that is frequently recommended in the Fredricksted area is called Cottages by the Sea but I have never been there.

    The St. Croix diving is really good, different from Florida in my memory, but we haven't been to Florida recently. My memories of Florida are lots of sealife and sharks but the corals weren't the best.

    We had excellent warm and sunny weather on STX but we were not able to dive the north side or the wall when we recently there because of high winds. So we didn't get to dive some of the most popular sites during this trip, but the reefs on the west side near Fredricksted were calm and great and there were a lot of healthy corals and diverse sea life, and we saw several sharks, turtles, eels, and rays. We were very happy with the diving.

    If you can only do a couple of dives on STX then make sure that you dive the Fredricksted Pier, it's the best 30 foot dive you could have and you can plan the timing to best fit your tight schedule because it's a shore dive. You might want to start with a guided dive of the pier because the divemasters really know where to find all the best stuff. You are likely to see octopus, seahorses, and many other wonderful things. You can also snorkel the pier and your non-diving companions might enjoy doing that.

    It's best to rent a car on St. Croix and it's pretty easy to drive between Christiansted and Fredricksted (about 30 to 40 minutes) but they drive on the left side of the road. Be sure to reserve a car in advance because there was a shortage when we were there.

    For accommodations, it's hard to find one place that has everything you want and budget is a big factor. The Buccaneer is a beautiful resort near Christiansted and it might be the perfect place for a short stay but I believe that it is expensive. We stayed in a condo on "Condo Row" just east of Christiansted because we were there for 2 weeks. It was lovely and the beach was nice but not spectacular and there was no snorkeling nearby.
     
    drrich2 and living4experiences like this.
  2. Purpledancingmermaid

    Purpledancingmermaid Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New York
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    Hi everyone!

    I'm going to St. Croix with a couple of non-diver friends on the 6th. I'm only there for 5 days and want to get at least 3 days of diving happening. I had some questions, which if you all could help with, it would be great!

    - We're staying very close to Christiansted Boardwalk. Keeping that in mind, what dive shops would be good for me to look at?
    - How long are dive days usually? I know in some places, the diving starts quite early in the morning so even doing 2 dives in one day, you can be back by early afternoon, but in others diving can start later, take more of the day.
    - What are some dive sites which should not be missed given just 3-4 days of diving?

    I would love any and all thoughts/help people have for this. Other activities to do, dive suggestions...whatever! I will take it all! Thanks!
     
  3. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,526
    6,219
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    My little crew stayed at Hotel Caravelle, with the boardwalk at one end, and St. Croix Ultimate Blue Water Adventure had a boat at the boardwalk and easy to meet up with the in the morning, and they had a dive shop close by. Unless anything's changed since I went, that should work out fine. I did a 2-tank morning and a 2-tank afternoon trip. I don't recall how long the day was, but I was with my wife, kid and mother-in-law, so I wasn't getting back at dark or anything like that. I went to whatever dive sites the Captain chose. Dive Experience is an operator that's a short walk along the boardwalk to reach; they had good reviews, too.

    St. Croix Research Report Aug. 2017 - St. Croix Research Report Aug. 2017

    I suspect you'll dive with S.C.U.B.A., do the 2-tank morning trip, meet up with your buds for afternoon topside fun, and that'll be that.

    Christiansted isn't a 'sandy beach' place, but walk up the boardwalk till you reach the little ferry boat dock, and ride over to Protestant Cay (a little island close-by), which has Hotel on the Cay. It's got a sandy beach. Walk around the concrete barrier, and you'll find a bed of sea grass with neat creatures to see (watch it; I found a bristle worm there). Go the other way, and there's the dock for the ferry, and you can snorkel and see a variety of fish there. Might give your friends something to do while you're out diving.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  4. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    5,311
    3,497
    113
    We recently dived with St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventure (SCUBA) and they have a dive shop just off the boardwalk in Christiansted and a boat right in the harbor. They also have a second dive shop and a boat on the west side, across from the pier in Fredricksted. They will transfer your gear if you would like to try some of the sites on the other side. If you rent a car you can drive from Christiansted to Fredricksted in about 30 or 40 minutes.

    As far as the best sites, a lot depends on the weather. I usually defer to the divemaster and captain regarding dive sites because they can advise about the best spots for the conditions.

    Christiansted is on the north side and the Cane Bay Wall is a popular site. We didn't get to dive it this trip because of high winds but I remember from a previous trip that it is a beautiful wall with lots of corals and sea life and sharks.

    There are also lovely reef dives on the west side near Fredricksted and some fun wreck dives. We saw quite a few large animals on the west side including sharks, turtles, stingrays, an eagle ray, morays, baracudas, etc.

    Most of the dive shops offer 2 tanks in the morning and 2 in the afternoon and occasional night dives. I think the morning boats departed at 8:30 am and the afternoon left at 1:30 pm. The dive sites aren't very far from shore (about 30 minutes away) so you won't spend all day in the boat.

    There are several shore dive sites available on St. Croix and that might help you to fit some dives into your tight schedule.

