GETTING THERE

Buck Island Reef National Monument is a small island — about one mile long and approximately 1/4-mile wide — located some 1.5 miles off of St. Croix. Because it’s a National Monument, visitors will need to book a half-day or full-day trip from an approved boat tour operator to see the island. It takes about one hour to reach the protected island. Boats depart from Tamarind Reef’s Green Cay Marina or the St. Croix Yacht Club in Christiansted Harbor. Half-day tours run between 3–4 hours and include a stop at Turtle Beach and a snorkeling session on the dazzling elkhorn coral barrier reef. Full-day tours are between 6–8 hours and include lunch, snorkeling and more time to hike the island or relax on the pristine beach. Popular charters include Buck Island Charters: Teroro II and Dragonfly and Caribbean Sea Adventures.

HISTORY OF BUCK ISLAND

Amerindians from the Lesser Antilles, the Lower Orinoco River of Central America and the coastal areas of Guyana migrated to St. Croix over 2,000 years ago. These early inhabitants fished, hunted for land crabs, and gathered conchs, sea turtles and their eggs on the tiny island. During the Danish colonial era, the island was scattered with plantations. In 1948, the U.S. government declared the island a protected ecosystem and deemed it one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea. In 1961, the island became part of the National Park Service.

UNDERWATER ADVENTURES

Don your fins and mask and dive in to explore one of the world’s most diverse marine life ecosystems. A 4,554-acre-long reef stretches around two-thirds of the island. It teems with over 250 fish species and a variety of other marine life, including sea turtles, rays, barracuda and sharks. Giant, branching elkhorn coral creates fortress-like walls that form a lagoon between Buck Island and the surrounding seas. Within the lagoon lies an Underwater Trail that leads snorkelers across shallow coral formations, through a coral-lined cave and on to the edge of the barrier reef. Underwater markers point out sights of interest along the way.

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