Under Sea St. Croix

Like an iceberg in the tropics, only the tip of St. Croix is visible above the surface. To truly experience what the island has to offer one must look below the water line.

We returned to the island during the holidays and from previous trips were prepared to be flexible as the Christmas Winds are usually ablowin’. These annual “Jesus Breezes” produce high seas that make the water murky and boat rides stomach churning. Patience will pay. Just wait a day or two, there is there is always perfect water weather within any week’s span.

Buck Island National Park with… CONTINUE READING >>

Hawksbill Turtle under the waters of St. Croix

Like
an iceberg in the tropics, only the tip of St. Croix is
visible above the surface. To truly experience what the
island has to offer one must look below the water line.

We returned
to the island during the holidays and from previous
trips were prepared to be flexible as the Christmas Winds are usually
ablowin’. These

annual “Jesus Breezes” produce high
seas that make the water murky and boat rides stomach churning.
Patience will pay. Just wait a day or two, there is always perfect
water weather within any week’s span.

Buck Island
National Park with its celebrated beach and spectacular snorkeling
trail through the beautiful Elk Horn Coral Barrier Reef is no
doubt St. Croix‘s most famous underwater attraction. There
are many boats that offer wonderful day trips where even beginners
may join rays, barracuda and a school of hundreds of blue tang
as they dance in and out of perhaps the Caribbean’s most
impressive reef. On the downside, the trip will be spent with
forty other sun burnt, seasick tourists crammed on a sailboat
and all elbows and fins in the water. We prefer just our own elbows
and fins.

Captain Paul aboard Muzik on Great Salt Bay

Being
the type to travel low to the ground, we were elated to
find Captain Paul’s Water
Drop Tours
. Paul specializes in eco-friendly, personalized
tours geared towards his client’s interests and abilities
aboard the skiff Muzik. Born and bred on St. Croix, Captain
Paul knows his island and its treasures intimately and his
little boat can launch on almost any beach making every
part of the island accessible. He’ll introduce you
to fantastic places you’ll
never see in the guidebooks and you’ll probably have them all
to yourselves. Bliss.

 

Considering
the weather Mother Nature provided for our day, Captain Paul
recommended a two hour snorkeling trip around the reef in Great
Pond Bay. We were provided with fantastic snorkeling gear–a real
treat–not the standard leaky masks and floppity fins usually
pawned off on the tourists.

An octopus feasts on a clam  St. Croix

In the
water Paul has a jeweler’s eye for sea life. He quickly
led us to an octopus in his garden munching on a clam dinner.
Veronica, a decent free diver and photographer, found she
couldn’t do both at once. She was stunned as Captain
Paul swam to the bottom without the benefit of fins, grabbed
onto a rock to hold himself under and snapped a couple of
brilliant pictures of the feasting cephalopod.

We spotted
a four foot long hawksbill resting
on the sandy bottom all by ourselves–what an eye! The turtle tolerated
our hovering around him for several minutes as we ooohed and ahhhed
though our snorkels and then he darted off into the reef. There
are

three types of turtles in the waters around St. Croix–the hawksbill
is most common–but with a bit of luck the rare green sea turtle
and the giant leatherback are sometimes encountered. In the late
spring the St.
Croix Environmental Association
hosts turtle watches where the
endangered leatherbacks can be seen laying their eggs on the beach.
A once in a lifetime experience.

St. Croix under water scene Being
a boat person is not necessary to enjoy the depths. Tamarind
Reef is the best Cruzan destination for off-the-beach snorkeling
that we’ve found. Just rent gear from the little beach
shack and wade in. Easy for the beginner but with plenty of
room for the more experienced diver to explore out into the
deeper waters. Floats anchored along the way
for resting are a really nice touch, especially on the swim back
against the current. Colorful sea fans wave gracefully under the
waves, spiny lobsters hide in the holes and overhangs while urchins
dot the rocks

among the giant brain coral.

Octopi,
lobsters, turtles, rays and barracudas aside, the real serenity
of island time underwater is dreamily swimming among the
little colorful tropical fish. It’s like being on the
inside of your dentist’s office aquarium.

David
& Veronica, GypsyNester.com


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3 thoughts on “Under Sea St. Croix”

  1. >Looks amazing! My fiance and I are learning to scuba dive (we're going to Tahiti, Fiji, and Australia this summer for what should be some fantastic first experiences diving!) St. Croix looks great, and definitely more practical for a shorter trip from Canada! I would love to see leatherback or green turtles as well – have you ever been lucky enough to see either?

    1. Yes we have Carolyn! There are “turtle watches” that St. Croix Enviromental Assoc. sets up every year for the leatherbacks – truly amazing. We’ve watched them lay their eggs and have seen them hatch! Check SEA’s website for the best time to visit – it’s a once in a lifetime experience. -Veronica

  2. >My hubby and I snorkeled in the Virgin Islands, he longer than I. We were staying on St. Thomas Island but the snorkeling was done off the beach at St John? Trunk Bay? My memory for the names of the spots going back 30 years at almost dinner time isn’t doing very well, but it was an underwater Natl. Park. Beautiful, the pictures bring back great memories, even if not the exact same location!

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