    You should definitely dive the Fredricksted Pier (either as a shore dive or as a boat dive) it is a truly memorable site with lots of fabulous sea life! A guided dive of the pier is a special treat because the divemasters can find the rarest critters.

    You can also snorkel the pier and your friends might enjoy doing that.
     
    jonhall and drrich2 like this.
  5. TN Traveler

    TN Traveler Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Knoxville, TN; St Croix, USVI
    1,505
    429
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    With the arrival of the “Christmas Winds” you will probably need to do your diving on the West End.
    You should be able to dive the Pier and other spots on the West End. At this time they are reporting 8-10 foot seas outside the reef on the North and East sides of the island, which probably means that the boats will not be going out from Christiansted.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  6. jonhall

    jonhall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Indianapolis
    1,163
    603
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    Good info provided already. Here are some of my favorites, maybe repeating a couple to emphasize how good they are:

    1. Dive the Frederiksted Pier. As a shore dive the deepest you could possibly go is 40 -45'. Nep2une Diving is near the pier and can set you up to go by yourself or with a guide. One dive can easily last 60-70 minutes. If a 1 and done dive, there is a beach/snorkeling area by the pier for a non-diver to stay busy or relax. Could also request the pier as the 2nd of a boat dive, swimming from the end into shore, but to me that's wasting a boat dive. If you could somehow work it out, diving the pier at night is a great dive also. YOU DO NOT WANT TO VISIT SAINT CROIX AND NOT DIVE THE PIER!

    *Rainbow beach is not far from the pier - snorkeling can be done here also.

    2. Dive the West side (pier side) of island. Dive sites (reefs and wrecks) are short boat rides and the water is usually calm on this side.

    3. Ham's Bluff Lighthouse: A nice hike. Basically drive North on the main road from Frederiksted til it ends at a National Guard facility. Park, walk around the fence and start the hike. It's about a 35-40 minute uphill hike - good exercise. The view at the top of the bluff which is on the northwest side is really nice. Don't know if you can still go up in the lighthouse - I did - the lighthouse is not what you take this hike for - just the view. Take water.

    4. Estate Whim Museum (sugar mill and plantation): not much to it but it's historical. Maybe 30-40 minutes is all it takes to absorb the history!

    5. St George Botanical Garden: @KathyV indicated it was closed currently, but if not, it's a nice walk through St. Croix's nature. Every time I've been, there has been some type of activity (food and crafts) going on - maybe you'll get lucky.

    6. Snorkeling: Cane Bay has nice beach also - good place to relax. You could also do a shore dive from here but it is a little more work, IMO. There may be a boat dive from there also. Davis Bay is near this area.

    7. Gecko Island Tour (if thats's still the name): Located somewhere behind Nep2une Diving, you can sign up for an ATV tour. Takes you through the rain forest, views of the coast, and to some historical spots.

    8. Christiansted: the boardwalk and shopping is found here.

    9. Turtle Beach/Buck Island (more snorkeling): tour by catamaran to a small island where you can snorkel the Buck Island Reef National Monument. Turtle Beach is one of the nicest beaches, maybe the nicest, I've been on. Big Beard used to run this tour.

    10. Point Udall: not much to do here except say you've been to the easternmost point of the U.S.

    11. Drive through the rainforest (not a true rainforest): this can be a short or long drive depending on if you get lost and fear you'll never see civilization again. Roads can be curvy with no vision around the bends. The scariest thing we ever did on St. Croix - but we did find the drinking pigs!

    Whether 4 or 5 days, you can probably find enough to do without wasting time to travel to another island. Diving by boat is early enough that you get back with plenty of time to do other activities, but if the Christmas winds are active and you're in Christiansted, add another 40-45 minutes to drive across the island to and from Frederiksted.
     
    living4experiences and drrich2 like this.
  7. Rob9876

    Rob9876 Barracuda

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    How long do the Christmas Winds last? Considering a trip in mid-March.
     
  8. TN Traveler

    TN Traveler Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Knoxville, TN; St Croix, USVI
    1,505
    429
    83
    The steady Christmas Winds are gone. It now changes day to day. This morning is calm, seas are flat. By Mid-week there could be 20 mph winds and 8 foot seas. This is the tropic - sunny now, rain in 20 minutes :) Or sunny and raining at the same time.
     
    KathyV and Rob9876 like this.
  9. jonhall

    jonhall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Indianapolis
    1,163
    603
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    December to March seems to be the most mentioned time span for the Christmas winds.

    Those shouldn't deter a trip to Saint Croix, IMO, as topside most people wouldn't even notice a difference from normal island winds. If you're concern is about dives being cancelled or the water being too rough due to the winds, plan your diving on the west side of the island - pretty calm year round (I've stayed on the NW side of Grand Cayman during CW season - in 7 days we could dive once on the N side, but could dive everyday on the W side along 7 mile beach.) There are reefs, wrecks, and the pier on the west side, so plenty to see. By the time you go, things may be fine on the N side.
     
    KathyV and Rob9876 like this.
  10. Rob9876

    Rob9876 Barracuda

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    One more question: does anyone happen to know what the water temp should be like in mid-March?
     

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