ST. CROIX

Cane Bay Wall is one of USVI’s premier dive sites. This underwater wonder, located about 100 yards from the shore in Cane Bay, drops from 40 feet to an astonishing 13,200 feet. The rich ecosystem is home to an array of tropical fish, including reef sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, barracuda, parrotfish, angelfish and trumpetfish. During March and April, watch for humpback whales as they migrate along the island in the Puerto Rico Trench. You might even encounter a whale shark!

Discover the dazzling underwater world of Buck Island Reef National Monument, an idyllic island about a one-hour boat ride off St. Croix’s northeast coast. Even beginners can snorkel the island’s coral grottoes along the Underwater Trail, which features informative plaques identifying the resident fish. Stretching across two-thirds of the island, the reef shelters over 250 fish species and abundant marine life. Because it’s a National Monument, visitors must book a half- or full-day trip with an approved tour operator in order to visit the protected island.

At night, the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve is a magical, bioluminescent bay. As you paddle along in a glass-bottom kayak, the movement through the water makes glowing organisms appear like tiny, floating stars. Scuba divers looking for a unique dive site should visit the underwater Salt River Canyon, a prehistoric river and waterfall featuring two deep walls facing each other across one-quarter mile of blue water. As you gaze across the underwater landscape, remnants of the ancient river and waterfall come to life, featuring ancient coral, sponge and sea fan species.

The Frederiksted Pier offers an incredible, yet easily accessible, underwater experience. Rows of concrete pilings are adorned with colorful sponges, coral and teeming marine life, including blue tang and other tropical reef fish. Divers often enter with a giant stride into 20 feet of water, but the very end of the pier reaches depths of up to 90 feet. Conditions are typically calm, with excellent visibility up to about 80 feet.

ST. JOHN

The Trunk Bay Underwater Snorkel Trail runs along the shallow waters of picturesque Trunk Bay. Visitors snorkel above the trail and encounter stone markers on the sea floor, which provide fascinating information about marine wildlife and coral structures. Bring your underwater camera to snap selfies with the sea turtles, eagle rays, pufferfish, parrotfish and barracuda you’ll likely meet on your underwater adventure. 

A snorkeling haven awaits at Waterlemon Cay. Hike the half-mile trail that begins at Waterlemon Beach to Leinster Point. From there, it’s a brief 10-minute swim to the cay, where a secluded beach awaits. Beneath the surface, vibrant marine life abounds — blue tangs, bluehead wrasses, conch, sea turtles, starfish and parrotfish. Strong currents occasionally encircle the cay, making this excursion recommended for experienced snorkelers and confident swimmers.

Maho Bay is a serene underwater paradise. It’s also one of the best spots for snorkeling or diving in search of sea turtles, as they love to gather and graze on the bay’s abundant seagrass. Maho Bay’s calm, crystal-clear waters cater to families and beginners. Easily accessible from the road, the flat beach offers convenient parking and restroom facilities. Remember reef-safe sunscreen to safeguard the turtles and other marine life.

Hawksnest Bay, nestled on St. John’s North Shore, features crystalline waters and coral reefs teeming with marine life. Just off the picture-perfect beaches, you’ll find shallow coral reefs where angelfish, stingrays, butterflyfish, parrots and sea turtles can often be spotted. Elkhorn coral, brain coral, sea fans and gorgonians thrive, supporting a diverse array of invertebrates and fish species. Be sure to keep an eye out for tarpons, barracudas and blue tangs.

ST. THOMAS

Named after the bowl-shaped slope that starts at 30 feet and descends to 80 feet at its bottom, Joe’s Jam is a unique underwater dive site. The sloping coral ridge is dotted with mounding star corals, while schooling fish lurk along its varying levels. As you explore the magnificent underwater bowl, keep your eyes peeled for parrotfish, pufferfish, lobsters, nurse sharks, barracuda, eels and southern stingrays.

Armando’s Paradise is a diver’s utopia. This underwater wonderland offers scenic swim-throughs, where sunlight filters through azure waters, illuminating elaborate coral formations. The real magic lies in the abundance and variety of fish life. Schools of colorful angelfish, parrotfish and butterflyfish dart among the coral. Sea turtles gracefully glide by, too, adding to the enchantment. For underwater photographers, Armando’s Paradise is an unrivaled gem.

Coki Point Beach is located within a protected cove near Coral World Ocean Park. Enjoy an underwater adventure even if you aren’t SCUBA certified by setting off on a SNUBA adventure. SNUBA allows you to breathe underwater using a hose and air pumped in from above the water’s surface. Following a lesson at Coral World Ocean Park on how to use the equipment, you’ll be outfitted with a SNUBA hose so you can easily explore Coki Point Beach’s coral-filled waters minus cumbersome tanks.

Secret Harbour offers beginner and experienced snorkelers and scuba divers an underwater thrill. Clear waters cradle the designated marine sanctuary, home to multicolor coral, fish, sea turtles, small octopus and lobsters. Secret Harbour Beach Resort‘s PADI 5-Star Dive Center provides guided boat dives to nearby reefs. If you’ve always dreamed of diving and want to become certified quickly so you can dive during your visit to the islands, the Dive Center also offers PADI open-water scuba certification, which can be completed in two to three days.

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