Part of the allure of St Croix and the US Virgin Islands is the underwater marine life abundant off of our shores. You don’t have to be a certified PADI Scuba diver to experience these wonders. The Virgin Islands are surrounded by coral reefs that can be explored by snorkeling.
Teeming with life, St Croix itself is surrounded by one of the largest island barrier reef systems in the Caribbean. It also boasts one of the only two underwater U.S. National Monuments at Buck Island Reef National Monument. So, there is no shortage of spectacular snorkeling spots on St Croix and throughout the US Virgin Islands.
However, finding the best beaches to explore from was a bit of a secret until, that is, Sarah & Jim took a trip to St Croix in 2010.
Jim, who hails from the land-locked state of Indiana first visited and fell in love with St Croix in 2005. At the time, he had a printing client whose cousin, Kim Lucas of Island Life Real Estate, had relocated to the Big Island. In need of a vacation, he decided to check it out. Upon arrival, Jim said he was “blown away by the beauty of the place”.
In 2010 after Jim & Sarah started dating, he invited her to experience his island escape. Sarah had never seen the shades of turquoise and blues in our waters and so, as a self-described shutterbug, took thousands of photos around St Croix.
During their first visits to the island, they stayed at The Carrington Inn. They had fallen in love with snorkeling off the island’s shores and began to make recommendations of their favorite spots and even led other fellow snorkelers on impromptu excursions. Due to the popularity of their recommendations and at the request of the proprietor, they put together a flip-book for Carrington’s. The flip-book was a popular tool at the Inn and based on this, and Jim and Sarah’s collective backgrounds in printing, the concept for the 1st edition of the St Croix Snorkeling Guide was born.
The St Croix Snorkeling Guide enjoyed some success and with that, they noticed that there were plenty of books about Scuba-diving spots throughout the Virgin Islands, but nothing on snorkeling. Sarah and Jim decided to branch out and in 2014 published The US Virgin Islands Snorkeling Guide: St Thomas, St John, St Croix.
Nowadays, Sarah and Jim, publishing as Sarjim Enterprises, spend a couple of weeks each year exploring and snorkeling throughout the Virgin Islands to discover more sites on each of the islands for their books. Can’t beat that for a side job!
On a trip to St Croix back in February of 2015, they experienced some rough weather and lots of swell that prevented them from enjoying their typical snorkeling adventures. Not ones to be discouraged, they decided instead to take a trip out to Buck Island Reef National Monument. This was a bit of kismet as they searched in advance for a guide to Buck Island and again didn’t find anything. So, they consulted with Joel Tutein, Superintendent of the National Park and produced their newest book From Sea to Shore: Buck Island Reef National Monument-St.Croix.
While meeting with them on their most recent trip this year, I asked them to share with us some of their favorite snorkeling spots:
St Croix –
- The Frederiksted Pier – It’s like a whole universe under the pier. Every time we snorkel there we see things we haven’t seen before. And there’s always new coral forming.
- Sand Castles Beach – Offshore (a short swim out) and about .2 miles up the beach towards Frederiksted, there’s old sunken machinery now covered with corals and more starfish than anywhere on the island we’ve seen.
- Cane Bay – On a calm day with clear visibility snorkeling out past the beach to the coral gardens is just amazing.
- Secret Harbor Beach
- Cowpet Beach
- Tektite Beach – You’ll hike and swim a bit to get to some beautiful underwater caves and canyons.
- Frances Bay – See huge sea turtles late morning in the seagrass beds.
- Haulover North
Look for tips on some of the above beaches and new information on snorkeling the mangroves in the USVI in their upcoming releases!
Sarah & Jim’s books are geared to be accessible for Beginner Snorkeling enthusiasts and explorers and can be enjoyed by all ages.
And while you’re snorkeling in the Virgin Islands, be sure to stay safe from the strong sunrays by covering up with Reef Safe Sunscreen (free from oxybenzone that is harmful to corals) – Learn more about keeping our Reefs Safe.
Do you have a favorite snorkeling spot on St Croix or in the Virgin Islands? Tell us about it in the comments below!