With dozens of large and small islands making up the U.S. Virgin Islands, you can bet that there are plenty of great diving and snorkeling locales. The waters surrounding each individual island offer divers a unique experience with each dip under the surface of the ocean.
It is important to remember that although the diving and snorkeling are often spoken of in conjunction with one another, they are entirely different. The most obvious difference between diving and snorkeling is the location of the participant when they are underwater. Snorkelers stay close to the surface of the ocean so that they might breath through their snorkel, while divers make use of air tanks in order to explore deeper and more hidden sites. Participants of both activities, however, have the opportunity to swim with colorful tropical fish, and get an up-close look at marine life such as coral reefs. Though it is not always possible to dive and snorkel in the same locations, there are a multitude of sites that allow for both.
...explore deeper and more hidden sites...
Novice divers will need to participate in one to two dive courses (usually offered by resorts, and always offered by dive shops), and apply for certification. Dive shops will handle your certification if you take courses with them. When you are ready to dive, you will schedule a time with a dive shop, and one of their dive experts will escort you to a local dive spot and show you the ropes. Courses and certification can range from free (at your resort) to $300 (USD), and you can plan to spend between $75 and $100 (USD) on a one to two tank dive.
There are 9 dive operators, a variety of dive shops, and at least 93 interesting dive sites to choose from.
The dive shops you'll be able to find are shown in the following table.
|Admiralty Dive Center||(340) 777-9802||Charlotte Amalie, Northern part of the USVI||St. Thomas|
|Aqua Action Dive and Water Sports Center||(340) 775-6258||East End||St. Thomas|
|Blue Island Divers||(340) 774-2001||The vicinity of Charlotte Amalie||St. Thomas|
|Cane Bay Dive Shop||(340) 773-4663||0.2 mi. South of Central Cane Bay||St. Croix|
|Cane Bay East||(340) 718-9913||Downtown Christiansted||St. Croix|
|Cane Bay Frederiksted||(340) 772-0715||0.2 mi. Northwest of Central Frederiksted||St. Croix|
|Coki Beach Dive Club||(340) 775-4220||East End||St. Thomas|
|Dive In!||(340) 777-5255||0.6 mi. North of Central Red Hook||St. Thomas|
|(340) 775-2004||1.1 mi. West-Southwest of Central Red Hook||St. Thomas|
|(340) 774-5650||Frenchtown||St. Thomas|
|N2 The Blue||(340) 772-3483||0.2 mi. North of Central Frederiksted||St. Croix|
|St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventure||(340) 773-5994||Downtown Christiansted||St. Croix|
|St. Thomas Diving Club||(340) 776-2381||2.1 mi. South-Southwest of Central Anna's Retreat||St. Thomas|
|(340) 774-3737||Charlotte Amalie, Northern part of the USVI||St. Thomas|
If you're looking forward to diving, you might want to check with Low Key Waterports. Low Key offers both snorkeling and diving equipment, as well as training for the diving. They can certify divers in general diving as well as in night diving. They are located in Cruz Bay, in northern the USVI.
Another good option is Sweet Bottom Dive Center. Scuba diving is one of the most exhilarating experiences that a vacationer on the island could hope for, and Sweet Bottom loves being there to make that happen for their guests. You can reach them at (340) 778-3800.
Still another option is Patagon Dive Center. You'd be hard-pressed to find a dive facility with an owner as experienced as Captain Arnoldo Falcoff of Patagon Dive Center. Making his career as a commercial diver, he eventually settled on St. Thomas to pursue his recreational diving licenses and was soon fully PADI certified. They're located in East End, in northern the USVI.
Be sure to look at the following table to obtain information about dive service operators.
|Aqua Marine||(340) 642-8701||1.8 mi. Southeast of Central Charlotte Amalie||St. Thomas|
|Cruz Bay Watersports Diving||(888) 756-0631||Downtown Cruz Bay||St. John|
|Dive Experience||(340) 773-3307||Downtown Christiansted||St. Croix|
|Low Key Waterports||(340) 693-8999||Cruz Bay, Northern part of the USVI||St. John|
|Patagon Dive Center||(340) 775-3333||0.7 mi. Southeast of Central Red Hook||St. Croix|
|Red Hook Dive Center||(340) 777-3483||1.6 mi. East of Central Maroon Town||St. Thomas|
|(340) 474-9332||2.5 mi. Northwest of Central Charlotte Amalie||St. Thomas|
|Sweet Bottom Dive Center||(340) 778-3800||1.6 mi. South West of Central Cane Bay||St. Croix|
|(340) 774-1350||St. Thomas||St. Thomas|
The following chart provides you with the approximate cost of dive services in this area.
|Offering Type||Low Rate||High Rate|
|Discover Scuba||$ 75.0||$ 160.0|
|Double Tank Dive||$ 70.0||$ 130.0|
|Night Dive||$ 60.0||$ 110.0|
|Open Water Certification||$ 350.0||$ 600.0|
|Single Tank Dive||$ 50.0||$ 95.0|
The chart directly below provides you with a few details regarding some of the area's better-known dive sites.
For more information concerning snorkeling, including tips and suggestions for both experienced divers and beginners, check out this exhaustive Caribbean scuba diving article.
Both divers and snorkelers should be aware that they are intruding upon the habitats of creatures that live in the Virgin Island's waters. Always be respectful, and adhere to the following tips to make your diving or snorkeling trip a great one.
A day spent diving in the Caribbean Sea is an experience unlike anything else in the world. If you have the time and the inclination, get off the land and into the sea. The memories you make underwater are sure to last you a lifetime.
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