St Thomas diving attracts thousands of divers every year. They come from around the world to enjoy some of the best diving in the Caribbean. St Thomas scuba diving has something to tickle every diver's fancy. They can explore wrecks, reefs (shallow and deep), pinnacles, and mini walls. Or they can just walk off the beach for a relaxed "just blow some bubbles" dive. St Thomas is definitely a diver's paradise.
I was lucky enough to live on St Thomas for over four years. It was here I found I could not get enough of St Thomas diving. The water was so warm and clear and there where so many places to dive. I completed my dive instructor training at St Thomas Dive Club and landed my first job at Dive In. What a great job. To be able to make a living while fulfilling your passion was a dream come true. I was able to make hundreds of dives on St Thomas. What a great place to start a diving career.
Most of St Thomas diving can be found on the south of the island (Caribbean Sea), but there are some really good dives on the north side of the island (Atlantic Ocean). Yes, like most Caribbean islands, you can dive in two different bodies of water. Sometimes you can do this on the same dive.
On the Caribbean side of the island the diving has calmer sea conditions and mainly shallow depths. There are a lot of great coral reefs and fields of soft corals. The fish life on these reefs is amazing. There is every kind of tropical fish you can imagine. Divers can see angel fish, parrot fish, sergeant majors guarding their egg patch, and a variety of butterfly fish and damsel fish. On a good day, you may even get a visit from some of the turtles (hawksbill and green turtles) that cruise the reefs around St Thomas.
St Thomas diving also includes diving in the Atlantic Ocean. Because of more moderate sea conditions and deeper depths, these sites are a little more challenging. Here you can dive mini walls covered with hard and soft corals or explore tunnels and ledges created by large boulders and rock formations. This is a great place to spot lobsters hiding among the rocks, tarpon, spotted eagle rays, and the occasional manta ray.
Some of the most popular places for St Thomas diving are along the group of cays (small islands) that stretch between the northern side of St Thomas and St John. When I worked at Dive In we made a lot of dives in this area. On Thatch Cay and Grass Cay you can dive in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean at the same time. You start your dive on the Atlantic side where the water is deeper and hook around the tip of the cay to the shallower depths of the Caribbean side. This group of cays also includes Carvel Rock and Congo Cay.
Scuba diving St Thomas would not be complete without a visit to some of the wrecks scattered around the island. The General Rogers and the Cartanza Sr. are two wrecks that are visited often by divers. The General Rogers sits at a depth of 60 feet/18 meters just off the Renaissance Beach Resort. It is intact and can be entered. Be careful of currents on this dive.
The Cartanza Sr. sits in 35 feet/12 meters in a protected cove at Buck Island. The wreck is pretty broken up but is encrusted with some good coral growth. There is always an abundance of tropical fish on this dive.
The wreck of the W.I.T. Shoal is considered by many divers to be the signature dive of St Thomas diving. The wreck is a 400 foot/125 meter freighter that was sunk on purpose in 1984. The wreck is still pretty much intact and has a lot of coral growth. The W.I.T. Shoal sits at a depth of about 90 feet/30 meters with the pilot house coming to within about 30 feet/10 meters from the surface. Because the dive site is unprotected and usually has a pretty good current (1-3 knots), this should be considered an advanced dive.
Another great dive on St Thomas is Coki Beach. Before I got my instructor certification I did many, many dives at Coki Beach. Sometimes I would do as many as four dives a day off the beach. The reason I liked this dive was because it was easy. No rushing to be on time for the dive boat. You just show up when you want, put on your dive gear, and walk into the water. It really is that easy.
The dive itself is a very good dive. There are two reef systems just off the beach; one to the right and one to the left. The maximum depth is 55 feet/16 meters. Because snorkelers are always feeding them, there are always thousands of fish. Coki Beach is a great place for new divers or divers who just want to get wet.
These are just a few of the dive sites available to divers who want to experience St Thomas scuba diving. There are more than 40 dives around the island.
Dive without Getting Wet
For people who want to see fish without getting wet St Thomas has two great attractions, the Atlantis Submarine and Coral World.
With Atlantis Adventures you board the Atlantis Submarine at Turtle cove and descend to a depth of 90 feet/30 meters to sub alley (which is also a dive site). As the submarine glides silently around giant sea mounts, you can see coral reefs, gardens of colorful soft corals, and all kinds of sea life. You can see yellow tail snappers, different kinds of jacks, moray eels, barracudas, and even a shark or two. What a great way to explore the underwater world without getting wet. Check out there web site at: www.atlantisadventures.com/stthomas.cfm.
Another way to enjoy the underwater world and stay dry is to visit Coral World Ocean Park. This is a must see even for divers. Coral World is one of only a few underwater observatories in the world. From their observatory you can see seahorses, lobsters, scorpion fish, turtles, stingrays and sharks. To see what else Coral World has to offer, visit their web site at: www.coralworldvi.com.
St Thomas Dive Centers
There are number of dive centers that serve St Thomas. The people who operate these shops are diving professionals dedicated to the safety and enjoyment of their clients. They can be contacted for more information about St Thomas diving. They can give you more detailed information about dive sites, St Thomas travel, and advanced bookings for diving and accommodations.
Useful St Thomas Information
If you are flying to St Thomas you will land at Cyril E. King International Airport. The airport is located at Red Point on the south-western coast. Flying from the east coast of the U.S. the flight takes about four hours. If you are flying from Europe, the flight takes about ten hours and will include a stop in the U.S. or St. Maarten. Sorry, no direct flights from Europe
You can also come to St Thomas on one of the many cruise ships that visit the island every year.
There is an excellent recompression chamber in the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St Thomas. It's open 24 hours/7 days a week.
St Thomas has summer weather year round.
Air Temp. 75-89 F/25-31 C Water Temp. 78-83 F/25-28 C Visibility 60 to 120 feet/19 to 40 meters
For information on hotel and accommodations contact:
U.S. Virgin Island Department of Tourism: www.usvitourism.vi
I can not say enough about St Thomas diving. It is some of the best in the Caribbean. It is one diving experience you do not want to miss.
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