Diving in USVI
With some of the Caribbean’s most unheralded scuba diving, the three islands that make up the
United States Virgin Islands
— St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix — each has their own unique spin on underwater adventure. Visibility ranges from 60 – 150 feet, and water temperatures range from 78°F in winter to 84°F in summer.
St. Thomas, which is the main hub in the USVI, has been quietly creating one the most extensive collections of wreck dive sites in the Caribbean. The long list of artificial reefs starts with the popular WIT Shoal II, which is recognized as one of the best in the region. This 327-foot wreck found its way to the seafloor unceremoniously while being towed to a deeper site. An abundance of marine life has taken up residence including bar and horse-eye jacks. Other top wrecks include the Cartanser Senior, the 300-foot Miss Opportunity, the WIT Concrete, WIT Service, Mist, WIT Power, Western Cities and the Navy Barges, among others.
St. John, which is only about a 20-minute ferry ride from St. Thomas, is a quiet, unspoiled, island escape, with some of the Caribbean’s top rated beaches, including Trunk and Cinnamon Bay. Here, coral gardens dominate the dive experience, and there are more than 25 moored sites within a 20-minute boat ride. Parrotfish, angelfish, hoards of blue tang and myriad macro critters inhabit such vibrant dive sites as Carval Rock, Arches, Congo Cay and Tunnels of Thatch among others. The wreck of the Major General Rogers, or even the famous RMS Rhone, which is in nearby BVI, are easily accessed via St. John.
About a 30-minute flight south of St. Thomas brings you to St. Croix, which has a great deal of underwater diversity, including some of the Caribbean’s top wall dives at Salt River Canyon West or East. Either way, you’ll find vertical drops festooned with thick growths of corals and sponges that harbor eels, lobster, grouper and host lots of passing pelagics such as spotted eagle rays. The visibility here typically exceeds 100-feet. Continuing the wreck theme, the 177-foot Rosa Maria heads the list as must dive, especially for a critter-filled night dive. As the most diverse of the USVI, St. Croix also features the best macro dive around in the Fredericksted Pier. At night, expect frogfish, seahorses, invertebrates and octopus. Check the current weather
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: The USVI is technically the US, so no passport necessary for U.S. citizens. All persons leaving the USVI, pay a Government Departure Tax.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into the USVI. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Culture and Customs
An interesting crossroads of Caribbean history, the USVI offers an amalgamation of cultural offerings. Wonderful examples of Dutch Colonial architecture can be found on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. Derelict sugar, cotton and indigo plantations are found on all three islands, with many offering a sobering peek into the slave history of these islands. But, at places like Annaberg Plantation on St. John, you can experience cultural interactions, including coal pot cooking. Shopping dominates the scene on St. Thomas, and the narrow passageways of the central market are world famous for their duty-free allowance of $1,600. St. John offers visitors a peek into the natural heritage of the island with an extensive park that covers 75 percent of the island. The famous Cruzan Rum factory offers tours on St. Croix. Read more about the history of these islands
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in USVI is 120 volts, 60 cycles, so no adapter will be needed for US visitors. The
country code for USVI is 340 and direct dial service is fast and clear. Check with your service provider for long distance/roaming information and costs. Internet service is widely available and most hotels offer it to their guests.
The water is safe to drink at the larger chain hotels.
Language & Currency
English is the official language. The local currency is the U.S. dollar.
History, Art, and Culture
The Arawak, Carib, Taino and Ciboney Indian tribes all lived on the islands that make up the USVI until their populations declined due to disease brought by the first Europeans. Christopher Columbus purportedly discovered the USVI in 1493. In 1671, the Danish took possession of these islands, leaving a lasting impression in the colonial architecture, and establishing the original sugar and cotton plantations. In 1815 Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas, became the regions top commercial port, with open and thriving trade between several nations, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and others. A slave revolt in 1848 was the catalyst for the abolition of slavery throughout the islands. The United States took possession from the Danes in 1917 with a purchase of the island for $25 million.