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Diving in The United States Virgin Islands

Sunny skies and warm sandy beaches await you on the US Virgin Islands, where spectacular dive sites lie scattered all throughout the turquoise waters.

Diving in The United States Virgin Islands

Quick facts

Sitting pretty in the Caribbean, about 60 kilometres/40 miles east of Puerto Rico, you’ll find the US Virgin Islands. If ever a tropical island chain had something for everyone, this is it. There are three main islands, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, all with with unique personalities. St. Thomas is the lively island boasting large resorts, lots of shopping and, with more than a few watering holes, lively nightlife. St. John is all about nature and eco-tourism with forest-covered hills and has beautiful shallow coral gardens to explore. St. Croix, the “Big Island,” has a small-town vibe and more than 200 historical sites. It features incredible walls, wrecks and reefs. All islands feature soft, white sand beaches and warm turquoise water. The diversity of the US Virgin Islands means that divers are sure to find the island that fits their vacation dreams and diving desires.

Recommended training

For St. Thomas, the PADI Wreck Diver course is a good idea. For St. John, the PADI Underwater Naturalist course will help you enjoy what the island offers. And, for St. Croix, the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer and PADI Drift Diver courses will add to your dive experiences.

When to go

The weather in the US Virgin Islands is fairly consistent, which makes diving great year round. Average air temperature ranges between 26-29°C/79-83°F. The islands get a little more rain from June through October, which coincides with the Caribbean’s hurricane season.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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The Pier, St. Croix – On the island's west end, this site is renowned for the dramatic life-encrusted pillars stretching skyward from depths of 8-12 metres/25-40 feet. It’s home to turtles, seahorses, frogfish, eels and lobsters, not to mention the vast shimmering schools of reef fish. This is a macro photographer’s dream come true. The Wall, St. Croix – This site on the north shore plunges straight down into the abyss and the Salt River Canyon divides the wall into east and west. Sponges and sea fans carpet the vertical drop off and large pelagics, such as horse-eye jacks, cruise just offshore. Swim-throughs, canyons and cuts in the reef shelter parrotfish, grouper and soldierfish. Coral Bowl, St. Thomas – Starting at about 9 metres/30 feet, Coral Bowl slopes down to 24 metres/80 feet. Full of crevices and overhangs, you can find lobsters and eels hiding in protected holes. Look for turtles and stingrays cruising by the reef’s edge. Cartanser Senior, St. Thomas – This old freighter sank in the early 1970s and now lies on the west side of Buck Island. Now in several pieces, the wreck sits in 15 metres/50 feet of water, leaning on her port side. Great for photography, the wreck attracts lots of colorful fish. Eagle Shoals, St. John – This site has many tunnels, arches, caves and overhangs, which protect a wide variety of fish. One of the caves has several entrances and is referred to as “The Cathedral.” Look for colorful sponges and orange cup coral along with queen and French angelfish. Carvel Rock, St. John – This cluster of rocks sticks up from the surface and below it’s encrusted with sponges, sea fans and corals. Usually navigated as a drift dive, you glide around the rock looking for stingrays, tarpon, silversides, nurse sharks, squid and octopus.

What to see

Queen angelfish are strikingly beautiful swimming among the cup corals, sea fans and feather duster worms. Tarpon are often seen in schools. Look for frogfish, reef squid, blackbar soldierfish and scorpion fish blending easily with the reef.

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Officially a little piece of paradise ruled by the United States, the US Virgin Islands is a gorgeous holiday spot. Tourism has been booming here for decades, bringing people around the world to explore these sandy shores.

There are four main islands to see, here: Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, Saint John, and the small Water Island. Spreading out around them are a plethora of smaller islets.

The people of the islands make their living by either farming, fishing, or catering to tourists. There is also a fair amount of large scale rum production, which visitors should certainly enjoy.

Other attractions

Shop duty-free in St. Thomas. Lie on a beach in St. John or visit St. John’s National Park to learn about the tropical forest, petroglyphs and sugar mill ruins. Hike the Heritage Trail on St. Croix, stop at the Cruzan Rum Factory and visit Buck Island, one of only three underwater national monuments in the United States.

Getting there

International flights arrive at Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX) on St. Croix. You get to St. John by ferry from St. Thomas.

UTC-04:00

Time zone

USD

Currency

+1340

Calling code

110 V

Electric volt

A, 

B

Plug type

STX

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.