Thinking of visiting St. Croix? As you make your list of “must-sees,” don’t forget to include the Buck Island Reef National Monument. This 6,000 foot long and half mile wide uninhabited island is surrounded by a coral reef, which includes an underwater trail for snorkelers. Even if you have never snorkeled, this is the place to try it. Experienced snorkel guides can help you become comfortable with the gear so you can take in all the color and beauty of the underwater world. The numbers and varieties of reef fish, as well as the types of coral and sea fans will astound you! You may even see a turtle, reef squid, or small moray eels.
Scuba diving off Buck Island is allowed in only two designated areas. Divers move through haystack formations of elkhorn coral on shallow dives of only 30 to 40 feet, making it an ideal dive location for beginning divers. Experienced divers will also enjoy exploring this protected area where no fishing is allowed.
Charter excursions to Buck Island by power boat, catamaran or sailboat may be booked in Christiansted for half or full-day trips that often include lunch, drinks and snacks. Plan your outing to Buck Island soon after you arrive to make sure you will be able to obtain a spot, as space books up quickly.
The island itself is 176 acres and includes walking trails and picnic areas, as well as providing a haven for brown pelicans and a nesting area for sea turtles. Turtle Beach on the west end was voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic. The snorkeling trail is located on the other side of the island.
Buck Island was proclaimed a national monument in 1961 by John F. Kennedy and is a part of the U.S. National Park System.
Charters for Half-Day and Full Day Trips
Buck Island Charters
Departs from Green Cay Marina, ‘H’-Dock
Caribbean Sea Adventures
59 King’s Wharf, Christiansted
Big Beard’s Adventure Tours
Pan Am Pavilion, Christiansted
To check out the Buck Island Reef National Monument Map, go to this National Park Service link and click on “view map:”
Tips for first-timers: Wear your swimsuit under casual shorts and t-shirts. Wearing a hat or sun visor and sunglasses is recommended. Take a beach bag with sunscreen, towel, bottled water, and a spare t-shirt. Consider purchasing a waterproof wallet, in which you can keep small amounts of cash and your room key. Disposable underwater cameras are great for capturing shots of you and your travel companions (and the fish and coral) while snorkeling.